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Gender Equality: What's the smartest SDG target?

Improving the lives of women, half the world’s population, is undoubtedly a worthy goal – but how do we best accomplish this? Women lag men in numerous social, political and economic indicators that it seems difficult to know where to start. However, in a new paper on gender equality, Professor Irma Clots-Figueras sheds light on this complex issue. 

What’s the smartest target to improve the lives of women?

As reported on Project Syndicate, ensure women have control over their bodies and reproductive decisions. This will likely generate benefits of $120 per dollar spent, because it will not only prevent deaths and illness during pregnancy and birth, but also increase investment in education of the next generation, leading to large productivity increases along with a sizable demographic dividend.
The next recommendations are to empower women economically and to ensure more female education. These targets benefit women $7, and $5 respectively, for every dollar spent.

Then there are two legal-political targets where the benefits are likely to be large, and the costs seem low, namely ensuring equal rights (property, contracts, business registration and banking) and increasing political representation of women.
However, the paper recommends we do NOT include absolute targets on ending violence and child marriage. Why? Because we don’t even know how to end violence, and to the extent we can, stopping the last one percent of violence will be phenomenally expensive. A more realistic target is to “reduce violence against girls and women” and “reduce child marriage”. Unfortunately, there is little economic evidence to suggest whether this will be a good or poor target. Thus, a focus on reproductive rights, education and empowering women economically will have much more certain benefits, a high benefit-cost ratio and indirectly help by both reducing violence and delaying marriage.

You can read all the papers on gender equality here and download the one page PDF here.

The smartest targets for the post-2015 development agenda

What are the smartest targets for the post-2015 development agenda?

In a world of limited resources, we can’t do everything, but how should we prioritize? The Copenhagen Consensus Center provides information on which targets will do the most social good relative to their costs. The final decision on choosing goals will definitely rest on a number of factors, not just economics – but knowing the costs and benefits provides an important piece of information.

The Post-2015 Consensus brought together, renowned experts from the UN, NGO and private sectors with 60 teams of economists to produced 100+ research papers to establish the most effective targets for the post-2015 development agenda within 22 core issue areas: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Conflict & Violence, Data for Development, Education, Energy, Food Security, Gender Equality, Governance & Institutions, Health: Chronic Diseases, Health: Health Systems, Health: Infant Mortality & Maternal Health, Health: Infectious Diseases, Infrastructure, Illicit Financial Flows, Nutrition, Population & Demography, Poverty, Science & Technology, Trade, and Water & Sanitation

An Expert Panel including two Nobel Laureates has reviewed all of this research and identified 19 targets that represent the best value-for-money in development over the period 2016 to 2030.

Only have three minutes? Watch our introduction video to the Post-2015 Consensus project.


Making prioritization a factor in the post-2015 debate

An overview of Copenhagen Consensus' ground-breaking research which is shaping the thinking for the 193 governments about to prioritize the smartest development goals for 2016-2030. If you've just read the article in The Economist you might be interested in exploring more about our project, and the research we've undertaken so we have put together an online supplement with more in-depth information.