Author: Ranjani.K.Murthy, April 18 2017 - This blog examines what the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), targets and indicators have to offer to further welfare and rights of girl child, and where there are gaps. It also explores what civil society could do to monitor the achievement of girl child specific and girl child intensive[1] goals, targets and indicators.

Sustainable Development Goals are goals that national governments and UN agencies agreed upon for achievement by 2030, keeping 2015 as baseline.  Unlike MDGs, the SDGs apply to all countries and are based on a principle of 100% achievement of goals and targets, rather than just improvement.  Further they encompass a wider set of gender targets and indicators.  In total there are 17 Goals, 169 targets and 230 indicators (number of indicators as of March, 2016)    

What do they offer for children and girl children? An analysis of SDGs, targets and indicators (see Annex 1), reveals the following:

·         There is one separate goal (SDG 5) with a focus on women and girls -  “Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All women and Girls”

·         Of 17 Goals, 10 make an attempt to integrate concerns of girl child directly or indirectly. These goals pertain to ending poverty, ending hunger, ensuring health lives,  promoting equitable education, gender equality,  clean water and sanitation, decent work, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and peace, justice & institutions

·         Of the 169 targets 20 focus on children/girl children and of the 230 indicators  around 40 are relevant to girl children directly/indirectly

The integration of welfare and rights of girl child is stronger in SDG 5 and SDGs on health (SDG 3) and education (SDG 4), and weaker in the rest.  In fact, there is no attention to girl children within the following SDGs:  i) affordable and clean energy when girls spend time cooking,  ii) industry, innovation and infrastructure where girl child labour can be found in several developing countries, iii) responsible consumption and production though irresponsibility in this regard may have a sex/gender differentiated impact, like obesity during adolescence may lead to delivery complications,   iv)  combat climate change though it has a different impact on adolescent girls (e.g. adverse menstrual health during floods), v) conserve marine resources and eco systems as with depletion-poor families marrying off daughters to older men for lesser dowry, and vi) enforce non-discriminatory laws for sustainable development.

An area for strengthening from an Asian lens is that sex ratio at birth and child sex ratio is not included as one of the SDG indicators of monitoring (SDG 5 or others).  Indicators of gender equality in access to food, nutrition and health are missing, as are access of girls to sports.  A major issue is that indicators on violence against women and girls refer to the age group 15-49 years, when violence against girls commences even in the first year!  SDGs perceive labor of girls and boys as permissible long as they are 15 and above, when CRC views all persons 18 or under as a child.  Diversity amongst girl children on the basis of age, location and disability is well incorporated in the SDG framework, but not on the basis of caste, religion, ethnicity and sexual/gender identity (adolescents). Special attention is needed on these issues. 

Nevertheless SDGs, targets and indicators listed in Annex 1 are worth monitoring (with modifications to suit each country and area context).  A challenge is that data is not available on several indicators.  For example, there is no data on proportion of girls and boys in poverty, or  proportion of girls subject to sexual violence by persons other than an intimate partner etc.  Another challenge is that indicators are too many. It may be useful to prioritize monitoring at national, state, district and panchayat/municipality levels.  Visual participatory processes could be initiated at the local level for monitoring prioritized SDGs/beyond at local level by adolescent girls, anganwadi (pre-school) workers, local leaders, teachers and NGOs. The challenge is to decentralize monitoring of SDGs from a girl-child lens and use it for advocacy. There is also a need for inclusion of missing yet relevant indicators in SDG process (e.g. sex ratio at birth, child sex ratio, segregation of girls during menstruation, access to sports, and violence against girls of all age groups).  

Annex 1

SDGs, targets and indicators related to girl child



Targets related to Girl Child

Indicators related to Girl Child


End poverty in all its forms everywhere

1.2 By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions


1.3 Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable



1.2 2Proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions


1.3.1 Proportion of population covered by social protection floors/systems, by sex, distinguishing children, unemployed persons, older persons, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, newborns, work-injury victims and the poor and the vulnerable



SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition

2.2 By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children less than 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women…..

2.2.2 Prevalence of malnutrition (weight for height >+2 or <-2 standard deviation from the median of the WHO Child Growth Standards) among children under 5 years of age, by type (wasting and overweight)


SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages



3.2 By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births 

3.5 Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol

3.2.1 Under-five mortality rate

3.2.2 Neonatal mortality rate

3.5.1 Coverage of treatment interventions (pharmacological, psychosocial and rehabilitation and aftercare services) for substance use disorders

3.5.2 Harmful use of alcohol, defined according to the national context as alcohol per capita consumption (aged 15 years and older) within a calendar year in liters of pure alcohol

3.6.1 Death rate due to road traffic injuries

3.7.2 Adolescent birth rate (aged 10-14 years; aged 15-19 years) per 1,000 women in that age group


SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education

4.1 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes 



4.2 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education


4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations 

4.a Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all 



4.1.1  Proportion of children and young people: (a) in grades 2/3; (b) at the end of primary; and (c) at the end of lower secondary achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics, by sex

4.2.1  Proportion of children under 5 years of age who are developmentally on track in health, learning and psychosocial well-being, by sex

4.2.2  Participation rate in organized learning (one year before the official primary entry age), by sex

4.3.1  Participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal education and training in the previous 12 months, by sex

4.4.1  Proportion of youth and adults with information and communications technology (ICT) skills, by type of skill

4.5.1  Parity indices (female/male, rural/urban, bottom/top wealth quintile and others such as disability status, indigenous peoples and conflict-affected, as data become available) for all education indicators on this list that can be disaggregated

4.6.1  Percentage of population in a given age group achieving at least a fixed level of proficiency in functional (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills, by sex

4.a.1  Proportion of schools with access to: (a) electricity; (b) the Internet for pedagogical purposes; (c) computers for pedagogical purposes; (d) adapted infrastructure and materials for students with disabilities; (e) basic drinking water; (f) single-sex basic sanitation facilities; and (g) basic hand washing facilities (as per the WASH indicator definitions)


Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls


5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere

5.2 Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation

5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation


5.4 Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate

5.6 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences

5.c Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels

5.1.1  Whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non‑discrimination on the basis of sex

5.2.1  Proportion of ever-partnered women and girls aged 15 years and older subjected to physical, sexual or psychological violence by a current or former intimate partner in the previous 12 months, by form of violence and by age

5.2.2  Proportion of women and girls aged 15 years and older subjected to sexual violence by persons other than an intimate partner in the previous 12 months, by age and place of occurrence

5.3.1  Proportion of women aged 20-24 years who were married or in a union before age 15 and before age 18

5.3.2  Proportion of girls and women aged 15-49 years who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting, by age

5.4.1  Proportion of time spent on unpaid domestic and care work, by sex, age and location

5.6.1  Proportion of women aged 15-49 years who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use and reproductive health care

5.6.2  Number of countries with laws and regulations that guarantee women aged 15-49 years access to sexual and reproductive health care, information and education

5.c.1  Proportion of countries with systems to track and make public allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment


SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation

6.2 By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations 



SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

8.7 Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms



8.6.1  Proportion of youth (aged 15-24 years) not in education, employment or training

8.7.1  Proportion and number of children aged 5‑17 years engaged in child labor, by sex and age

8.10.2  Proportion of adults (15 years and older) with an account at a bank or other financial institution or with a mobile-money-service provider


SDG 10:

Reduced inequalities


10.3.1  Proportion of the population reporting having personally felt discriminated against or harassed within the previous 12 months on the basis of a ground of discrimination prohibited under international human rights law


SDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities

11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons 

11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities 


11.2.1  Proportion of population that has convenient access to public transport, by sex, age and persons with disabilities

11.7.2 Proportion of persons victim of physical or sexual harassment, by sex, age, disability status and place of occurrence, in the previous 12 months


SDG 16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

16.1 Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates for alll everywhere

16.2 End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children

16.3 Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for








16.9 By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration




16.1.1  Number of victims of intentional homicide per 100,000 population, by sex and age

16.1.2  Conflict-related deaths per 100,000 population, by sex, age and cause

16.2.1  Proportion of children aged 1-17 years who experienced any physical punishment and/or psychological aggression by caregivers in the past month

16.2.1  Proportion of children aged 1-17 years who experienced any physical punishment and/or psychological aggression by caregivers in the past month

16.2.2  Number of victims of human trafficking per 100,000 population, by sex, age and form of exploitation

16.2.3 Proportion of young women and men aged 18‑29 years who experienced sexual violence by age 18

16.3.1  Proportion of victims of violence in the previous 12 months who reported their victimization to competent authorities or other officially recognized conflict resolution mechanisms

16.9.1 Proportion of children under 5 years of age whose births have been registered with a civil authority, by age

[1] Refers to those targets and indicators which have a greater bearing on girls than boys, like access to sanitation, but girls more intensely than boys

As with all of the blogs posted on our website, the content above does not imply the endorsement of The CI or its Partners and is from the perspective of the writer alone. We do not check facts and strive to retain the writer's voice, as is detailed in our Editorial Policy.