Gender Equality and the Sustainable Development of Islands

Gender equality is a crucial driver of sustainable development. Women and girls must have equal rights and live free from violence and discrimination. Learn how gender equality is being addressed in island communities.
Gender Equality

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At Island Innovation, we are strongly committed to driving sustainable change across island and remote communities worldwide, and to helping the international community work towards achieving the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Gender equality is fundamental to the achievement of human rights and, therefore, to driving positive change in societies all over the globe.

Gender Equality

What does gender equality mean?

Gender equality means that all genders are free from discrimination, and that their needs and contributions are valued equally.

What does gender equity mean?

Gender equity is another term often discussed at the same time as gender equality. Many societies have favored men over women for centuries, and gave men many advantages that cause inequality. Equity addresses discrimination and imbalances in society, compensating women for historical and social disadvantages so that equality can become a reality.

Why is gender equality essential for sustainable development?

As a group, women have been marginalized. Their potential contributions to economic growth, social progress and environmental protection have been discredited. Globally,  women only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. There’s a lifetime of income inequality between men and women, and more women are retiring into poverty. Better use of the world’s female population could increase economic growth, reduce poverty, enhance societal well-being, and help ensure sustainable development in all countries.

Gender equality SDG

SDG5 refers to achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Women represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, half of the world’s potential. Every day, women make decisions that impact sustainable development and can be critical drivers of change in their communities and globally. However, this aspect is only possible if women and girls have equal access to education, resources, and opportunities in decision-making processes. For example, when women and girls receive more education, it increases individual agency and opportunities to be in leadership positions and encourages them to marry later, have fewer children, and leave them less vulnerable to violence. Gender equality has even been shown to stimulate economic growth, a factor that is vital for countries with fewer economic opportunities, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and rural communities.

What are the SDG 5 Targets?

As the fifth Sustainable Development Goal, the international community has designated nine targets to create action for gender equality including ending all violence against and exploitation of women and girls, ensuring full participation in leadership and decision-making, as well as equal rights to economic resources, property ownership and financial services.

What is the Gender Equality Index?

In order to measure the success and implementation of these targets, the United Nations has introduced a Gender Inequality Index (GII) which measures the loss of achievement within a country due to gender inequality. This tool is vital in assessing whether the implementation of new policies related to gender are successful, especially as it relates to Island communities who are proactively taking action in bridging gender inequalities in their communities.

Gender equality on islands

Gender inequality exists in all areas of the world, however, the effects of gender inequality are especially notable in island communities. We know that factors such as climate change disproportionately affect women versus men, due to their differentiated relative powers, roles and responsibilities in their communities and households. Given that SIDS are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, the women living in those countries are further impacted. Island communities now more than ever need to be proactive in bridging gender inequality in their communities and utilize the framework provided by the SDGs.

Gender equality in the Philippines

Fortunately, many island countries and communities are driving change in gender equality. The Philippines has been positioned globally at #17 out of 156 countries for gender equality as revealed in the 2021 Global Gender Gap Report.

The Solomon Islands Gender Equality Plan

The Solomon Islands are actively implementing plans to produce more comprehensive gender equality policies, as well as mechanisms which can better measure their implementation. The Gender Equality Plan serves as a bridge between the completion of Australia’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development initiative and the start of the next phase of funding for Pacific gender equality programs.

Pacific Women integrates more than 170 gender equality activities backed by Australia and delivered by over 160 partners throughout 14 Pacific Island countries, including the Solomon Islands, through a 10-year commitment launched in 2012.

Marshall Islands Gender Equality Overview

The Marshall Islands published a report on their gender statistics in 2020. Those statistics aid in the monitoring and evaluation of gender equity progress, as well as the development of future gender equality policies, programs, and initiatives.


The Sustainable Development Goals are a vital component to the prosperity of island communities globally, and Island Innovation wants to continue to support organizations, governments, and island communities in achieving one or several SDGs.

Through our services, Island Innovation can help you in managing three of the core challenges commonly faced; lack of funds, shortage of strategic planning and absence of valuable networking opportunities.

To find out more about how we can work together, click here.

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