Goal 5 seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls ensuring women are given equal access and rights to land, property, sexual and reproductive health, and technology. The goal aims to provide women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes.


BY 2030
  • End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
  • 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.
  • Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation
  • Recognise 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.
  • Eliminating gender disparities in education and ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.
  • Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life.
  • Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

1 in 3

women experience physical and/or sexual abuse


Women earn 77 cents for every $1 a man earns


of managerial positions are held by women

Ending discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, it is also crucial for a sustainable future. Empowering women and girls helps economic growth and development.

Since the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals there have been fewer girls forced into early marriage, more women serving in parliaments and positions of leadership, and laws being passed to advance gender equality. However, despite these gains women and girls continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership, to perform a disproportionate share of unpaid domestic work, and to face restrictions and lack of autonomy in decision making.


Women and girls around the world continue to experience violence and cruel practices such as intimate partner violence, female genital mutilation, and child marriage.
In 2017, UN SDG 5, Gender Equality, was reviewed at the High-Level Political Forum. The review highlighted that discriminatory constitutional and legislative provisions are still in place in many countries, including in family, divorce and personal laws, penal codes, nationality laws, and laws relating to inheritance, ownership and control over land and other resources. It also noted that violence against women and girls in private and public spaces is a persistent phenomenon that no country has managed to eliminate, with one in three women experiencing physical and/or sexual violence by a partner or sexual violence by a non-partner in their lifetime.
Women and girls perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work, including caregiving and household tasks, in every region. On average, women spend 19 per cent of their time daily on unpaid care work, compared with 8 per cent for men.
This disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work, together with paid labour, means women and girls work longer hours and have less time for rest, self-care, learning, and other activities such as political participation. Today, women only earn 77 cents for every dollar that men get for the same work.23
While women represent 39 per cent of world employment, only 27 per cent of managerial positions in the world were occupied by women in 2018, up only marginally from 26 per cent in 2015.


While some indicators of gender equality are progressing, such as a significant decline in the prevalence of female genital mutilation and early marriage, the overall numbers continue to be high. Moreover, insufficient progress on structural issues at the root of gender inequality, such as legal discrimination, unfair social norms and attitudes, decision-making on sexual and reproductive issues, and low levels of political participation, are undermining the ability to achieve SDG 5.
There is a long way to go towards achieving gender equality, and it will require actions that will address root causes of discrimination against women as well as laws and policies that advance gender equality with accountability for commitments made to women’s rights.
Eighty-two percent of territories have undertaken new strategies or implemented new programmes relating to gender equality within the last five years. Initiatives include, but are not limited to:
  • Implementing anti-discrimination policies
  • Skills training and leadership development for women and girls
  • Encouraging women to participate at all levels within The Salvation Army
  • Programmes for women who have suffered from gender violence within their own homes
  • Programmes for women to develop professional skills
  • Development of material to encourage conversations about gender violence
  • Workshops regarding gender violence awareness
  • Recovery services for women in drug and alcohol addiction
  • Shelters for homeless women including treatment for both social and medical needs
  • Economic activity programmes dedicated to women
  • Ecological construction technique training for women
  • Shelters for domestic violence victims
  • Advocacy for equal conditions in women’s prisons
  • Community programmes for vulnerable women
  • Awareness workshops for human rights and equality
  • Immunisations for vulnerable and at-risk girls
  • Workshops on women’s health
  • Programmes for women who work in the sex industry
  • Aiding in resettlement of released women prisoners to home countries
  • Safe houses for survivors of sex trafficking


It is estimated that over
people are assisted through these programmes annualy
Almost 70 percent of territories reported partnering with other stakeholders or organisations to help promote gender equality. Partners included other NGOs, government departments, combined councils of churches, national gender equality offices, UN Women, women’s police units, social development offices, local hospitals, universities, local business, and authorities.
Sixty-six percent of Salvation Army territories are in a country or have a country within their territory which has a national policy on gender equality.


SEVENTY-FIVE PER CENT of territories report that they have plans in place for future initiatives regarding promoting gender equality. These include:
  • additional education opportunities for women
  • advocating for schools and services to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of gender
  • advocacy and girl child education
  • marital status and pregnancy
  • skills training for women who live in villages ensuring traditional culture is preserved and the capacity of women is advanced
  • training and awareness for at-risk girls in foster care
  • publishing a training manual for promoting gender equality
  • Recovery services for women in drug and alcohol addiction
  • development and extension of anti-trafficking programmes
  • conducting training and seminars on gender equality


Discrimination against women is a global issue. Women experience biases based on their gender in every country of the world. In Pakistan, gender discrimination is rampant in both rural and urban areas. The status of women is not considered equal to that of men in Pakistani culture, and gender equality gaps are striking.

The Salvation Army in Pakistan is concerned about this issue and wants to promote gender equality throughout the country. In 2019 a gender equality training manual was developed and published to help Salvation Army personnel hold faith-based facilitated conversations in local communities about the importance of gender equality and what can be done to bridge the gender gap. Salvation Army personnel throughout the country have been trained to hold these sessions, and gender equality conversations have been conducted in Salvation Army centres throughout Pakistan, with positive feedback. The initative has become an important part of The Salvation Army’s work in Pakistan and conversations have been held with local women, men and teenagers in rural and urban communities.

The facilitation process has allowed people to participate and share their views and thinking on gender discrimination issues in the light of faith. Their ideas and views are valued during the group discussions in order to encourage everyone to take the responsibility to reduce the negative effects of issues on women’s and girl’s lives. These exercises help people to think and plan to take account of the issue. The facilitation team listens to ideas, shares resources, and the helps the group as they decide and plan what they can do toward reducing gender discrimination.

The intended outcome is to bring about a change in attitudes and behaviours, especially in men and boys, of women and girls, to help women recognise their rights, to challenge stereotypes, and to lead to women and girls being treated equally in opportunities, education, and access to health services, careers and decision making.


It is estimated that out of all the underage youth who are commercially sexually exploited in the United States, 70 percent have spent time in the foster care system. To help empower and celebrate the strength of girls in foster care, The Salvation Army USA has partnered with Brave Global. Through messages of hope, identity, empowerment and worth, the programme desires to remind girls on the margins how God sees them, their bravery, and how they are actually part of the solution. The strategy is to connect and empower youth in the hope of stopping exploitation and to be a preventative step, working with girls to impact their lives before traffickers do.

The programme starts with a catalytic one-day event for conversation and connection for girls ages 12–18 in the foster care system. This event is designed to remind the girls that they are valuable and lovable, and to encourage them to dream big dreams for what their futures can be. The programme creates a safe space for youth to grow by building a bridge between the local church, local government, and not-for-profit agencies. After the event, participants join a group of other girls who will be mentored in intentional ways by someone who desires to show them that life can be different than what they have known.

The goal of Brave is for churches and non-profits from all over the area to come together to remind girls who are or have been in foster care that they are worth celebrating. The hope is that this event will change a generation and to change the statistics for girls who end up in the sex industry and for girls who have babies too young, and to encourage girls to become whatever they are meant to be. Brave aims to become a global campaign that invites God’s people to reach out to the most vulnerable girls with a message of empowerment in every community across the Western world.

International Positional Statement on Sexism

The Salvation Army provides International Positional Statements on contemporary moral and social issues, approved by the General on advice from the International Moral and Social issues Council (IMASIC).  A positional statement is an articulation, crafted with careful and prayerful thought, of the official viewpoint of The Salvation Army. As well as stating the position, each document expresses the scriptural and theological grounds for the statement and the underlying principles as well as background and context on the issue and practical responses.

In 2019 The Salvation Army released an International Positional Statement on Sexism. The statement reads:

Sexism is discrimination based on sex or gender, most often against women and girls and is increasingly understood as a fundamental human rights issue.

Sexism often includes a combination of prejudice plus power. It is expressed through systemic, structured prejudice and cultural discrimination and can be present in a family, communities of faith, and societal and national cultures.

The Salvation Army believes that both male and female are made in the image of God and are equal in value and therefore is opposed to sexism. We reject any view that subordinates women to men, or men to women.

The Salvation Army believes that our world is enhanced by equitably valuing, equipping and mobilising all human beings. While valuing gender equity, The Salvation Army acknowledges with regret that Salvationists have sometimes conformed to societal and organisational norms that perpetuate sexism. We are committed to model the equitable valuing, equipping and mobilising of men and women, and will speak into societies around the world where sexism exists."

COVID-19 Response

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could reverse the limited progress that has been made on gender equality and women’s rights. The coronavirus outbreak exacerbates existing inequalities for women and girls across every sphere – from health and the economy to security and social protection. 

Women play a disproportionate role in responding to the virus, including as frontline healthcare workers and carers at home. Women’s unpaid care work has increased significantly as a result of school closures and the increased needs of older people. Women are also harder hit by the economic impacts of COVID-19, as they disproportionately work in insecure labour markets. Nearly 60 per cent of women work in the informal economy, which puts them at greater risk of falling into poverty. 

The pandemic has also led to a steep increase in violence against women and girls.  With lockdown measures in place, many women are trapped at home with their abusers, struggling to access services that are suffering from cuts and restrictions.

The Salvation Army is responding to the needs of women worldwide during the pandemic. In the United Kingdom, mindful of the potential for increased levels of relationship breakdown brought about by the stresses of the continuing lockdown, The Salvation Army is promoting a free online marriage course. In Madagascar a new project seeks to improve nutrition for pregnant women, nursing mothers and orphaned children – some of the most at-risk groups.

Our Commitment

“The Salvation Army is committed to SDG 5, which has served as the North Star for the Gender Equity Taskforce of The Salvation Army, guiding us upon our journey, challenging us to keep going, and reminding us that we have not arrived yet. SDG 5 has been instrumental in the development of Gender Equity Key Domains for The Salvation Army, which will now be discussed, agreed upon and actioned. A commitment to SDG 5 not only empowers women and girls, it also strengthens organisations by embracing and utilising a tremendous deep reserve of untapped gifting.”


Commissioner (Dr) Mark Tillsley, PhD., International Secretary for the Americas & Caribbean Zone
Co-Chair of the International Salvation Army Gender Equity Taskforce