In August 2015, countries united behind and adopted a new sustainable development agenda, consisting of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets that aim to end poverty, combat inequality, and promote prosperity while protecting the environment by 2030[1].

SDG 5 - “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” – includes targets to[2]:

  • End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere;
  • Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life;
  • Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.

Working with adolescent girls is key to achieving SDG 5. According to the World Bank[3]:

"Girls are stalled between school and productive work: more than a third—34%—of young women in developing countries are jobless—out of the labour force and not in school. Although the gender gap in school enrolment has been closing, the gender gap in labour force participation is on the rise.

Reaching girls during adolescence is critical—decisions made and behaviours established during this period affect their horizons later in life. Adolescence for boys typically ushers increased mobility and autonomy, but for girls it often comes with increased restrictions —fewer opportunities and less freedom to exercise choice. During this formative period in their lives it is important to provide adolescent girls with the tools they need to become economically empowered young women."[4]

Women Win’s Leadership and Economic Empowerment Pathway framework uses sport as the starting point for building the confidence and capacity of adolescent girls and young women. These are important pre-requisites for the next steps of employability skills building, taking on leadership roles, and preparing to enter the economic sector, whether through continued education, entrepreneurship or employment. 

The approach counters the trend of adolescent girls and young women finding themselves in under-valued, insecure, and underpaid or low-wage work[5]. It can be used to give adolescent girls and young women the knowledge and skills they need to achieve their educational and career goals, and thereby create future generations of female leaders who are empowered to make decisions about both their own well-being and that of their families.

Read more about Sustainable Development Goal 5.