The Women and Equalities Committee has published the responses from the Government and the Office for National Statistics to the previous Committee’s report on Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 5 in the UK (March 2017).
Committee Chair, Maria Miller MP, commented:
“We called on the Government to provide a dedicated strategy for implementing its commitment under the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve gender equality, but so far this has not been forthcoming. The Government needs to demonstrate that delivering this commitment in the UK as well as through international efforts is not an afterthought. We need to see stronger leadership to raise the profile of the Goals domestically, or there is a risk that the UK’s reputation as a global leader on gender equality will be tarnished.
“The Government says that delivery will be driven by the new Single Departmental Plans. Until these are published it is difficult for the Committee to judge how effective they will be as a tool for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and measuring progress towards them.”
The Government Response in summary:
The Government has accepted the Committee’s recommendation that it should report to the High Level Political Forum on performance against the Sustainable Development Goals, but has not committed to the 2018 timetable suggested by the Committee.
The Government has not accepted the Committee’s argument that it would be more effective for the Cabinet Office to take responsibility for of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals rather than the Department for International Development (DFID). DFID retains policy oversight, which the Committee considered to be inappropriate for a programme of domestic reform.
The Government has not accepted the Committee’s recommendation that there should be National Implementation Plan, preferring instead to ‘embed and track delivery’ through Single Departmental Plans. This approach is different to that taken by other European countries, including Germany and Switzerland, which have adopted strategic plans for delivery against the SDGs. New Single Departmental Plans have not yet been published, and in oral evidence to the Committee on 11 October, Minister for Women Anne Milton MP indicated that it may be months before the plan for Education and the Government Equalities Office is published.
The Government refers to a report published in March 2017 on Agenda 2030 as setting out its ‘approach’ to the Goals. This document largely collates information about policy initiatives already underway rather than setting out a strategy for further progress, and it fails to address several of the specific targets under Goal 5 (‘the standalone gender goal’).
The full text of the Government Response is available on the Committee’s website.