Key policy recommendations

Each thematic chapter of this report provides detailed policy recommendations on the 16 SIGI indicators (providing a comprehensive legal framework to address violence against women, for example). This section lists cross-cutting policy recommendations.

Reshaping gender norms to unleash the potential of Agenda 2030 requires a three-pronged approach to all discriminatory social institutions included in the SIGI:

Start with legal reforms and gender-responsive policies

  • Eurasian governments should start by eradicating remaining discriminatory laws and plugging legal loopholes. This means looking into discriminatory legal provisions related to women’s workplace rights as well as legal failures to address violence against women and girl-child marriage in a comprehensive way. Women should be able to choose their profession in all sectors and with all types of jobs, even those considered too hazardous, arduous or morally inappropriate for a female worker. All forms of violence against women in all places should be criminalised, including sexual harassment, domestic violence and marital rape. All countries should follow Turkmenistan’s example in raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 years for both sexes without exceptions.

  • Statutory rights should take precedence over customary laws to enforce legal equality commitments for all women and girls irrespective of their location, marital status, ethnicity or religion. For example, policy makers in Central Asia and the Caucasus should align statutory and customary inheritance laws.

  • A social norms lens should be applied to all policies and programmes to improve their gender-responsiveness and foster social transformation. Public policies from the outset should address the root causes of gender inequality. This is notably true in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia where advocacy campaigns and/or educational programmes are key to address the devaluation of the girl child and eradicate the phenomenon of missing women.

  • Moving away from traditional gender mainstreaming,1 Eurasian national gender strategies should adopt multi-sectoral and integrated approaches to create a more conducive environment for women’s empowerment. Leaving no one behind means tackling gender discrimination in all economic, social and public spheres. It means involving various ministries, for example those concerned with education, labour and social protection, to avoid the domino effects of discrimination and reduce women’s vulnerability at all stages of their lives. This notably includes improving girls’ school-to-work transition, addressing glass-ceiling and gender occupational segregation, and closing the gender pension gap. Similarly, financial inclusion policies should go hand-in-hand with land access programmes.

Second, foster social transformation through community mobilisation

  • Capitalising on women’s economic potential requires challenging negative gender stereotypes and reshaping gender roles. This is particularly true when focusing on women’s political and economic leadership, and the unequal distribution of caring responsibilities within the family. Quotas and parental leave schemes are clearly insufficient to challenge the widespread stigmatisation of women in politics or as working mothers.

  • Beyond engaging men in efforts to enhance gender equality, it is time to redefine masculinity. A major rethinking of the social contract and what is expected regarding “masculinity” is needed for men to be at the centre of social transformation. Greater incentives are also needed. Shifting social norms is neither a female responsibility nor a strictly female-oriented process.

  • Nothing can be done without engaging all actors in a whole-of-society shift. A deep social transformation eliminating discriminatory customary and religious laws and practices requires shared commitments. Every citizen and all institutions have a role to play: governments, development co-operation stakeholders, civil society, community and religious leaders, teachers, health professionals, justice and police officers, the media, foundations, the private sector and others. Social transformation can be propelled by legal reforms, but it also requires change on the ground.

    • Support of women’s rights movements and their amplification through community engagement should never cease, as backlash always threatens progress. The last decade has seen new actors get involved in supporting gender equality and an upsurge of movements supporting women’s rights. However, forms of backlash are threatening progress all over the region. It is critical to draw on new actors and ways of communication to amplify women’s rights campaigns through community dialogue and innovative practices aimed at changing gender norms across society.

Strengthen data collection and monitoring

  • More evidence and more data are needed to better monitor progress and understand the drivers of gender inequality. Despite the widespread belief that female genital mutilation (FGM) is not an issue in Eurasian countries, the example of Georgia, where cases of FGM were uncovered, illustrates the need to collect data. Similarly, the importance of collecting individual data and statistically defining the household as an addition of individuals rather than a homogenous unit has also been shown in Georgia. Women suffer from invisible discrimination and a risk of poverty due to the lack of household data disaggregated at the level of individuals.

  • Increased access to qualitative data is needed. The official designation of SIGI as a data source for monitoring SDG 5.1.1, on “whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex”, recognises that comparable and reliable data on legal discrimination are critical for monitoring the SDGs.2

  • Investment in analytical capacity is needed at the national level. Producing data is a valuable first step, but statistics take on added power when they are used by decision makers to inform policy. Moreover, data analysis offers a unique opportunity for citizens to ask for strengthened accountability to improve the gender responsiveness of public policies. It can ensure that policies are assessed from the perspective of women’s and men’s needs and interests, and can hold decision makers accountable for their performance in reducing the gender gap.


← 1. Gender mainstreaming refers to the design of all public policies and use of policy instruments with the promotion of gender equality in mind.

← 2. The World Bank Group, Women Business and the Law is the second official data source for SDG indicator 5.1.1. For more information see:

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