The United Nations sets out an inspiring ambition in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5:  Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

This bold goal is supported by targets and indicators that help define what it means in more practical terms. Encouragingly, empowering women is a tremendous catalyst to achieve many of the other SDGs. In fact, a recent policy brief points out, “Among the 230 unique global SDG indicators, 53 explicitly reference women, girls, gender, or sex.”

Some are obvious, others might be surprising. For example, ensuring women’s participation and leadership in decision making can help address inequalities (SDG 10) and contribute to more peaceful and inclusive societies (SDG 16). It can also lead to improved social outcomes like family health (SDG 3) and education (SDG 4). Giving women voice and agency can be transformative even in environmental management – from ecosystem conservation to climate change mitigation.   

Assessing gender impact

Despite these linkages, UN Women found that there are no internationally established methodologies or standards for 23 out of the 53 gender-related indicators. So how do we leverage gender equality for all to help us deliver on the broader Agenda 2030? Even more fundamentally – how do we measure progress?

Gold Standard’s newly launched Gender Equality Framework aims to solve this problem. And there are few better ways to maximize positive benefits for women and girls than through clean cooking solutions.

The links between cooking and gender equality

About 3 billion people – almost 40% of the world’s population – still rely on cooking over an open fire to feed their families. Inhaling these toxic fumes and soot lead to 2.6 million premature deaths each year, primarily women and children.

Beyond dire health impacts, the inefficiency of this cooking method consumes hours of women’s time each day. It even has implications on sexual violence, as women and girls often must travel dangerous distances alone to collect fuel for cooking. A recent UN Foundation blog also highlighted gender-based violence in refugee camps that stems from shortages in fuel. 

Clean cooking solutions contribute positively to gender equality and many other SDGs. Photo: Paradigm Project