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Gender Equality and the Sustainable Development Goals: Improving Measures of Progress.

Project Description

With 193 countries committed to the UN’s Agenda 2030, global development policy is now dominated by the framework of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their corresponding targets. This project is focused on the relationship between two goals in particular: SDG 5 (gender equality) and SDG 16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions). By focusing on one in-depth country case study of the intersection between SDG 5 and 16 (to be determined based on applications), the project will:
i. Ascertain the extent to which existing indicators for SDG 16 adequately measure the gendered components of peace, justice, and strong institutions.
ii. Propose alternative, participatory indicators for SDG16, more attentive to gender equality and to the inter-sectional nature of gendered disadvantage.

So far, work on SDG16 has focused on post-conflict situations and homicide rates, neglecting the ‘everyday’ (in)securities and injustices that preclude the development of more peaceful and inclusive societies and which have particular gendered dimensions. Measures of success have tended to stress formal legal reform (e.g. indicator 5.1.1, on discriminatory legal frameworks), or levels of spending on judicial institutions (e.g. the EU’s measure of court sending as a proxy for the quality of the legal system within SDG 16), with insufficient attention to substantive equality, or to how law is experienced by ordinary people. For example, while there are several databases on gender equality in formal laws (including the World Bank’s database of laws impacting women in business), these do not systematically explore implementation or access. Moreover, in 2018 UN Women produced a flagship report on gender and SDG monitoring, as part of their call for “serious analytical work that sharpens our understanding of how to capture, measure and monitor meaningful change for women and girls” (UN Women 2018, 73). Among the report’s key findings are:

1. that the SDG framework is insufficiently intersectional in the way that it addresses gender. Average aggregate figures on women’s well-being mask significant variations in terms of region, religion, ethnicity, income level, etc.
2. that there is need to foster collaboration between producers and users of data – including women’s rights organisations – to ensure that data meets the needs of different groups. In particular, UN Women recommends participatory data collection, with examples like crowdsourced data on harassment incidents.

This project will build upon these recommendations, through an in-depth case study of the adequacy of existing indicators for SDG 16 to capture the gendered components of peace, justice, and strong institutions. By combining expertise in development, socio-legal studies, and gender, it will ask:
- what do current targets and indicators on SDGs 5 and 16 prioritise and measure?
- to what extent do these measures and priorities reflect the needs of different stakeholder groups working on the intersection between SDG 5 and 16 (including women’s groups and multiply disadvantaged groups)?
- what alternative targets and indicators are proposed?
Answering these questions will result in original, significant findings that not only advance our academic understanding of how to conceive and measure gender inequality within Agenda 2030, but that will also be of use to policy makers and civil society audiences.

The PhD candidate will:
- have an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard (or equivalent) as well as a Masters degree with Merit or Distinction. At least one of these will be in law, legal studies, development, or a related discipline.
- have proven research experience in gender and development in the country case study proposed.
- have evidence of capacity for cross-disciplinary research.
- have proven capacity to work independently
- have experience of working in, or knowledge of, a country in sub-Saharan Africa or Latin America.
- be able to justify why their proposed country case study fits this project.
- be able and willing to carry out interviews in the country
- have the relevant language skills required for interviews
- have excellent written communication skills in English, with an overall ILETS score of 7 and a minimum ILETS score of 6.7 in individual components (where relevant).
- be available to commence full time academic studies in the UK at the beginning of October 2019.
- Experience of volunteering or work in the third sector, especially in the NGO sector, is welcome.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the Global Challenges Scholarship.
The award comprises:

Full payment of tuition fees at UK Research Councils UK/EU fee level (£4,327 in 2019/20), to be paid by the University;
An annual tax-free doctoral stipend at UK Research Councils UK/EU rates (£15,009 for 2019/20), to be paid in monthly instalments to the Global Challenges scholar by the University;
The tenure of the award can be for up to 3.5 years (42 months).

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