SDG 3 - Health

Click on the box to enable country comparisons on the SDG Gender Index by SDG and by indicator.


drop in the maternal mortality ratio between 1990 and 2015


new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women every year


girls aged between 15 and 19 years
give birth each year

Why SDG 3 matters for gender equality

Gender inequalities often determine who suffers the heaviest burden of disease and who can access healthcare, with women’s health undermined by GBV, lack of control over household resources, and unpaid and unhealthy work. Girls and women cooking on open fires in their homes, for example, breathe in pollutants that contribute to hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.

They face gender-specific health risks, including FGM, and complications during pregnancy and childbirth such as obstetric fistula.

Girls and women are not only more vulnerable to health problems – they also have less access to healthcare. In some communities, medical treatment for girls and women is not a priority. Women bear a disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work – including caring for the sick.

Unpaid care work is thought to cost around 13% of global GDP each year ($10 trillion).

When girls and women have good prenatal care and safe birthing facilities, infant mortality rates fall and child health improves. Investment in adolescent girls’ health increases their chances of finishing secondary school and of finding productive work.

And ending the disproportionate burden of poor health on girls and women would enhance progress on education, gender equality and economic growth (SDGs 4, 5 and 8).

Plan International / Georgina Goodwin, Equal Measures 2030
Plan International / Georgina Goodwin

Click on a box to learn about the goal’s related issues, indicators and its relevance to gender equality.

Key findings from the SDG Gender Index

  • Family planning:

    Colombia leads the group on the rate of women whose need for family planning is met (87% in 2016), with El Salvador following close behind at 82% and India, Indonesia and Kenya all above 70%. Only 47% of women in Senegal are able to meet their needs for family planning with modern methods.

  • HIV incidence:

    Women and girls face particular risks associated with HIV infection, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, the region most affected by HIV. A wide range in HIV incidence exists among the focus countries: the rate in Kenya, the country with the highest incidence of new HIV infections among women of reproductive age, is 77 times the infection rate in Colombia.

  • Maternal health:

    El Salvador has the lowest maternal mortality ratio of the six focus countries (54 per 100,000 live births in 2015). In Kenya (510 per 100,000 live births in 2015), the rate is nearly 3.5 times higher than the average of the other five countries.

  • Adolescent birth rate:

    Adolescent pregnancies can have significant health implications for young mothers and often lead to girls dropping out of school. Of the focus countries, Kenya has a relatively high adolescent birth rate (96 per 1,000 women aged 15-19 in 2015) compared to Indonesia (48 per 1,000 women aged 15-19 in 2012) or India (51 per 1,000 women aged 15-19 in 2015)

Gender Equality Issues Without Sufficient Global Data

Here we highlight the ‘missing’ critical gender equality issues that we weren’t able to include in the Index due to insufficient globally comparable data. These ‘missing’ issues can help form part of an advocacy agenda calling for more and better gender data, contributing to existing calls for gaps in gender data to be filled.

Inequality in essential health coverage, poorest to richest quintile

Mental health and suicide (girls and women)

Age at first pregnancy


Equal Measures 2030 Partners