The UK government lacks an effective plan in tackling the UNs fifth sustainable development goal (SDG 5) for achieving gender equality by 2030, according to a select committee report published today.
It reveals that 22 other countries have set out a strategic plan for how to achieve the SDG, which was agreed by world leaders at the United Nations in 2015, but the UK has not.
The report recommends that the government domestically publicise its commitment to SDGs, while the minister for women and equalities should take responsibility for ensuring the achievement of the SDG 5 across government.
Committee chair, Maria Miller, said: "Other countries, including Germany, Norway and Finland have already set out clear plans for action and the UK appears to be lagging behind.
"The UK has led the world in developing the SDGs and we should be proud of the government for championing the inclusion of a standalone gender goal, but achieving the SDG 5 commitment domestically is key to maintaining our position as a proponent of women's rights globally."
The target of the SNG 5 is to provide women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes.
The UN say this will have economic benefits, such as faster economic growth, as well as social ones, while a report from McKinsey & Co last year showed that increasing gender equality in the UK could add £150bn to GDP forecasts in 2025.
The government has said that it will use cross-departmental work to achieve the SDG, however the committee report argues that effective lines of responsibility for co-ordinating this are unclear.
"The UK has strong policies in many areas included in SDG 5 but stretching goals need to be agreed to demonstrate commitment to gender equality at home as well as abroad," Miller continued.
"We strongly welcome the government's promise to include SDG 5 in its cross-departmental work, but the need for an overall strategy to ensure its successful delivery is clear. Leadership must come from the top."
The report adds that the Government Equalities Office (GEO) should consult on the most effective mechanism for facilitating partnership between the government and civil society, while the Office for National Statistics should create clearer indicators monitoring progress towards the SDG 5.