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Save women a seat in the Post 2015 Development Agenda!


Less than 300 days away lies the finish line of the Millennium Development Goals (the MDGs) – what was in fact the first global antipoverty strategy in human history. The MDGs no matter their shortcomings brought substantial relief to those living in extreme poverty and acknowledged some of the importance of women’s rights and gender equality in advancing humanity to a road of less destitution.

For the following 15 years, the UN as well as governments across the world aim to commit once again to end poverty and hunger in every place on earth. The task at hand is even more complicated as the MDGs experience has taught governments, activists and other stakeholders that poverty happens everywhere in the world and that its causes are not only numerous but also interlinked in an endless chain of disadvantages and inequalities. For example, gender discrimination often brings about lack of education, ill health and early maternity which impacts onto women’s economic opportunities as well as those of their children thus reinstating poverty over a next generation.

Throughout 2014, governments came together in the structure of a working group (Open Working Group on the post 2015 development agenda) and debated over many months what the next steps towards sustainable development should be like so that no one is left behind in world moving towards shared prosperity and sustainability. The OWG kept its level of ambition quite high and listed in its outcome document listed a number of 17 sustainable development goals as the basis for the future. Out of these goals one refers to gender equality and the empowerment of women which refers to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. Several goals have a gender component.

Moving forward, on 17-20 February 2015 the co-facilitators of the Post 2015 process put forth a draft Political Declaration for the Post 2015 Development Agenda. The draft document put forward for discussion was somewhat disappointing as it lacked references to SDGs, to human rights and to gender equality and women’s rights as well as references to ending inequalities and transforming the current economic model towards a more sustainable one. The Women’s Major Group (where ASTRA is a member) proposed a set of recommendations and draft for a political declaration through which it introduced once again these key issues. Numerous member states (including a declaration backed by 40 states) spoke about the need to achieve gender equality in the next 15 years as well as about the role of women as active agents development. It seems that the call to acknowledge the contribution of women in sustainable development as well as the need to redress the historical injustice of gender based discrimination is on the minds of many decision makers. Nonetheless it seems that it is not yet clear that gender equality is entangled with more equitable distribution in the fields of economics and environment. This has been the vision of WMG throughout the entire process and remains a key message for the months ahead. Saving women a dignified seat in the post 2015 development agenda means fully acknowledging that women’s rights tie into economics and environmental concerns.

Will governments reach a truly gender sensitive understanding of development? It remains for women’s groups around the world to push for it up until the next zero draft of the Political Declaration to be released by 20th of May.

Written by Irina Costache, A.L.E.G., Romania

More information: NGOs Beyond 2014

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