WIDE+ 2015 Report: Women’s rights need a transformation of the global development paradigm

The United Nations have adopted this weekend the new Sustainable Developmcoverenent Goals (SDGs) that set the global development agenda for the coming 15 years. The agenda is presented in conjunction with a “Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Commitment to Action” that took place on Sunday, which aims to commit governments to accelerate implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA) that member states adopted 20 years ago.

WIDE+, a European feminist network of gender specialists, women’s rights advocates and activists, women’s rights organizations and development NGOs, calls on governments to adopt policies that will transform the current economic system. Only a new global development paradigm will ensure that women’s rights are protected. The newly adopted SDGs agenda does not redress systemic issues and does not do enough to combat the global backlash against women’s human rights.

In light of the SDGs and the renewed commitment of governments to the BPfA, WIDE+ publishes today its proposals to revitalize an encompassing women’s rights agenda. The report is the result of the meetings WIDE+ organized in Barcelona, Spain, on 17 and 18 June this year, financed through the Spanish and Catalan Development Agency (Plataforma 2015 y más and ACCD). The reports, available in English, Spanish and Catalan, can be accessed here:


All the issues covered in the BPfA are still relevant for today’s feminist agenda. However, using knowledge and perspectives from across the world, it is necessary to widen and deepen many of the aspects covered to address the current backlash. The past decennia has led to a development model that is more and more framed as the ‘marketization of everything’. There is a continued proliferation of free trade agreements and policies that lead to resource-grabbing and growing inequalities. At the same time, today there are ideologies and social movements that support neo-conservative and even fundamentalist ideas and values, which are opposed to those that women’s movements across the globe have for decades been striving for: gender equality, reproductive rights, women’s bodily integrity and rights to economic agency.

A new paradigm of global development should integrate alternative models of economic growth with policies that decrease inequalities and discrimination. An alternative economy redefines the concept of work and re-organizes unpaid care work. Many policy makers focus on women’s limited access to the paid economy, without fully recognizing women’s huge contributions to the unpaid economy, as producers, as agricultural workers, and key sustainers of human livelihood. Women’s work is typically unpaid or underpaid and undervalued by the current market economy.

coverESFeminists need to constantly expand their knowledge about the challenges posed by current economic, financial and trade policies and their impacts on women’s human rights. This analysis should be connected to the analysis of other areas where a backlash on women’s rights is experienced.

Bodily autonomy, encompassing sexual and reproductive rights, health, protection and education and the need to eradicate all types of sexual abuse, gender based violence and harmful practices, is a necessary condition for gender equality. Women’s bodily autonomy needs to be included in the conceptualization of an alternative economic agenda since the current coverCApatriarchal economic system has a huge impact on women’s bodies.

European feminism also entails advocating against racist and Eurocentric policies, such as the closing of borders, asylum quotas, etc. A human rights based approach on migration should be advocated for that includes feminist perspectives and respect for international human rights conventions, such as the Refugee Convention.

In the context of ongoing democratic struggles in Europe, and while struggling to be loud voices in European and global debates, feminists are fighting the criminalization of the women’s rights movements, like the GAG Act in Spain prohibiting demonstrations.

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WIDE+ Intervention to the Study commissioned by the EP: the EU’s Trade Policy: from gender blind to gender sensitive, 22 September 2015

The European Parliament’s INTA (International Trade) Committee discussed at its last meeting held on 22 September 2015 the study commissioned by the EP ‘EU’s Trade Policy: from gender blind to gender sensitive’. Joyce Naar represented WIDE+ in this meeting and delivered an intervention into the debate (see attached).

WIDE+ welcomes this Study as it underlines the simple fact that trade has differential impacts on women and men. Globally, women lag behind in participation in the paid and formal labour market compared to men and they are paid less with a significant gender gap. No country has achieved a gender equality in each of these aspects. In addition, women and men are often structured into different economic sectors of the economy.

WIDE+ underscores the conclusion in this study that while ”the European Commission has made considerable progress in mainstreaming gender equality in some of the EU policy areas. Trade policy, however, has been very much left aside in this policy process and gender equality issues are currently not dealt with in a systematic manner by DG Trade”. WIDE+, and its predecessor WIDE, has come to the same conclusion after monitoring EU’s trade policy for close to two decades. The study offers important analysis and windows of opportunity to address this deficiency.

For women in the developing world it is key that the European Commission and Parliaments take up avenues for action put forward by the Study. In addition there are several other key actions the EU should undertake:

• Include binding clauses on labour standards, human rights and environmental protection in the trade agreement with an appropriate body appointed or an explicit mechanism to monitor compliance.
• Stop with promoting for a further liberalisation of markets and privatization for FDI and services as well as the opening of public procurement. Instead of protecting the interest of private corporations, EU trade policy must do more to protect public goods and services. The leverage to global sustainable development lies in the development of a large group of poor and middle income consumers. Women need a more balanced interplay between private capital and other sources of capital that will enhance their access to health, education, food and to economic tools.
• One major barrier for women’s full entry into the paid labour market (including setting up businesses) is women’s huge unpaid work burden. EU Trade agreements should encourage states to better regulate and provide for social protection which is counter to more liberalization and privatization.
• Movements, communities and associations that represents women’s rights should be part of public discussions during Trade negotiations taking place on multi- and bilateral level and the negotiations should be transparent.

WIDE+ intervention: INTA_meeting_WIDE_2015

Study: the EU’s Trade Policy: from gender-blind to gender-sensitive?

The INTA committee video recording of 22 September (WIDE+ presentation in second part of meeting, towards the end)

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Post-2015 Women’s Coalition, including WIDE+, responses to the Sustainable Development Goals

This weekend, from 25-27 September, 2015, the UN member states adopted the Outcome document of the Sustainable Development Goals. Women’s associations and networks worldwide, including WIDE+, reiterate our concern that the Sustainable Development Goals, Targets and Means of Implementation continue to fall short of a global agenda that addresses systemic imbalances, inequalities, and discrimination, rooted in gender equality principles that deny the basic human rights of women and girls.

There have been substantial strides towards a more inclusive process, and the Coalition welcomes the commitment of the Co-chairs, member states, Major Groups and other stakeholders since the commencement of the Open Working Group Process, which has created a new tool for realising gender equality and women’s human rights.
The outcome document, “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” sets an ambitious vision for the next 15 years, striving for “a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination (para 8).

Member states have committed to “work for a significant increase in investments to close the gender gaps and strengthen support for institutions in relation to gender equality and the empowerment of women at the global, regional and national levels. All forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls will be eliminated…” (para 20). The International community has committed to: “redouble our efforts to resolve or prevent conflict and to support post-conflict countries, including through ensuring that women have a role in peace-building and state-building. We call for further effective measures and actions to be taken, in conformity with international law.”

We acknowledge the recognition throughout the Preamble and Declaration of women’s human rights and achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment as a prerequisite for sustainable development. We also acknowledge Goal 5 dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and the inclusion of women as a cross-cutting issue in relation to poverty and agricultural productivity, health, and education. We note the importance of specific means of implementation tied to each goal, ensuring that appropriate policy reform, financing, and other resources will be dedicated to achieving gender-equality and women’s empowerment. However, we remain highly critical of the Means of Implementations link to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which retained regressive and discriminatory language on financing and governance reform, multilateralism, and gender equality.

The Post-2015 Women’s Coalition is deeply concerned that the document has failed to achieve a comprehensive gender equality strategy and human rights based approach to development, and has not addressed the urgent need for reforming structural and systemic inequalities and discrimination. The following major flaws have not been addressed:

• Systemic discrimination and power imbalances.
• Stronger language on human rights and discrimination to guide the agenda and the formulation of targets and indicators.
• The agenda has increased the role and power of the corporate sector and international financial institution at both the local and global policy making levels.
• Unpaid Care & Domestic Work responsibilities disproportionately fall on the shoulders of women, and the final draft neglects to treat unpaid work as a human right.
• Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, a contentious issue throughout the last of the intergovernmental negotiations, retains universal access to reproductive rights, and sexual and reproductive health care (Target 5.6). While access to healthcare has been guaranteed, the targets throughout the agenda, despite their mention of women, youth, indigenous, the aging, and the disabled, disregard the full inclusion of people who are marginalized and socially excluded based on their sexual orientation and gender identities.
• Peace and security have been recognized as key to achieving sustainable development, yet without addressing gendered militarism, the connections between gender equality and peace, and the arms trade, the post-2015 development agenda will not achieve transformative and peaceful change in regions experiences conflict.
• The Means of Implementation and Global Partnership stress the need for mobilizing a diverse range of resources to implement the sustainable development goals, and there is a commitment to ensure women’s equal rights to access economic resources. However, specific resource commitments have not been linked to the realization of women’s human rights and advancing gender equality.

The push to achieve sustainable and inclusive development does not end at the Post-2015 Development Summit; it is only the beginning of an intensive process of planning, implementing and monitoring the goals and targets. It is critical that member states take advantage of this opportunity to address systemic inequality and discrimination, both within and between countries, which remain serious impediments to realizing sustainable development


Read also an article by APWLD published in the Guardian today on how the SDGs threaten to overshadow stronger commitments to women’s rights in the Beijing Platform:

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EU has adopted new framework for gender equality and women’s empowerment in EU’s external relations, but with a disappointing status, September, 2015

The European Commission and the European External Action Service adopted a new framework for the EU’s activities on gender equality and women’s empowerment in EU’s external relations for the 2016-2020 period. Its aim is to support partner countries, especially in developing, enlargement and neighbouring countries, to achieve tangible results towards gender equality which is at the core of European values, as well as the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be formally adopted this week.

The framework is a follow up to the Gender Action Plan in Development 2010-2015. It will be more focussed on tangible results. It will be financed through a variety of EU external action instruments (such as the Development and Cooperation Instrument) and aid modalities (for instance, budget support or assistance to Civil Society Organisations). About €100 million have been allocated to concrete measures specifically targeted to improve women’s and girls’ rights, while gender will also be mainstreamed throughout other sectors of development cooperation.

CONCORD, the European Women’s Lobby and others have raised their concerns about the status of the framework. Despite’s EU’s strong words towards committing to gender equality and women’s empowerment, this framework is not an official Communication of the EU. Instead it is relegated to a joint staff working document, just as the previous one was.

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-5690_en.htm (with links to factsheet and working document)

About the disappointing status:

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UN Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Commitment to Action, 27 September, 2015

Yesterday at the United Nations headquarters, heads of member states came together to express their commitments to the accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, of CEDAW, and achievement of gender equality within the timeframe of the post-development agenda hat is, to deliver demonstrable results by 2030. The event was co-organized and co-hosted by People’s Republic of China and UN Women. The Meeting was convened in conjunction with the United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda.

Read the presentation the EU made here:

The webcast of the meeting is available here (close to six hours):

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WIDE+ Newsletter 3b, August 2015, SPECIAL EDITION, with: SDGs and Women’s Political Participation, Greece, CEDAW and Development, WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

GADN Recommendations to Measuring progress on women’s participation and leadership in the SDGs

A new publication by the UK Gender and Development Network (GADN) Women’s Participation and Leadership Working Group proposes global indicators to effectively track progress made on implementing the SDGs between now and 2030. Written by Abigail Hunt and Maria Vlahakis.


WIDE Austria Proposes a General Recommendation for CEDAW on gender and development policy

WIDE Austria has elaborated a proposal to serve as a basis for the comprehensive improvement of the monitoring and reporting methods of CEDAW members by proposing a General Recommendation on “Women’s Rights and International Development Policy”.


Post-oxi great depression in Greece

Woestman provided in 2012 analysis of some of the gender dynamics in Greece in what have turned out to be the early days of the crisis. Now in 2015 she returns to this analysis and finds that the enduring crisis coupled with forced neo-liberal economic reforms have cause an overall feeling of depression and burn out: “Greeks tended to yell, not let themselves go to hell…[now] all hell is going to break loose”. Article by Lois Woestman.


CSOs should take action against WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Despite all protests and concerns member states to the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded a new set of agreements in December 2013 in Bali, the so-called Bali Package. One of these, the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) will enter into force after ratification by two thirds of the members. It facilitates the trade for Transnational Corporations who will benefit and earn trillions, pushing away the small traders and services providers. What is at stake in the TFA for human rights? Written by Joyce Naar.



WILPF 2015 Manifesto identifies neoliberal capitalism as one of the key challenges facing peace and freedom for women
ActionAid UK publishes ‘FEARLESS: Standing with women and girls to end violence’
OECD brochure on Donor aid towards Gender Equality& Women’s Empowerment
OECD publication ‘In It Together–why less inequality benefits all’
Publication on how people jointly struggle for justice against TransNational Companies
New study on ‘Business Accountability FOR Development’
EU Gender Equality Index 2015: Marginal Improvements in Gender Equality
Fashion brands violate labour laws in eastern Europe, NGO report finds
First ‘State of the World’s Fathers Report 2015’
Report ‘What lies beneath? A critical assessment of Public-Private Partnerships and their impact on sustainable development’
Publication ‘Anti-Gender Movements on the Rise? Strategizing for Gender Equality in Central & Eastern Europe’
European Parliament published study on gender gaps & barriers to (social) entrepreneurship
New Study on Domestic Work Labour Migration & Trafficking in and around India


News around Trade Policy

International Days of Action against TTIP, TPP, TiSA and CETA: 10-17 October, 2015
UNCTAD World Investment Report 2015
Infographics on TTIP Corporate lobbying paradise
New Wikileaks on TiSA: how the US is using a Secret Agreement on Services to wriggle out of its WTO obligations.
Analysis of European Parliament’s vote on TTIP
German Environment Agency report on TTIP
Register to the WTO Public Forum, 30 September-2 October, Geneva, Switzerland


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WIDE+ Newsletter 3a, August 2015, with reviews of World Bank GE strategy, Financing for Development Agenda, Women’s Rights Paradigm and Feminist Economic Literacy

Publication with tools on enhancing Economic Literacy by WIDE+ members

Almost two years ago five women’s rights, gender and development organizations in five different countries started the Grundtvig-project “Economic Literacy across Europe: Exchange and Cooperation to Promote a Feminist Approach in Adult Education”. They are all WIDE+ members and involved other member associations and individuals into the project as experts to their meetings. The associations KULU in Denmark, Le Monde selon Les Femmes in Belgium, WIDE Austria, WIDE Switzerland and WIDE-E Spain concluded their common work with a publication that showcases the different tools used to educate people on economy from a feminist perspective:


Lost opportunities in Addis Ababa – Gender Equality and Women’s Rights Present but not in Depth

Women’s rights organizations and most civil society representatives were profoundly disappointed over the results of the UN’s third Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 13 to 16 July, 2015.  Janice G Foerde reports from the meeting, who represented WIDE+ an KULU in the Conference and the Women’s Forum was convened on 10 July, followed by a NGO-Forum on 11-12 Jul


Videos of WIDE+ Public Panel on the Women’s Human Rights paradigm

On 17 and 18 June 2015 in Barcelona, Spain, WIDE+ organized meetings that reflected on the current challenges facing the implementation of the women’s human rights paradigm as formulated in the BPfA. In the Public Panel, on 17 June, key note speeches addressed the challenges to the feminist movement and the needed paradigm shifts on global development. Priti Darooka, director at PWESCR and Christa Wichterich, researcher, spoke (in English with subtitles in Catalan):


WIDE+ Critical reflections and key recommendations for the World Bank Group’s new Gender Equality strategy

This article is a summarized version of  WIDE+ critical reflections and key recommendations to the World Bank Group (WBG)new strategy on Gender Equality. These recommendations were submitted during a recent  consultation process (Brussels, June 8).  WIDE+ believes that the framework of the WBG’s proposed policy does not take stock of women’s human rights and relocates gender equality as instrumental  to neo-liberal economic growth. Written by Patricia Muñoz Cabrera and Gea Meijers.


Increasing Gains for Women, Not Just the Economy: The UK Gender and Development Network Submission to the World Bank Gender Strategy Consultation

Whilst welcoming the proposed strategy by the World Bank Group the UK Gender and Development Network’s submission challenges the WBG to go further in its ambition and address deep structural inequalities and gender discrimination. Written by Daphne Jayasinghe.

Statements signed by WIDE+
WMG, including WIDE, strongly disappointed in the Third International Conference on Financing for Development Addis Ababa Action Agenda

WIDE+ shares concerns of global CSO movement about yet another attempt to further liberalise trade through WTO negotiations

WIDE+ joins collective demand for a UN binding Treaty on Transnational Companies

WIDE+ and other CSOs send open letter to the governments present at the EU-CELAC Summit, June 2015

WIDE+ joins public request to WTO to extend waiver for pharmaceutical products

WIDE+ member resources
Analysis on Sexual and Reproductive Rights

Take Action
Call on governments to support the appointment of a UN women Secretary General
Support a CEDAW General Recommendation on Indigenous Women



States at CELAC-EU Summit held June 2015 should do more to eradicate violence against women, in particular its extreme manifestation femicide
A much weaker EU Maternity Leave Directive is in the making; current one has been withdrawn

GFF: A new Global Financing Facility towards improving female health European Parliament adopts Resolution that calls for a stronger EU Strategy for Equality between Women and Men Global Survey Shows Rising Women’s Participation in Co-Operatives
Registration open to Women Deliver Conference 2016



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