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: