UN Sustainable Development Goals – What’s New from a Feminist Perspective?
In this article published by AWID the outcomes of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Sustainable Development goals, are reviewed. The article concludes that while the agenda is not as ambitious as AWID and other women’s rights organizations advocated for, there were nonetheless important gains on gender equality, recognition of human rights, decent work and the need to change patterns of production and consumption to name but a few major improvements from the MDGs.
One of the key milestones is the achievement for gender equality and women’s empowerment is the stand alone goal (Goal 5) which gives prominence to women’s issues as opposed to considering it a cross cutting issues as has been done in the past. It includes commitments to among others: protecting women and girls’ reproductive rights and expanding women’s economic opportunities and recognize their rights to resources as well as reducing the burdens of unpaid care work on women and girls .
Another positive aspect was the recognition that national context and circumstances need to be understood in order to measure progress effectively. The SDGs are global and aspirational, but not compulsory and are to be adapted to national circumstances. The SDGs contested the one size fits all model, a breakthrough when compared to MDGs.
The commitments present important tools for civil society organizations, including women’s rights organizations and young feminist activists to press governments and other stakeholders for the coherent implementation of these goals at the local and national level. CSOs should participate in monitoring processes and ensure that States apply principles of maximum available resources, non-retrogression, progressive realization and full protection of human rights that are at the centre.
Despite the stated gains, there are some important weaknesses. Goal 10, to reduce inequality, was strongly contested during the process and much was lost in the text. However the goal still allows for inequality to be addressed. And one of the most pressing major obstacles to successful implementation is the lack of concrete funding commitments to make the SDGs a reality.
SDG’s main weakness for women’s rights: lack of accountability
In an article by APWLD published in the Guardian accountability is pointed out as main weakness in the new agenda: “rather than new commitments from governments in the SDGs, we need accountability for the promises made 20 years ago in Beijing. This absence of accountability is one of the greatest weaknesses in the UN system, and the review process for the SDGs is not going to change that. Governments won’t agree to reporting their progress unless the process for doing so is voluntary and led by governments”.
Sustainable Development Goals Indicators and Data: Who collects? Who reports? Who benefits?
This briefing paper by Global Policy Watch assesses the current developments of the group responsible to translated the Sustainable Development Goals into measurable indicators. As part of its mandate to develop an indicator framework by which to monitor the goals and targets of the post-2015 development agenda, the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDGs (IAEG-SDGs) held its second meeting in Bangkok, 26-28 October 2015. The objective was to seek agreement on the proposed indicators for each target—keeping in mind that indicators alone can never be sufficient to fully measure progress on the goals. More specifically, it was to move provisional indicators marked yellow—needing further agreement—to either green—agreed by all parties—or grey—no agreement possible. As a result, there are now 159 green indicators (including 52 moved from yellow and 9 new ones), and 62 greys (including 28 moved from yellow plus 5 new ones).
While there is now a proposed indicator (either green or grey) for every target, as required by the IAEG-SDGs’ commitment to “no indicator left behind”, many of the agreed indicators remain inadequate, and 62 require “more in-depth discussion and/or methodological development.” What will happen to these grey indicators if there is no agreement before March 2016 when the framework is to be presented to the UN Statistical Commission?