Detours Ahead for Gender Equality in International Development?

There are two new reports (and one brief declaration) from the United Nations family of which we should all be aware – as they affect women’s economic empowerment efforts internationally. First, I’m sure that we’re all aware that 2015 is the year that the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals were to have been achieved. While much has been accomplished, those goals have not been achieved, and the focus is now shifting toward SDGs: Sustainable Development Goals.

roadblocks1Last year, the “Women’s Major Group,” one of nine groups involved in the process of developing the SDGs, issued a statement highlighting “8 Red Flags,” or shortcomings, of the SDGs, stating that they lack “real ambition for the urgent transformational change that the world needs to achieve gender equality.” And in late June, during negotiations for the “zero draft” of the SDGs that will be discussed at a UN Summit this fall, the Women’s Major Group issued a Ten Red Flags declaration highlighting areas that need to be strengthened in UN efforts moving forward, including that:

  • Gender equality and the human rights of women and girls must be recognized as a cross-cutting issue critical for the success of the post-2015 development agenda;
  • Commitments to human rights and inclusivity must be strengthened; and
  • Commitments to civil society and major group participation must be strengthened.

A good summary of the history of this issue is contained in the recently-published discussion paper, “Accelerating Gender Equality Through the Post 2015 Development Agenda,” from the Australian National Committee of UN Women.

There’s a civil society organization, beyond2015.org, with over 1,000 NGO members in more than 130 countries that have joined forces to ensure a strong framework for poverty alleviation and empowerment moving forward from the expiration of the MDGs.

Thirdly, every few years the United Nations publishes a look at the progress of the world’s women with respect to their health, education and legal empowerment. The latest in that series, Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights, was recently published. The previous reports are archived on this page.

The UN has also published data compendia (every five years, from 1990 to 2010) on The World’s Women. These reports, which contain a wealth of statistical data from around the world, are archived on this page and are well worth adding to your womenabling research shelf.