2030 Development Agenda Gets Adopted – Strong On Gender But Structural Obstacles Remain
To what extent were gender equality and women’s empowerment incorporated in the 2030 development agenda? This piece by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development analyses how gender issues were negotiated during the consultation process - outlining successes and setbacks and suggesting steps forward.
Negotiations were protracted and arduous. The Women’s Major Group (WMG) lobbied and applied pressure throughout via an online campaign detailing key demands which gained the support of many government representatives to rally for gender equality.
The gender equality language endured the storm and many recommendations by the WMG were taken up in the final document. Goal 5 speaks specifically to governments’ commitments to end discrimination and gender-based violence; eliminate child marriage and female genital mutilation; ensure access to sexual and reproductive health care services and education for all; protect women and girls' reproductive rights; eliminate gender disparities in schools and ensure equal access to education; provide education that promotes gender equality and human rights; expand women's economic opportunities and recognize their rights to resources; and reduce the burdens of unpaid care work on women and girls.
All of this represents a big leap compared to the minimal commitments on gender in the predecessor Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and give us powerful tools to work for implementation.
While the commitments on gender equality and women’s empowerment are very welcome, some frustrating debates took place in the last session that give cause for caution, for the co-optation and reduction of gender equality to its very minimal expression of equality between men and women, for example insistence on including the empowerment of women and girls after every use of the term ‘gender equality’ to avoid recognising the rights of LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex) rights.
What is needed now is active feminist mobilisation to ensure the words of the document will be implemented to end poverty and transform all forms of oppression.
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