Gender and the post-2015 framework

13 May 2013

As we move toward the end date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), work towards a new post-2015 global architecture to frame development outcomes and track progress is already underway. Recognising the 57th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York as a strategic moment to feed into these processes, a multi-stakeholder roundtable was organised, co-hosted by the BRIDGE research and information team at IDS.

Giacomo Pirozzi / Panos. Education classes for vulnerable Syrian children.

The roundtable brought together a diverse group of around 60 actors from country delegations, United Nations (UN) country missions, civil society, UN agencies and research institutions. The aims were to highlight the need to place gender equality and women’s empowerment at the heart of a new post-2015 framework and to consider concrete ways to ensure commitments are translated into action. As a result of the meeting a policy brief has been developed that is being shared widely with those in a position to influence the post-2015 process.

Key messages from the meeting were:

A twin track approach to gender equality is needed

It is vital that the new framework both recognises gender equality as a discrete issue and addresses the gender dimensions of other goals around issues such as climate change, agriculture, economic growth and food security. The new framework must therefore include:

A stand-alone goal on gender equality

Evidence indicates that the existence of MDG3 on gender equality has galvanised efforts towards the implementation of gender-aware policies and programmes, resulting in a greater focus on addressing women’s and girls’ needs and on reducing the gender gap, particularly in education and governance. It is imperative that the post-2015 framework continues to build on this momentum and includes a specific goal on gender equality.

Specific targets should focus on:

  • Ending all forms of violence against women and girls
  • Ensuring women and girls have the capacity to make choices, including about their sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • Ensuring women have voice and influence – not only representation in governments but substantive decision-making power everywhere, from the household to the global level
  • Ensuring women have access to decent work with equitable pay and good working conditions
  • Addressing the additional burden of unpaid care work that often falls to women and girls
  • Ensuring women have equal access to land and other assets
  • Ensuring girls have equal access to both primary and secondary education
  • Challenging social norms that create discrimination and perpetuate gender inequalities

Effective integration of gender equality through all other goals

It is not enough to ‘add women’ once policies and programmes have been designed. Rather, they must be gender-aware from the outset and include equal numbers of men and women in their development. At a minimum:

  • Every post-2015 goal should include at least one relevant target on gender equality
  • All goals should require sex and age disaggregated data, and should take disability into account

The new framework must be grounded in human rights

Goals and targets are only meaningful if they are underpinned by the fundamental recognition of women’s, men’s, girls’ and boys’ human rights. There are many existing international instruments and frameworks – including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. These must be reinforced through the new framework and through its implementation.

Clear gender equality indicators and robust evidence must inform the framework

Vital work is needed now to build strong, representative indicators that are able to capture complex changes in women’s, girls’, men’s and boys’ lives at international and national levels. These indicators need to be developed in participatory ways and to reflect the realities of people who are often marginalised because of age, disability, sexual orientation and other factors. It is vital to capture nuanced information that goes beyond numbers and reflects, for example, changes in attitudes of women and men, shifts in social norms and the quality of women’s participation in decision-making.

Sufficient funding and capacity must underpin commitments to gender equality

Commitments to gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment goals in the post-2015 framework can only be effectively realised if they are properly financially resourced. Donors and country governments must therefore engage in gender budgeting processes whereby sufficient money is earmarked for policies and programmes that will facilitate real, sustainable changes. In addition, institutions must ensure they build internal capacity and political will to support their gender equality commitments, and that clear accountability mechanisms are in place to assess progress.

Read the full briefing on the BRIDGE website: 'Gender and the Post 2015 Framework: Key messages from a New York multi-stakeholder roundtable'

Image: Giacomo Pirozzi / Panos