UNITED NATIONS (IPS) – The United Nations, which has launched an intense world-wide campaign to ensure the full implementation of its post-2015 development agenda, is unequivocal in asserting that gender equality and women’s empowerment are indispensable to the realization of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders last September.
And Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is emphatic in his resounding political message: the world will never achieve 100 percent of its development goals until and unless 50 percent of its people — namely women—are treated “as full and equal participants in all realms.”
Reaffirming this message, Assistant Secretary-General Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women, told IPS gender equality and women’s empowerment are indispensable to the realization of sustainable development. SPANISH | GERMAN | HINDI | JAPANESE
This is strongly reflected in the outcomes of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development adopted last July and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted last September.
She pointed out that these outcomes strongly commit themselves to achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, including through increased investments to close the gender gap.
The very first paragraph of the Addis Ababa Agenda declares: “We will achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
While the 2030 Agenda recognizes that gender inequality is the mother of all inequalities, both as an inequality among, and within countries, it is also a stand-alone SDG on achieving gender equality, Puri said.
The 17 SDGs include ending hunger and poverty, ensuring healthy lives, achieving gender equality, protecting the global environment and ensuring sustainable energy, among others.
These goals are expected to be achieved by 2030.
Addressing a high-level event on women in power and decision-making early this year, the secretary-general admitted there are far more women in politics around the world today than in the last few decades.
“But progress is too slow and uneven,” he complained.
No country has full equality for women, he said, pointing out that on average, women make up just one in five national parliamentarians. The world has around 20 women national leaders.
But five of the world’s parliaments have no women, and eight governments have no women ministers, Ban said.
In too many countries, women suffer from domestic abuse, female genital mutilation and other forms of violence.
“These acts traumatize individuals and damage our societies,” the secretary-general said.
“We cannot uphold human rights or advance development unless we put an end to the global epidemic of violence against women and girls,” he declared.
Puri said: “We have a once-in a-century opportunity – the biggest ever – to realize the true promise and potential of gender equality and women’s empowerment and the realization of their human rights “.
For the first time, she pointed out, the essentialism of gender equality and women’s empowerment has been recognized and reaffirmed in Agenda 2030 which says that that “sustainable development is not possible if one half of humanity continues to be denied its full human rights and opportunities” – and which was adopted at the Summit level by 193 countries of the world.
“What is more, gender equality is increasingly seen as mission possible— the dedicated, comprehensive and transformative SDG 5 is about achieving not only promoting Gender equality and it is about empowering all women and girls and leaving no one behind “.
There is a commitment to significantly increase investment to close the gender gap; to strengthen gender equality institutions; and to systematically mainstream gender equality and women’s empowerment in all aspects of the implementation of Agenda 2030 .
Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls in law and practice and ending violence against women are sustainable development targets– as are valuing and provisioning unpaid care work of women, equal participation and leadership in economic, political and public life, universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and equal access, ownership and control over resources and economic empowerment, Puri added.
There is also commitment to accelerate the pace of implementation and change so that gender equality and women empowerment (GEWE) is achieved within this generation – Planet 50/50 by 2030 and hence to Step it up for Gender equality, she declared. (24 December 2015)
Photo: UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Lakshmi Puri, intervening at the Women’s Forum on Financing for Gender Equality. Photo: UN Women/ Binyam Teshome Weldehana
This article is part of IPS North America’s media project jointly with Global Cooperation Council and DevnetTokyo.