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In 2012, the Sahel region of West and Central Africa was once again hit by a severe food crisis, affecting over 18 million people at its peak. At the start of 2012, when the crisis began to unfold, many governments, donors and aid agencies were determined not to make the same mistakes again.
This Oxfam briefing paper considers how well they collectively performed, and the lessons that must be learned to improve future responses. The analysis reveals that, although the 2012 response was bigger and, in many respects, better than responses to previous crises, there were still significant shortcomings that need to be addressed. Technical, financial and political barriers prevented governments from effectively leading the response. Diverging messages on the likely severity of the crisis led to paralysis and unnecessary delays in mobilizing a response. Donor funding was no more timely than before. As a result, millions of people still did not get the help they needed.
This is a background paper for the Addressing Inequalities Global Thematic Consultation for the post-2015 development agenda. Based on learning from MDG3, existing research, and the experiences of GADN members, authors Jessica Woodroffe and Sharon Smee of the UK Gender and Development Network (GADN) argue that, without a strong and explicit focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment, the post-2015 framework will fail to achieve the social transformations required to eradicate poverty and empower the people who are most excluded.
They see the necessity for a twin-track approach to address structural gender inequalities: a stand-alone goal on gender equality, together with mainstreaming gender across the framework. They emphasise that a standalone goal on gender is essential to foster the political will, resources and national ownership needed to create sustainable and effective action. The authors also explain the importance of transformative targets that reflect lasting change in the power and choices women have. Political will and technical capacity should be directed toward making data available to measure these targets.
Specific recommendations are made for ensuring that gender equality remains an international priority in the post-2015 framework, and that the energy and investment expended to date is not wasted. They include the following:
- Focus on the most marginalised people in society, recognising that the majority of these people are women and girls.
- Reflect an understanding that women’s poverty is, in part, a result of their socially enforced gender roles and relations and that without specifically addressing the causes of gender inequality women’s poverty will persist.
- Gender equality and women’s empowerment should be mainstreamed throughout the framework by: agreeing specific targets under each goal that reflect the gender barriers women and girls face and attempt to tackle the structural causes; developing gender sensitive indicators, based primarily on need rather than availability of data; and substantially increasing the availability of sex-disaggregated data.
More gender resources related to the Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequalities in the post-2015 development agenda can be found at: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/268948/folder/134342
Hosted by the World We Want, this global e-discussion on gender equality was co-convened by UN Women and UNICEF in partnership with civil society as part of the global thematic consultation on addressing inequalities in the post-2015 development agenda. At the time this summary was written, hundreds of people had contributed to the gender equality e-discussion. This document highlights the most important issues and key messages from the conversation from 3 October to 2 November 2012. It reports that action is required in the following six priority areas:
1. Combat all forms of gender-based violence;
2. Ensure women’s sexual and reproductive rights and access to quality healthcare;
3. Enact and enforce laws that promote gender equality and eliminate laws, policies and practices that are harmful to women and girls;
4. Prioritise access to quality education and skills development for all women and girls, especially those from socially excluded groups;
5. Ensure women’s full participation in society, including in the economic, legal, social and political life of their communities; and
6. Enact economic and social policies that contribute to achieving gender equality and align with human rights principles.
Among the recommendations and conclusions are the following:
- Gender equality cannot be limited to the aforementioned six priority areas;
- An overhaul of the structures that produce and perpetuate gender inequality is needed;
- Transformational change must be grounded in equality and non-discrimination principles, and recognise that gender equality can only be achieved if both women and men are involved and their rights fully realised;
- There should be a transparent, inclusive and participatory process, facilitating the genuine participation of women and men, with mechanisms at local, national and global levels for setting priorities, monitoring progress and holding governments accountable; and
- Gender equality should be fully integrated throughout the post-2015 development framework - with targets and indicators that capture outcomes by sex and by the intersection of gender with other forms of inequality.
- There should be a specific goal that focuses on addressing the most widespread and fundamental forms of gender-based inequalities.
Available in Englush, French and Spanish.
Read more about the Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequalities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda at: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/275878
Wendy Harcourt delivered this keynote address at the UN Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) Vienna Policy Dialogue, the aim of which was to make policy recommendations for more effective and coherent international cooperation to achieve gender equality in the post-2015 development agenda. In her address, Harcourt highlights major threats to gender equality posed by the current context; then she talks about the strategic narrative points for participants to thread together themselves.
The biggest threat that she sees is carrying on with ‘business as usual’, which is not working. She emphasises the need to look at the underlying problems that are causing increasing inequalities and the crises we are facing, and to recognise that the world has changed in ways that the old MDG framework cannot address.
Harcourt names three ways in which the world has changed and is challenging business as usual:
1. The BRICS are powerful countries that do not have the same colonial narrative and history as that which formed the OECD development agenda of today. The OECD is also a very different player now on the global stage as it faces its own internal crises.
2. New types of political citizens, netizens, hold promise for new forms of governance, citizenship and democracy. There are questions regarding how they will engage in the development agenda, and what kind of gender equality is informing their organising.
3. Amidst of numerous crises (climate, energy, etc.), there is general agreement that the sustainable development debate needs to be revisited, and that sustainability must be at the core of the post 2015 agenda. Questions as to how this will be done include the incorporation of non-Western knowledge and the participation of women.
Among the discussion threads Harcourt names are that patriarchal patterns and gender inequalities are replicated from the most micro to the most macro levels. Masculinity in development must be part of the gender equality agenda. Also, we need to answer why there is a lack of adherence to the agreed human rights frameworks. She says that one answer may be the reductionism of the MDGs, which “missed the insights of those agreed norms”.
During a series of consultations in preparation of the 2014 DCF, the Vienna Policy Dialogue brought together senior representatives, experts from national and local governments, civil society organisations, parliaments, women’s organisations and the private sector with representatives of international organisations.
For more information, visit the UN webpage for the Vienna Policy Dialogue on Gender Equality: http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/newfunct/dcfviennadialogue.shtml
The biennial Gender Chart, an addendum to the Millennium Development Goals Report, depicts the situation of women and girls in developing regions with indicators used to monitor the MDGs. It is divided into eight sections – one for each goal. Although some progress has been made in a number of the gender dimensions, more needs to be done in every country and at every level to reduce persistently high levels of inequality based on sex. The following are some of the findings:
Goal 1: Globally, women continue to be more likely to live in poverty than men.
Goal 2: More children are in school, but gender gaps still exist. Little progress has been made since the 1990s in closing secondary attendance gender gaps.
Goal 3: There are large gender gaps in business ownership. Women continue to gain representation in parliaments, but the pace of change is slow.
Goal 4: Under-five girls are more likely to survive than boys, except in Southern Asia where, in some countries, mortality rates still reflect practices related to son preference.
Goal 5: Age at the time of first marriage is rising, but women in poor and rural areas continue to marry young. During childbirth, urban rich women are much more likely to be assisted by a skilled health professional.
Goal 6: Every year, more than one in five new HIV infections take place among young women.
Goal 7: Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind the rest of world in access to water. Where water sources are not readily accessible, women and girls often bear the burden of collection.
Goal 8: While the total amount of bilateral sector-allocable aid has increased, the proportion devoted to gender equality objectives has stalled. Because of the crosscutting nature of the gender goal, assistance to gender programmes should be increased in order to pave the way for attainment of the MDGs.
The Gender Chart was co-produced by UN Women and the UN Statistics Division for the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on MDGs Indicators.
An audio interview with UN Women’s Laura Turquet and the United Nations’ Keiko Osaki Tomita regarding the 2012 Gender Chart can be heard at: https://soundcloud.com/un-women/2012-mdg-gender-chart