Member States stressed that while the Millennium Development Goals have advanced progress in many areas, they remain unfinished business as long as gender inequality persists.
The 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women1 took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 10 to 21 March 2014. This year the priority theme was Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls.
While the MDGs 2 capture some important aspects of gender equality, the Commission points out that several critical issues related to gender equality and women’s empowerment were not sufficiently addressed by the MDGs, such as inter alia :
“violence against women and girls; child, early and forced marriage; women’s and girls’ disproportionate share of unpaid work, particularly unpaid care work; women’s access to decent work, the gender wage gap, employment in the informal sector, low paid and gender-stereotyped work such as domestic and care work; women’s equal access to, control and ownership of assets and productive resources including land, energy and fuel, and women’s inheritance rights; women’s sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences; universal health coverage;non-communicable diseases;accountability for violations of human rights of women and girls; and women’s full and equal participation in decision-making at all levels” (point 28 Agreed Conclusions – advance unedited version).
As the 2015 target date for reaching the Millennium Development Goals approaches, this discussion came at a critical moment. UN Member States, in fact, are looking ahead at defining the future global development roadmap (post-2015 debate)
“The Commission urges States to build on the lessons from the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals as the new post-2015 development agenda is being shaped. It urges States to tackle critical remaining challenges through a transformative and comprehensive approach and calls for gender equality, the empowerment of women and human rights of women and girls to be reflected as a stand-alone goal and to be integratednthrough targets and indicators into all goals of any new development framework” (point 43 Agreed Conclusions – advance unedited version).
Equality for women means progress for all, however, as the Commission rightly points out, funding in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment remains inadequate.
Investments in women and girls will have to be significantly stepped up:
“The Commission also urges all States and all other stakeholders to undertake comprehensive national and regional level reviews of the progress made and challenges encountered in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly so that the outcomes of these reviews can effectively feed into its fifty-ninth session, in 2015. The Commission especially encourages all stakeholders to analyze current challenges and identify opportunities for accelerating actions to achieve gender equality, the empowerment of women and the realization of human rights of women and girls, and to undertake appropriate commemorative activities for the twentieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women” (point 44, Agreed Conclusions- advance unedited version).
The Agreed Conclusions (advance unedited version) are available here.
1 The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Commission is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), established on the 21 June 1946 with the aim to prepare recommendations and reports to the Council on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields. The Commission also makes recommendations to the Council on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women’s rights. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide. They discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the key global policy document on gender equality, as well as emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women.
2 The MDGs have sought to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (Goal 1); achieve universal primary education (Goal 2); promote gender equality and empower women (Goal 3); reduce child mortality (Goal 4); improve maternal health (Goal 5); combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (Goal 6); ensure environmental sustainability (Goal 7); and develop a global partnership for development (Goal 8).
For detailed information and statistics on the state of progress towards the MDGs for women and girls, click here.