The theme of the 2017 High-level Political Forum on sustainable development will be “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, which is also a central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the lead-up to the 2017 HLPF, weekly blogs by representatives of Member States, UN system, and major groups and other stakeholders will be featured in this series to present various perspectives on this theme. The role of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14, and 17 will also be highlighted, as these goals will be in focus at the 2017 HLPF discussions.

Click here to see all the HLPF 2017 blog entries

End poverty in all its forms everywhere
End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Keeping the promise: Key elements for the gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda

Week 9 - Ms. Shahrashoub Razavi, Chief, Research and Data Section, UN Women

28 April 2017

The 2030 Agenda represents a bold new trajectory to sustainable development. As we explain in the forthcoming UN Women flagship publication, SDG Monitoring Report and Gender Equality, not only was the process of defining the Agenda remarkably inclusive, the goals and targets themselves draw attention to a comprehensive set of concerns which if boldly addressed could shift the world onto more sustainable and equitable development pathways.

We know that addressing gender inequalities that pervade the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development is a priority from a human rights perspective, but it is also a sine qua non for making development inclusive, just and sustainable. How can we talk about sustainable development if women and girls are not free from violence, do not have equal rights to resources and opportunities, and are not able to participate freely and equally in all decisions that affect their lives? In 2016, the Commission on the Status of Women adopted agreed conclusions that provide a roadmap for the gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In making this vision a reality four overarching elements will need continued attention.

First, is the need to recognize and address the structural obstacles that hold back women’s enjoyment of human rights. The attention to structural impediments is evident in the strategic choice of targets under SDG 5 – from discriminatory laws, harmful practices, and violence against women and girls, to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, to gender inequality in the distribution of unpaid care work, access to productive resources, and participation in decision-making.

Second, implementation efforts must embrace the indivisibility of the goals and targets, and the catalytic role of gender equality in creating synergies. This means that the targets under SDG 5 must be complemented by targets under other goals: for example, investments in public services and infrastructure must be designed in such a way as to reduce the drudgery of unpaid domestic and care work, which are also important self-standing targets (Targets 6.1, 6.2, 7.1, 7.b and 9.1) for ensuring affordable access to water, sanitation and clean energy for all. Other strategic elements for achieving gender equality include full and productive employment/decent work for all women and men and equal pay for work of equal value (SDG 8), and access to social protection ‘for all’ (SDG 1).

Third, is the urgency to identify policy pathways that would enable societies to achieve the goals and targets. The means of implementation in the Agenda remain vague in many cases. Our report puts a spotlight on the policies needed to achieve substantive equality for all women, including social groups experiencing multiple discriminations. We focus on two specific manifestations of gender inequality that are universal, persistent and require multi-pronged strategies: the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls in both public and private spheres (Target 5.2), and recognizing and valuing unpaid care and domestic work (Target 5.4). The analysis draws attention to the urgency of mobilizing adequate resources from diverse sources, including both domestic resource mobilization as well as external sources, such as ODA, debt and deficit financing, and coordinated action to close tax loopholes and ensure that global corporations and global finance pay their fair share of taxes.

Finally, a robust monitoring and accountability framework is needed to track progress and hold States and other actors to account for their commitments under the 2030 Agenda. This requires an open and participatory environment within which civil society and women’s rights organizations can influence policy priorities and hold decision-makers to account for their outcomes.

The availability of quality, timely and reliable data can be an asset to facilitate oversight and ensure accountability by civil society actors, parliaments and others. An important lesson learnt from the MDG era is that data availability should not limit the monitoring framework. Our report examines the status of gender equality across the 17 SDGs, using available data to show where we are today and where we need to be to achieve gender equality by 2030. For 23 of the 53 gender-related indicators, there are no internationally established methodology and standards. For another 21 indicators, methodology and data at the country level exists, but coverage is low and uneven. The paucity of sufficiently disaggregated data constitutes a further obstacle, especially for monitoring the situation of marginalized social groups that experience multiple forms of discrimination, which can compromise the promise to ‘leave no one behind’.

The responsibilities of all States to respect, protect and promote human rights, and the explicit acknowledgement that equality must apply not only to opportunities, but also outcomes (see also SDG 10). The SDGs build on these principles, but to translate their promise into concrete outcomes requires sound policies, adequate finances and responsive states that act in tandem with active citizens.
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