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Gender Equality: A Stand-alone Goal in the Post-2015 Agenda?

TohminaPhoto Credit: Laura Elizabeth Pohl for Bread for the World

 The Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) are an unprecedented global effort to achieve human development goals that are identified collectively, achievable, and measurable. Globally, substantial progress has been made toward many MDG targets- including cutting in half the proportion of people living in poverty. Every region of the world has made progress.

MDG target 3A aims to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education level by 2005, and at all levels by 2015. While MDG3 has helped boost political will, and encourage more development groups to invest in resources to promote women's equality, broad progress toward gender equality has wavered, with persistent gender-based inequalities in health, education and politics around the world.

With just two years left to the MDG deadline of December 2015, now is the time for an intensive effort to articulate a goal on gender in the ongoing process to develop a post-2015 global development framework.

Last week, February 3-7, the eighth session of the UN general assembly Open Working Group on sustainable development goals  (SDGs) was held in New York to discuss gender equality and women's empowerment.  These discussions will be included in the UN general assembly report later in 2014, with a proposal for the new 'sustainable development goal' framework. 

A summary of the meeting highlights these points:

  • Gender equality was affirmed as an end in itself and as an essential means for sustainable development and poverty eradication. There can be no sustainable development without gender equality and the full participation of women and girls. Gender inequality is the most pervasive form of inequality in the world. 
  • There was widespread support for a stand-alone goal on gender equality, supplemented by cross-cutting targets under other goals. 
  • Many expressed broad support for a number of priority actions, including: preventing and eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls; empowering women legally and economically; and strengthening women’s voice, participation in decision-making and leadership in all areas of life. 
  • The recognition, reduction, and redistribution of unpaid care and domestic work, disproportionately borne by women and girls, was also recognized as an area for action. 

The question is-- what will guarantee that structural constraints to gender equality—whether social, economical or political —are overcome?

"The problem is not a lack of practical ways to address gender inequality but rather a lack of change on a large and deep enough scale to bring about a transformation in the way societies conceive of and organise men’s and women’s roles, responsibilities, and control over resources."  UN Millennium Task Force on Education and Gender Equality

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