Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Rights in the Post-2015 Framework
Dear Members of the High Level Panel:
As you meet to finalize your recommendations for the Secretary General, we write to reiterate the calls of women’s human rights, youth and gender justice advocates at the High Level Panel Meeting in Monrovia, International Civil Society Conference in Bonn, and subsequent meetings of the High Level Panel in Bali and Guadalajara, for specific attention and priority to women and young people in all their diversity throughout the post-2015 framework. Without fully addressing the human rights of half the world’s population and the largest generation ever of young people and the structural impediments of their full realization, sustainable development will be impossible.
In order to tackle the structural causes of economic, gender, racial, and social inequalities, poverty and injustice, the framework must be firmly grounded in human rights, with particular attention to the human rights of women, girls and young people. We call for a transformative framework for development that aims to fully realize women’s and girls’ human rights and strives to achieve gender equality and environmental sustainability. This requires prioritizing women’s economic rights, including their rights to equitable access to and control over resources, land and property, decent work, and to social protection including access to quality care services; their right to be free from all forms of violence; their sexual and reproductive rights and access to quality sexual and reproductive health care; their right to non-discrimination on all grounds; and their right to participation and leadership.
Specific attention must also be given to fulfilling the rights of adolescent girls. Ending early and forced marriages; universal completion of secondary education; universal access to comprehensive sexuality education that addresses gender equality and human rights; access to sexual and reproductive health services and other health services that meet the needs of adolescent girls; and creating safe spaces with adult mentors to support girls to build their economic and social capabilities and capacities, among others, are all strategies that will guarantee girls’ rights, empower them to take control over their lives, and lay the groundwork for girls to reach their full potential.
Prioritizing women’s and girls’ human rights throughout the post-2015 framework requires examining how the full range of economic, social and sustainable development issues under consideration differently or disproportionately impact women and girls and proposing strategies to address them. Women bear the brunt of social, economic and environmental crises. Ignoring women’s particular needs risks creating a framework that is ineffective at best.
For example, the uninhibited growth of extractive industries and large-scale monocultures are not only harmful to environmental sustainability, they negatively impact women’s access to land, property, productive resources and food sovereignty. All too often businesses and governments acquire land, water and other natural resources without free, prior and informed consent of communities, displacing and impoverishing people in the process. The effects of land and water grabs, mega-mines, and extractive sites often lead women to lose their livelihoods and can even have serious health effects. This undermines women’s equality, their economic and social well-being, and that of their children and families. In another example, maximizing health across the lifecourse requires specific and differential strategies for women and girls. Although women live longer on average than men do, they spend more years of life in poor health, face unique and avoidable threats to their health in their reproductive years, and follow different paths to death and morbidity than men in all countries. Yet, they commonly lack comprehensive, good quality sexual and reproductive health services, as well as prevention interventions and early treatment for non-communicable diseases. A specific focus on women and adolescents in the post-2015 health agenda can not only reduce inequalities, but have impacts on other development sectors.
The framework must also commit to reforming the economic and financial architecture that undermines equality, perpetuates poverty, and leads to injustice and environmental degradation. Reforming the international monetary, financial, trade and investment regimes are urgent to ensure fair trade, just mechanisms to address sovereign debt and to stop volatility, capital flights, and illicit capital flows. There is no point trying to address the symptoms of poverty, injustice, and environmental degradation, without also addressing the macroeconomic structures that contribute to them in the first place.
Finally, the post-2015 framework must focus on meaningful participation of groups that are marginalized and most affected by unsustainable development, such as women, adolescent and youth and indigenous peoples. We urge the High Level Panel to take these recommendations into consideration and to propose an inclusive and transformative framework with gender, economic and ecological justice and human rights at its core. Anything less will not achieve “the world we want.”
African Women’s Development & Communication Network (FEMNET)
All India Women’s Conference, India
Asociacion Raxch’ och’ Oxlaju Aj, Guatemala
Association for Women’s Rights in Development
Center for Women’s Global Leadership
CoopeSoliDar R.L (Cooperativa de Servicios Profesionales para la Solidaridad Social R.L), Costa Rica
Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era
Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature
International Women’s Health Coalition
International Women’s Rights Project
IRDANA Advice on Gender and Environment
Niger Delta Women’s Movement for Peace and Development
One World Awake
Reacción Climática, Bolivia
Roots for Equity
South Asia Women’s Network
Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights
WECF International (Co-organising Partner Women Major Group)
Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus