Despite major commitments and important progress made, women’s universal human rights are still far from a reality today. Agenda 2030 provides an important opportunity and responsibility for governments to take action and make sure everyone can live a healthy, fulfilling and dignified life. Women’s rights movements have been key drivers behind gender equality successes up to date and will be fundamental in achieving the goals in the years to come. Based on years of research and experiences, Women2030 and partners from across the globe find an urgent need to refocus and ensure that feminist priorities and solutions are central to any effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
A feminist Agenda 2030 is…
- Systemic: A systems lens and approach is needed to tackle structural barriers to gender equality and sustainable development. Patriarchal, authoritarian, economic and social norms, beliefs, structures and systems perpetuate inequality, human rights violations and environmental destruction – all disproportionately affecting women. Without women’s rights there will be no sustainable development. And there will be no gender equality on a dead planet or in an economically unjust world. The SDGs are interdependent and require coherent action towards gender just systems change.
- Inclusive: Recognition and support of women’s needs, crucial roles, experiences and expertise is fundamental to achieving gender-just sustainable development. This calls for an enabling environment with spaces for meaningful participation of all women in decision-making, transparent policy processes building on strong gender-differentiated data, as well as learning from and supporting women’s self-organising, advocacy and local development alternatives – especially in times of shrinking civic space.
- Accountable: Whilst most governments are taking action, there are many implementation challenges and progress is slow. Governments and UN institutions need to ensure budgets and capacities are in place and strengthen monitoring and accountability mechanisms at all levels. This calls for reconfirmed commitment to a gender just and human-rights based Agenda 2030 and integration with existing international obligations on human and women’s rights, climate and environment. While women and communities continue to claim their rights as rights-holders, governments must meet their responsibilities as duty-bearers.
… to address key feminist priorities:
i. End discrimination against women and girls in all their diversity. Women still lose out in almost every realm of life. Too many are still excluded every day. Legal reforms to end discrimination need to go hand in hand with gender specific and intersectional policies and practices that take into account the needs and voices of all – particularly also indigenous and migrant women, those living in rural areas and gender diverse people.
ii. Ensure economic justice for all. Women’s economic opportunities and rights continue to be undermined by lack of gender responsive public services, decent work, equal pay and living wage, sharing of unpaid care burden and control over (natural) resources. Only by eliminating harmful tax, trade and investment policies that currently lead to tax avoidance and illicit financial flows, land grabs and violations of labour rights, and by adopting policies that redistribute wealth, power and resources and recognize women’s needs and roles as economic agents, can we move towards a gender just economy.
iii. Take urgent gender just climate and forest conservation action. This is only possible with women’s meaningful participation in decision-making, building on international agreements and gender work plans. It requires strengthening gender expertise at all levels of policy making and building on knowledge and best practices of women and communities. There is an urgent need to end policies and practices that undermine climate solutions and conservation efforts including subsidies for fossil fuels and promotion of industrial plantations and infrastructure that drive deforestation and biodiversity loss.
iv. Guarantee women’s equal participation, voice and leadership in decision-making at all levels and spheres: from the household to the nation and in political, economic and all other realms. As women’s political empowerment is considered to be the biggest gender disparity in the latest WEF (2020) report strong evidence-based measures including quota are much needed.
v. End violence against women and girls and ensure bodily autonomy, which continues to be a major obstacle to women’s rights and even a strategy of oppression despite legal reforms in many countries. This includes addressing all forms of violence – domestic, structural, political and economic – and harmful practices, as well as the underlying systems and norms that allow for this to happen. It also requires active support and protection of women human rights defenders and their organisations, who are facing major risks to their health and lives today.
This report is part of the WOMEN2030 programme that is funded by the European Commission and implemented by a coalition of Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF), Global Forest Coalition (GFC), Women Environmental Programme Africa (WEP), and Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and many partners worldwide. Women2030 aims to strengthen capacities of women’s rights organizations to advance local, national and regional gender-responsive sustainable development policies.
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