Southern Africa: Leaving no one behind post 2015

Southern Africa: Leaving no one behind post 2015

Date: December 10, 2014
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Johannesburg, 10 December: As post-2015 dawns bearing the new sustainable development goals, it is critical to revisit the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and what it means for humanity in terms of dignity, development and decision making. On 4 December, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon informally presented an unedited version of his synthesis report on the post-2015 development agenda to UN Member States. “The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet”. The report outlines a vision for Member States to carrying forward in negotiations leading up to the UN Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2015 that will adopt the post-2015 development agenda.

It is a non-negotiable for gender to be mainstreamed into each of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the centre of the SDGs is the urgent need to eradicate poverty globally through including everyone in the development agenda. This should be done by mainstreaming gender in the agenda and advancing collective action between the UN, governments and civil society as well as development partners. The stand-alone goal on gender has to be accompanied by diligent measuring of progress using indicators.

As the Sixteen Days of Activism Campaign comes to a close today, we are reminded that a gender based violence reduction methodology with measurements is crucial to accelerate empowerment efforts for women. A lot of research has to be done to fully affirm that linking women’s empowerment to reduction of gender based violence is a way for ensuring that women are at the centre of the development agenda.

Increasingly, women are being left behind in issues of decision making that concern their lives resulting in boomerang effects in the way their rights are addressed. UN Women points out that no one should be left behind in the SDGs. Certainly, women need to be at the centre of decision making. Child marriages, femicide, limited access to resources continue to affect millions of women, fundamentally curtailing their human rights.

The recent preparatory meetings for the review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, acknowledged new challenges and emerging and ongoing issues such as climate change, armed conflict, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, child labour, religious extremism, terrorism, global economic and financial crises and increasing inequality. These issues all threaten to hamper progress made so far towards gender equality and the advancement of women and girls across the African continent.

The realistic solution to address these concerns is to adopt gender-sensitive planning and budgeting schemes, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the remaining gaps from the Beijing Platform for Action. Similar sentiments have been echoed by civil society, governments and development partners. The Beijing +20 review process in 2015 is therefore critical to ensure that no one is left behind in development.

SDG number 17 highlights the need to strengthen implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development. The SADC region has been exemplary in terms of implementing a comprehensive framework for implementing gender equality in each country through the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. Without targets to implement any development frameworks it would be impossible to ensure that each Member State implements what they have signed for and are accountable to citizens. Additionally collective action and partnerships are critical in ensuring implementation of inclusive and sustainable development.

Looking forward, it is critical to ensure that a human rights perspective is implemented beyond the Millennium Development Goals era. The post 2015 era presents an era to avoid minimalism in terms of inclusive development and ensure that voice, choice and control are strengthened for the world’s citizens. There is need to implement gender responsive frameworks for media and ICTs as well as increasing women’s voice in peace building and conflict resolution.

The SDGs have come out stronger in the area of climate change which has been a huge gap in development for the SADC region. Women in the SADC region have mainly been affected by climate change yet have been left behind in decision making for mitigation efforts. Forward processes should incorporate experts in the climate change sector and gender to ensure that there is sustainability when from grass root development to policy level framing. A local level to regional and global level approach is critical to ensure that there is contextualised adoption and implementation of the SDGs.

The SADC region with its gender equality framework’s targets expiring in 2015, needs aligning with the SDGs through the review of the Protocol. A look into the future should definitely include the equal voice, choice and control from all women and men across the globe. As we wrap up 2014 it is time to act strategically on all approaches gathered over the years to ensure sustainable development post 2015.

Sifiso Dube is the Alliance and Partnership Manager at Gender Links. This article is part of the Gender Links News Service Sixteen Days of Activism special series.





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