What’s on the cards post-2015?

By Dr Tuula Nieminen, UN Women-UKNC

On 30 May 2013, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon received the much-awaited Report from the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The 27-member group of eminent persons, co-chaired by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron alongside the Presidents of Indonesia and Liberia, was established a year earlier to provide recommendations on advancing the development framework beyond the target date for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Report calls for a universal post-2015 development agenda driven by Five Transformative Shifts:

1. Leave no one behind

After 2015, we should move from reducing to ending extreme poverty in all its forms. It should be ensured that no person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities.

2. Put sustainable development at the core

Action must be taken now to halt the alarming pace of climate change and environmental degradation, which pose unprecedented threats to humanity. Also, more social inclusion must be brought about. Only by mobilizing social, economic and environmental action together can poverty be eradicated irreversibly, and the aspirations of eight billion people be met in 2030.

3. Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth

The Panel calls for a quantum leap forward in economic opportunities and a profound economic transformation to end extreme poverty and improve livelihoods. Diversified economies, with equal opportunities for all, can unleash the dynamism that creates jobs and livelihoods, especially for young people and women. This is a challenge for every country on earth: to ensure good job possibilities while moving to the sustainable patterns of work and life that will be necessary in a world of limited natural resources.

4. Build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all

Freedom from fear, conflict and violence is the most fundamental human right, and the essential foundation for building peaceful and prosperous societies. Also, people the world over expect their governments to be honest, accountable, and responsive to their needs. The Panel is calling for a transparency revolution and a fundamental shift, to recognize peace and good governance as core elements of wellbeing, not optional extras.

5. Forge a new global partnership

The Panel calls for a new spirit of solidarity, cooperation, and mutual accountability that underpins the post-2015 agenda. A new partnership should be based on a common understanding of our shared humanity, underpinning mutual respect and mutual benefit in a shrinking world. This partnership should involve governments but also include others: people living in poverty, those with disabilities, women, civil society and indigenous and local communities, traditionally marginalized groups, multilateral institutions, local and national government, the business community, academia and private philanthropy. Each priority area identified in the post-2015 agenda should be supported by dynamic partnerships, and everyone involved must be fully accountable. The international community is called for to use new ways of working, to go beyond an aid agenda, and to put its own house in order.

Recognising that their vision would be incomplete unless a set of goals and targets were offered to show how the Five Transformative Shifts could be expressed in precise and measurable terms, the Panel set out an illustrative framework for goals and targets in Annex I to the Report, and provided more detailed explanations in Annex II.

The 2nd out of the 12 universal Goals recommended by the Panel concerns women and girls specifically, aiming to “Empower Women and Girls and Achieve Gender Equality”, with explicit targets to:

  • Prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against girls and women
  • End child marriage
  • Ensure equal right of women to own and inherit property, sign a contract, register a business and open a bank account
  • Eliminate discrimination against women in political, economic, and public life

Furthermore, the targets under Goal 4, “Ensure Healthy Lives”, call for a decrease in the maternal mortality ratio, and for ensuring universal sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

We join the Secretary General in praising the Panel for its inclusive approach and extensive consultations over the past year. Also, we welcome the Panel’s recognition that the post-2015 development agenda should be universal, applying to North and South alike, and be infused with a spirit of partnership based on equity, cooperation and mutual accountability.

Moreover, we applaud the Panel’s decision to recommend a stand-alone goal on women’s empowerment and gender equality, echoing calls from NGOs and individuals from all over the world to address the unfinished business of current MDG 3, and to maintain an explicit focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment after 2015.

With the publication of the Report, the formal role of the High Level Panel is coming to a close. However, we hope that the Panel members will continue to champion the recommended shifts, goals and targets, and keep the momentum going in the coming weeks and months. The impact of any transformative changes will depend on how they are translated into specific priorities and actions. Furthermore, the indicators that track them must be disaggregated to ensure that no one is left behind. Targets should only be considered ‘achieved’ if they are met for all relevant income and social groups.

There is much work to be done before gender equality and women’s essential role in sustainable development is fully realized, but the Report is a very welcomed and important step towards women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Click here for more on the post-2015 process.

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