The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must work for the world’s women

The Australian National Committee for UN Women today released a discussion paper“Accelerating Gender Equality through the Post-2015 Development Agenda” which outlines the significance of the UN’s Post-2015 Development Agenda for gender equality and the empowerment of women. The paper calls on women’s organisations and advocates to maintain pressure on Member States to ensure that the SDGs are transformational for women and girls. The report details some areas where the current SDG framework is promising for women and girls, including the stand-alone goal on gender equality and the inclusion of targets around women’s leadership and ending violence against women. The report does also note that there are areas where the SDGs do not meet expectations, particularly in the area of sexual and reproductive rights.

“Over the last 15 years, the Millennium Development Goals have united development actors and have undoubtedly driven some progress. However, it is too slow. We have an opportunity, this year, to commit to a transformative agenda that genuinely makes a difference to the lives of women and girls” said Julie McKay, Executive Director of the Australian National Committee for UN Women.

The Post-2015 Development Agenda is the global development framework which will guide the international development community for the next 15 years and was formulated by the United Nations in response to reaching the deadline for the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. A major aspect of this agenda has been the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 ambitious goals that the international development community is expected to agree to in September of this year.

“The current draft of the SDGs see gender considerations addressed under the proposed Goal 5, as well as in some of the proposed targets in other goals..” said Ms McKay.“However, there has been criticism from women’s organisations that the SDGs require a stronger grounding in human rights and fail to address the structural causes of gender disparities and discrimination against women.”

The discussion paper emphasises that the Post-2015 Development Agenda, including the SDGs, is still in the process of being negotiated and finalised. This means that there is an opportunity for concerning aspects of the SDGs to be addressed between now and their adoption in September, however it also gives rise to the risk that gender considerations currently in the SDGs may be altered or removed.

The Australian National Committee for UN Women hopes that in releasing this discussion paper, advocates will able to focus their efforts on the outstanding areas of concern.

Read the National Committee’s discussion paper below.

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