“Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”
Women’s Major Group’s 2020 High-Level Political Forum Sectoral Position Paper is out!
Even before the onset of the crisis caused by COVID-19, the world faced mutually reinforcing crises: crises of inequality, environmental degradation, rising insecurity, protracted armed conflicts, growing fundamentalisms, unchecked corporate power all happening alongside outright attacks on multilateralism, participatory democracy, civil society, and environmental and women human rights defenders. The COVID-19 pandemic has made systemic gaps, inequalities, and crises more visible – it did not create them. The need for a substantial system change towards a more just and equal transition has never been more necessary.
Women and girls in all of our diversity are on the frontlines of this new crisis, too: from the exponential increase in unpaid care work to our loss of employment and livelihoods, especially given our overrepresentation in informal work, to the rise in all forms of violence, including gender-based and domestic violence, to the outright risk to our lives given our role as caregivers and healthcare workers, to the challenges of accessing sexual and reproductive health care, supplies, and services. In addition, the rise in authoritarian measures taken by governments, as well as power grabs by political leaders, threatens all civil society and social justice movements.
These crises are unfolding against the backdrop of several important milestones for gender equality and the human rights of women and girls in all their diversity. This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which recognized that women’s rights are human rights. We celebrate the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which cemented the importance of women’s participation in peace and security. And, of course, this year we commemorate five years of the 2030 Agenda, which dedicated an entire standalone goal to ending gender inequality, as well as recognizing gender equality as a crosscutting issue across the whole of the Agenda.
These agreements would not have been possible without the work of dedicated movements. Without empowered and well-resourced feminist, women’s and girl-led movements at the table, policies ignore their gendered impacts. Without these movements the dominant thinking that has led us to this moment of crisis will continue unchallenged and unabated, and progress to achieve the 2030 Agenda will continue to stagnate, if not deteriorate.
In order not to lose the gains and the promises of these anniversaries we commemorate, feminist, women’s, girl-led and social movements globally must be resourced, protected, and respected. Resourcing, protecting and respecting our movements not only is the right thing to do, but it will also drive inclusive, accelerated action by creating the public pressure that generates political will and accountability, as well as creating inclusive justice-oriented policies. Feminist and women’s and girls’ rights advocates have continuously questioned “business as usual” and have pushed for more just and egalitarian visions of the world. Drawing on our tools of analysis policy makers will be able to envision new ways of doing things that respond to the needs and the rights of those most left behind.
Since the first High Level Political Forum in 2016, the Women’s Major Group has consistently demanded that:
● Governments meaningfully include women and girls in all their diversity in the decision-making, implementation, review and follow up of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at all levels;
● Governments place gender equality and the human rights of women and girls in all their diversity in the center of SDG policymaking, implementation, and follow-up and review;
● Governments and other relevant bodies, including the UN, invest in the collection, analysis, and dissemination of gender data, including data that is sufficiently disaggregated, as well as recognizing, valuing and utilizing civil society generated data and remaining responsive to emerging trends that enable people-centered decision-making;
● Governments protect and enhance civil society space, and protect the lives of environmental and women human rights defenders;
● Governments hold non-state actors accountable for human rights violations, including against environmental and women human rights defenders
● Governments and other actors, including the private philanthropic community, adequately finance feminist, women’s and girl-led movements, as well as the gendered implementation and follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda; and
● We all work collectively to dismantle fundamentalisms and systems of oppression including patriarchy to neoliberal capitalism to militarism.
Given the central role that feminist, women’s and girl-led movements play in driving systemic changes, governments and other actors should take these recommendations seriously, in order to accelerate action for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and uphold their human rights obligations
The Women’s Major Group role and organisation
The Women’s Major Group (WMG) was created at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where governments recognized Women as one of the nine important groups in society for achieving sustainable development. The WMG is an official participant in the United Nations processes on Sustainable Development. Other processes use the major group or similar systems, with the WMG active in the processes of the United Nations Environment Program since 1996.
The Women’s Major Group has the responsibility to facilitate women’s civil society active participation, information sharing and input into the policy space provided by the United Nations (e.g., participation, speaking, submission of proposals, access to documents, development of sessions).
The WMG is self-organised and open to all interested organisations working to promote human rights-based sustainable development with a focus on women’s human rights, the empowerment of women and gender equality.