The third meeting of the 27-member High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda opened on 30 January in Monrovia, Liberia. During the three-day meeting, co-chaired by the Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia and the UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Panel members will discuss national growth, economic transformation, and development.........
POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK - GENDER EQUALITY MUST BE AT FOREFRONT, SAY WOMEN'S ADVOCATES
Liz Ford in Monrovia - 1 February 2013
children play a major role in poverty alleviation and are expected to feature
prominently in any future development goals, it emerged during debates in
Following meetings of the UN
high-level panel (HLP) on Thursday,
Outside the plush Royal hotel in
Women, the private sector, and transparency and
accountability are all important elements of the
The prime minister, David
Cameron, co-chair of the HLP panel, who arrived in
Judging from the strength of feeling from the meetings in Monrovia this week, women's empowerment is expected to feature highly in the HLP's recommendations, due to be published in May following another panel meeting in Bali in March.
Women's rights, particularly their sexual and reproductive rights, have already been a major topic of conversation among civil society groups, who held their own three-day event this week to lobby the panel. They were implicit in their call for women's rights to be central to the HLP process.
Sheelagh Kathy Mangones, from UN Women in
"Sexual and reproductive rights are essential and have to be part of the overall agenda and part of what the HLP is working on," she said. "This [HLP] is a critically important process. It's the chance to look at the initial millennium development goals [MDGs] framework and address some of the gaps. It's the chance to very strongly affirm the belief that gender equality is central to achieving all of the other goals."
Mangones added that while a standalone gender equality goal was crucial, any future goals must also include indices and mechanisms that ensure women's rights are properly considered across all areas.
Ending violence against women, which was not mentioned in the MDGs but was a key demand in the civil society document, is also seen as a precursor to economic transformation.
As well as a basic human right, violence impedes women's productivity and has huge social and economic costs, said Mangones, who added that women's unpaid work needed to be recognised and action taken to relieve the burden of household chores and activities that prevent women from fulfilling their economic potential.
Earlier, Gita Sen, professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore who specialises in gender and development and was speaking at the civil society meetings, called women's unpaid work a "hidden tax". "Women don't abandon children, but how well and how effective they can look after children and how much of a cost [it is] to themselves is something the panel must be willing to really work at. It's women doing it and they pay for it out of their own bodies, in the absence of leisure time, and are unable to earn an income."
The Liberian gender minister, Julia Duncan-Cassell, said she was optimistic the panel will deliver for women. "There are strong people on the panel that want to see gender issues as a top priority," she said. What is important is that ways are found to move women from the informal sector, which they dominate, to the formal sector to better improve their economic fortunes, she added.