November 27, 2014
Guest blogpost by Anjali Sen, member of the VSO International Board and South Asia Regional Director of the International planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) (full bio below).
I have been part of the quest for gender justice and women’s equality for decades. And I am proud of a lot of what we achieved. But as the political leaders change and countries face fresh challenges, so too does the commitment to tackle the underlying issues that divide men and women. Issues like conservatism and violence are still of huge concern and need to be tackled with meaningful commitments as we approach the deadline to replace the Millennium Development Goals next year. We cannot afford to take our foot off the pedal for one moment.
With this resolve, I went to the Beyond 2015 Copenhagen Civil Society Conference with some 200 other civil society representatives from 46 countries to take stock of the Post-2015 agenda and the global goals for sustainable development. The conference was an important opportunity for all of us, acting as one big coalition, to jointly discuss the outcome of the recent United Nations General Assembly meeting. We wanted to take stock of the progress we have made so far in influencing member states on what should be included in the next global development framework, and reassess our plan for the remaining 6 to 9 months that we have left before the Post 2015 global development framework is decided.
I’d just been in Delhi at an event discussing how to engage more men in a struggle to reach more gender justice, working together working with men and including their voice. Here in Denmark, I continued the discussion as a panellist at the Gender Justice and Inequality workshop.
I was happy to be there, surrounded by so many people representing all levels of civil society as well as government and multilateral bodies. It was palpable how much everyone wanted to get the most out of the new post 2015 development framework going forward. We reminded ourselves that the UN Charter begins with the words “We the People” and added that to our call for change that will transform people’s lives and, this time leave no one behind.
Hatching the plan for year ahead
The event was all about strategy and looking at the challenge in the year ahead for us to be coordinated and clear in our ‘asks’ so we get the best framework possible. In the time until the new agenda will be announced in September, there are different moments when this agenda can be influenced. It’s all about doing great advocacy with national governments to make sure that they agree and negotiate the best possible final framework for their own people when they get to the UN neat year.
For me it’s very important that the next development framework builds on the progress already made in gender equality and women’s rights .I often say, women hold up half the sky yet they are nowhere near being able to fulfil their full potential and contribute to their communities and their societies. So this new framework contains a standalone goal on gender equality and women’s rights as well as effectively mainstreaming it across all other areas of focus so that the structural causes of inequality are properly addressed.
For this to happen, the conference delegates were adamant that the process to decide indicators needs to have technical and civil society expertise involved from the outset.
There was also a lot of discussion about the data revolution and how data needs to be disaggregated globally but also nationally and sub-nationally, so you have appropriate comparisons at levels. It should be a combination of the global agreed disaggregation (for example gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, socio economic group, ethnicity, age etc.) but then also a level of nationally appropriate disaggregation such as caste, marital status or other characteristics that define marginalisation within a particular country.
Additionally, any data revolution must address some of the most common data gaps. Right now adolescent girls aged 15-19 and into their mid twenties always get left out of official statistics. In my work in South Asia we are looking at reproductive age and so we need to be able to look at data to be able to address their needs better.
Despite my many years of work in the development and women’s rights sectors, what impressed me most about this conference was the level of commitment to address inequality and the bottom up, transformative approach with proper citizen participation. We now have to ask if we are ready to constitute new alliances and do the work required to help women to hold up the sky.
Anjali is regional director for South Asia at the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), a global network of 151 member associations working in 173 countries in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Prior to joining IPPF in 2004, Anjali was a senior Indian civil servant with roles including auditor general of India, director of the Department of Culture, and director of the Indian National Gallery of Modern Art. She has also served as a consultant for the UN mission in Kosovo.
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