Stakeholders’ Forum concludes with agreed course of action for post-2015

Date: Monday, December 9, 2013

New York

The Stakeholders’ Forum, convened by UN Women on “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls: The road ahead” from 4 to 5 December 2013, brought together a range of stakeholders from Member States, academia, women’s rights organizations and young civil society activists in preparation for the next Commission on the Status of Women CSW58.

The two-day forum included panels that reviewed progress for women and girls on all the MDGs, as well as lessons learned about approaches and strategies to successfully accelerate achievement of the MDGs for women and girls. It concluded with a clear message on the need of a stand-alone gender equality goal, and equally strong support for the integration of gender equality issues across all future goals for the post-2015 development agenda.

UN Women held a forum on the theme, “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls: The road ahead”. The event was organized in preparation for the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.  Photo: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine
The Stakeholders' Forum was organized by UN Women in preparation for the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Photo: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

In her opening remarks, UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri emphasized the role played by the MDGs in galvanizing attention towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. “Yet, the assessment of the MDGs from a gender perspective shows a mixed picture,” she said, and called for a transformative stand-alone goal that tackles three core areas: prevention of violence against women and girls, equal access to resources and opportunities, and leadership and participation.

While hailing progress, participants also identified gaps and challenges, agreeing that the picture was uneven, with not nearly enough improvement in the lives of women across several areas. 

“We have missed the train,” said Nestorine Sangaré Compaoré, Minister for Women’s Empowerment of Burkina Faso. She said despite the MDGs’ focus on the reduction of poverty worldwide, a decade later, women continue to be the most affected by poverty. 

“We need to re-think the meaning of the word ‘development’,” she said, urging panelists and Member States to do better in post-2015. “By its nature, the norms and rules of the ongoing model of development create inequalities as ‘normal’ results of competitions between individuals and nations for wealth accumulation and economic growth. A human-oriented model of development is needed.”

During discussions, representatives of Member States raised specific issues faced by different countries. Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations Lana Zaki Nusseibeh identified two key lessons that her region had learned to foster gender equality: closing the gap between legislation and its implementation, and focusing on education and awareness-raising. 

Participants also raised concern about macro-economic policies that result in extra burden on women, such as an increase in unpaid care work during times of austerity. Attention was also given to the need for enhanced investment in gender equality.  

In a statement, Minister of Gender, Children and Community Development for Malawi, Clara Makungwa, said that with funds received from UN Women, the Government of Malawi had conducted various projects to promote gender equality. Her Government was especially committed to the education of the girl child, and had recently enacted a new law to increase access of education for all, but needed sustainable financial support to implement this effectively.

Minister of Social Development from Jordan, Reem Abu Hassan, spoke about the importance of transparency in ensuring gender equality. Speaking of an increase in the appointment of female judges in Jordan, she said one of the reasons for this achievement was a selection process that was based on merit.

UN Women Deputy Executive Director John Hendra appreciated the “strong and consistent support” for a stand-alone gender equality goal and the integration of gender equality across all future goals. He emphasized the need to “address the structural drivers of gender inequality - such as unpaid care work, violence against women and girls, and limited sexual and reproductive health and rights.”

Civil society representatives presented their insights during a panel that brought authentic voices and stories from women and girls to the forefront on 5 December.

Looking at the challenges that lie ahead, in her closing remarks, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka underscored the need to make connections between the tools available to the international community, such as the review of progress in the implementation of the MDGs at CSW58, the Beijing+20 review and appraisal process, and deliberations on the post-2015 development agenda, to formulate a quality stand-alone goal on gender equality.

Reiterating the need for the world to act together, she said “In the 21st century, the world must and can put an end to discrimination of women and girls. We must be bold, ambitious and change the lives of women and girls forever.”