Mobilizing greater global investment in gender equality and women’s empowerment

Date: 17 April 2015

Inez Murray, CEO, Global Banking Alliance for Women, addresses the Joint Side Event: "Transformative financing for gender equality and women’s empowerment: Expectations from the Financing for Development process."
Inez Murray, CEO, Global Banking Alliance for Women, addresses the Joint Side Event: "Transformative financing for gender equality and women’s empowerment: Expectations from the Financing for Development process." Photo: Ryan Brown/UN Women

To mobilize global leaders to increase the scale and scope of funding for gender equality commitments, UN Women, together with the Permanent Missions of Mexico and Sweden, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development, co-hosted a side event on “Transformative financing for gender equality and women’s empowerment: Expectations from the Financing for Development process” on 16 April in New York.

The side event was timed as Member States met for a second time to consult and work out the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July of this year. The much-anticipated meeting is an historic opportunity to endorse a comprehensive global financing framework for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Financing will furthermore be central to implementing and achieving all of the proposed sustainable development goals. Therefore, the negotiated outcome adopted in July will play an instrumental role in paving the way for an ambitious new post-2015 development agenda, which will be cemented at a high-level summit in September.

Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka speaks at Funding Gender Equality side event
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka addresses the Joint Side Event: "Transformative financing for gender equality and women’s empowerment: Expectations from the Financing for Development process." Photo: Ryan Brown/UN Women

“The ambitions of the post-2015 development agenda will only be met if we can achieve transformative financing, both in scale and scope, from all sources and at all levels,” stressed UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, in her opening address. “This must be reflected in a strong call to action that will galvanize support to finance new and existing gender equality commitments in all countries, at all levels of development and in all situations.”

The side event, therefore, brought together governments, donors, civil society and private sector representatives to share evidence and lessons learned in support of investing in gender equality and women’s empowerment and to strategize jointly about specific priorities and recommendations for the global financing framework.

“We need to examine changes in the way funding is allocated, and how much more we, as countries, can allocate,” said H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates. “We need to realize that supporting gender equality and women empowerment and recognizing that helping countries overseas impacts and benefits our own nations too. […] We have fallen short on many pledges. It is now critical that we raise commitments and the diversity of funding resources and to direct these where they are needed the most.”

Also speaking on the panel, the Permanent Representative of Brazil stressed the importance of promoting gender equality for reducing inequality overall, while the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia emphasized the need to find ways to use private sector finance as a resource.

Development experts have long pointed to a chronic underinvestment in gender equality. According to OECD data, only 2 per cent of bilateral aid going to women’s economic empowerment in 2013 targeted gender equality as a principal objective, and commitments in this area as a share of total bilateral aid to economic and productive sectors have remained flat since 2007/2008.

This year, in the Political Declaration of the 59th UN Commission on the Status of Women, States pledged to take concrete actions to ensure the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Platform through significantly increased investments to close the resource gaps which hinder the achievement of gender equality. However, embracing this commitment will require unprecedented levels of financing and robust partnerships. So the global push is on to ensure real commitments ­­– not only at the political level but through dedicated funding.

“We need to dig deeper into the idea of transformative financing,” said Nicole Bidegain, a civil society representative of the Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development, in her closing remarks. She called for progressive taxation and investment in social protection floors, emphasis on women’s economic rights, and a stronger focus on systemic issues. “We need to bring this to reality, with a commitment in scale and scope, and to deliver dedicated resources in all sectors.”

Related links:

Financing for Gender Equality website, powered by UN Women