Financing for development outcome bolsters gender equality

Date: 24 July 2015

At the first of three international meetings which will shape international development, world leaders acknowledged the key role of gender equality in development at the recent Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa. At the conference, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda endorsed a global framework that will shape the development cooperation agenda for the next 15 years and provide financing for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, including the standalone, comprehensive and transformative goal on achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.

In the context of conveying a strong political commitment to address the challenge of financing and creating an enabling environment at all levels for sustainable development, the international community asserted in a determined way that “We will ensure gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment.” They also committed to promote peaceful and inclusive societies and “…advance fully towards an equitable global economic system in which no country or person is left behind”.  This is echoed throughout the text, with 32 specific references to gender equality in relation to various aspects of financing sustainable development. The outcome document provides a strong foundation to hold all stakeholders — governments, multilateral development banks, the private sector and the UN System — accountable. UN Member States, underlined the urgent need to integrate women’s empowerment and gender issues into financial policy-making.

Coming soon after the Beijing+20 review (undertaken by UN Member States and supported by UN Women earlier this year at the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women) and the Political Declaration (adopted by Member States at the meeting), the Addis outcome document sets the stage for the sustainable development goals, including Goal 5 on Achieving Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment for All Women and Girls. It makes a positive pledge to resourcing the growing commitment of the international community to this agenda.  The Declaration recognizes the chronic and persistent funding gap for gender equality, and commits to addressing this gap through “…significantly increased investment to close resource gaps, including through the mobilization of financial resources from all sources,” and through prioritized allocation in ODA and domestic resources.

In her statement regarding the Addis outcome, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka emphasized: “As we move forward into the next stage of the continuum that leads to the Summit on sustainable development in September, we will seek opportunities to win traction for, and achieve, the deep changes in the global financial architecture that will ultimately result in true financing for development, and the realization of sustainable development goals.”

In substantive policy support and sustained advocacy with Member States and civil society over several months at the national, regional and global levels leading up to the Addis Conference, UN Women had been calling for Transformative Financing for Gender Equality, to address the funding gaps that includes: significantly increased, scaled up, and prioritized, targeted and consistent resource allocation and investment for gender equality and women’s empowerment to close the resources gap, at all levels  and from all sources — public and private, domestic and international — including ODA, foreign direct investment, innovative sources of financing and trade. It underlines gender mainstreaming in the financing of all sectors as well as targeted investments in women and girls.

In particular, paragraph 6 of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda — the fulcrum of the Transformative Financing for gender equality and women’s empowerment in the agenda — emphasizes the commitments: 1) Member States recognize that achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment and the realization of women's human rights are essential for achieving sustained economic growth, inclusive and equitable economic growth, and sustainable development; 2) reiterate the need for gender mainstreaming, including through targeted actions and investments in the formulation and implementation of all financial, economic, environmental and social policies; 3) commit to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment through sound policies, enforceable legislation and transformative actions at all levels; 4) show determination to ensure women's equal rights, access and opportunities for participation and leadership in the economy; and 5) demonstrate determination to eliminate violence against women.

During the Addis Conference, UN Women organized four high-level side events with key stakeholders including the World Bank and Member States on 14 July, the Gender Day, to join forces in harnessing support for strong gender equality commitments in the Action Agenda.  Noteworthy was an event where UN Women along with key partners — several ministers of development cooperation and finance, civil society and the UN-system — launched the Action Plan on Transformative Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri stated: “The FfD conference presented a historic opportunity to bridge the gender equality gap by bridging the enormous gender financing gap, which ranges from 60 to 90 per cent in many countries. There has been a remarkable commitment accretion on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the context of Rio+20, Beijing+20 and the Post-2015 Development Agenda and hopefully in COP-21. These commitments will remain ink on paper unless transformative financing — from all sources, at all levels and for all projects, programmes, policies, measures, institutions and organizations — are robustly resourced. That is why we need this action plan on transformative financing to accelerate the achievement of Planet 50:50 latest by 2030.”  

In the lead up to the conference, UN Women has worked closely with key stakeholders including gender experts and women’s rights activists from across the globe and provided substantive inputs to the negotiations on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The Women’s Forum, supported by UN Women, convened to galvanize momentum  at the UN Women-supported Women’s Forum and the Civil Society Forum, 10-12 July.

In the weeks ahead, as the final negotiations for a Post-2015 Development Agenda takes place, UN Women will continue to work with UN Member States and all stakeholders to underscore the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and ensure its implementation.

Related link: