"The expectations of an ambitious post-2015 development agenda must be matched with transformative financing for gender equality" – Lakshmi Puri

Speech by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri at the high-level side event "Transformative Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Catalysing Action on the Addis Ababa Accord", 14 July 2015.

Date: 14 July 2015

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Dear Ambassador Staffan Tillander, thank you for being the moving spirit behind this high level event and through all our journey towards championing and instituting Transformative Financing for Gender Equality commitments in the quadruple A — Adis Accord and Action Agenda negotiations. I thank Ministers from co-organizing countries — Brazil, Sweden, Switzerland and distinguished ministers from Rwanda, UK Minister Greening, Excellencies, ladies and gentleman. On this day, what we call the gender day on financing for development, it is indeed a pleasure for me to be on this panel on transformative financing for gender equality and women's empowerment and rights.

Thank you to the co-hosts for hosting this event and Ambassador Tillander for moderating this important discussion.

The purpose of the event is to catalyze commitment and action for significantly increased financing for gender equality and women’s empowerment. It is critical for the delivery and implementation of the post-2015 framework and the sustainable development goals, including the critical stand-alone gender equality goal (SDG 5), to be set in Addis. The outcome of the Conference will determine how the SDGs will be financed and it will shape international cooperation for the next 15 years.

The urgency now is to agree on key policy and financing priorities to translate the pledges in the Addis Ababa Accord and Action Agenda into prioritized, well-resourced actions for meeting new and existing commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Chronic and persistent under-investment in gender equality and women’s empowerment continues at all levels as evidenced in the lack of progress as found in the 20 year review and appraisal of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. That is why, at the fifty-ninth session Commission on the Status of Women, Member States adopted a Political Declaration wherein they pledged to take concrete actions to ensure the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action including through significantly increased investment to close resource gaps, in domestic resource mobilization and allocation and increased priority to gender equality and the empowerment of women in official development assistance.

The expectations of an ambitious post-2015 development agenda must be matched with transformative financing for gender equality and significantly enhanced levels of financing. The proposal of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognizes gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a stand-alone goal (SDG 5); and has integrated it throughout other priority areas and goals with clear targets and indicators. Yet, and despite, the upward trend in aid focused on gender equality since the MDGs, significant funding gaps continue to challenge priority areas of the SDGs, including women’s economic empowerment, family planning, peace and security, and women’s participation and leadership.

Women’s empowerment and gender equality play a cross-cutting role in the achievement of sustainable development. This means that resources invested in this front have significant payoffs in sustainable development because of multiplier effects. For instance:

  • Increasing women’s participation in decent work has a direct impact on development. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that if female farmers had the same access to productive resources as male farmers, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 per cent, raising total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 per cent” (UN WOMEN, ILO, 2012), thereby contributing to poverty alleviation (SDG 1), food security (SDG 2), Gender equality (SDG 5) and sustainable economic growth (SDGs 8 & 12).
  • Ending violence against women would contribute to ensuring healthy lives for all (SDG 3). It could also enhance women’s empowerment (SDG 5), and increase women educational attainment (SDG 4).
  • Educational attainment, in turn, reduces poverty and enhances sustainable economic growth (SDG 1, SDG 8) and so on. A survey among Benin schoolchildren found that 43 per cent of primary students and 80 per cent of secondary students knew girls who had dropped out of school owing to sexual abuse (Wible, 2004).

While transformative policy actions are necessary, they are insufficient on their own to deliver on this vision. They need dedicated financial resources and robust means of implementation.

  • The new commitments require unprecedented and transformative financing, in scale, scope and quality, from all sources and at all levels, to achieve gender equality.
  • Domestic, international, public and private sources and instruments of financing, including innovative sources of financing must be mobilized and effectively used to achieve the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, as well as to meet commitments on the proposed gender equality goal (SDG 5) and gender sensitive targets in other SDGs.
  • Prioritized and dedicated resource allocation and investment for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are an urgent imperative.

There is also urgent need to ensure effective monitoring, evaluation accountability of the implementation of the commitments set in Addis Ababa

  • Systematic disaggregation by sex, age, income, geography and other factors at national, regional and international levels, is needed into all indicators across all goals, to ensure effective monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of commitments on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in the post-2015 development agenda. Recent decades have seen significant advances in gender statistics and sex-disaggregated data. We must build on these advances.
  • Also, in addition to formal accountability mechanisms, such as parliamentary scrutiny and reporting to CEDAW and other treaty bodies, inclusive and participatory democratic deliberations will be important to shape and monitor local, national, regional or international policies to implement the post-2015 development agenda.

Civil society organizations play an important role.

  • Civil society organizations, including women’s organizations, play a critical role in monitoring progress and holding governments and all stakeholders to account for the full implementation of and compliance to international norms and standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
  • It is important that space and financial resources are provided for civil society, indigenous and local organizations and individuals to participate in the design, planning, implementation and monitoring of the post-2015 agenda at local, national and global levels.

It is also critical to mobilize greater leadership and support for transforming and implementing commitments in the Addis Ababa Accord and Action Agenda to support the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment by 2030.

  • In the way forward we urge partners to mobilize for significantly increased investments, in both scale and scope, to close the financing gaps that hinder progress towards and the realization of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • The Addis Ababa Action Plan for Transformative Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment will allow us to identify and agree on key and specific policy and financing priorities to translate and implement commitments in the Addis Ababa Accord into prioritized, well-resourced actions for meeting new and existing commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment in the post-2015 development agenda.

UN Women stands ready to support Member States in building high level political support to launch the platform for implementing transformative actions on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

We stand ready to support Member States and donors in implementing the identified essential policy and financing actions to significantly increase investments to close the resource gaps in support of achieving gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls, and the full realisation of their rights.

Thank you.