UN Women - United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What will become of the MDGs?
  2. What is the link to the SDGs and to the follow-up of the Rio+20 Conference?
  3. What is the role of the UN System in the SDGs?
  4. Who is involved in the consultations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda?
  5. What is the post-2015 process like?
  6. What is UN Women’s role in the Post-2015 Development Agenda?

1. What will become of the MDGs?

With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set to expire in 2015, studies have shown that the goals have spurred significant progress, but yielded uneven results. We must now build on the achievements of the MDGs while avoiding their shortcomings.

The MDGs galvanized progress to reduce poverty and hunger, and promote education, gender equality, health and safe drinking water and sanitation. They triggered global attention and action and held governments accountable, mobilized much-needed resources, and stimulated new laws, policies, programmes and data. They continue to do so.

However, the MDGs did not go far enough in addressing structural issues. For example, the MDG on gender equality and women’s empowerment did not cover fundamental issues, such as women’s right to own property, the unequal division of household and care responsibilities and violence against women and girls. It is now necessary to have a more comprehensive approach.

There are, however, also important lessons from the MDGs that we should keep. For example, a key feature of the MDGs was the inclusion of targets and indicators to monitor performance. Echoing the broad consensus that this feature needs to be retained and strengthened in the new framework, UN Women proposes indicators under each target to monitor and evaluate change. These are based on internationally agreed standards and have been chosen on the basis of their relevance, methodological soundness and measurability. It will also be essential to drive a data revolution. We need accurate and timely data to monitor progress, assess the situation and define new strategies.

2. What is the link to the SDGs and to the follow-up of the Rio+20 Conference?

There is a recognized need to work towards one global development agenda for the post-2015 period, with sustainable development at its centre. The outcome of the Rio+20 Conference took an important step in this direction, by launching an inclusive intergovernmental process for developing a set of sustainable development goals “to be coherent with and integrated into the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015.”

The Rio+20 outcome document called for the establishment of an Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The OWG is co-chaired by the Permanent Representatives of Hungary and Kenya. It is currently in an information gathering and stock-taking phase. By spring of 2014, the OWG will start drafting a narrative and discuss proposals for SDGs with the expectation of delivering a report to the General Assembly in September 2014.

The Rio outcome document also called for the establishment of an intergovernmental Committee of Experts on a Sustainable Development Financing Strategy, which is to submit a report by September 2014 on options for an effective sustainable development financing strategy.

3. What is the role of the UN System in the SDGs?

The Rio outcome document called on the UN system to provide technical assistance to the OWG. The UN Task Team, co-chaired by DESA and UNDP, established the Technical Support Team (TST) which produces issues briefs on the thematic areas covered by the OWG. More than 25 thematic areas are being addressed, with gender equality and women’s empowerment scheduled to be discussed in February 2014. The UN Task Team also established working groups on monitoring and target-setting, global partnership, and financing for sustainable development. 

The UN Development Group (UNDG), through its MDG Taskforce, has facilitated national dialogues in more than 80 countries and convened eleven multi-stakeholder global thematic consultations on the following issues: inequalities; health; education; governance; conflict and fragility; growth and employment; environmental sustainability; hunger, nutrition and food security; population dynamics; energy; and water.

4. Who is involved in the consultations on the post-2015 development agenda?

Some Member States and regional organizations have already launched national and regional initiatives. A number of civil society organizations, from every region are engaging in the post-2015 process and have, amongst other activities, formed global coalitions working together.

Academia and other research institutions have been particularly active, with a large array of publications focusing on the post-2015 development agenda and numerous conferences on the topic. The private sector is also involved, including the UN Global Compact. One major vehicle will be national-level consultations, including those conducted by Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams under the auspices of the UNDG consultations.

The general public is also taking part. On 10 September 2013, the UNDG launched the “A Million Voices: The World We Want” report, which summarized the findings of public consultations and surveys that engaged more than 1.3 million people in all 193 UN Member States. More than 300,000 people engaged in face-to-face meetings in 88 countries and a series of 11 online consultations on the WorldWeWant2015 web platform. Almost one million people participated through the MY World 2015 options survey, using digital channels, SMS and extensive offline interactions through a network of over 700 civil society partners.

5. What is the post-2015 process like?

Broad and inclusive consultations on the post-2015 UN development agenda are taking place inside and outside the UN, including at the regional and national level.

A number of intergovernmental processes, in addition to the Rio+20 follow-up, are feeding into the discussions moving forward, particularly in terms of identifying priority areas. The processes will focus on such issues as international migration and development, population and development, disaster risk-reduction, the information society, gender equality and women’s empowerment, among others.

There are also the processes on development cooperation, financing for development and a sustainable development financing strategy that will be particularly relevant in terms of thinking about how to strengthen the global partnership for development to support implementation of the post-2015 development agenda. In September 2013, the General Assembly will consider the third annual report of the Secretary-General on accelerating progress towards the MDGs (mentioned above).

On 25 September 2013, the President of the General Assembly will hold a special event during the 68th session, which is to focus particularly on accelerating progress towards the MDGs in the final stretch to 2015, but it is also seen as a key milestone in the deliberations on the post-2015 UN development agenda.

6. What is UN Women’s role in the Post-2015 Development Agenda?

UN Women is a member of the UN Task Team, which was established by the UN Secretary-General in the fall of 2011 to coordinate system-wide preparations for a post-2015 UN development agenda. UN Women contributes to the Technical Support Team and other working groups which provide substantive and technical support to the OWG. UN Women also advocates with Member States on integrating gender equality perspectives in the future development agenda.

UN Women Assistant-Secretary-General John Hendra is a member of the Informal Senior Coordination Group on post-2015 development agenda and co-chairs the UNDG MDG Task Force with UNDP.  UN Women Assistant-Secretary-General Lakshmi Puri leads efforts to build system-wide support for mainstreaming gender in the post-2015 agenda through the UN’s Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality, High Level Committee on Programme, and the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs.

UN Women co-led with UNICEF the Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequalities, supported by the Governments of Denmark and Ghana. Drawing from the outcome of a broad multi-stakeholder consultation, the final report and set of recommendations were presented and discussed at a high-level consultation in Copenhagen, Denmark. At the end of the meeting, the chairpersons’ statement outlined a number of recommendations for tackling the root causes of inequalities, and called for a stand-alone goal on inequality and on gender equality, as well as for mainstreaming gender and other dominant inequalities in all other goals.

UN Women issued a position paper on a stand-alone goal on gender equality in July 2013. In this paper, UN Women is calling for a post-2015 development agenda that is grounded in human rights standards that governments have already committed to and that can transform women’s and girls’ lives. The paper is proposing a stand-alone goal on gender equality (along with robust mainstreaming of gender equality into other goals) embracing three strategic elements: freedom from violence for women and girls; gender equality in the distribution of capabilities and resources; and gender equality in voice, leadership and participation. Against each of these core elements, a list of possible target areas and indicators is proposed.

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