Speech by Michelle Bachelet at Expert Group Meeting on “Applying a Gender Perspective to the Post 2015 Development Framework and the SDGs”


Speech by UN Women Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet at Expert Group Meeting on “Applying a Gender Perspective to the Post 2015 Development Framework and the SDGs 26 November 2012.

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I am very pleased to be with you this morning at this meeting to examine how gender equality should be addressed in the post-2015 and Sustainable Development Goals framework.

At the official launch of UN Women, I remarked that UN Women was the result of a collective effort of millions of women and girls for a global champion who stands for a vision of women's rights and gender equality.

The post 2015 development framework is an opportunity. It is an opportunity that we must seize to make real advances for women's empowerment and gender equality. It is an opportunity to secure strong commitments from Member States with a clearly-defined plan of how these commitments will be achieved.

We all know the impact the Millennium Development Goals have made on the lives of billions of people. The MDGs showed that global consensus is possible. They showed that we can take joint action on many fronts, including gender equality and women's empowerment.

The Millennium Development Goals were clear, measurable, and easy to communicate. They gave countries concrete goals to work towards, and countries have achieved real results: reducing poverty, achieving gender parity in primary school enrollment, and reducing the proportion of people without access to clean water by half.

There are many lessons to be learned from the Millennium Development Goals. And there is space for improvement as we embark on the post-2015 agenda.

We can learn from the example of universal education. We must ensure that as parity is reached, quality rises along with it. We can learn from the example of maternal mortality- the MDG least likely to be achieved- that the most difficult development goals are deeply rooted in persistent inequalities. In many countries, high maternal mortality rates persist among the poorest women, and remote and ethnic minority populations.

To achieve success, the post-2015 development framework must explicitly address the complexity and depth of challenges to women's empowerment and gender equality. We must take a comprehensive approach that addresses root causes of inequality.

The framework must be grounded in core international commitments, including CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action. The UN Task Team report “Realizing the Future We Want for All sets out a vision in which three fundamental serve as the foundation for the post-2015 framework. These principles are human rights, environmental sustainability and equality.

The future we all want, both women and men, is a world that is healthy, free from discrimination, hunger, fear, violence, and poverty. It is a world that prioritizes equality, including gender equality, and human rights.

It is a world where young girls receive an education and choose when and whom they marry. A world where women and men have equal access to secure, fair-paying work. A world where the girls and women are protected from the threat of gender-based violence— at home, in the street, at school and at work. A world where women are leaders in decision-making and a force behind sustainable development for present and future generations. A world where women can claim their right to sexual and reproductive health.

I know that you are well-informed on these issues through your personal experiences and through your life-long dedication to social research. And that is why it is a privilege for UN Women to work with you.

All of us agree that women's empowerment and gender equality are fundamental to this new model of inclusive societies and economies and sustainable development.

That is why UN Women has invited you, to ensure that the post-2015 agenda will challenge the current models of growth and development and make the case for new goals.

We want to work with you to identify what must be captured in a gender equality goal so that it can be even more encompassing and inclusive than the current MDG3. We want to work with you to determine how best to integrate gender equality into all sustainable development goals. I know you will make a great contribution to helping us develop concrete targets and indicators that promote accountability and increase the effectiveness of gender equality measures.

As you know, achieving gender equality and women's empowerment is no easy task. The power of the MDGs was their simplicity. And we need to remember that any new framework must be comprehensible to every citizen. They must be able to see their future in the framework. We need your vision and your voices to be sure that we develop a more inclusive framework that benefits all.

I know that we will be taking only the first steps over the next four days towards a framework that integrates gender equality and women's empowerment. But I want this to be a big step forward. And we will show that this can be done.

UN Women is contributing to the post 2015 and SDG agenda in many ways. The UN Development Group has sponsored 11 global consultations, and UN Women is leading the consultation on inequalities together with UNICEF The UNDG is also sponsoring nearly 100 country level consultations. By working closely in consultation with civil society, our representatives are ensuring the voices of women and women's organizations are heard.

At the end of four days, we will leave this room with a clearer idea of how any new framework should reflect gender equality and women's empowerment. We will have taken a great step forward- but many more steps will follow. You can count on UN Women to be a partner in this agenda of work and advocacy. We have come a long way with the MDGs. If we have come so far, surely we can go even further. We can do better, if we work and act together.

I thank you again for being here, and I wish us all a very successful four days. I look forward to working together.