UN Women Deputy Executive Director: Only through a transformative financing for gender equality agenda, the commitments for the post-2015 will become a living reality


Speech by UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Lakshmi Puri, at the women's forum on "Financing Gender Equality: The Road To Addis", held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 10 July 2015.

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I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak at this important Women's Forum on Financing Gender Equality: The Road to Addis. As we walk together on this road it is important to emphasize that gender equality and women's empowerment is a societal imperative which requires adequate, predictable and sustainable investment for its achievement.

Indeed it is critical that the Women's Working Group on Financing for Development continues to call for gender equality is prioritized in the financing of the new global development agenda, as well as to ensure a strong presence of feminist and women's rights voices in the official conversations on the Financing for Development in the context of the Third United Nations Conference on Financing for Development.

UN Women has been consistent in calling for the commitments made by world leaders in Beijing in 1995 to be fully implemented, securing the equal rights and opportunities for all women and men. And we have also called for the ambition of the post-2015 Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, to be adopted this September to be matched by equally ambitious means of implementation. This International Conference provides a critical opportunity to ensure that financing strategies are capable of delivering on gender equality and women's rights commitments.

UN Women recognizes the gains and achievements in positioning gender equality and women's empowerment at the global level as well as at the ground level — as stressed in the 20-year review and appraisal of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. We are mindful that these gains have been consolidated in large part thanks to the civil society and women's organizations and their struggle to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women worldwide.

Certainly UN Women recognizes the invaluable role civil society has played in advancing the gender equality and the women's rights agenda. In our road to Addis, we need to ensure that the right players — which includes civil society and women's organizations — are rightly voiced in the outcome document and that the gender equality commitments are fully implemented.

Women and girls constitute half of humankind's potential to achieve the sustainable development agenda. Yet the stand-alone gender equality goal (SDG 5) and gender-sensitive targets in other SDGs, within the post-2015 framework and the SDGs, can become a reality only if we set in motion the right financing policies and allocations.

The Financing for Development Conference in July 2015 presents a unique opportunity to secure the resources to ensure gender equality meets its expiration deadline of 2030 and chart a future with dignity and equal rights for all.

Now is the time to make gender equality and women's empowerment a lived reality. The knowledge, technology and resources to achieve this goal exist, yet we need to ensure that they are adequately addressed to end the persistent inequalities and discrimination against half of the world's population.

In the Political Declaration adopted in the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Member States pledged to significantly increase investment, from all sources and at all levels, to close resource gaps to accelerate implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. This indeed is an explicit recognition that the lack of progress in the full implementation of the Platform for Action has been exacerbated by the persistent and chronic underinvestment in gender equality and women's empowerment. 

But significantly increased investments to gender equality requires concerted efforts by all partners and stakeholders to transform the global economic and financial architecture and ensuring that it focus not only on generating economic growth but also on addressing the structural causes of inequalities. This requires reorienting the macroeconomic policies and redistribution of resources to expand the fiscal space for investments in gender equality. It also requires strengthening government's accountability frameworks and ensuring that gender equality is explicitly addressed in the government's strategic objectives and priorities.

UN Women is calling for transformative financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by which unprecedented levels of financing, in scale, scope and quality are committed to implement gender equality commitments of the post-2015 development agenda.

And this is precisely why UN Women has been actively outreaching to the broad network of civil society organizations, especially the Women's Working Group on Financing for Development and FEMNET, to build a strong and vocal constituency of support for gender equality.

The engagement of feminist civil society coalitions has been paramount in ensuring a sound gender analysis in the thematic content of the FfD negotiations. Such efforts need to continue throughout the Addis process. Generating political will and building momentum to bolster gender equality and women's rights is critical.

We are very concerned that there appears to be, in different countries, efforts to curtail and constrict civil society, voice, role and influence. I can assure you that UN Women will work with governments to urge them to honour their commitments to create an enabling environment for civil society, and to support them in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the new development agenda.

Having said that, I must also stress that in the context where civil society space is dramatically shrinking, it is even more important to build strong cohesive coalitions and unified messages and action to achieve the gender equality 2030 agenda. UN Women will offer strong and steady support for this.

By supporting participation of grassroots and women's groups in the Women's Forum and the CSO Forum, UN Women aims to facilitate a strong mobilization of civil society voices and perspectives to ensure that these are included in the main conference proceedings and are able to influence the outcomes in the subsequent related intergovernmental processes and their implementation.

In Addis, we are aiming for unprecedented levels of financing, in scale, scope and quality, and from all sources and at all levels — public and private, domestic and international — to ensure the fully, effectively and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action as well as the gender equality objectives of the post 2015-development agenda.

Integrating the needs of women and girls into the finance, trade, debt, governance, technology and innovation commitments is critical. Prioritized, dedicated, and consistent resource allocation and investment to gender equality institutions and women's organizations at local, national, regional and global levels are critical to enable women's full and equal participation and leadership in the economy. It is critical to promote the use of gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) and ensure coherence of national planning, costing and budgeting processes with gender equality objectives; to promote a socially-responsible and accountable private sector for gender equality and women's empowerment; to increase adequate and predictable contributions to gender equality and women's empowerment in the official development assistance (ODA).

These are some of the measures urgently needed to address global inequalities and power imbalances. A renewed global partnership for sustainable development should ensure both gender balance as well as developing countries' representation if global economic governance institutions are to become more democratic, inclusive and fair.

Only through a transformative financing for gender equality agenda, the commitments for the post-2015 will become a living reality. So our work is not over on 16 July. After Addis we will have to continue to leverage on our strategic partnership and join our expertise, experience and passion to affect real change for women and girls.

As I have said before, if we do not effectively link financing with the gender equality goal and indeed with all the Sustainable Development Goals, they will remain 'ink on paper'. Together we must ensure that the new transformative development agenda brings social justice in every sphere of life. Women and girls deserve nothing less.

I thank you.