Ahead of Financing Conference, women’s groups highlight critical gender equality issues

Date: Friday, July 10, 2015

Addis Ababa – On 10 July, the Women’s Forum took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in preparation for the Third Financing for Development Conference, to be held from 13- 16 July. The Women’s Forum, supported by UN Women, brought together key stakeholders including gender experts and women’s rights activists from across the globe to address  their concerns and put forth recommendations on achieving gender equality in the post-2015 agenda.

UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Lakshmi Puri, intervening at the Women’s Forum on Financing for Gender Equality. Photo: UN Women/ Binyam Teshome Weldehana

In her opening remarks at the Women’s Forum, UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri stressed the “historic moment at which the negotiations for the outcome document of the Financing for Development are taking place.” Ms. Puri emphasized how this Conference comes at a unique moment, in the “[aftermath] of financial crises […] preceding the adoption of a new development agenda, 20 years after the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action and after the creation of UN Women.”

Addressing the 120 participants at the Women’s Forum, Ms. Puri emphasized the key role that the women’s movement has played in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as its role in the implementation of the new development agenda. She also called for solidarity and heightened advocacy saying “we have to work together to push our common agenda forward [...] We cannot fail to seize this historic opportunity, we have to make big interventions. All agendas matter for women and all are critically linked to financing.” The African Union declared 2015 as the Year of women and Ethiopia is now playing a leading role in the negotiations as the host of the Conference, and acting as a champion for gender equality and women’s rights. 

Stefano Prato from the Addis Coordination Civil Society Organization (CSO) Group stressed that the discussions and outcomes of the Women’s Forum and the CSO Forum will be “critical steps in paving the way to remove structural barriers that hamper progress for all and especially women.” He emphasized that “gender equality is not only advantageous for business but that the discussions need to underscore the fundamental issue of women’s human rights and women as holders of citizens' rights.” He called upon participants “to speak in once voice, without nuances or we lose the battle.”

Society for International Development Managing Director, Stefano Prato, addressing the audience at the Women’s Forum on Financing for Gender Equality. Photo: UN Women/ Binyam Teshome Weldehana

The Women’s Forum looked at the steps ahead,  discussing how the Addis Accord fits into larger processes, and how its implementation can be embedded and taken forward. Discussions recognized on the one hand, the importance of sharing the outcome document and global discussions at the regional levels, and on the other the shrinking spaces for CSOs to articulate their opinions and priorities, and push agendas. Participants also addressed the role of CSOs; calling for strengthening a multi-lateral system through CSOs while holding the United Nations accountable, and in re-imagining the institutional architecture, from a women’s movement perspective.

“We the women’s movement need to start showing that we have a voice and that we have a choice,” stated Emma Kaliya, Chair of FEMNET in closing the Women’s Forum.

The analysis, red flags, and recommendations that participants identified will now feed into the Civil Society Organization Forum which will take place in Addis Ababa, from 11 to 12 July.