TAKE 5: Women and Sustainable Development Goals

Dinah Musindarwezo, the Executive Director of FEMNET recently spoke with UN Women about Women and the Sustainable Development Goals. This was after a regional conference by African Women on Collective Action on Defining the Pathway to Achieve 2030 Agenda & Africa Agenda 2063. The conference dedicated space for African women groups and development partners to discuss and foster collective thinking on how to address women’s key issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), goal 5 and the Africa Agenda 2063.

Date: Monday, June 12, 2017

Dinah Musindarwezo addressing participants at the SDG Conference | Photo credit: FEMNET

1.  Why are the SDGs pivotal in Africa’s development agenda- namely Africa Agenda 2063- and the empowerment of women and girls on the continent?

The 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development is vital to Africa’s development because it addresses issues that affect Africa, its development and its people including African women and girls. The 2030 agenda aims to achieve prosperity for all, to protect the environment, to protect human rights and achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls everywhere.  All these issues are relevant to Africa and the same issues are also addressed in the Africa Agenda 2063. The Maputo Protocol as an Africa human rights instrument on the human rights of women also addresses most of the gender issues that the SDGs framework focuses on.

2.  Please share with us your perspectives of having a standalone goal of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment?

UN Women, FEMNET and other Feminists Organisations and groups, and individuals worked tirelessly to advocate for a standalone goal on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment that is comprehensive and transformative in nature. This means that the nature of that goal should aim to transform the systems and structures that perpetuate gender inequalities and disempowered women and girls.  We wanted this goal because we believe that achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is a goal and not just a means to achieving development goals. We celebrate achieving this demand with most of the targets we advocated for although not all of them. The challenge ahead is to implement this goal in a manner that is transforming gender power relations and ensure that in the end we have transformed systems and transformed lives of women and men and boys and girls and other genders.

3.  It has nearly been two years ever since the SDGs were put in place. Please share your thoughts on what will be needed to translate the Agenda 2030 into a reality for the women and girls of Africa?

In my perspective, the following will be key in ensuring that the 2030 Agenda translates into transformed lives of women and girls;

  • Ensure that there are resources to implement the gender goal and other gender targets. This must include funding Gender Machineries that drive gender equality work. These include but not limited to; Women’s Rights Organisations, UN Women, AU Directorate of Women, Gender and Directorate and Government Ministries of Gender and women.
  • Effective engagement of women and girls in their implementation, follow up and review process of the 2030 agenda with a focus on the entire agenda as opposed to limiting women and Women’s Rights Organisations to only Goal 5.
  • Foster efforts to advance the collection and analysis of gender data that is timely, of good quality, consultative and is used to inform policies, programmes and resource allocations.
  • Ensure an approach that recognizes the political, economic, social and environmental intersections of Gender Equality and the entire 2030 agenda for SDGs.
  • Make the connection between 2030 Agenda and other global and regional human rights frameworks on gender equality and women’s rights such as CEDAW and Maputo Protocol to ensure that SDGs are implemented from a human rights perspective.

4.  How is FEMNET working with its partners to ensure that the Gender Agenda is prioritized, resourced and effectively addressed in all development sectors, at national and regional levels?

FEMNET is facilitating and mobilizing Women’s Rights Organisations and Feminists groups across Africa to engage effectively in the implementation of the 2030 agenda. We are doing this through sharing information, carrying out joint advocacy at all levels to hold governments accountable to the gender equality commitments they have made. We are also mobilizing Women’s Rights Organisations to advocate for quality gender data that leads to gender responsive policies, laws and programmes. We also continue to advocate for increased and sustained resourcing for gender machineries.

It is up to us to foster partnerships and collaborations among Women’s Rights Organisations, broader CSOs, Media, UN Agencies and Governments and private sector. The regional Conference on the role of Women in the implementation of the SDGs we just concluded (where we had all these different sectors participating) is one example of how we are fostering partnerships and cross-sectional movement building which we believe is key in achieving the GEWE of the SDGs framework.

5.  Going forward, what are the key processes we should collectively leverage, and who are the key regional actors that we should engage - with the support of UN Women, to ensure the realization of the Agendas 2030 and 2063?

As actors in advancing gender equality we need to engage at all the levels including country level, regional level, continental level and global levels and ensure that our advocacy approach interlinks all the levels. At the country levels, our eyes need to focus on the ongoing national plans and budgeting processes, and any legal reforms going on or the ones required. We also need to closely follow up the National Voluntary reporting processes where they are happening.

At the continental level, we need to engage with AU key decision making processes and the UNECA processes. An example is the UNECA annual Regional Development forums are key spaces but also the Ministers of Finance meetings.

Globally, the High Level Political Forum is the main platform for measuring progress on the implementation of SDGs. The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) remains an important global space to assess how different commitments on gender equality are being meant.