Calling for a Goal on Gender Equality

A Goal on Gender Equality at the Inequalities Consultation

At the Leadership Meeting of the Global Consultation on Addressing Inequalities in Copenhagen, Denmark, on February 18 – 19, 2013, UN Women’s Executive Director Michelle Bachelet and the Chairpersons’ Statement called for a stand-along goal on gender equality and the empowerment of women as part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. In her opening remarks as the head of UN Women, one of the co-conveners of the Post 2015 Inequalities Consultation, Bachelet also said that the states have a key role to achieve gender equality and make it a priority.  

“And I am here to say  that now is the time to listen to the voices of women, to fully engage women, and to make women’s empowerment and gender equality a priority in the post-2015 global development agenda.”

The Leadership Meeting as well as a Dialogue with Civil Society were part of the launch of the Inequalities Consultation Report on the Post 2015 process. FTF Global Coordinator, Rosa Lizarde, as well as other members of the Inequalities Advisory Group, including civil society representatives, academics and UN experts, participated in a series of interactive panels.  

The Chairperson’s Summary Statement highlighted the promotion of a Gender Equality goal, as well as other main points discussed at the meetings:

The Leadership Meeting on Addressing Inequalities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, held in Copenhagen on 19 February 2013, welcomed the Report: ‘Addressing inequalities. Synthesis Report of Global Public Consultation’ presented at the meeting.

The Meeting noted the report’s analysis of the many inter-related forms of inequalities, which will need to be tackled, if the aspirations of the UN Millennium Declaration and the Millennium De-velopment Goals (MDGs) are to be fully realized on a sustainable basis. Inequalities and their un-derlying causes will need to be effectively addressed in a Post-2015 Development Agenda, in order to effectively eradicate extreme poverty, support equitable socio-economic progress and sustain it in future generations.

Chairpersons’ Summary Statement. Leadership meeting on addressing inequalities

The following points were emphasised during the Leadership Meeting:

– Equality is not a new priority. It is a fundamental value of the Millennium Declaration adopted by all UN Member States in 2000. Since then, the world has seen the worsening of many forms of inequality – within as well as between countries.

– The empowerment and advancement of women and girls is crucial. Although there has been progress in some areas, stark disparities between men and women, boys and girls continue to pre-vail across a range of domains, from health and education to political participation, justice and jobs. This represents a global challenge. At the same time, it is well documented that investing in women and girls and ensuring their equal rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, is a “fast track” to development and inclusive economic growth.

– A new Post-2015 Development Agenda should therefore include not only a universal goal for gender equality and the empowerment and advancement of women and girls, but also ensure that gender and other dominant inequalities are mainstreamed in all relevant areas through disaggregated targets and indicators.

– The Meeting recognized that all sections of society have critical roles to play, if all major forms of inequality, discrimination and exclusion – including those linked to gender, disability and minority status – are to be addressed. Transformative change will depend primarily on equity-based social and economic policies, legislation and actions by governments.

– The Consultation put forward a recommendation to more strongly integrate human rights principles and standards in a new post-2015 framework. Several participants in the Meeting noted that the human rights framework offers a comprehensive basis on which to address inequalities, including through integrating the core principles of universality, non-discrimination, participation and accountability. This would offer a systematic way of addressing the root causes of human rights failures, thereby also addressing the various dimensions of inequality.

– Today, the majority of poor and disadvantaged people live in middle-income countries and low-income, fragile states. Rising inequality is there-fore a main challenge to sustainable human development, now and in the future.

– The MDGs have contributed to unprecedented progress in a number of critical areas for human development. However, structural inequalities and social exclusion have not been sufficiently addressed.

– In a new development framework, participants suggested that a self-standing goal to reduce inequalities could help ensure the political will necessary to do this. Targets aimed at universal access to basic services and resources, and ‘getting to zero’ – such as eradicating extreme poverty, hunger and preventable child and maternal deaths – are necessary to ensure that no one is left behind.

– Such targets could be reinforced by indicators that specifically measure progress in reducing disparities and that specifically track progress among the most impoverished, marginalised and excluded groups and individuals.

-Lastly, the Meeting commended the extensive public and expert consultation process – co-led by UN Women and UNICEF, with the support of the Governments of Denmark and Ghana, in as-sociation with the UN Development Programme and the UN Development Group – on which the Report is based. It noted with appreciation that over 200 experts provided written papers for the Consultation and that over 1,200 members of the public, from all parts of the world, participated in on-line discussions on various aspects of inequality.
Copenhagen, 19 February 2013

The Leadership Meeting included the following speakers:
Mr. Anthony Lake, Executive Director, UNICEF
Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director, UN Women
Mr. Christian Friis Bach, Minister for Development Cooperation, Denmark
Mr. Paul Victor Obeng, Chairman, National Development Planning Commission, Ghana

Civil Society presentations of the outcome of the Inequalities Consultation and its recommendations for the Post-2015 Development Agenda were made by:
Dr. Jayati Ghosh, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
Ms. Sarah Cook, Director, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development

The Public Dialogue with Civil Society was held on February 18, 2013 and included many of the Inequalities Advisory Group Members in the programme addressing key framing questions, such as:

Why do inequalities matter? What impacts do they have – for both societies and individuals?


Lars Engberg Pedersen, Danish Institute for International Studies Dzodzi Tsikata, Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, Univ. of Ghana Alex Cobham, Save the Children Rosa Lizarde, Feminist Task Force of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) Chistina Chang, Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD)/ Beyond 2015 Nicole Bidegain, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)

Framing Questions: What are the different dimensions of inequality that should most concern us? What are the synergies between them, and the common factors that drive and sustain them?


Assefa Bequele, African Child Poverty Forum Mariama Williams, South Centre Bani Dugal, Baha’i International Community/Beyond 2015 Usu Mallya, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme Kate Mcinturff, Social Watch Emma Samman, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), UK

Global Consultation, Framing Questions:

What are likely to be the most effective ways forward to address Inequalities and the factors that drive them, as part of a new Development Agenda? And how will we be able to assess and measure progress on reducing Inequalities in the years ahead?


Ib Petersen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark Regina Adutwum, National Development Planning Commission, Ghana Ashok Kumar, National Confederation of Dalit Organisations, India/Global Call for Action Against Poverty (GCAP) Nuria Molina, Save the Children Yasmin Hussein, Amnesty International Ming Hwee Chong, Baha’i International Community/Beyond 2015

Conclusions:  Naila Kabeer,  School of Oriental and African Studies, London University Saraswathi Menon, UN Women Richard Morgan, UNICEF

Under the auspices of the UNDG project facilitating Country and Global Thematic Consultations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, UNICEF and UN Women with the support of the Governments of Denmark and Ghana, and the collaboration of UNDP, convened a several months-long consultation process on the subject of ADDRESSING INEQUALITIES . 

The purpose of the Consultation is to ensure a broad span and diversity of voices in the conversations and to draw out key themes and recommendations for how inequalities can be addressed in the next global development agenda.  For more information, see http://www.worldwewant2015/inequalities.
Featured image from : Flickr Creative Commons. 

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