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This month, we witnessed a major milestone on the journey toward the world’s next set of development goals: the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons released its much-anticipated report outlining key elements they propose to succeed the Millennium Development Goals when that charter expires in 2015. And I’m delighted to report that what we have been handed by the Panel is a strong starting point, indeed.
Referred to in shorthand as the post-2015 agenda, this is no small policy paradigm, with many different sectors vying for a piece of the action. ICRW authored the mid-term progress report on Millennium Development Goal 3, on gender equality, and has consistently pushed for a continued—and more comprehensive--focus on gender equality as an essential ingredient of global development. Yet despite the overwhelming evidence supporting the critical connections between gender equality and improved health, economic, educational, sustainability and governance outcomes, we had not, until last week, been assured that international leaders would retain and renew such high level attention to gender equality, and that they would be sufficiently bold in their leadership on these issues. As my colleague wrote recently, even the recommendations made by UN Women (the UN’s agency charged with promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment) for the post-2015 agenda showed inadequate attention to adolescent girls and failed to include comprehensive sexual and reproductive rights.
While we have a long way to go before the final framework is agreed to, the High Level Panel last week made a bold and positive statement in recommending the inclusion of a standalone goal to “Empower Girls and Women and Achieve Gender Equality,” and in setting forth new measures by which to measure progress toward that goal. These measures include ending child marriage, promoting women’s property rights, combating gender-based violence and ensuring universal sexual and reproductive health and rights. The report of the High Level Panel also highlights the critical importance of cross-cutting issues that interlink the various proposed goals, including youth, peace, climate change, urbanization and equality.
The Panel recognizes what we know to be true - that gender equality is essential if we are to not only improve the welfare of girls and women worldwide, but also to end poverty.
I commend the panel for its bold embrace of gender equality as a key to global development, and we welcome the addition of important new targets and cross-cutting issues. As a global community, we now have a strong foundation upon which to move forward through what will be a long and at times perilous journey through the inter-governmental process. We stand ready to do our part to defend it along its way.