You are here: UN reaches "milestone" agreement on gender and development

27 March 2014

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has concluded its 58th session with a strong call for a stand-alone goal on gender equality to be included in the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015. It has also called for gender targets and indicators to be integrated into all goals.

This achievement was by no means guaranteed as UN member states and over 6,000 civil society delegates debated the many challenges and achievements of implementing the MDGs for women and girls over a two week period (10-21 March). Particularly contentious were negotiations over sexual and reproductive health and rights, references to women's rights and the role of the family and calls for increased funding to women's rights organisations.

The Association was represented at the conference by Hayley Richardson, UNA-UK Policy & Advocacy Officer, and Sally Spear, vice-chair of UNA's Women's Advisory Council. Ahead of the conference, UNA-UK consulted its members and supporters on the key areas of concern for achieving women's equality. We're pleased to report that nearly all of the responses gathered feature in the following paragraph in the final outcome document:

The Commission is concerned that several critical issues related to gender equality and the empowerment of women were not adequately addressed by the MDGs such as: inter alia, violence against women and girls; child, early and forced marriage; women’s and girls’ disproportionate share of unpaid work, particularly unpaid care work; women’s access to decent work, the gender wage gap, employment in the informal sector, low paid and gender-stereotyped work such as domestic and care work; women’s equal access to, control and ownership of assets and productive resources including land, energy and fuel, and women’s inheritance rights; women’s sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights ... universal health coverage; non-communicable diseases; accountability for violations of human rights of women and girls; and women’s full and equal participation in decision-making at all levels.

In a statement, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka, Executive Director of UN Women, said:

The agreement represents a milestone towards a transformative global development agenda that puts the empowerment of women and girls at its centre. Member States have stressed that while the Millennium Development Goals have advanced progress in many areas, they remain unfinished business as long as gender inequality persists.

Click here to read a letter from Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening on CSW's outcomes.

On her return, Hayley Richardson briefed UNA's Women's Advisory Council on the outcomes of the conference and her experiences there. Click here to read her speech and click here to view her photos.

Photo: opening session of CSW. Copyright UN Women.