Global Resources

The post-2015 development framework and the realisation of women’s rights and social justice

Author: D Elson, R Balakrishnan
Publisher: Rutgers University
Publication Date: Jan 2012
This paper offers the authors’ reflections on the post-2015 development framework, including the strengths and weaknesses of the MDGs, what has changed since 2000, and the challenges of the post-2015 period. While the MDGs helped people to hold their governments to account, they had a range of weaknesses which are listed by the authors. Some of these weaknesses were that they became linked to aid conditionality, they paid no attention to the unpaid economy, and they reduced the gender equality goal to parity in educational enrolment, women’s share of seats in parliaments and share on non-agricultural employment. The paper goes on to set out the key international and national changes since 200, which include many developing countries becoming middle income countries and some becoming donors, the global financial crisis, and the weakening of women’s rights due to claims that they are at odds with traditional cultural values.

The paper argues that the post-2015 framework must not be just a continuation of the MDGs, which make no reference to macroeconomic policies. It must seek to design macroeconomic policies that support the realisation of human rights. The authors discuss some alternative understanding of development that have been put forward, including human development, inclusive growth and sustainable development. They explain why none of these are sufficient, and that any new understanding of development needs to be framed in terms of social justice, articulated in terms of human rights norms. Instead of the current MDG 3 on gender equality and women’s empowerment, made up of weak indicators, gender issues should be discussed in terms of women’s rights, the paper states. It finishes by discussing indicators for post-2015 development, noting that they should not be detached, stand alone targets, but rather indicators of the conduct of policy processes and of the extent of rights being realised.