Global Resources

Turning Promises into Progress: gender equality and rights for women and girls - lessons learnt and actions needed

Publisher: Gender and Development Network
Publication Date: Jan 2015

2015 represents an important moment to reflect on what has been achieved over the last two decades for gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights, and to garner renewed momentum to implement existing commitments. It is twenty years since the Fourth World Conference on Women resulted in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, with its comprehensive government commitments under 12 critical areas of concern. It is also the fifteenth anniversary of ground-breaking United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 which recognised the importance of women’s full and equal participation as actors for peace and security. Furthermore, 2015 represents a pivotal moment in the development agenda with the advent of the post 2015 framework and sustainable development goals. This year therefore provides an opportunity to turn the commitments already made into real action on the ground in order to advance gender equality and women and girls’ rights.

The report draws on knowledge and perspectives from experts and advocates in different areas of gender equality and women’s rights who have come together to lay out an analysis of what has happened over the last twenty years, and identify priorities for the next decades.

Part one of the report shows the hard won gains, particularly in the areas where the Millennium Development Goals brought funding, but that much more still needs to be done. Progress has been slow and uneven and interventions have been piecemeal. New recognition and rhetoric has failed to bring real change, and resources continue to be scarce. A focus on opportunities for individual girls and women has obscured the underlying power inequality between women and men that is the real barrier to gender equality.

Part two looks at progress and challenges across eight areas relevant to gender equality: women, peace and security; violence against women and girls; sexual and reproductive health and rights; political participation and influence; education; women’s economic equality; unpaid care and social norms.

In Part three the report outlines emerging solutions, looking both at the ways in which the structural barriers to gender equality can be tackled, and at how to leverage the necessary political will and resources to achieve this much needed transformational change.