UN calls for gender equality at the heart of sustainable development

If we want an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future, where everyone’s human rights are realised, gender equality must be at the heart of sustainable development policy. This is the message of new UN Women report: the ‘World Survey on the Role of Women in Development 2014: Gender equality and sustainable development’

The latest in a series of reports published every five years, the publication makes recommendations for policies with explicit commitments to gender equality, women’s rights and empowerment. It aims to show how unsustainable development patterns and gender inequality reinforce each other and emphasises the importance of women’s agency to sustainable development.

“Effective policy actions for sustainability must redress the disproportionate impact on women and girls of economic, social and environmental shocks and stresses,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in a press release.

“This report will strengthen policy actors in different parts of the world – whether in government, civil society, international agencies or the private sector — towards more robust and effective policy measures and investments.”

 Three criteria are used in order to assess whether policies, programmes and actions are likely to achieve gender equality:
• Do they support women’s capabilities and their enjoyment of rights?
• Do they reduce, rather than increase, women’s unpaid care work?
• Do they embrace women’s equal and meaningful participation as actors, leaders and decision-makers?

The report calls on Member States to ensure that their macroeconomic policies create sustainable livelihoods and reduce inequalities; to promote good green jobs and adequate wages for agricultural and informal workers, especially women; to make sure that sustainable population policies are grounded in sexual and reproductive health and rights; to ensure universal access to water, clean and safe sanitation for women and girls; and access to efficient, cleaner and safer ways of cooking.

The conceptualisation of the World Survey on the Role of Women in Development 2014 was led by Institute of Development Studies (IDS) Director Melissa Leach and IDS Fellow Lyla Mehta, with assistance from Preetha Prabhakaran.

The report was presented to the Second Committee of the General Assembly on 20 October, and a panel discussion discussed key messages. Speakers included Melissa Leach; lead author Isha Ray, Professor of Energy and Resources at the University of California; Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and contributing author; and Zenebework Tadesse, an independent researcher based in Ethiopia.

Read the full report pdf here via the UN Women website.