Women’s Empowerment Highlighted as Key to Meeting Proposed SDGs

Monday 13th April 2015

GBA Newsletter

Gender equality and women’s empowerment are increasingly being recognized as integral to the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The United Nations hosted an April 16 event in which these topics were discussed at length. The event, “Transformative Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Expectations from the Financing for Development Process,” was co-hosted by UN Women, the Permanent Missions of Mexico and Sweden, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development. It was timed in parallel with the meeting of UN Member States to consult on the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, which is set to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July.

Inez Murray, GBA Chief Executive

The event brought together governments, donors, multilateral organizations and civil society. GBA Chief Executive Inez Murray participated in the talk, sharing her thoughts on what policy makers could do to encourage more financial services providers to serve the Women’s Market in an address from the floor.

“A key lever is promoting the collection and analysis of sex-disaggregated demand- and supply-side data so that the private sector understands the business case,” she noted. “In addition, the full integration of ‘market performance’ into global ESG indicators will build accountability and transparency, and shareholders can decide which bank they invest in based on their gender performance.”

The proposed SDGs build upon the Millennium Development Goals and are intended to provide a roadmap that converges with the post-2015 development agenda. The 17 proposed SDGs are:

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Transformative Financing for Gender Equality and Women's EmpowermentParticipants in the April event praised the inclusion of gender equality as a standalone goal — SDG 5 — and noted that meeting the vast majority of the SDGs requires prioritizing women’s empowerment, particularly women’s financial inclusion. The numerous benefits of financial inclusion for women include economic growth and poverty reduction, greater food security, and better health outcomes.

“We need to dig deeper into the idea of transformative financing,” said Nicole Bidegain of the Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development. “We need to bring this to reality, with a commitment in scale and scope, and to deliver dedicated resources in all sectors.”

As has been often noted, economically empowering women is not merely the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense. The Copenhagen Consensus Center, a think tank that researches solutions for the world’s biggest problems based on a cost-benefit analysis, recently highlighted this in its “Preliminary Benefit-Cost Assessment of the Final OWG Outcome,” which analyzed and prioritized the proposed SDGs based on evidence of the economic, social and environmental costs and benefits. The paper identified SDG 5, particularly as it relates to access to financial services, as a top-tier goal because of its high ROI. Women’s full participation in political, economic and public life were also determined to be goals with a strong benefit vs. their cost.

The April event highlighted the fact that while achieving gender equality is possible, it will require committing unprecedented levels of financing, and engaging all stakeholders.

“The ambitions of the post-2015 development agenda will only be met if we can achieve transformative financing, both in scale and scope, from all sources and at all levels,” UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said. “This must be reflected in a strong call to action that will galvanize support to finance new and existing gender equality commitments in all countries, at all levels of development and in all situations.”

Find out more about the event and take a look at the photo gallery here.