Global leaders adopt 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, yet structural obstacles to women's rights remain

Publish Date: 
Friday, October 2, 2015

The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015, held in New York from 25-27 September, marked the official adoption of the post-2015 development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as outlined in "Transforming Our World, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development." The goals and targets detailed in this outcome document represent a powerful win for women’s rights and feminist advocates. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are not only recognized as “a crucial contribution to progress across all the Goals and targets” (paragraph 20), but also as a stand-alone goal with specific targets (Goal 5).  

Strong language on gender equality prevailed and many recommendations made by the Wowen's Major Group were included in the final document. Goal 5 speaks specifically to governments’ commitments to do the following: end discrimination and gender-based violence; eliminate child marriage and female genital mutilation; ensure access to sexual and reproductive health care services and education for all; protect women and girls' reproductive rights; eliminate gender disparities in schools and ensure equal access to education; provide education that promotes gender equality and human rights; expand women's economic opportunities and recognize their rights to resources; and, reduce the burdens of unpaid care work on women and girls. However, various women’s groups have pointed out that structural obstacles to gender equality remain. (source AWID)

Read AWID’s analysis here

The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) also stated that Global goals on women's rights are a pale imitation of promises made in Beijing. The adopted SDGs threaten to overshadow – and perhaps even undermine – the 20th anniversary of a much more significant global agenda for women’s rights: the Beijing declaration and platform for action.  

Read APWLD's analysis here.

Read the main women’s groups network opinions on these issues:

Opinion from the Women’s Major GroupThe Women’s Major Group was created at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992, where governments recognized Women as one of the nine societal groups integral to achieving sustainable development. The Women’s Major Group has been recognized by the United Nations in the UN processes on Sustainable Development since 1992, and in the processes of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) since 1996.

Opinion from the Post 2015 Women’s Coalition. The Post 2015 Women’s Coalition is an international network of feminist, women’s rights, women’s development, grassroots and social justice organizations working, through advocacy and movement building, to challenge and reframe the global development agenda.

Read UN Press release: "World leaders agree: We must close the gender gap."

Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown.