EWL News

The European Women’s Lobby calls for gender equality as a stand-alone goal in the new International Development Agenda

[Brussels, 9 July 2013] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) has today sent a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, to ask him to set women’s rights as a key priority of the forthcoming new International Development Agenda, the so called post-2015 agenda, which will follow the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015. The EWL pointed to the many reports and discussions throughout this current process which acknowledge that women’s rights are intimately linked to the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social, environmental. In particular, all high-level reports (see below) make a strong call for a stand-alone goal on gender equality, and clearly take the position that reaching equality between women and men and empowering women and girls are a sine qua non condition for a genuinely transformative agenda.

For the EWL, the post-2015 development framework must guarantee the full spectrum of women’s rights effectively. Only a standalone goal on women’s rights and gender equality allows space for targets and indicators that would most reflect the changes needed in order to achieve gender equality. Such goal should also to take into account the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination experienced by women and girls around the world; for the EWL, the diversity of women’s and girls’ needs should be addressed through relevant indicators and targets, so that not a single woman or girl is left behind in the new framework.

The EWL would like the standalone goal on gender equality to include a coherent approach to women’s rights and gender equality, with a view to promote women’s economic independence and the equal representation of women and men in all aspects of decision-making. Ending violence against women should be a priority within this goal, with targets and indicators enabling real progress in women’s lives. In particular, we would like to see prostitution recognized as a form of violence against women, as it constitutes an obstacle to equality between women and men, a violation of women’s dignity and detrimentally impacts on women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Language such as “sex work” should not be used as it does not refer to international agreements such as the UN 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. Finally, universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, especially in the context of human rights and the empowerment of women and girls, should also be a policy priority.

As gender inequality is both structural and systemic, existing from community level right up to national institutions, such a stand-alone goal should be accompanied by a clear commitment to implement gender mainstreaming in all goals, targets and indicators of the new agenda. Moreover, adequate and sustainable financing for women’s rights and gender equality should be guaranteed in regional, national and local government budgets.

In this context, the EWL hopes that Mr Ban-Ki moon will take into account its remarks and continue taking a leading role in ensuring that this broader agenda on women’s and girls’ rights and health and on gender equality is part of the post-2015 process.


The UN Secretary General is currently preparing a report for the UN General Assembly Special Event in September 2013 on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and post-MDG framework. His report will build on all the reports that have been recently commissioned, including the Report of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on post-MDGs; the Report of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN); and the Report on Corporate Sustainability of the Global Compact. The UN Secretary General report, and the priorities highlighted within it, will play a major role in shaping the post-2015 International Development Agenda.

Recent outcomes in the European region:

  • The recently adopted European Union Council Conclusions on “The 0verarching Post 2015 Agenda”: the new framework should ensure a human-rights based approach and “should also address justice, equality and equity, good governance, democracy and the rule of law, with a strong focus on the empowerment and rights of women and girls and gender equality, and on preventing and combating violence against women as essential preconditions for equitable and inclusive sustainable development, as well as important values and objectives in themselves.”
  • The high-level UNECE regional conference Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century took place in Geneva on 1 and 2 July 2013, as part of the Operational Review Process of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). The Chair’s summary of this conference highlights the links between gender equality, an end to violence against women and the enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for all. The EWL co-hosted the NGO meeting which took place on 3 and 4 July in Geneva.

To find out more:

Post 2015 Women’s Coalition – A collation of feminist, women’s rights, women’s development, grassroots and social justice organizations working to challenge and re-frame the global development agenda.

UN Women webpages on the post-2015 agenda

UN Women launches global call for a transformative agenda to make gender equality a reality, 26 June 2013

The gender dimension of the MDGs Report 2013, UN Women

World We Want 2015 - The World We Want is a platform created by the United Nations and civil society to amplify people’s voices in the process of building a global agenda for sustainable development.

Beyond 2015 - Beyond 2015 is a global campaign aiming to influence the creation of a post 2015 development framework that succeeds the current UN Millennium Development Goals. Beyond 2015 brings together more than 650 civil society organisations in over 100 countries around the world.

Post 2015 - The post-2015.org website and the @post2015 Twitter account bring together the key documents, reports and ongoing research on the post-2015 agenda, with regular updates on events and briefings about the emerging agenda.

Countdown 2015 Europe is a consortium of 16 leading European non-governmental organizations working to ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights in developing countries.

Webpage of the Library of the European Parliament on post-2015 development agenda and on Millennium Development Goals beyond 2015

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