In 2000, world leaders promised to halve extreme poverty by 2015 with a global plan called the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). In 2015, the agenda will come to an end with uneven results. Civil society activists and representatives, and UN member States, are now discussing priorities for a Post-2015 Development Agenda, and the battle to influence the agenda has begun. At a meeting at the CSW yesterday, members of the Post-2015 Women's Coalition - feminists, women's rights workers, women's development specialists, grassroot activists and social justice organisations - presented their joint effort to influence the post-2015 agenda.
They are asking for it to be shaped and grounded in human rights, asking for gender equality, and demanding that the agenda address structural factors perpetuating crisis, inequality, insecurity and the violation of human rights. They want the new agenda to be developed with the full participation and leadership of women, and to have strong mechanisms for accountability both within countries and at the international level.
Bani Dugail, from Baha'i International Community, gave an overview of the very wide consultative process taking place – 11 thematic consultations held by the UN Development Group dealing with themes including conflict and fragility, environmental sustainability, economic growth and employment, education, food security and nutrition, governance, health, inequalities and populations dynamics, water and energy. A high level panel co-chaired by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and British Prime Minster David Cameron, has met three times. National consultations will take place in over 100 countries.
Members of civil society groups such as Rosa Lizarde from the Global Call for Action Against Poverty (GCAP) spoke of their efforts to make sure all women are included in the consultation. The organisation's campaign on the Post-2015 agenda is called World We Want and aims to gather and record the priorities of people from every corner of the world. Rio+20 Women's Major Group, represented by its chair, Sascha Gabizon, holds a similar initiative. Anyone can join in and participate in this global discussion.
Jhocas Castillo, community leader in Manila, and member of the Huairou Commission which connects grassroots women's organisations, spoke of the difficulty to get heard when speaking from the grassroots level. “We want to be included, she said. We are still invisible in the process of consultation. We are the key stakeholders. Inequality is part of discrimination. We want inequality to be included in the goals. We can't access health because we have no money. We can't access economic empowerment. We can't access property or land. We have free public schools but we cannot let our children go to school because we have to food to eat. We must be organised. The government has no political will and doesn't really want to help us. We want all these issues to be included in the agenda.”
“This is the right time to rethink our model of development”, said Uruguayan Alejandra Scampini, of the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID). “We need to recognise the failures of a system that is patriarchal and unfair, and has failed to protect the rights of the most vulnerable people,” she said. “A pending question needs answering: What is the alternative development? What is the alternative way of organising economically?” To influence the post-2015 agenda, she told me: “You have to have information, know the people on the inside. But this is not where I take my oxygen. You need to keep the movement building outside the UN because this is just one piece of the puzzle.”
For women around the world, detailed knowledge and experience of working within the architecture and machinery of the UN is critical to being able to influence the consultation on the post-2015 agenda. Simultaneously, despite the lack of time and chronic under funding of women's rights work, yesterday's panel at the CSW highlighted the wide ranging global work already underway by women's organisations determined to find ways to ensure that women's voices across the world are recorded, united voices reflecting different experiences and different initiatives, determined to be heard at the UN, and determined to shape the post-2015 Development Agenda.