Strengthening Women's Voice In Post 2015 Development Agenda

The two-day consultation workshop hosted by All India Women’s Conference on July 21-22 in New Delhi with support from Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development, was an attempt to create a dialogue to influence national deliberations on the Post 2015 development agenda. AIWC has been involved with UN processes since the 1940s with stalwarts like Lakhsmi Menon, Vijaylakshmi Pandit, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur and Hansa Mehta being part of significant historical developments. AIWC in the past has made its presence felt in landmark meets of the Rio Conference, 1992 and Beijing Conference, 1995. These international commitments have not yet resulted in significant change, and huge gaps remain in majority of factors impeding gender equality. The demands of the present workshop resonate themes similar to the ones raised by senior activists in the movement.

Beijing Platform for Action 1995 is a historical process that brought international governments to a common platform, and sought commitments from governments within a human rights framework. It was for the first time that such an extensive consultative process was being conducted in the Eastern Hemisphere of the globe, where diversity and inclusivity were practiced within every stakeholder group. Indian feminists were also extremely active in this process and a large delegation of members from India was part of the Meet. Indian Government was also pro-active and chose to make statements in the Beijing Platform on several of the goals assigned.

The era of optimism has certainly been dissipated with a number of promises and goals of the Beijing Platform of Action unmet by the Indian government. Government shifted its focus on to MDGs and this did not lead to fulfillment of the promises made under the Beijing declaration. The five main unmet promises are elaborated as follows:

  • Maternal Mortality rate: It has reduced, however India still has not been able to reduce it to significant level. India does not report on MDG5b even now, and in issues of reproductive health, maternal mortality is the only issue being discussed.
  • Unpaid Work: Women’s unpaid work has become an important aspect with increasing talks around indirect taxation. It is necessary to bring women’s issue to the centre stage of tax policy. Women are mostly confined to the informal sector, and also in labour intensive work which does not get accounted. There is no clarity around what exactly the means of implementation are in the scenario of unpaid work. There is a need to increase the range of occupations for women, which also directly affects her access to resources.
  • Women’s participation in politics: Participation at the highest levels is not being discussed. The Women’s Reservation Bill is still pending in Parliament even after one and a half decades. Mostly women’s political participation is being manipulated by male family members.
  • Gender Budgeting: It is necessary for Civil Societies to be included in the post and pre budget consultations.
  • Access to economic resources – Land ownership is still a struggle for most of the women in rural India. In spite of laws and policies encouraging women to own resources, very little percentage of women can claim ownership to land.
  • People with disabilities, women with disabilities in particular, are still not part of the discourse and discussions.

With the proposed Sustainable Development Goals there is a sense of optimism again that governments can be held accountable and CSOs can demand renewal of commitments that were not fully met under the Beijing Platform of Action. Sustainable Development Goals are goals recommended by Open Working Group after an unprecedented scale of global consultations over 3 years with various diverse stakeholders, UN-led thematic consultations, and the report of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons,. The final list of SDGs recommended consists of 17 goals and 169 targets. As agreed by the Open Working Group on the SDGs, the goals will aim to not only eradicate poverty and deprivation, but also assist our economies to grow, protect our environment and promote peace and good governance. The Member States have continued a full intergovernmental negotiation process since March 2015 and the final outcome document from this negotiation will form the basis of an SDG Declaration, to be endorsed by Heads of State at a Summit in September 2015.

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