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UN Women calls for dedicated resources

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Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women, Addis Ababa conference, financing equality‘Advances towards gender equality have been slow and inconsistent, failures often attributable to financing gaps’.

On the eve of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, UN Women has called for transformative financing to end gender inequality by 2030.

For high ambition, backed by stepped-up action to make the right investments, is needed to put such a goal within reach for all women and girls.

The Financing for Development conference, to be held in Addis Ababa from 13-16 July 2015, will bring together high-level officials from around the world to agree on, among other issues, a set of far-reaching commitments to finance sustainable development, including those linked to official development assistance, trade, debt, taxation and technology.

The meeting will provide a critical opportunity to ensure the centrality of gender equality in the mobilisation and allocation of all sources of financing, public and private, domestic and international.

Studies show that women everywhere need dedicated and consistent investment and resources, and to implement the gender equality objectives of the post-2015 development agenda, political will and commitment to unprecedented levels of financing – in scale, scope, and quality – and from all sources, are needed.

“We have an enormous opportunity,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women’s Executive Director, said.

“As we look towards the new development agenda, it is clear that its sustainability will be strongest, and most enduring, when it is based on equal, financially resilient, and inclusive communities.

“We have to act now to vastly increase financing, from all sources and at all levels, in line with women’s rights,” she continued.

“Now is the time for governments to put gender equality and women’s empowerment at the heart of all discussions, all agreements.”

Financing for Development is considered one of three global events in 2015 that could transform the course of development over the next 15 years, and as the first in the series, is expected to set the tone for the other two.

They include a September summit to agree on a post-2015 sustainable development agenda and a December summit aiming for an anticipated new deal on climate change.

Chronic underinvestment in women’s empowerment has hampered progress on women’s rights and gender equality for decades.

A recent review of progress on the implementation of the landmark 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, conducted by UN Women and endorsed at the Fourth World Conference on Women, found advances towards gender equality have been slow and inconsistent, failures often attributable to financing gaps. In some countries, these gaps are as high as 90 per cent.

Earlier in 2015, this financing shortfall was recognised by UN Member States at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and resulted in a Political Declaration pledging to close the gap.

This Addis conference, therefore, could well be the first major step in moving this agenda forward.

But beyond increasing the amount of financing, via official development assistance and domestic resources such as taxation, countries need to adopt public policies that address the root causes of and consequences of gender inequality and discrimination in all areas of life.

And women must be able to participate fully in decision-making at all levels, and action should be taken to mainstream gender in national planning and budgeting processes.

Not only that, but the private sector must also uphold the human rights of women and be held accountable for contributing to the progress that needs to be made, such as by empowering women in the workplace.

Women’s organisations, integral to the long struggle for equality and having built a cohesive, inclusive movement for gender equality, also need to receive significantly more funding so they can perform their advocacy and mobilisation roles.

During the Addis Conference UN Women will join UN Member States to launch the Addis Ababa Action Plan on Transformative Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

This Plan aims to outline key policy and financing priorities which would in turn translate the pledges in the Addis Ababa Accord and Action Agenda into prioritised, well-resourced actions for meeting new and existing commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment to in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

UN Women, the World Bank Group’s president, Jim Yong Kim, and the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host a side event called ‘Financing for Gender Equality—Results and Good Practices’.

This will engage ministers, civil society and business representatives in championing high-impact financing success stories.

UN Women is also supporting an event hosted by the Ethiopian government on the role of African women in the sustainable development goals.

UN Women has been collaborating with women’s groups and civil society organisations from the global South fostering the active role of civil society in the financing of development processes, so that their priorities can be reflected in the outcomes of the Addis Conference.

Before the conference opened, UN Women supported a Women’s Forum and the Civil Society Forum so they could mobilise advocates to continue pressing for action on gender equality.

And UN Women’s participation in official proceedings and the Business Forum will stress key messages such as the urgent need to close the funding gap to make post-2015 gender goal a reality.

The Women’s Forum looked at the steps ahead and discussed how the Addis Accord fitted into larger processes and how its implementation could be taken forward.

Speaking at the closing Women’s Forum, Emma Kaliya, chair of the African Women’s Development and Commication Network FEMNET, said: “We the women’s movement need to start showing that we have a voice and that we have a choice.”

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