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Mind the gender gap: accelerating gender commitments in the MDGs and shaping the post 2015 development framework

This position paper from the African women’s rights regional steering group on the post-2015 development framework builds on discussion that took place at the African women’s consultation in October 2012. It contains two sections; the first is on gender in the current MDGs, and the second looks at gender within a post-2015 framework. While recognising that the MDGs have been successful in drawing attention towards poverty as an urgent global priority, the authors argue that the simplification of the goals and a focus on quantification rather than quality has meant that the development agenda has been reduced to meeting basic material needs, and has not addressed equity, empowerment or building sustainable capacity for economic growth. The paper states that “gender targets continue to be a moving goal with inequalities persisting in many countries and contexts”. It goes on to list some examples of this, including the low progress made on MDG 5 to reduce maternal mortality. However, the authors also make ten recommendations for priority action by African states before the MDGs end.

When considering the post-2015 development framework, the paper argues that any framework should seek to redress ideological assumptions within the current MDGs. For example, it should recognise that Africa has rich natural and human resources, which if managed well, could facilitate sustainable and equitable growth in the continent. It should also integrate human and women’s rights principles, rather than taking a sole focus on economic growth. Five groups of minimum outcomes are suggested as a way of ensuring that any new framework can recognise and address the gaps inherent in the MDGs. These groups are:

• Accessible universal primary education and strengthening of post primary education
• Women’s health and zero tolerance on violence against women
• Guarantee women and girls’ property rights
• Accelerating women’s economic empowerment
• Governance, peace and security
• Environmental sustainability

A set of outcomes is suggested for each group.

Finally, the paper sets out a series of overarching concerns. These cover: the donor centric view that has previously shaped the MDGs; aid flows and internal resource mobilisation; regional integration agendas; quantity versus quality; and the aid effectiveness agenda.

The African women’s rights regional steering group on the post-2015 development framework includes FEMNET, AAWORD, EASSI, WiLDAF-WA, SADC Gender Protocol Alliance, Akina Mama wa Afrika, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Oxfam and Urgent Action Fund Africa.