Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 June 2016
It is generally agreed by most observers that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have fallen short of achieving gender equality and women's empowerment. Today, women continue to be more likely than men to live in poverty, and more than 18 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa are out of school. One of the crucial reasons for the failure of the MDGs in relation to women was their inability to address the deeply entrenched and interlocking factors that perpetuate women's disadvantage. The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as articulated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, constitute an improvement over the MDGs. Goal 5, which enshrines the stand-alone goal on gender equality, is comprised of nine specific targets, including the elimination of gender-based violence and access to reproductive health. In addition, gender equality is mainstreamed into numerous others goals. Given that the global community is now poised to implement the SDGs, the challenge is how best to integrate a transformative approach into the planning, implementation, and delivery of the specific targets so that the SDGs contribute to achieving gender equality and women's empowerment.
1 Millennium Development Goals Report 2015 (New York: United Nations, 2015), p. 25, www.un.org/millenniumgoals/2015_MDG_Report/pdf/MDG%202015%20rev%20(July%201).pdf.
2 For example, see SDG 1.b where states undertake to pursue gender-sensitive poverty policies.
3 UN Women, “A Transformative Stand-Alone Goal on Achieving Gender Equality, Women's Rights and Women's Empowerment: Imperatives and Key Components” (2013), www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/~/media/AC04A69BF6AE48C1A23DECAEED24A452.ashx.
4 Sandra Fredman, Discrimination Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), ch. 1.
5 Mac Darrow, “Master or Servant? Development Goals and Human Rights,” in Malcolm Langford, Andy Sumner, and Alicia Ely Yamin, eds., The Millennium Development Goals and Human Rights (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
6 Millennium Development Goals Report 2015, p. 8.
7 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, “General Recommendation on Article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Economic Consequences of Marriage, Family Relations and Their Dissolution),” UN document CEDAW/C/GC/29, October 30, 2013, para. 10.
8 David Hulme, “The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): A Short History of the World's Biggest Promise,” BWPI Working Paper No. 100 (2009), p. 27.
9 Millennium Development Goals Report 2015, p. 31.
10 Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice, “Report of the Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice,” UN document A/HRC/26/39, April 1, 2014, para. 49.
11 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, “Report on Fifty-Seventh Session (February 10–28, 2014), Annex 2: Statement of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: Beyond 2014 ICPD Review,” UN document CEDAW/C/2014/I/CRP.
12 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Marrying Too Young: End Child Marriage (New York: UNFPA, 2012), p. 6.
13 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and Committee on the Rights of the Child, “Joint General Recommendation No. 31 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women/General Comment No. 18 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on Harmful Practices,” UN document CEDAW/C/GC/31, November 14, 2014, para. 22.
14 Millennium Development Goals Report 2015, p. 28.
15 World Health Organization et al., Global and Regional Estimates of Violence against Women: Prevalence and Health Effects of Intimate Partner Violence and Non-Partner Sexual Violence (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2013), p. 2.
16 World Bank Group, Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2014), pp. 84–85.
17 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Frequently Asked Questions on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Development Cooperation (New York and Geneva: United Nations, 2006), UN document HR/PUB/06/08, p. 15.
18 OHCHR, Who Will Be Accountable? Human Rights and the Post-2015 Development Agenda (New York and Geneva: United Nations, 2014), UN document HR/PUB/13/1.
20 Darrow, “Master or Servant?” pp. 70–81.
21 Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations, 2015), UN document A/RES/70/1, “Preamble,” para. 10.
23 For example, see Article 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UNTS 999, p. 171; and Article 2(3) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UNTS 993, p. 3.
24 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, “General Recommendation No. 25, on Article 4, Paragraph 1, of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, on Temporary Special Measures,” UN document CEDAW/C/GC/25 (2004), para. 8.
25 UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, Towards Freedom from Fear and Want: Human Rights in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Thematic Think Piece, OHCHR (2012), pp. 5–6.
26 Fredman, Discrimination Law, p. 25.
29 Sandra Fredman, “Beyond the Dichotomy of Formal and Substantive Equality: Towards a New Definition of Equal Rights,” in I. Boerefijn et al., eds., Temporary Special Measures (Antwerp Belgium: Intersentia, 2003), p. 115.
30 Fredman, Discrimination Law, p. 29.
31 Millennium Development Goals Report 2014 (New York: United Nations, 2014), p. 17, www.un.org/millenniumgoals/2014%20MDG%20report/MDG%202014%20English%20web.pdf.
32 United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, “Girls' Right to Education,” UN document E/CN.4/2006/45, February 8, 2006, para. 66.
33 Elizabeth King and Rebecca Winthrop, “Today's Challenges for Girl's Education, Background Paper for the Oslo Summit on Education for Development (July 6–7, 2015), Executive Summary,” p. 10, www.ungei.org/resources/files/todays_challenges_for_girls_education_exec_sum.pdf.
34 “Report of the Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice,” para. 36.
35 United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, “Final Draft of the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights,” UN document A/HRC/21/39, July 18, 2012, para. 88(a).
37 United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, “Women's Rights and the Right to Food,” UN document A/HRC/22/50, December 24, 2012, para. 18.
38 Ibid., para. 15, 17. However, CCTs remain controversial, and there is some evidence that they do not necessarily guarantee greater gender equality or empowerment. For example, see Corboz, Julienne, “Third-Way Neoliberalism and Conditional Cash Transfers: The Paradoxes of Empowerment, Participation and Self-Help among Poor Uruguayan Women,” Australian Journal of Anthropology 24, no. 1 (2013), p. 64 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
39 King and Winthrop, “Today's Challenges for Girl's Education,” p. 14.
40 Sandra Fredman, “Women and Poverty: A Human Rights Approach,” Oxford Human Rights Hub Working Paper Series No. 2, January 2015, pp. 26–42, www.ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/OxHRH-Working-Paper-Number-2-Fredman1.pdf.
42 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, “Concluding Observations: Ecuador,” UN document CEDAW/C/ECU/CO/8-9, March 11, 2015, para. 29(a).
43 The U.K. Department for International Development, “2010 to 2015 Government Policy: Women and Girls in Developing Countries,” www.gov.uk/government/policies/improving-the-lives-of-girls-and-women-in-the-worlds-poorest-countries/supporting-pages/helping-to-end-early-and-forced-marriage.
44 King and Winthrop, “Today's Challenges for Girl's Education,” p.11.
45 Rebecca Davis, “Analysis: When Schoolgirls Fall Pregnant, Why Don't We Talk More About Rape?” Daily Maverick, January 23, 2015, www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-01-23-analysis-when-schoolgirls-fall-pregnant-why-dont-we-talk-more-about-rape/#.VcNXpDbbLIU.
47 Shirley J. Miske, “Exploring the Gendered Dimensions of Teaching and Learning: Background Paper for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2013,” UN Girls' Education Initiative Working Paper No. 06, June 2013, p. 19.
48 Kabeer, “Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment,” p. 17.
49 OHCHR, “Background Paper on Attacks against Girls Seeking to Access Education” (2015), p. 23, www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CEDAW/Report_attacks_on_girls_Feb2015.pdf.
50 Plan International et al., “A Girl's Right to Learn without Fear: Working to End Gender-Based Violence at School” February 26, 2013, plan-international.org/girls-right-learn-without-fear.
51 OHCHR, “Background Paper on Attacks against Girls Seeking to Access Education,” p. 11.
52 Plan International et al., “A Girl's Right to Learn without Fear,” p. 28.
53 OHCHR, “Background Paper on Attacks against Girls Seeking to Access Education,” p. 3.
54 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, “Concluding Observations: Azerbaijan,” UN document CEDAW/C/AZE/CO/5, March 12, 2015, para. 29(c).
55 Miske, “Exploring the Gendered Dimensions of Teaching and Learning,” p. 20.
56 OHCHR, “Background Paper,” p. 25.
57 International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), “Over-Protected and Under-Served: A Multi-Country Study on Legal Barriers to Young People's Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health: U.K.” (2014), p. 17, www.ippf.org/sites/default/files/ippf_coram_uk_report_web.pdf.
58 United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Report to the UN General Assembly (Sex Education), UN document A/65/162, July 23, 2010.
59 UNICEF website, “Basic Education and Gender Equality: Water and Sanitation,” www.unicef.org/education/index_focus_water.html.
60 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, “Report of Fifty-eighth session (June 30–July 18, 2014),” www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CEDAW/Statements/SRHR26Feb2014.pdf.
61 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, “Concluding Observations: Namibia,” UN document CEDAW/C/NAM/CO/3, February 2, 2007, para. 23.
62 “Report of the Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice,” para. 49.
63 Amnesty International, “Silenced, Expelled, Imprisoned: Repression of Students and Academics in Iran,” June 2014, www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/015/2014/en.
64 OHCHR, ‘Background Paper’ p. 24.