Call to action: Gender equality for a sustainable future!

Call to action signed by women heads of state and governments at Rio+20 

At a high-level event at the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012, women Heads of State and Government signed a Call to Action with concrete policy recommendations on integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment in all sustainable development frameworks.

Through the Call to Action they urged governments, civil society and the private sector to follow their lead and prioritize gender equality and women’s empowerment in efforts for sustainable development. The Call to Action was signed at the Women Leaders’ Summit on the Future Women Want, hosted by UN Women, in collaboration with the Government of Brazil.

                           Image source: UN Women

“We know from research that advancing gender equality is not just good for women, it is good for all of us,” said Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women. “When women enjoy equal rights and opportunities, poverty, hunger and poor health decline and economic growth rises. Advancing the equal rights of men and women creates healthier and more sustainable societies and economies.”

At the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 there was unanimous agreement that sustainable development cannot be realized without gender equality.

Yet today, women and girls continue to face the brunt of global challenges, through the feminization of poverty, hunger, disease and the burden of unpaid care work. At the same time, there is growing research and awareness that that advancing gender equality makes societies and economies healthier and more equitable and sustainable.

Moreover, sustainable development solutions, such as access to clean energy and safe water, can greatly improve women’s lives by reducing poverty, freeing up women’s time and protecting them from violence and adverse health and environmental impacts.  For example, of the 2 million people who die each year from smoke from traditional cook stoves, more than 85 per cent are women and children.

At the Summit in 2012, women leaders reiterated that sustainable development cannot happen without half of the world’s population. Besides the call to action, the signers pledged to use their leadership positions to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The call to action pleads for:

  • Integration of gender equality in future international development frameworks
  • Acceleration of  women’s participation in governance
  • Elimination of discriminatory barriers faced by women
  • Improvement of women’s access to resources
  • Warranty of human rights for women

Signatories include: H.E. Ms. Dilma Rousseff, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil; H.E. Ms. Laura Chinchilla Miranda, President of the Republic of Costa Rica; H.E. Ms. Dalia Grybauskait, President of the Republic of Lithuania; H.E. Ms. Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Jamaica; H.E. Ms. Julia Gillard, MP, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia; H.E. Ms. Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Denmark; H.E. Ms. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland; and  H.E. Madame Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, President of the Swiss Confederation (signed on her behalf by H.E. Ms. Doris Leuthard, former President of the Swiss Confederation).

Click here to read the full call to action

Source: Un Women

Comment by Angela Luci:

Are the policy recommendations in this call to action concrete enough? Not in my opinion. Today, there are only a few countries in the world that would not sign a call for more gender equality. But what are the real barriers hindering countries to achieve this goal? Are they of political, economic or social nature? Sureley, these barriers differ largely across countries of different development stages. However, they still exist even in the most developed countries, where for example insufficient possiblilities for combining work and family life hinder many women from full economic, political and social participation.  Clearly identifying these barriers is an important step towards reducing gender inequality. The World Bank and the OECD recently did some serious efforts in this direction:

World Bank World Development Report 2012: Gender & Development

OECD Week 2012: Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship.

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