Launch of the Gender Equality and Religion Platform

International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development
Launch of the Gender Equality and Religion Platform

for the Gender Responsive Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development / CSW 61

15 March 2015 | United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations in New York

There is growing recognition in the international development community of the fact that religions can be critical moral, social and political agents of human development and that religious actors play a bigger role than initially acknowledged. This makes it imperative for us to consider how such efforts can further enhance and guide the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With a common call ‘to leave no one behind’, to ‘reach the furthest behind first’, and to ‘address inequalities’, faith actors have an equal stake in contributing to the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The 2030 Agenda for sustainable development provides all stakeholders including faith actors a guiding map to continue making their contribution to human wellbeing and the protection of the planet. The 2030 Agenda is of unprecedented scope and significance, accepted by all and applicable to all. Its universal nature makes it unique with 17 goals that are indivisible and interconnected. The 2030 Agenda declares that regardless of gender access to justice and everyone’s human rights matter. Women and girls constitute half of humanity, and their needs and potential cannot and must not be ignored. It recognizes gender equality and women’s empowerment as “a crucial contribution to progress across all the goals and targets” and requires the integration of gender perspectives in all aspects of the implementation of the entire agenda. While SDG 5 is particularly significant, it is not the only priority; gender-responsive implementation of the agenda entails working across all SDGs. In contrast to only 5 targets pertaining to gender issues under the MDGs, there are 40 SDG targets (25%) that are explicitly or implicitly related to gender equality.

For the first time a distinct feature of the 60th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) was its recognition of the role of faith-based organizations for addressing the needs of all women and girls especially those facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization. Therefore FBOs contributed in transforming social norms.

With this in mind, the members of the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) decided to establish the Gender Equality and Religion Platform which will be instrumental in exploring these linkages. The envisaged platform is a collective effort, building on existing initiatives and engagements, to strengthen the voice, representations and specific interests of women (and men) of faith committed to gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment as a means towards realizing the SDGs. Furthermore the platform will prove beneficial for the gender responsive implementation of the SDGs from within a faith construct. The platform will encourage thinking about how the various SDGs can be simultaneously approached from both a faith and gender perspective for the best possible and most effective way for implementation. As such the platform will strengthen a coherent voice, and approach to gender equality and sustainable development as an expression and vision of faith.

The Vision for the Gender Equality and Religion Platform:

  • The platform will function as a network composed of PaRD members’ respective tried and tested UN partners. This network will be a global resource for religious and non-religious organizations and movements working towards gender equality to draw upon for consultations, thematic expertise and development initiatives.
  • From this Network, a group of prominent men and women of faith will be chosen which would constitute an ‘Advisory Group on Gender Equality’ for PaRD members and partners. These would be the international development (read: thematic) experts and specialists who are also the policy savvy ones with experience in working to effect attitudinal and policy changes within their respective communities as well as faith leaders and women of faith.
  • All members of the platform would be nominated according to PaRD criteria which are in line with UN criteria (used in previous engagements with faith actors and partners) and which the group would elaborate and finalize together for this purpose. This includes a balanced and diverse representation of religious and regional affiliation in the Advisory Group as well as a high level of legitimacy and experience in working with and within FBOs that are legal registered entities.
  • In order to guarantee a participatory and inclusive process as well as to build on the ownership of FBOs and actors engaged in gender equality, the “Advisory Group on gender Equality” will be selected by members of the platform.
  • This group should be regularly reconfigured so that its membership changes every x amount of time (these are things to be worked out in the Terms of Reference of such a group. Respective terms of Reference will be worked out after the constituting meeting).

Key Objectives of the Gender Equality and Religion Platform:

  • To provide a means of exchanging experiences and sharing knowledge.
  • To help mainstream gender equality and women’s empowerment in all of PaRD’s work streams, for instance PVE or Health.
  • To foster dialogue between religious and non-religious actors working towards gender equality and the SDGs in general.
  • To function as a resource for conferences, campaigns, events and expertise for all actors involved in the implementation of the SDGs.
  • To strengthen advocacy for gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment as a means towards realizing the SDGs.

Purpose of the Event :

CSW 61 represents a strategic symbolic and powerful venue to facilitate and strengthen the role and contribution of these constituencies in the gender responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and across its SDGs.

By creating the opportunity for an open, deep and intersectional conversation among faith and non-faith actors, bilateral as well as multilateral policy makers on the importance of reaching coherence between religion, gender equality and sustainable development the event will facilitate the creation of a common, transformative, cultural and social framing for gender equality.

Key Objectives for the Event

  • To mark the official launch of the platform: The event will present the opportunity to launch this platform and position it as a direct response to the agreed conclusion of the CSW60 and garner the support and buy in of the international community.
    • To present the modalities and value of the platform to a broader audience. To advocate and garner political support for cross cutting partnerships between faith, gender equality, and development actors, policy makers and the UN System;
    • To highlight the value in exchanging lessons learnt between faith actors as well as non-faith actors, who have extensive experience on the ground and between gender equality advocate under the framework of sustainable development. This is crucial as the platform can show how religion can guide good practices in pursuing development strategies underpinned by both a rights based approach and a faith based approach.