Putting people before profit and greed: this is the mission of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched in 2015. Together, these 17 Goals (or the “2030 Agenda”) challenge the world’s destructive systems, and they are the closest that the UN has ever gotten to a coordinated approach to equality, development, and peace.
WILPF and the SDGs
In 2015, we were thrilled to see specific goals for gender equality (SDG 5) and peaceful and inclusive societies (SDG 16) incorporated in the 2030 Agenda – and to see that the UN recognises that gender equality and peace are necessary for development to happen. This is a big improvement over previous models, like the Millennium Development Goals, which mostly excluded conflict and gender.
The SDGs have been criticised as “dreamy,” nothing more than a “high school wish-list for how to save the world.” But at WILPF, we think the SDGs have the potential to be truly transformative.
Why We Believe in SDGs
First, the SDGs have a feminist vision at heart. The SDGs include targets like ending discrimination and harmful practices against women and girls, and ensuring women’s full and effective participation. Gender issues are included across the goals. This is a huge victory for feminists, who worked hard to make this possible.
Second, the SDGs provide a solid framework for overcoming structural barriers. States commit to policy coherence across the goals. This means they should basically do gender, peace, and environment audits of everything that they do. Because SDG goals and targets are backed by monitoring and reporting obligations, we can use them to demand transparency and hold Member States accountable—to spotlight best practices, push back against retrogressive ones and call out complacency—and radically transform their behaviour.
Third, we can use the SDGs for conflict prevention. The SDGs create opportunities for shifting investment from political economies of war to peace and gender justice. And the world needs this now, more than ever: World military expenditure is estimated to have been $1,822 billion in 2018. Imagine what could be done with this money? We have. Our #MovetheMoney initiative calls on the United Nations and Member States to invest in gender-responsive budgeting, transparency in defense budgets, national action plans on Women, Peace, and Security, and civil society-inclusive UN funds.
We have the ideas and the solutions. Using the SDGs, we can urge States to implement them.
What We Do to Make SDGs Count
In order to make a difference in women’s lives, especially women in conflict-affected areas, WILPF has been advocating for effective implementation of the SDGs. This means, for example, that governments must consider gender and peace when addressing climate change and poverty.
They must look at how arms transfers by developed countries affects gender-based violence and other forms of violence in other countries. They must not just do short-term projects, but address long-term structural issues. The list goes on, and there is much work ahead.
From 9-18 July, WILPF will be busy in New York, where we will be at the United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to check the progress made towards the SDGs and to promote our values on peace.
[FACTBOX: What is the High Level Political Forum?]
The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) is the main platform to give “teeth” to the SDGs. Every year, the Forum participants meet to review what countries have done to achieve the 2030 Agenda. They also adopt a political declaration committing to further action. It is a bit of a “fair”, with limited opportunities for formal civil society participation – something that social movements from around the world have been continuously advocating to change. This year it meets twice: once in July, and again with a Summit in September at the UN General Assembly. Learn more about the HLPF here.
Share our messaging
We have developed the campaign #WomenLead2030, which we invite you to share on your social media.
This campaign highlights the work of local women throughout the world in building peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.
We will bring local expertise from women peacebuilders around the world to the HLPF in New York. Our members from UK WILPF, WILPF Cameroon, and WILPF US will be there together with Margrethe Tingstad, who is our Vice-President. Together, they will attend and speak at different events on how important it is for their countries to make peace a reality.
Together, our goals for this year are to place pressure on Member States to ensure sustainable development works for women and girls in conflict situations. This means addressing “spillover effects” of arms transfers on gender-based violence and increasing coordination and policy coherence. We will focus on SDG 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies and SDG 17 on means of implementation, and will put pressure on specific countries under Voluntary National Review, including Cameroon and the UK.
During the Forum, you can follow our activities on WILPF and PeaceWomen social media. We will also produce an analysis of what happened during the Forum with a focus on SDG16 and 17 soon, which we will share on this website and in our newsletter after the Forum.
Subscribe to our newsletter to get updates about the HLPF!
If you are interested in learning more about our work on the SDGs, go to the peacewomen website.