Sustainable development won’t work without equal participation of women

Campaigners at Rio +20
Amanda Khozi Mukwashi
By Amanda Khozi Mukwashi: June 20th, 2012

Twenty years ago world leaders came together to develop and agree a plan of action to address the pressing challenges facing our planet. The landmark Earth Summit resulted in the creation of a sustainable development agenda that brought together environmental, social and economic concerns for the first time and identified a set of principles (known as the Rio Principles) through which sustainable development could be achieved.

The UN Conference on Sustainable Development currently taking place in Rio, Brazil, aims to reaffirm the political commitments of the original 1992 summit and produce up-to-date action plans. However, the process to date has not been without its challenges: the crises identified 20 years ago have got worse, no clear solutions have been identified, and the official negotiations to date have not gone well.

VSO has come to Rio to highlight the important role that voluntary groups play in advancing sustainable development. We believe voluntary groups have a key role to play in driving locally owned, long-lasting change.

The importance of grassroots citizens is no more evident than at the conference itself. On my journey into Rio Centro this morning, where government delegations will start the final process of adopting the text that has been negotiated, I saw a group of civil society actors forming a red line with core messages symbolising where they draw the line for ‘non-negotiables’. There are quite a number of people holding up gender equality and sexual and reproductive health rights as the bottom line.

It is quite astonishing and perhaps even frustrating that even with the knowledge that sustainable development will be difficult to achieve without the full and equal participation of women in development, government still think it is ok to compromise on gender equality.

I think that if I was standing by the red line, I too, will be drawing it on women’s meaningful and equal participation. I am sure there are thousands of volunteers out there as well as partners who would also want to draw a red line. Let us draw it!

Amanda Khozi Mukwashi
Policy Director


6 comment on Sustainable development won’t work without equal participation of women

  1. Fred Magoola says:

    I couldn’t agree with you any better. Most people ignore the most important group in our society. When i look at where i come from (Uganda) let alone my placement, Most of the family chores are taken up by the women. They looking after the children, do Agriculture let alone food for daily meals is the responsibility of the women(Fetching firewood, cooking, looking for the husband to come and eat etc). While the men are busy with friends and their ‘social’ life.

    Without gender equality and equal participation, how can the bulk of work being done by the women be justified. Where is the role of the husband and father? How then will we realize what has been termed political commitment? What do we reaffirm when the actors are actually left out?

    As long as the mothers of the world are left out, all this will be meaningless. It is a sheer waste of time. Behind every successful man there is a woman. Let us not ignore the truth.

  2. Its true Sustainable development wont be achieved without equal participation of women but such equal participation has to be broad to encompass rural women as well. These are the majority and most vulnerable who are always left out. Its should therefore, be understood, that real sustainable development will only and entirely be achieved after inclussion of the rural woman and the most vulnerable members of the society. They are the most affected by the decisions made by our leaders. They need to be included and participate in the development process as the only viable way to empower them. thanks

  3. Nili says:

    Thanks lots to Amanda Khozi Mukwashi to take firm stand put forward very important issue of equal participaion of women in the development activities.

  4. Tinebeb says:

    Yes, it is true that withou women’s involvement the world can’t never be a better place to live having a lion share of socio-econoic burden women have to shoulder. But let’s give emphasis on the younger women generation (girls) that are the future leaders of our societies. Let’s empower them to stand and fight for their rights and prove themselves how much they are important in the life of every single individual.

  5. Rimmy Taneja says:

    I share Amanda’s views . I too strongly believe that we all need to look at gender equality as an intergral part of all the work we do. Political committment is surely very important but that alone will not be enough. The persepective of the civil society and each member needs to change so that they donot view equal participation of women as threatnening and it can no longer be symbolic.

  6. Rajeev Narayan says:

    Yes, this is what is the need of the hour. Women’s participation and subsequent empowerment can’t be ignored. Countries, all over the world have witnessed this and acknowledge the fact that women’s participation is a must to address each and every issue. However, a little has been achieved so far. In a democratic country like India, the movements have been fragmented. Even women’s movement has not been that powerful. Clear evidence will be the inability of the women’s movement and others to pass on the historical ‘Women’s Reservation Bill’ for the last three decades.

    The challenge remains same, women’s empowerment and the participation can accomplish much is MEN are seen as partners and are engaged in the over-all discussions right from the policy to the implementation level.

    My past experience of working on the issues of gender and masculinities prove that women need a supportive environment, at home, in work environment and in all other formal or informal sector.

    Women’s rights are human rights and if we look at the situation of women in the present context, there has been a change due to women’s economic contribution. Women who contribute in economy, have a larger say (god knows if at home) and it is a must to promote women’s participation in politics- at the state as well as at the national level. Women’s Political participation would certainly be helpful in framing legislations favoring women’s rights and would assist in implementing policies on the ground, which are sensible and sensitive to the needs of women and like minded men. Achieving gender equality has been a dream and is yet to be achieved. The efforts need to go a long long way and it of course, calls for participation and support from gender sensitive men who are indeed ‘the partners’ favoring women’s participation.

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