Sustainable development won’t work without equal participation of women
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