In 2015, at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, its leader proclaimed, “we have reached a decisive moment for humanity”. The words were spoken by Ban Ki-Moon, on the day the 2030 Agenda was approved. It opened a new path, a path of hope, because it encouraged member states to abandon old development policies and build a more transformative agenda for the world. For many of us, it was a tentative hope, in the full knowledge that the declarations made in that old 1st Avenue building in New York could prove to be a shooting star or a lightning bolt, as it wasn’t the first time the UN had placed a global agenda on its table and then failed to ensure it had consequences for everyone. That said, never before had 193 states reached an agreement on the global action needed to overcome the tremendous social, economic, political and environmental challenges and problems they faced. An action that would call on all of them equally to cast aside the traditional north-south logic and commit them to working together to achieve common objectives. Objectives articulated through a series of goals and targets that seek to implement structural changes that can change thought processes and generate transformation.

Six years on, and the 2030 Agenda continues to offer us an opportunity to achieve transformation by reinterpreting global and local policy. Six years of countries making a considerable effort to look good in the picture. Six years of global political change, including the presidency of the most influential country on the planet. Six years of never-ending discontinuous wars. Six years and so many commitments sunk by a global pandemic and vaccine patents, reminding us precisely why it is that the world needs to change.

But the 2030 Agenda is not, nor should it be, a merely technocratic UN recommendation. This agenda must be a roadmap for transformation through policy coherence. And policy coherence cannot be understood without the strategic incorporation of the gender perspective. Without that perspective, the agenda would be a murky brown agenda, like the seats in the UN General Assembly room.

Gender perspective is not a sectoral policy. In terms of the 2030 Agenda, we’re talking about leverage policies that can transform the causes of inequalities between men, women and the LGTBI+ community

Feminist agendas in the institutional world are not having a good time of it. Fundamentalisms and the multiple crises caused by covid-19, among other things, have led to the agendas, particularly those whose complexity requires sustainable global justice structures, being simplified, and current issues are being taken advantage of to put human rights, especially the human rights of women, on the back burner.

Gender perspective is not a sectoral policy; it isn’t about designing policies for women, even though some of them work to correct inequalities. In terms of the 2030 Agenda, we’re talking about leverage policies that can transform the causes of inequalities between men, women and the LGTBI+ community.

Why is the 2030 Agenda important for ensuring gender equality?

Despite being an Agenda for Action rather than a binding international instrument, the 2030 Agenda recognises the importance of instruments such as the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and platforms like the Beijing Platform for Action (Beijing) and the Cairo Programme of Action (Cairo). However, the recognition in its political statement has not been reflected in the content of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): nor in their indicators. Gender equality is addressed (insufficiently) by the “custom-made” SDG no. 5, and some of the targets and indicators of the other SDGs, but in a way that is too limited and ignores too many key fundamental rights to be able to achieve gender equality.

The 2030 Agenda is an opportunity to guarantee human rights and, in particular, the human rights of women, as long as its priorities, implementation and monitoring ensure gender mainstreaming and an intersectional perspective in state and national-level plans and regulations as well as in the international instruments and agendas that enshrine these rights, such as the CEDAW, Beijing, Cairo, and the Istanbul Convention, among others. This year, the Commission on the Legal and Social Status of Women (CSW 65) has reviewed the issue of ‘Empowering women and their link to sustainable development, the importance of implementing the 2030 Agenda from a gender perspective, and how to incorporate that perspective into government policies and programmes across the board, so as not to leave anyone behind [1]1 — Nacions Unides (2021). Commission on the Status of Women. Conclusions convingudes a la 65a sessió de la comissió. Document disponible en línia. . We’ve also seen the launch of the Generation Equality Forum [2]2 — Fòrum Generació Igualtat. “Acelerar el progreso hacia la igualdad de género de aquí a 2030”. Article disponible en línia. , which offers a key arena for organised civil society to make concrete, transversal and transformed contributions to achieving gender equality in line with the 2030 Agenda.

But, what do we need to transform?

We rarely ask ourselves what it is that we want to transform, taking it for granted that we’re all on the same page, yet, nothing could be further from the truth. When we talk about the 2030 Agenda being transformative, on a global/local level at least, we’re talking about it being able to transform the structure of policies. And this is crucial, especially for issues as significant as the structures that sustain a predatory and unequal world full of iniquity, violence and pollution. Therefore, what we need to transform are the unnatural conditions that sustain these structures.

The mantra that says without feminism there can be no revolution is also true for the 2030 Agenda: without feminism, there can be no real transformation, and therefore, no agenda

There is no doubt that, for activists defending the human rights of women and the LGTBI+ collective, one of the critical transformations that must take place in order for this transformative development to be possible, is that of the patriarchal system that shapes all the other systems in today’s world. The mantra that says without feminism there can be no revolution is also true for the 2030 Agenda: without feminism, there can be no real transformation, and therefore, no agenda.

And how do we implement this transformation?

The gender perspective has only one way to transform: from the bottom up and from the top down. Therefore, it’s a matter of building a network of proposals that give women a chance to increase their capacity for empowerment. But this isn’t always easy, let alone when we come up against the various systemic oppressions that predominantly affect women. So, what we need to do is put intersectionality at the heart of the conversation. It may be a new word, but it’s a reflection of a long-recognised concept in public policy. We’re witnessing it during the covid-19 pandemic, which has ravaged the popular classes, with migrant women tasked with carrying out recognised or unpaid care work.

And change must come from the ground up, with the promotion of active and critical citizenship. It begins with a secular public-education model based on co-education and ends with the guarantee of political, cultural, social and economic participation in all spheres of society.

The answer to how we transform lies, inevitably, in generating collaborative policies between States, beyond strategic sectoral treaties. We need solid democratic states with structures that can facilitate transformation through compliance with each and every one of the international treaties (CEDAW, Beijing, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Istanbul Convention, etc.). Undoubtedly, the perspective that comes from the world of international development cooperation has shown us the way, and we can use Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development to tackle the challenges we face in the current climate and transform public policies from the perspective of sustainability, feminism and human rights. Changing the current predatory economic system to a feminist system involves changing production systems, market logics, and a paradigm shift. As Amaia Pérez Orozco says [3]3 — Amaia Orozco (2010). “Diagnóstico de la crisis y respuestas desde la economía feminista”. Revista de Economía Crítica, núm. 9, primer semestre de 2010, ISSN: 2013-5254. Article disponible en línia. we must alter the way we look at economics and make the capital-life conflict visible. It’s an emergency, and the 2030 Agenda provides us with a framework to respond to it.

We need to build a network of proposals that give women a chance to increase their capacity for empowerment. Intersectionality must be at the heart of the conversation

Moreover, in this “how”, we must never overlook or forget that the gender perspective must be incorporated into this network of strategies and peace processes. If we want to live in a sustainable world, we must first live in a world at peace. It’s evident that one of the requirements must be for women to participate in peace processes. Therefore, the “how” also involves compliance with UN Resolution 1325 [4]4 — ONU Mujeres – unwomen.org. “Mujeres, paz y poder”. Contingut disponible en línia. , which is a testament to the shared will for women to stop being incidental victims and start sitting at negotiating tables. Between 2015 and 2019, only 1 in 5 peace agreements signed contained gender provisions. In that context, if it seeks to have a feminist outlook, the 2030 Agenda must continue to make generating changes in the protection of female human rights defenders one its leverage policies.

Without alliances, there’s no agenda and no real transformation

The 2030 Agenda talks about alliances with a gender perspective. But, what sort of alliances? We must be cautious with the role that has been given and is being given to private actors because they can use this agenda to legitimise their practices and actions or simply to demonstrate a level of accountability that is not true to reality. Alliances with private actors are welcome if they can make an effective contribution and comply with human rights guarantees, starting by not violating them in any area, but especially in the social, economic, ecological and gender equality spheres. An example of this should be moving towards a United Nations Binding International Treaty to oblige transnational corporations and other business enterprises to respect human rights [5]5 — La Fede. “Avenços lents però constants cap al Tractat Vinculant sobre empreses transnacionals i drets humans de les Nacions Unides”. Notícia publicada el novembre de 2020 al web de lafede.cat. Disponible en línia. Vegeu també els continguts del web d’Stop Corporate Impunity. , as is currently being worked on and to which the Parliament of Catalonia has committed, approving the creation of a centre to assessing the impact of Catalan TNCs abroad [6]6 — Parlament de Catalunya. Mocions aprovades. Informació disponible en línia. .

Alliances, if we understand them as collaborations, coordinations, co-productions and synergies, must be exercised effectively. The different actors must participate, not just through their presence or specific contributions and assessments, but by representing that alliance in voice and vote in the multiple processes surrounding public policies, from their design to their development, implementation, monitoring, follow-up, evaluation and accountability. And this is where civil society organisations have historically been relegated to a far too secondary role. Without taking into account that, for example, it has always been the feminist and women’s movement organisations that have played a vital role in the struggle for the recognition and full exercise of women’s rights. It’s thanks to them and their collective action that women have advanced throughout history, and they are, therefore, the voices that need to be heard if we are to achieve women’s rights and gender justice. Their visions, strategies, analyses, approaches and practices must be used to determine the funding agencies, and they must be present in the decision-making processes relating to development funding [7]7 — Agenda 2030 Feminista (2017). ODS 17 amb perspectiva feminista. “Enfortir els mitjans d’execució i revitalitzar l’aliança mundial per al desenvolupament”. Article disponible en línia. .

Civil society organisations, particularly grassroots organisations, must continue to work together to share practices and experiences and push public institutions and governments, as has been demanded for decades and was put back on the table during CSW 65, which showed that the link between the participation of women and human rights defenders is more evident now than ever before. And this is why we will continue to claim the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs, particularly SDG 17, must be implemented through the Beijing Platform for Action [8]8 — Nacions Unides (1995). Declaració i Plataforma d’Acció de Beijing: Declaració política i documents de resultats de Beijing + 5 . Reedició d’UN Women (2014). Document disponible en línia. and other international agendas and instruments if we are to make real progress in guaranteeing the human rights of women and people belonging to LGBTI + collectives. But to sustain these alliances and synergies and cooperate with civil society organisations, especially feminist and human rights organisations, we must ensure their ongoing participation and advocacy in all areas, from the local sphere to the international stage, at national, state and regional levels, and also understand how to generate strong alliances with different actors within the framework of implementing the 2030 Agenda.

The growth of fundamentalist anti-rights groups, opposed to the rights of women, LGTBI + collectives, migrants and refugees, force us to work as an alliance, but one that seeks to guarantee human rights for all

We’re facing the growth of fundamentalist anti-rights groups in general, but especially those opposed to the rights of women, people belonging to LGTBI + collectives, migrants, refugees and those in poverty, among other vulnerable groups. These groups work in international alliances and have extensive financial resources, which they are using, not just to halt the advance of human rights within the international human rights system but also to reverse some of the progress that has already been made. The existence and strength of these groups, together with the inequalities that exist worldwide, force us to work as an alliance as well, but one that seeks to guarantee human rights for all, not to stop them. These current setbacks don’t affect the implementation of the SDGs individually but limit each and every one of them in a cross-cutting and interdependent way.

The 2030 Agenda and gender equality in Catalonia

Gender equality has a long history in Catalonia, but even now, in 2021, we’re still faced with the same old dilemmas. We need to continue strengthening the legal provisions in our country, which require effective implementation and sufficient resources to achieve equality.

Undoubtedly one of our main challenges will be approving proactive policies that put life at the centre of society and, therefore, generate a network of policies linked to care, in a clear departure from the more traditional axes. The National Plan for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Catalonia [9]9 — Consell Assessor per al Desenvolupament Sostenible (CADS). Pla nacional per a la implementació de l’Agenda 2030 a Catalunya. Disponible en línia. gives us an opportunity to visualise and implement this move. We need to break down the binomials of reproduction and production and make new proposals, such as those put forward in the Government of Catalonia’s participatory process to identify Proposals for care and work-life balance [10]10 — Plataforma del procés participatiu “Sistemes de cura i ODS. Polítiques públiques per a la sostenibilitat de la vida”. Propostes en matèria de cures i conciliació publicades al portal participa.gencat.cat. Informació disponible en línia. .

The 2030 Agenda and gender equality in the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic

Covid-19 hasn’t affected everyone in the same way. We may all have been affected in one way or another, but the consequences are different because it too discriminates on the grounds of sex, gender, age, administrative status, functional diversity, socioeconomic status, and so on.

The Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated, yet at the same time given visibility to something that was already happening: the historical and structural discrimination suffered by women in all areas of social, economic, political, cultural, educational and environmental life, and in different ways. The global pandemic has highlighted the implicit gender injustice in paid and unpaid care tasks, essential work sectors, gender-based violence, participation in consultation and decision-making spaces in all areas, and the guarantee of sexual and reproductive rights, among others.

Life is primarily sustained by women, and it is women who are suffering the most at the hands of the pandemic, a pandemic within the framework of a capitalist and patriarchal system and an ecological emergency. The situation is even worse for women affected by different axes of discrimination and oppression, such as migrant women with low resources in the Global North and women in the Global South in general, as noted by the Catalan National Women’s Council (CNDC) [11]11 — Consell Nacional de Dones de Catalunya, Grup de treball de Violències Masclistes (2020). En la crisi del COVID-19 visibilitzem la precarietat amb perspectiva de gènere. Informe disponible en línia. Vegeu també el comunicat “Conseqüències de la crisi post-COVID i del model de governança en les entitats especialitzades en l’abordatge de les violències masclistes”, publicat pel Consell Nacional de les Dones de Catalunya (CNDC) el juliol de 2020. Disponible en línia. .

Life is primarily sustained by women, and it is women who are suffering the most at the hands of the pandemic within the framework of a capitalist, patriarchal system and an ecological emergency. The Covid-19 recovery strategy must gender mainstream all its actions

Therefore, just as, in order not to leave anyone behind, the 2030 Agenda must be implemented with a gender perspective aligned with the instruments that guarantee the human rights of women and the LGTBI + collectives; the Covid-19 recovery strategy must gender mainstream all its actions. For this reason, we need the political will to guarantee not only a rights-based and intersectional perspective across all actions but also all funding methods. In short, we need transversal gender budgets appropriate to real needs to implement crisis recovery policies that are not only palliative but truly transformative.

That same political will is currently being demanded by civil society organisations in Spain, such as the Futuro en Común Platform, which is calling for alignment between the Next Generation European Funds, the Covid-19 Recovery Plan and the Sustainable Development Strategy in order to move towards a development model that guarantees social, economic, ecological and gender justice [12]12 — Belén Sánchez-Rubio i Laura Adam. “No desaprovechemos esta oportunidad”. Tribuna de Futuro en Común publicada a El País l’abril de 2021. Disponible en línia. .

Can the 2030 Agenda really help to achieve gender equality?

A few of the many recommendations [13]13 — Altres propostes de recomanacions es poden trobar als articles de la secció “Poder, autoritat i república feminista” dins del monogràfic núm. 47 – Feminisme(s) de la revista IDEES. Continguts disponibles en línia.   :

  • Implement the SDGs from a transversal gender perspective and include public policies for monitoring with a gender perspective to integrate the principle of equality, consider the structural problems of inequalities, and use tools (indicators) to ensure no one is left behind. This will ensure the proposal of current and future strategies based on and aimed at guaranteeing the human rights of people.

  • Stop valuing and implementing the SDGs as if they were individualised compartments with nothing to do with each other. The SDGs are interrelated, and as such, if any 2030 Agenda implementation or public policy preparation and execution does not come to fruition as a result of not creating synergies between the SDGs, it’s due to a lack of political will. This is one of the demands of civil society organisations and the global feminist movement, led by the Women’s Major Group [14]14 — Women’s Major Group (2020). Document de posicionament per al High Level Political Forum 2020. “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”. Disponible en línia. .

  • Ensure that civil society organisations advocating for human rights play a key role in implementation, monitoring, follow-up and evaluation. Achieving the SDGs requires a transparent, effective and participatory policy-making process. Therefore, we must strengthen 2030 Agenda follow-up strategies at a state, national and local level by ensuring the real and effective participation of these organisations. And not only the big organisations and “household names”, but all those who work day-in, day-out to guarantee social, economic, ecological and gender justice.

  • Reform the High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) and the accountability spaces of the 2030 Agenda both globally and regionally with effective participation from civil society organisations.

  • Protect and support feminist and human rights organisations to maintain their participation, advocacy and ability to form strong alliances, not only at a regional and international level but also locally and nationally.

  • References

    1 —

    Nacions Unides (2021). Commission on the Status of Women. Conclusions convingudes a la 65a sessió de la comissió. Document disponible en línia.

    2 —

    Fòrum Generació Igualtat. “Acelerar el progreso hacia la igualdad de género de aquí a 2030”. Article disponible en línia.

    3 —

    Amaia Orozco (2010). “Diagnóstico de la crisis y respuestas desde la economía feminista”. Revista de Economía Crítica, núm. 9, primer semestre de 2010, ISSN: 2013-5254. Article disponible en línia.

    4 —

    ONU Mujeres – unwomen.org. “Mujeres, paz y poder”. Contingut disponible en línia.

    5 —

    La Fede. “Avenços lents però constants cap al Tractat Vinculant sobre empreses transnacionals i drets humans de les Nacions Unides”. Notícia publicada el novembre de 2020 al web de lafede.cat. Disponible en línia.

    Vegeu també els continguts del web d’Stop Corporate Impunity.

    6 —

    Parlament de Catalunya. Mocions aprovades. Informació disponible en línia.

    7 —

    Agenda 2030 Feminista (2017). ODS 17 amb perspectiva feminista. “Enfortir els mitjans d’execució i revitalitzar l’aliança mundial per al desenvolupament”. Article disponible en línia.

    8 —

    Nacions Unides (1995). Declaració i Plataforma d’Acció de Beijing: Declaració política i documents de resultats de Beijing + 5 . Reedició d’UN Women (2014). Document disponible en línia.

    9 —

    Consell Assessor per al Desenvolupament Sostenible (CADS). Pla nacional per a la implementació de l’Agenda 2030 a Catalunya. Disponible en línia.

    10 —

    Plataforma del procés participatiu “Sistemes de cura i ODS. Polítiques públiques per a la sostenibilitat de la vida”. Propostes en matèria de cures i conciliació publicades al portal participa.gencat.cat. Informació disponible en línia.

    11 —

    Consell Nacional de Dones de Catalunya, Grup de treball de Violències Masclistes (2020). En la crisi del COVID-19 visibilitzem la precarietat amb perspectiva de gènere. Informe disponible en línia.

    Vegeu també el comunicat “Conseqüències de la crisi post-COVID i del model de governança en les entitats especialitzades en l’abordatge de les violències masclistes”, publicat pel Consell Nacional de les Dones de Catalunya (CNDC) el juliol de 2020. Disponible en línia.

    12 —

    Belén Sánchez-Rubio i Laura Adam. “No desaprovechemos esta oportunidad”. Tribuna de Futuro en Común publicada a El País l’abril de 2021. Disponible en línia.

    13 —

    Altres propostes de recomanacions es poden trobar als articles de la secció “Poder, autoritat i república feminista” dins del monogràfic núm. 47 – Feminisme(s) de la revista IDEES. Continguts disponibles en línia.

     

    14 —

    Women’s Major Group (2020). Document de posicionament per al High Level Political Forum 2020. “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”. Disponible en línia.

Montse_Pineda

Montse Pineda Lorenzo

Montserrat Pineda Lorenzo. Under construction since 1970. She is a feminist as a political position and Second Vice-chair of the National Council of Women of Catalonia (Consell Nacional de Dones de Catalunya - CNDC). She is the political advocacy coordinator for Creación Positiva (Positive Creation) and builds networks from various feminist platforms. She campaigns both locally and globally in defence of female Human Rights. She has written several publications on sexual rights, health from a feminist perspective, tackling sexual violence and LGBTQI+ rights.


Laura Viladevall Corominas

Laura Viladevall Corominas is a political advocacy officer at the organization Creación Positiva, mainly in relation to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and other agendas and international instruments of women's human rights in Catalonia, Spain , Europe and the United Nations. She is a member of the coordinating team of the platform Feminist Agenda 2030. She has a degree in Political Science and Administration from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a Master’s in Human Rights and Democracy from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. She has developed citizen participation projects (mainly in the area of childhood) in Catalonia; has managed and coordinated European cooperation projects, among others, for the guarantee of women’s rights in El Salvador (ISDEMU and the Ciudad Mujer Program), and has worked for the Government of Argentina at the United Nations.