Research & Innovation 2015-16 - Page 82



Thought leader
Mainstreaming a gender
perspective is crucial
The sustainable development framework emanating from the United Nation’s
(UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges that the
achievement of sustainable development must include ‘a world in which every
woman and girl enjoys full gender equality’. In addition to a stand-alone goal
(SDG 5) to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, the
systematic mainstreaming of a gender perspective in the implementation of
all other goals is crucial, argues Rashida Manjoo.
The expansive and aspirational provisions of SDG
5 include the following targets: ending all forms of
discrimination against women and girls everywhere;
eliminating all forms of violence in both public and
private spheres; the recognition and valuing of unpaid
care and domestic work; ensuring women’s full and
effective participation and equal opportunities for
leadership at all levels; and ensuring universal access
to sexual and reproductive health rights.
The means of achieving the targets include
undertaking reforms to give women
equal rights to economic resources in
accordance with national laws, and
the adoption and strengthening of
policies and enforceable legislation
for the promotion of gender equality
and the empowerment of all women
and girls.
Fundamental human rights
These laudable goals and targets are
underpinned by the fundamental humanrights obligations of states to respect,
protect, promote and fulfil all human rights
and fundamental freedoms of women and girls. This
requires political will and an adequate allocation
of resources to address inequality, discrimination,
disempowerment and violence. In order to effectively
implement SDG 5, states should act in good faith and
commit the same effort and resources to achieving
SDG 5 as they do to the other goals.
Women’s rights activists remain concerned about the
barriers to full and effective implementation of all goals,
due to the inclusion of language such as: ‘as reflected
in UN policy documents’ (which are not legally binding
on states), ‘taking into account national circumstances’
and ‘in accordance with national laws’. The concern
77 UCT RESEARCH & INNOVATION 2015–16
is that the pledge ‘that no one will be left behind’ will
not necessarily be applicable when addressing the
individual, institutional, structural and multifaceted
needs of women and girls.
Accountable and inclusive institutions
The need to mainstream gender equality and the
empowerment of women into all the goals
requires that close attention be paid to
their implementation. This includes SDG
16, which requires the promotion of
peaceful and inclusive societies
for sustainable development, the
provision of access to justice for
all, and the building of effective,
accountable and inclusive
institutions at all levels.
It is important to bear in mind that
state responsibility for violations of
human rights may be based on acts
or omissions committed by state
actors or by those whose actions are
attributable to the state, or by a failure
of the state to act to prevent or respond to
violations perpetrated by non-state actors.
Thus, the monitoring of state responsibility in their
efforts to implement the SDGs requires vigilance, to
ensure that they are observing the frameworks through
which obligations and accountability emanate. This, in
turn, requires a robust and transparent review process
for the SDGs.
Rashida Manjoo is a professor in the Department of
Public Law. She is the former UN special rapporteur on
violence against women, its causes and consequences, a
post she held from 2009 to 2015.

Agenda for Sustainable Development





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