Pathfinder International Commends Commission on the Status of Women for Landmark Gender Equality Agreement

On Saturday, United Nations Member States agreed that a stand-alone gender equality and women’s empowerment goal is crucial to the post-2015 sustainable development goals. The agreement, passed by the 58th Commission on the Status of Women, calls attention to the need for a focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as gender-based violence.

The Commission gathered at UN headquarters for two weeks to discuss how the needs of women and girls have, and more often, have not—been addressed by the Millennium Development Goals, which are set to expire in 2015. While some Millennium Development Goals have seen marked progress, those that matter most in the lives of women and girls—maternal health and gender equality—have made limited progress.

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Pathfinder International applauds this landmark agreement and supports the recognition that across the next set of sustainable development goals gender equality must be addressed. Promoting gender equality for all people, particularly women and girls, is an essential component to helping individuals realize universal human rights including freedom from discrimination, prejudice, coercion, and violence and key to achieving broader health and development goals. We are particularly encouraged by its call for investment in expanding access to sexual and reproductive health services including: safe and legal abortion as well as emergency contraception; prevention, care and treatment of  HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases; and services that address the unique needs of adolescents and youth.

The agreement also includes encouraging call outs to address harmful traditional practices including early marriage, and female genital mutilation, as well as broader social discrimination which puts women and girls and other marginalized populations at a social disadvantage and limits their access to health services, educational opportunities, and their participation in decision-making at all levels.

“The Commission on the Status of Women’s recent agreement is paramount as the global community begins to build a framework for the post-2015 sustainable development goals,” said Pathfinder President and CEO Purnima Mane. “The agreement marks an important step in support of gender equality as an essential part of this emerging development framework. For our part, Pathfinder will prioritize the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health and rights language and will continue to advocate for gender equality."

While Pathfinder fully supports the inclusion of gender equality in the post-2015 framework, we remain disappointed that the final compromise language excludes reference to and acknowledgment of the vulnerabilities confronting individuals as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We will continue to work with our partners to advocate for the adoption of this language.

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