UN Women Paper Outlines Comprehensive Approach for Achieving Gender Equality
Monday, June 3, 2013 11:00 AM

UN Women recently released a paper advocating for a comprehensive approach to transforming gender relations and achieving gender equality worldwide. Focusing on the post-2015 framework, the paper notes that while the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are important to achieving equality for women, they do not sufficiently address gender disparities. Rather, it is crucial to conceptualize “gender equality, women’s rights, and women’s empowerment” as a stand-alone goal. Specifically, the paper focuses on three target areas which must be addressed in a meaningful way to attain this goal: first, “freedom from violence,” second, “gender equality in capabilities and resources, and third, “gender equality in decision-making power and voice in public and private institutions.”
UN Women has also identified means of making progress in these three target areas. To address women’s freedom from violence, UN Women proposes that a framework for achieving the goals must aim to “prevent and respond to violence against women and girls, change perceptions, attitudes and behaviour that condone and justify violence against women, [and] ensure security, support services and justice for women.”
The need for this framework for making progress in women’s rights is based on findings by a wide variety of international sources, conferences, and conventions, and is further substantiated by UN Member States’ expressed commitments to treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), reaffirmed in the Rio+20 Conference.
The paper lays out essential dimensions of inequality that must be addressed to achieve meaningful change in women’s lives. In conjunction with ensuring that sufficient resources are available to women, and that women are guaranteed voice and political participation, it is crucial that women are assured freedom from violence. UN Women illustrates the centrality of freedom from violence to taking steps towards real equality: “Because of the great physical and psychological harm to women and girls, this violence is a violation of their human rights, constrains their ability to fulfill their true potential and carries great economic costs for them and society.” Thus, freedom from violence is essential to a framework for transforming gender relations.