At the Eighth Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals held from 3 – 7 February 2014 at United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York, PeaceWomen worked to promote an integrated approach to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) being proposed after the 2015 end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
UN Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Mary Robinson highlighted the need for stand-alone goals on peace and gender equality, along with cross-cutting targets throughout, including on the elimination of small arms proliferation. Some support was evident. Speakers representing Tanzania, Jamaica, Brazil, Nicaragua, and the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) highlighted the need to address arms proliferation, and states such as Croatia and Timor-Leste highlighted how conflict can nullify development for over a decade afterward. Several Member States highlighted the need for strengthening women's in participation in peace and development. A speaker representing Denmark, Ireland and Norway stated: “Women remain the single greatest under-utilised resource in more effective peacemaking and peacebuilding.” Another speaker representing Spain, Italy, and Turkey stated strongly: “Women are the invisible hand of development and peace all over the world.”
However, challenges remain for a gender goal and States voiced hesitation about addressing issues of peace, conflict, and justice in SDGs at all. This is hugely frustrating and signals a big potential step backwards, as policy making that builds on women's experiences has recognized the links between gender equality, development, and peace for at least forty years, since the first UN women's conference in 1975 on “equality, development and peace.” Join us in moving forward rather than backward by asking your government to support the call for stand-alone peace and gender equality goals with cross-cutting targets throughout including on the elimination of arms proliferation!