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International Symposium 2019

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Leaving no one behind – gender equality for global goals

This year's symposium took place on September 26, 2019 at the Deutsche Welle in Bonn. The focus was on the gender-sensitive implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UN Women Germany is convinced that gender equality is an essential prerequisite for global development. However, it is too often associated exclusively with SDG 5. Its importance for achieving the other goals is neglected, even though indicators in another 11 goals make references to gender equality. From this perspective, the symposium allowed a close look at six of the SDGs and provided a platform for exchange and networking. Together with the speakers, workshop leaders, and more than 100 participants, drivers for an accelerated realization of the SDGs were identified. 

Karin Nordmeyer, President of UN Women Germany, greeted the participants and emphasized that the ambitious goal of the 2030 Agenda - to bring together sustainability with ecological, economic and social development while leaving no-one behind - can only be achieved together: 'Let us make a difference! Gender equality is an overarching goal for all of the 17 SDGs. We have to hurry up: Faster and more inclusive action is needed!' 

Dr. Angela Langenkamp, GIZ Gender Commissioner, opened the event with a keynote speech on how the SDGs came into being. She stressed the importance to fight for all genders, not just people fitting binary and hetrosexual gender norms, and to actively include LGBTIQ. Langenkamp stated that some action has been taken, but neither sufficiently nor adequately funded. Consequently, Western Europe is likely to close the economic gap only within the next 61 years. 'We need to team up and break down silos, to engage, resource, gather and spread the evidence, reach out and speak out loud, in order to transform power and gender norms and relations. Putting gender on the agenda is just not enough.‘
You can find her presentation here

Gabriele Köhler, one of the authors of the UN Women discussion paper 'A Tale of Multiple Disconnects', stated: 'In foreign policy, gender justice is an issue that is repeatedly stressed by German politicians. However, domestically and socio-politically, the implementation [of gender equality] is not nearly as high enough on the agenda'. She presented the findings: The 2030 Agenda does not contribute to moving gender equality struggles in Germany forward. There are horizontal disconnects between the gender equality and (environmental) sustainability policy fields as well as vertical disconnects between the 2030 Agenda as a multilateral agreement and domestic social and economic programmes and policies. She also presented the policy recommendations for the institutional level, government policy level, for political parties, and civil society.
The presentation can be found here.

After this insightful and informative start, the workshops began. All goals are interdependent, hence the interlinkages between the respective SDG and gender equality as well as the other goals were discussed at large.  

Katrin von der Dellen, Program Officer Southeast Asia with CARE Deutschland e.V., held the workshop on SDG 3 with support from Theresa Jeremias, Coordinator for Food and Nutrition Security & CARE Nutrition Policy Focal Point for Europe: Empowering women to ensure access to sexual, reproductive, and maternal health services. The workshop stressed the need to form movements and to interconnect women and girls, in order to establish systematic change. More solidarity is needed, as well as the commitment to change social norms. Women have to speak up about their needs, and male leaders have be supportive and act as role models.
The presentationCommunity Score Card, and Social Analysis & Action Tool can be found here.

Henry Kulaya, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Launch Pad Tanzania, held the workshop on SDG4: Acceleration Gender Equity in Education. The workshop dealt with the prevailing gender gap in education, and called for mentoring programs to encourage, to motivate, and to empower girls, for example on social media. A mind-set change among genders (also parents and the private sector) is needed, as well as female role models to empower girls in education. 

Dr. Ursula Schäfer-Preuss, Vice President of UN Women Germany, held the workshop on SDG 6: Gender Equality and Water for all. The workshop highlighted the biggest challenges for women when it comes to water and sanitation. There is a need for better education for girls, as well as the empowerment of local people. Water must be available to all, and the special needs of women have to be taken into account. Women need to have an active role and the opportunity for leadership, and good governance is required to move forward.

Laura Capobianco, Global Advisor on Safe Public Spaces at UN Women, held the workshop on SDG 11: Lessons from the Development and Implementation of Integrated Safe City and Safe Public Spaces with Women and Girls’ Initiatives. The workshop emphasized the importance of local governments to provide resources, as well as to work with all sectors in the cities, such as police, transport, education etc., in order to prevent sexual harassment. Women and girls need a voice in order to design their living space.

Fleur Newman, Lead Programme Officer for the Gender and Climate Change Agenda at UNFCCC, and Pilar Roman, Programme Officer Gender and Climate, held the workshop on SDG 13: Accelerating climate action through gender equality. The workshop stressed the ongoing injustice that not everyone is getting the opportunity to participate in climate actions, though everyone is affected by the climate crisis. The goal to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts cannot be reached without women and girls. 

Jeannette Böhme, Advocacy and Human Rights Officer with medica mondiale, held the workshop on SDG 16: Women, Peace and Security: Applying a Gender Lens to SDG 16. The workshop dealt with the challenges of implementing gender equality in SDG 16, which is not a gender-sensitive issue yet. Political dynamics, as well as difficulties and backlash on both national and international levels complicate the implementation. Despite those challenges, there is hope: good initiatives organized by women’s rights activists collaborating with governments are taking place in many countries.

In the evening, the results of the workshops were presented to and discussed with the plenum, in order to explore interfaces and options for action and activism.

Karin Nordmeyer concluded the symposium: 'In the past, it was always said that women had to stand up for women's rights. Today we say: Women and men must stand up for women's rights, because that is the only way we can achieve sustainable development,' More mentoring programs have to be established, where both the young and the elderly can come together to share their experiences, and to learn from each other. Moreover, everyone needs to rethink the own behavior, and change it accordingly, in order to set a good example'. Nordmeyer closed with the saying: 'Commitment is good, action is better'.

UN Women Germany would like to thank:

  • our partner UNRIC, also for organizing the exhibition on the UN entities work on SDG 5
  • the speakers for the great input & the workshop leaders for the great discussions, interesting insights into their work on SDG 5, and more
  • Dimitria Clayton, State Chancellery of North-Rhine Westphalia, for moderating skillfully and knowledgeably
  • Ortrud Ladleif for the pictures
  • our volunteers Lea Boraucke and Alina Dubberke as well as our board members
  • Deutsche Welle for providing us with the venue, organizational and technical support
  • and all particpants!

You can find the pictures here (credit: UN Women Nationales Komitee Deutschland e.V./Ortrud Ladleif).

You can find the programme booklet with information on the speakers here