Soroptimist International is delighted to announce the launch of its 2021 High-level Political Forum report, “Confronting Inequalities: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals During the COVID-19 Pandemic”. This year, the report focuses on how to sustainably respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic while addressing the inequalities which create fundamental barriers to realising sustainable development. Crucially, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the regression of gender equality achievements; this report provides guidance on how to address this serious problem described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a “shadow pandemic”.
This report, which has been submitted to the United Nations, provides Soroptimist International with a vital opportunity to provide policy recommendations and share information about projects that demonstrate best practices. Addressing key policy areas where all countries need to focus action, including human rights and humanitarian situations, and all three dimensions of sustainable development – the social, economic and environmental dimensions – the report places gender equality efforts at the heart of progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The ‘Confronting Inequalities’ HLPF report demonstrates the global voice of Soroptimist International and that we truly are a global movement. This report is a valuable global policy resource that shares our organisation’s views on how to achieve gender equality.
– Bev Bucur, SI Director of Advocacy
The International President’s Appeal, ‘Road to Equality’ and projects from all five Federations across the world, are included in the report. Through the report, SI has been able to highlight how Soroptimists make a difference in communities in Australia, Italy, Indonesia, Kuwait, Mongolia, Fiji, the UK, the USA, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and many others. Not only does this report show was SI does, but it demonstrates how much of a difference civil society organisations working at the grassroots can make. The aims of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals will never be achieved without the buy-in of communities, and the report shows how organisations like SI, are best placed to reach those communities and address underlying inequalities.
Since the agreement of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, all countries should be focusing on nurturing equal societies, transforming their economies and protecting the environment. Unfortunately, even before the COVID-19 pandemic all countries were off track from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This is why the UN introduced their Decade of Action to increase political will encourage increased action. This has become all the more important due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused widening inequalities and halted sustainable development efforts. Crucially, how countries chose to recover from the pandemic could determine whether the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals are realised or not.
The following actions and policies were included as key messages in the report, as they will aid the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Gender mainstreaming and gender-transformative approaches will ensure that the needs of all women and girls will be put at the heart of sustainable development efforts. Sustainable development will never be achieved without using these approaches.
- Human rights must be put at the heart of all sustainable development policies, programmes and projects.
- All sustainable development programmes and projects should be created and implemented in consultation with stakeholders, including all women and girls, and in response to their needs.
- Gender-data needs to be improved so that it is possible to know the realities that women and girls live. Gender data must include both qualitative and quantitative data measures.
- Technologies must be made accessible to increase access to quality education and means to social participation and economic empowerment, particularly for women and girls living in vulnerable situations.
- Action must be taken to include women in humanitarian action – it is vital that humanitarian actions support future sustainable development and sustainable development efforts promote resilience and reduce the risk of humanitarian situations.
- Essential services must be fully resourced and social protection floors must be created as both are required for the achievement of gender equality.