APWLD’s Women 2030 Partners Meeting In Chiang Mai, Thailand
APWLD TRACKS HISTORY OF SHAPING THE 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Since 2012, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) has been advocating for a transformative development framework that addresses the structural causes of inequalities and fulfil promises to women’s human rights. Along with civil society in the Asia Pacific region, we called for the Development Justice framework that seeks to reduce inequalities of wealth, power and resources, between countries, between rich and poor and between men and women. After two years of negotiations and tireless engagement from APWLD members and other women’s rights organisations and networks, a set of 17 goals and 169 targets were adopted by the United Nations as the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. While the new 2030 Agenda was universal in scope and addresses a broad range of issues, it remains to be seen if governments are able to implement them and deliver just and equitable development that promotes people’s rights, dignity and wellbeing.
It is within this context that APWLD aims to ensure transparent, inclusive and meaningful opportunity for civil society to engage in the monitoring and review phase of the SDGs. The monitoring and review of the SDGs by civil society in the national, regional and international space is critical in ensuring the implementation of the goals and delivery of Development Justice. Thereby also ensuring the movements we fostered, the space we have carved out and achievements in our advocacy in the process of establishing the SDGs persist.
WOMEN MONITORING SDGs
Commenced in 2016, APWLD is partnering and supporting national and grassroots women’s organisations from nine countries to carry out follow-up and review of their government’s implementation of the SDGs while also advocating for Development Justice. Through this collaborative project, we are committed to ensuring that women and their communities have the capacity, resources and access to national development agencies and hold their own governments accountable to the promises they have made. For the next five years, APWLD prioritised our work to provide sustainable support and solidarity partnership to national women’s rights organisations to systematically and critically review and monitor SDGs implementation at national and regional levels.
The first nine civil society organisations APWLD works with are:
• Ain O Salish Kendra, Bangladesh
• All India Women’s Conference, India
• EMPOWER, Malaysia
• SILAKA, Cambodia
• Fiji Women’s Forum, Fiji
• Foundation for Women, Thailand
• SERUNI, Indonesia
• Shirkat Gah – Pakistan
• Women’s Rehabilitation Center (WOREC), Nepal
Click below to read country-wise reports on monitoring and review of Sustainable Development Goals and Development Justice
OVERVIEW OF SYSTEMIC & STRUCTURAL BARRIERS
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved unless the system and structures that impedes sustainable and equitable development are achieved. This brief is the analysis of systemic and structural barriers in seven countries developed through the lens of development justice.
The UNDP’s Gender Inequality Ranking confirms that in all of the seven countries reviewed achievements in gender inequality remains low with the exception of Malaysia. What figures prominently in all seven countries are the following structural barriers that continue to undermine the advancement of women’s human rights and development justice:
- PATRIARCHY – Patriarchal values and structure, perpetuates discriminatory laws and legislations in Nepal and Pakistan, while traditional gender norms and social practices continue to restrict and control women in Cambodia, India, Malaysia and Thailand. In Fiji and Malaysia, women are still underrepresented in positions of decision as percentages remain low with a mere 16% and 11% in both parliaments.
- CORPORATOCRACY – The increasing power of corporations have resulted in extreme wealth inequalities both between and within countries. The imposition of macro-economic policies and practices by developed countries and other international financial institutions in the form of regional economic integration, Structural Adjustments Programmes and trade and investments agreements have exacerbated: (1) Land grabbing in Cambodia and Malaysia, (2) robbing farmers in Thailand of their livelihoods, (2) privatizing basic public services in Pakistan that has weakened its social protection, and (3) government such as India being sued for policies put in place for public interests. In least developed country such as Nepal, the richest person’s net worth is million times more than the minimum wage in the country. Similarly in India, the country’s richest 1 percent owns 53 per cent of the country’s wealth.
- MILITARISM – In four out of the seven countries reviewed, governments in the region continue to keep their military budget higher than other social budget. For instance, both Malaysia and Pakistan’s allocated military spending is 70 times more than their health spending.
- EROSION OF DEMOCRACY AND THE RULE OF LAW – Heightened crackdown on civil society and activists especially Cambodia and Malaysia; military governments in Fiji, Thailand and Pakistan; and heightened threats and attacks against women human rights defenders and people’s movements in Cambodia, Malaysia and Pakistan. This shrinking space of people’s movements and civil society movements also contrasts against the increasing powers of corporations with the widespread land grabbing and human rights violations committed by corporations in Cambodia and Malaysia with impunity.
WHAT ARE GOVERNMENTS DOING?
Three of the countries (Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand) reviewed have set up new architectures for SDGs implementation. One country has appointed an existing agency (India) while two other countries are utilizing existing MDG structures (Pakistan and Nepal) to carry out the nationwide implementation of the SDGs. There is currently no available information on the government’s implementation plans in Fiji. Out of the seven countries, at least three (Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand) have provided some space for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) engagement and participation within the structure. Three of the governments reviewed (Malaysia, Thailand and Nepal) has incorporated their obligations under SDGs through their national development plans and policies, while the government of Pakistan was the only one to have developed their own national blueprint for SDGs.
Despite these improvements challenges still exists for CSOs who were able to access these spaces to ensure that their voices and demands influence government’s policy and programmes, and to ensure the participations of CSOs representing marginalized groups. On the other hand there are countries where CSOs lack or do not have access to information on the SDGs commitments, implementation and process in their country. In all the countries reviewed there has been no clear information on the financial or budgetary allocation, while in a number of countries such as Malaysia, India, Pakistan and Nepal, the government has also expressed uncertainty on the source of financing as well as resource mobilization for the SDGs implementation in the country, with India estimating a gap of USD 8,468 billion.
TAKING BACK PEOPLE’S SOVEREIGNTY: CSOs ENGAGEMENT AND INFLUENCE FOR SDGs ACCOUNTABILITY
While most of the governments in the region are yet to establish a democratic institutional architecture to realise SDGs, there have been some significant efforts and progress in civil society’s organising to hold governments accountable to their SDGs commitments. For instance, civil society groups in seven countries are utilising existing social movements, networks and coalition working on women’s rights to monitor the status of SDGs implementation. In countries like Thailand and Cambodia, you also see new budding civil society networks and coalitions proposed to achieve SDGs accountability, which also may consider several focused groups to focus on specific goals (e.g. Goal 5). They are strategically linking SDGs commitments to their governments’ human rights obligations therefore also mobilising UN human rights monitoring bodies such as the Treaty Bodies and the Universal Periodic Review as mechanisms to monitor progress on the SDGs.
CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW TO READ COUNTRY REVIEW REPORTS BY OUR WOMEN2030 PARTNERS
Foundation For Women, Thailand
Fiji Women’s Forum, Fiji