Gender equality and Sustainability: STEPS members contribute to new UN Women report

STEPS Centre members have contributed to a major United Nations report that highlights the deep connections between gender equality and sustainable development, as the world moves towards a post-2015 framework.

Edit (21 Oct 2014): The video from the launch event in New York is now available to watch on the UN website.

The World Survey on the role of women in development 2014: Gender equality and sustainable development is the latest in UN Women’s flagship series, published every five years. Its conceptualisation was led by Melissa Leach, former STEPS director and now Institute of Development Studies Director; Lyla Mehta, STEPS Centre Water & Sanitation theme convenor; with assistance from Preetha Prabhakaran.

World-Survey-2014-coverThis year’s report highlights the fundamental links between gender equality and pathways to sustainability, and recommends concrete policy actions to move towards an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future, in which all women and girls, men and boys enjoy their human rights.

Pathways and gender

The framing of the report draws centrally on the STEPS Centre’s Pathways Approach, outlining a ‘gendered pathways approach’ which unites the challenges of working for environmental sustainability and gender equality. Melissa Leach has written a STEPS blog explaining the background to this thinking.

The report criticises dominant development models that support particular types of underregulated market-led growth, which rely on unequal power relations between women and men, at the same time as promoting the overexploitation of natural resources and the pollution of climates, land and oceans. Alternative pathways and trajectories, responding to these problems, are suggested in a number of areas such as the green economy, care, food security and investment.

The report also warns against stereotypes of women as ‘sustainability saviours’ and instead calls for approaches which recognise women’s rights, knowledge and values, and ensure their proper role in decision-making.

The report will be presented to the Second Committee of the General Assembly on Monday 20 October, followed by a panel discussion (pdf) about the key issues raised. Panellists will include, among others, Melissa Leach and Hilal Elver (UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food).

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