ARROW ED Sivananthi Thanenthiran was an NGO respondent during a recent interactive dialogue on participation and partnerships for gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The dialogue was held on the 17th of March 2016 during the 60th session of the CSW.
Distinguished speakers, distinguished delegates.
Feminist and women’s rights organisations have always recognised the power of working in partnerships.
However we need to recognise that partnerships are not always equal, we have to recognise that not all of us who are invited to the table have equal voice and equal opportunity especially with regards decision-making in the partnership.
So I ask all of us to think about three key questions. Who are these partnerships for? For what purposes are the partnerships working for? What are the principles by which these partnerships will operate?
Who are these partnerships for? In Agenda 2030, the aim is to leave no one behind, hence these partnerships should be working for the most marginalised and the most vulnerable communities in our society. When we are able to bring the periphery to the centre, we can say our agenda has succeeded. How would you ensure that the partnerships will work to these ends?
For what purposes are the partnerships working for? First and foremost the purpose should be to reduce inequalities. Currently we have systems and institutions which are biased in favour of those with power – the rich over the poor, the strong over the weak, and unfortunately most of the time – men over women. Hence these partnerships should strive to be an equalising force in their contexts and must be ready to address the issues of power. How will we able to ensure that these partnerships address and remedy the issues of power especially in our institutions and systems?
What principles should guide the work of the partnership?
These multi-stakeholder partnerships must also abide by and not contravene existing human rights principles that all member states have signed onto and ratified such as CEDAW, CRC, ICCPR and ICESR. Sustainable development cannot be built upon oppressive systems. Human rights principles seek to transform oppressive system and must be part and parcel of Agenda 2030.
This is critical because the voices of the most marginalised in our societies are often silenced – and these include the voices of indigenous people, ethnic and religious minorities, and LGBT groups. In a number of countries states and the corporate sector are actively working (sometimes together) in order to reduce the agency, the political access and the resources of such groups and it is vital that all the stakeholders within the partnership are able to incorporate and abide by human rights principles.
Our world today is in dire need of such vibrant partnerships and let us be able to put aside parochial interests and try to work together for the larger good and help create a more equal, a more just world for everyone especially for women and girls.