01/14/2013 05:59 pm ET Updated Mar 16, 2013

World: Engage a Plan for Women Post-2015

As online consultations move forward regarding the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) post-2015 framework, civil society, academia, governments and the UN continue to grapple with what priorities to set for an agenda that will be a no-holds-barred assault on poverty. Resoundingly, the peoples of the world that have been consulted are calling for an agenda that permanently disrupts the status quo and provides the foundation for many of the stakeholders involved in the talks.

There is one major consideration to the viability of our future; priorities for the post-2015 agenda need to interweave solutions to specific challenges women face. The facet of challenges women face worldwide come with entrenched cultural nuances that must be reflected throughout individual aims that each government should commit to reach. Whereas a universal framework for aims are important for achieving continuity in global standards, the greatest collaboration between civil society (nonprofits and similar entities) and lay persons must be an open process for all ages to engage with.

What kinds of considerations need to be included in a post-2015 agenda? There are many, but I think there are three major targets to address that I implore you to seriously contend with as standards.

  1. Zero tolerance for Violence Against Women (VAW) -- UN Women statistics that are still prevalent state that 1 in 3 women suffer violence from an intimate partner in her lifetime. Whereas the global index is based on women that have felt empowered and safe to report, there are masses of women that do not have access to safe spaces to report. VAW is an invasive community problem and a threat to global security because it infects all other areas of life. If we know that educated women cause families and nations to thrive, why would we allow anything to impede the growth, wealth and health of a nation? Zero tolerance for VAW would have to be an aggressive agenda to provide safe spaces for women, restorative justice for broken homes, positive incentives for community change and empower new forms of masculinity rejecting violence, control of women's bodies, money, work and family planning choices. Zero tolerance for VAW also needs to codify strong boundaries and consequences for those that choose to break it. Make no mistake about it, VAW is a choice, and we must nullify choices of perpetrators by reversing the social acceptance of women as less valuable by way of creating space for social incentives to change the structured and social status quo.
  2. Decent work, liveable wages and equal pay -- Notions about the faculties women possess and the abilities of women to take on skilled labor help to inflate discrimination against women in the labor force. We need to move past providing women a means out of poverty with programs that promote traditional work that women have always done, with the type of pay that women have already received. Access to decent work should include livable wages that women can use to uproot their families out of a cycle of poverty. A woman should not receive less pay than her male counterpart and should also receive workplace safety from violence and occupational hazards. Decent work includes the right to paid maternity leave, childcare options, healthcare, comprehensive benefits and a professional trajectory that breaks the glass ceiling from youth up through retirement. Moreover, protections for the aging generations of women must be taken more seriously with social safety net policies that ensure their financial, personal and job security, and prevents forced retirement or demotions because of their age.
  3. Maternal and reproductive health -- Access to safe prenatal care, labor and delivery as well as post partum check-ups are essential. Whereas maternal health is currently an MDG, the expansion of this goal should be to include greater access to family planning choices and to provide the level of staffing, facility safety, equipment, medication and funds necessary to run effective reproductive and maternal services. Reproductive health should not focus solely on women, but educate men appropriately to empower informed decision making.
To engage strategies for the post-2015 agenda, consider two main points to enhance progress already gained and break the mold on stagnant goals:
  1. Train important cultural moral authority figures so that they are active partners in transitioning communities toward change. Examples of important cultural moral figures are chiefs, shamans, imams, priests, elders, rabbis and monks. Training should take heed to spiritual beliefs and be grounded in common standards that respect humanity that these moral authority figures can agree to promote. However, tenants that are misused must be challenged in order to break cycles of violence and oppression that result from spiritual and religious restrictions. Particularly powerful is to ensure that women moral figures have the overwhelming presence and decision making among these populations.
  2. Empower and maintain inter-generational perspectives of women throughout all levels of decision making, including community organizing. The only way to ensure continuity of skills, understanding and progress, is to endear the younger generation and empower them with the guidance of the elders. The inter-generational strategy however, should not exclude males, as they too must be encultured with the idea that the humanity of a woman is the same as his.
The key to all of these suggestions is to combine natural overlapping and intersecting issues. We must break out of silos and foster greater collaboration. It starts with a dialogue. Will you listen and take action?

The international community has spoken on Gender Equality via the E-Consultation with its recent newsletter that highlights the areas of consensus reached. Do you agree? At EOTO World, we have some thoughts about the generalities of implementation that align with the focused sentiments of the collective coalition response of Beyond 2015 that we belong to.

With all of these ideas, how are they being put into action and how can you help? Here is an idea: Get involved with a place like Women Deliver and Catapult the way of girls and women to success. Since all of us are responsible for the exchange of information and taking action, this piece will not leave you with all the answers you seek. I daresay, it should not. Instead, this should be about all of us learning, challenging, doing together. Right?