Women's and feminist organizations are increasingly involved in economic issues and are actively participating in global resistances that challenge the implications of financialization, the concentration of wealth, the rise of inequality and the increasing power of corporations, argues Corina Rodríguez Enríquez, from Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) in a chapter of the recently launched Spotlight report.

The advance of the women's agenda, as well as many years of advocacy work, has also permeated the agendas of multilateral institutions and the spaces of the multi-stakeholder global governance. However, both the approach that these institutions have on ‘gender issues’, as well as the space that they allow for the articulation of women’s voices are controversial and limited.

For the first time since 2003, Baghdad hosted last August a regional conference on gender issues, co-organized by the government, civil society and UN agencies. The Forum discussed the role of the various institutional mechanisms for women operating in the Arab region and promoted the establishment of an independent national body for women's empowerment in Iraq. Reporting on the debate, the Iraqi Al-Amal association concludes that ‘effective institutional mechanisms are required to confront the challenges that hinder women's rights in the Arab region, especially during and after conflicts, and to confront the Israeli occupation, terrorism, extremism, religious radicalism, patriarchal mentality, tribal norms and corruption, and policies of exclusion and marginalization of qualified and active women in decision-making positions.’

Global multi-stakeholder partnerships and initiatives between public and private actors, which move beyond traditional nation-state multilateralism, are now perceived as the future of international cooperation. The UN is already involved in hundreds of partnership initiatives with individual companies and business associations. ‘Rules of engagement between the UN and private actors,’ a paper by Jens Martens and Karolin Seit from Global Policy Forum, demonstrates that the existing guidelines are weak and highly heterogeneous. Effective and comprehensive rules for such cooperation are still missing.

The non-regulated engagement between the UN and the private sector could result in a loss of reputation, increased influence by private actors on political decision-making, and could divert scarce public resources away from UN goals.

Last week, the UN General Assembly 74th Session’s first full week in New York City met amid High-level meetings on climate, health, the SDGs, financing for development, and Small Island Developing States. Over 90 Heads of State or Government convened at UN Headquarters for this political moment, described by the outgoing President of the General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés as “inextricably linked strands of DNA that make up our ‘blueprint’ for the world”.

Integral to this year’s session has been the heightened participation of corporate, philanthropic and financial actors in both the official, High-level meetings themselves and a variety of concurrent meetings including the SDG Business Forum, the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit, UN Global Compact events, the Bloomberg Global Business Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Goalkeepers event.

UN High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development – 26 Sept

Civil society groups call for urgent reforms to combat illicit financial flows, abolish tax havens, introduce a global wealth tax and an intergovernmental body on tax cooperation.

New York, 26 September: The High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development which follows the SDG Summit, must urgently find ways to access the funds governments need to achieve the SDGs, say members of the Reflection Group*.

“The 2030 Agenda cites the enormous disparities of opportunity, wealth and power as one of the immense challenges to sustainable development. And yet governments are not doing nearly enough to tackle these challenges, despite a plethora of robust policy proposals emanating from civil society, academics and others”, say Kate Donald from the Center for Economic and Social Rights and Jens Martens from the Global Policy Forum.

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