Launch of Social Watch Report 2007 at United Nations Headquarters

The Social Watch Report 2007 entitled “In dignity and rights. Making theuniversal right to social security a reality” was launched October 24 at United Nations Headquarters in New York, in the context of the United Nations High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development (Ffd).

In cooperation with the UN Non GovernmentalLiaison Service and United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), SocialWatch participated Wednesday in a panel discussion on “Gender Perspectives onDevelopment, Aid and Trade”, to debate the critical importance of consideringgender equality within the Ffd agenda and processes; civil society proposals tostrengthen the FfD process and outcomes including new issues; and alternativepolicy approaches that would support financing gender equality, includinginnovative financing mechanisms.

The Social Watch Report 2007 presents the Gender Equity Index, developed bySocial Watch to measure gender equality in the world. It measures threeindicators: education empowerment, and economic activity.

“Our work is to link poverty and development with the gender perspective”,said Social Watch Coordinator Roberto Bissio and one of the speakers of thepanel. According to the Gender Equity Index, there is no country with completegender equality, “so the key is how to expand policy spaces to put and end tothe gender gap”, he added.

“The Social Watch Report 2007 shows that social security is being dismantledworldwide, in part because of the effort of countries to retain capitalinvestments to follow financial recommendations that supposedly lead to a betterbusiness environment. This jeopardizes the retirement life of older citizens,particularly women”, pointed out Bissio.

The 2007 Report focuses on socialsecurity, providing a worldwide overview with an approach that emphasizes theright of people to live in dignity with secure livelihoods. It provides ampledirect evidence of how the human right to social security is violated every day,as well as valuable suggestions on how to make it a reality.

Talaat Abdel Malek, Vice Minister for Economic Affairs of Egypt, also a speakerat the panel, said that governments need to make more serious and persistentefforts to minimize legal, economic and institutional constraints todevelopment, with particular emphasis on gender issues. “We also need a set ofprogrammes that take the long view sponsored by NGOs, the private sector, andcommunities regarding education, microfinance, literacy and other aspects”.Nowadays there are a lot of programmes that are not integrated, the viceminister added.

In Norway, women’s rights and gender equality has been made one of the mainpriorities and objectives in the development agenda as a cross-cutting issue,stressed Anne Stenhammer, Norwegian Secretary of State for InternationalDevelopment, who informed that Norway will next year double UNIFEM’s budget.“No one should think we are a model”, but it is important to shareexperiences to try to implement policies on gender equality, she said.

Experience has showed that the implementation of policies to promote gender is achallenge, said Marina Durano, programme specialist on Economic Security andRights of Unifem. The UN Fund for Women conducted a capacity-building study thatshowed that communication is essential. “Women are talking to FinanceMinisters but one does not know the other’s language. We really need to seeFinance Ministers speaking with women’s national machineries, since women arestating what kind of policies they would like”, she said.

“The challenge is how to translate the discourse of Financing for Developmentinto concrete measures and programmes. Not to develop special programmes is away of marginalizing our agenda”, stated Hellen Grace AkwaiiWangusa, AnglicanObserver and Personal Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, AnglicanCommunion Office at the United Nations.