The first ever High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) took place in New York City July 11- 20, 2016The theme was “Ensuring That No One is Left Behind,” focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals, including implementation, partnerships, technology, and poverty (see the link to the program here).
Session 6: Ensuring that no one is left behind – Creating peaceful and more inclusive societies and empowering women and girls, aimed to address the needs of women and girls via the 11 SDG goals that contain gender focused indicators.Session 6 can be viewed here.
The HLPF included the first global SDG reporting process, called Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), in which countries who volunteered to participate in this year’s review shared SDG experiences and good practices.
The United Nations Secretary General created flexible guidelines for the VNRs, and the review process requires a written report. This year, 22 governments volunteered for national reviews of their progress in implementing the SDGs. Since implementation processes of the 2030 Agenda started only very recently for most countries, they were not expected to report on the review of 2030 Agenda and SDGs, but instead could focus on any activities or implementation at the country level. Country reports can be viewed here.
In terms of follow-up to the VNRs, some countries feel that there should be no follow-up to the reviews, because they are voluntary. The Secretary-General recommends that in future HLPFs, detailed recommendations for countries that presented a VNR could be included in the outcome document, and “could be used by countries having presented at the HLPF as a source of information, guidance, or support for the mobilization of resources, including for capacity building.”
Key Points from the SDG Progress Report
The HLPF outcome document; the 2016 SDG Progress Report, draws conclusions “through examples of disaggregated data that pinpoint where specific population groups are lagging behind.” However, disaggregated data about women generally, and regarding women living with HIV specifically, does not often exist.
- The report broadly acknowledges, “Gender equality remains a persistent challenge for countries worldwide and the lack of such equality is a major obstacle to sustainable development.” But,
- The report fails to recognize lack of gender equality as a primary obstacle to sustainable development.
- It briefly mentions sexual violence against women and girls as one barrier to achieving the SDGs: “Survey data from 31 low-and middle-income countries suggest that the proportion of women aged between 18 and 29 who experienced sexual violence for the first time before the age of 18 varies widely, ranging from zero to 16 per cent.” However,
- Women and girls living with HIV know from our diverse experiences that these percentages are, in reality, substantially higher.
- The report remarks on inequalities in employment for women and girls as a barrier to sustainable development. But
- It makes no mention of overwhelming structural inequities women and girls face; for example, it mentions nothing about the heavier poverty burden women and girls bear worldwide.
In its most critical oversight, the report does not mention any links between women and girls and HIV, nor does it cite women and girls living with HIV as an important population that must be engaged in order to achieve the SDGs.