The United Nations High-level Political Forum (HLPF) is the annual platform for member-states and other stakeholders to check in on progress on Agenda 2030, including the Sustainable Development Goals, Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction and New Urban Agenda. A delegation of nearly a dozen grassroots women came to the New York to bring recognition to their development and resilient work, share their practices and to strengthen their relationships with governments and other partners.
Grassroots women were visible throughout this year’s Forum, which was organized around the theme of resilience. Two grassroots women won speaking roles, and travel scholarships. Haydee Rodriguez, President of Cooperativa Las Brumas, in Nicaragua was selected to speak in the official session on Stakeholder Engagement “Thematic review: Perspectives of society”, where she said that “for us [grassroots women] it is important to work in partnerships and strengthen focus on resilience.”
Violet Shivutse, founder of Shibuye Community Health Workers in Kenya and Chair of the Huairou Commission, was also selected to receive a scholarship from UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction to advocate for greater commitment to disaster risk reduction as a means of achieving the sustainable development goals. In this capacity, Violet took the opportunity to share grassroots women’s approachtobuilding resilience with senior officials including the Deputy Prime Minister of Mongoliaand senior officials from Colombia, Armenia and Switzerland.
In total members of the Huairou Commission were invited speakers at eight side events, including a high-level event chaired by UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner, where Violet shared the podium with Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Maimunah Mohd Sharifand shared reflections on how a movement building approach, such as those used by grassroots women, could help to accelerate implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
While public awareness of the 2030 Agenda remains limitedin general, grassroots women stood ahead of the crowd and showed their leadership in connecting local action to the global agenda. Throughout these sessions, we promoted grassroots – governmental cooperation that give grassroots women a role in policy-making, and provide recognition of our role in reducing poverty, inequality, and disaster risk.
The HLPF also provides space for member states to share their Voluntary National Reviews(VNR) where they report on national implementation of the SDGs for the previous year. This year nearly 40 members states reported and Huairou Commission paid close attention particularly to countries where Huairou Commission has members: Canada, Jamaica, Mexico, Ecuador and Vietnam.
Most all countries shared concerns about the increased negative impact from climate change, which is affecting sustainable development progress on the ground and the government of Jamaica reinforced an integrated approach to delivering on the global agreements. The governments of Mexico and Jamaica described the mechanisms they put in place for cooperation with civil society including for engaging local practitioners and community leaders in the government’s disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation efforts. We look forward to more news from grassroots leaders on the effectiveness of these mechanisms for advancing the policy priorities of grassroots women.
Mexico and Canada also indicated progress towards increased gender equality. In Mexico, women are being encouraged to take at least 50 percent of the available political seats in government and policy-making spaces. Both countries have increased income and tax benefits for women as measures to combatgender inequity. Our grassroots leaders Magdalena Garcia Hernandez, of MIRA in Mexico, and Lana Finikin, of GROOTS Jamaica, contributed to the VNR this year, producing shadow reports and sharing their input on the reporting process.
The political outcome of the HLPF is the Ministerial Declaration of the 2018 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. This Declaration reaffirmed the Forum’s commitment to gender equality, as well as the empowerment and full realization of rights of all women and girls. It states: “To achieve inclusive, sustainable and resilient societies, we call for the leadership and full, effective, and equal participation of women in decision-making in the design, budgeting, implementation, and monitoring of policies and programmes that affect their livelihoods, well-being, and resilience.” While political commitments such as these are not legally binding, they are excellent starting points for a conversation, to check in on what plans are being put in place and see what role grassroots women can play in helping governments to fulfill these commitments.
Overall, HLPF 2018 was a milestone for Huairou Commission and grassroots women, as we gained public visibility as innovators and solution-makers in the international development community and across the wider UN system. In the process we had bilateral conversations with members states,strengthenedour relationships with UN agencies and other stakeholders.
The national statements and VNRs are available now on the HLPF website. Members states are already beginning to prepare their VNR’s for 2019 – now is the time to urge more attention grassroots women’s priorities and to get recognition of grassroots women’s contributions to meeting global and national targets through local action!