The European Union has developed a new framework for its activities on gender equality and women empowerment for the period between2016 to 2020.
Titled “New framework for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations (2016-2020),“ the new framework was adopted a Tuesday in Brussels by the European Commission and the European External Action Service.
It aims at supporting partner countries, especially in the developing world to achieve not only gender parity, but also the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set for formal adoption this week.
According to a statement from the European Commission, the new framework will advance the commission’s efforts towards advancing gender equality in all its external actions.
“Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights. We want to provide our partners with the effective support they need in order to fight violence against women and girls, and at the same time to empower them socially and economically, so that women can participate actively in the political, social and cultural life of their countries,” remarked the EU Representative/vice-president Federica Mogherini.
Head of EU Delegation to Rwanda, Michael Ryan said that this new framework worth Euro 100 million reiterates the importance that EU places on equal rights for women and men.
“Rwanda has also recognised the crucial role that women and girls can and should play in this country, and is working towards equal participation in all aspects of society as well as combatting gender-based violence,” he said.
The EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica cautioned that progress needs to be accelerated for the world to be transformed and sustainable development to become a reality:
“It is my firm conviction that our new approach will not bring only words but concrete actions and results. It will be translated into real improvements in the livelihoods of women and girls in third world countries,” he said.
The new framework for action will build on the achievements and lessons learnt from the implementation of the Gender Action Plan in Development 2010-2015.
However, it will be more focused on tangible results, and is to be financed through a variety of EU external action instruments such as the Development and Cooperation Instrument. So far, about €100 million has already been allocated to concrete measures specifically targeted to improve women’s and girls’ rights, while gender will also be mainstreamed throughout other sectors of development cooperation.
In October, EU Member States will discuss this new framework in the relevant Council bodies, including at the Foreign Affairs Council dedicated to Development.
The new framework is divided into four pillars, for which there are concrete indicators and targets set.
Fighting violence of any kind against women and girls, which includes protecting women against violence in situations of conflict and the prevention of trafficking of girls and women, fighting harmful practices like Female Genital Mutilation, and empowering women to have control over their sexual and reproductive life.
The second pillar is Economic and social empowerment, which focuses on increasing access of women and girls to quality education and training, including on entrepreneurship, facilitating their access to financial services, to decent jobs and to basic services like energy and clean water.
The third and fourth pillars are; strengthening voice and participation, and shifting institutional culture.
For the former, this will entail fostering women’s increased participation in policy and decision-making at all levels, enhancing their role as peace-builders, and supporting them in changing social and cultural norms through grassroots organisations or media.