March 10 – 21 marked the convening of the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Over the course of nearly two weeks, over 6,000 delegates from all regions of the world attended the session, whose theme was, “Implementing the MDGs for Women and Girls.” (MDGs—Millennium Development Goals)

In September 2000, building upon a decade of major United Nations conferences and summits, world leaders came together at United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets—with a deadline of 2015—that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals. The eight Millennium Development Goals were developed with the goal of achieving them by 2015. The MDGs are lofty:

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Global partnership for development

With 2015 just around the corner there is much more to be done around the Goals and that work will continue long past 2015. You can read about their status here. The purpose of this brief piece is not to review the goals in detail.

On March 12, I had the privilege of attending a high-level panel event on “The Equal Futures Partnership: Addressing the Impact of Gender-Based Violence on Women’s Economic and Political Participation.” It was sponsored by the Danish and U.S. delegations and was held at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. My fellow attendees and I heard from Ambassadors from Australia, Denmark, Peru and Tunisia in a panel facilitated by the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women.

Going in, I knew nothing about the Equal Futures Partnership. It was launched by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 with twelve founding member countries—Australia, Benin, Bangladesh, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, Tunisia, the European Union and the U.S.

Each country has made commitments to make progress on equality for women and girls. In the U.S. they are:

  • Opening Doors to Quality Education…through STEM
  • Promoting Civic Education and Public Leadership for Girls
  • Breaking the Cycle of Violence and Ensuring Economic Security for Survivors of Violence
  • Expanding Support for Women Entrepreneurs

Again there is more to read here

With the exception of the last commitment about entrepreneurship, the first three are at the heart of issues that many Junior Leagues have been addressing for a long time. At AJLI we can support Junior League efforts by sharing with you what is being done by whom among the supporting organizations on these commitments, just as we share other external information with you. I was struck by the fact that around the world about one in three women will be a victim of violence, and in some countries the statistic is over 40%. Some of the violence against women is culturally bound, making it all the more difficult to eradicate.

Each of the participating countries talked about the importance of including men and boys as part of the solution. In Denmark they are taking a holistic, multi-sector approach by providing a system of services; and the Ambassador talked of the importance of including “civil society women’s organizations” in the mix. The Australian Ambassador talked about prevention as the key.

Listening to all of this, I’m going to take the opportunity to share with the Equal Futures Partnership what Junior Leagues, as a major force in the nonprofit sector, have been doing, and the difference we make in real time at the grassroots, community level. Plans on paper are one thing. It takes leaders like us to make things happen. I’ll let you know what they say!