Sustainable Development Needs Feminist Peace and Development Justice

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Sustainable Development Needs Feminist Peace and Development Justice

“Today, there is no country in the world that is free from conflict, because violence against women and girls exists everywhere. Financing for development requires changing the rules of the game for development justice and feminist peace.” 

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo, WILPF Cameroon, 15 July 2019 discussion on Financing the SDGs 

From 9 to 19 July 2019, the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development reviewed action on the SDGs and 2030 Agenda, and for the first time reviewed SDG 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies as a priority goal.

As part of our work to strengthen a prevention approach to Sustainable Development that promotes gender equality, disarmament, and peace, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) worked with our SDGs coalition, the Women’s Major Group. We worked to strengthen coordination and accountability, specifically to accelerate commitments on Women, Peace and Security and strengthen holistic accountability based on disarmament and women's human rights. 

Four years after the 2030 Agenda was adopted, where are we now on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? And what does this mean for action on Women, Peace and Security? 

Overall, the 2030 Agenda remains one of the best hopes for an integrated approach for people and planet at the UN. Yet it is also one of the biggest disappointments. 

The 2030 Agenda is universal and requires policy coherence across the goals. Yet almost a third of the way into the 15-year timeline to realise the SDGs, action on the SDGs is “aligning” but not “integrating”. We are choosing profit over people and violence over peace: investing in arms over social protection, and pursuing public-private partnerships over development justice. The international community should be assessing the gender, environment, and peace impacts of everything that we do. Yet, instead of cross sectoral priorities and strategies, business-as-usual is largely continuing. Worse yet, rather than plugging tax loopholes and shifting investments from war to gender equality and peace, corporate influence means that public-private partnerships are being prioritised as a key solution to sustainable development. 

In a year where the priority goals -- including peace, inclusion, and climate -- should have brought an incisive focus to the need for systemic transformation across borders, vision for action remained disappointing. We will not realise the 2030 Agenda if we do not shift paths toward development justice and feminist peace. 
Women and girls’ participation, rights, livelihoods and access to justice remain at the front lines of failures to build sustainable development and peace. The time is now to raise the bar. 

Read WILPF’s full analysis of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

Read our blog about the HLPF on  




WILPF Delegation to the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development


WILPF had a busy two weeks at the High-Level Political Forum! We hosted a delegation of women peacebuilders from four countries (Cameroon, the UK, the US, and Norway) in New York this year. Some highlights:

  • Sylvie Ndongmo, President of WILPF Cameroon,addressed the HLPF plenary session with an intervention on the 15th July meeting on financing the 2030 Agenda. 

  • WILPFers Sylvie Ndongmo (President of WILPF Cameroon and Africa Regional Representative) and the UK WILPF International Liaison spoke at a Meeting of the Group of Friends of 1325 about integrating work on sustainable development and UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. They also both helped to draft the civil society statements for the Voluntary National Reviews of Cameroon and the UK.

  • Dawn Nelson (WILPF US and convenor of the WILPF Environment Working Group) and Margrethe Tingstad (WILPF Vice President, Norway) led a workshop on militarism, gender, and the environment. 


Sustainable Development and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda: Synergies for Action

Too often, policy agendas that address conflict, gender, and development are siloed off from each other, making it more difficult to build inclusive, sustainable peace. 

WILPF supported a 15 July meeting of the Group of Friends of 1325 on “Sustainable Development and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda: Synergies for Action”, attempting to bridge these gaps. Hosted by the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations, the meeting included presentations from WILPF women peacebuilders as well as other experts in women’s human rights and sustainable development. It highlighted the importance of coordinating work on WPS and the SDGs, especially as relates to SDG 5 (gender equality) and SDG 16 (peaceful, just and inclusive societies).

Read more about the event here.


Open Letter to the Group of Friends of 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and the Sustainable Development Goals​

Over 82 organisations are signatories to an Open Letter to the Group of Friends of 1325, drafted by WILPF, Amnesty International, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), Global Justice Center. (GJC), and Plan International. The letter urges member states to commit to accelerating actions on the SDGs that also advance the WPS agenda; strengthen interlinkages in policy and implementation between sustainable development, human rights, and WPS; and strengthen an HLPF review process which strengthens its independence and holistic accountability. 

Read the full letter, and call on your government to take action!

Visit our website for the accompanying press release.


Campaigning for Feminist Futures: #WomenLead2030 and #FeministDemand

Women are leading the way on sustainable development, and their work deserves attention - not slow progress or even regress made by governments.

At this year’s HLPF,  WILPF revived our campaign #WomenLead2030. Our goal with this campaign is to amplify the work and perspectives of local women throughout the world who are designing peaceful and inclusive futures from the bottom up. 

We also joined the Women’s Major Group campaign #FeministDemand, to demand that the governments of the world do a better job at making the SDGs work for women and girls. Throughout the HLPF, the campaign #FeministDemand had over 42 million impressions on Twitter! 

Check out our social media toolkit for #WomenLead2030. 


Launch of the 2019 Spotlight on Sustainable Development Global Civil Society Report

 The 2019 global civil society report, Spotlight on Sustainable Development: Reshaping Governance for Sustainability, was launched on Thursday, 11 July. 

WILPF WPS Programme Director Abigail Ruane authored the report’s chapter on SDG 16, entitled “Governing for gender equality and peace? Or perpetual violence and conflict?”, and presented the chapter at the launch. In her presentation, she argued that by siloing peacebuilding, gender, and development, the international community creates the basis for unstable post-conflict societies. She drew attention to the importance of extraterritorial accountability, spillover effects, and the need for policy coherence in order to build peaceful, just, and inclusive societies for sustainable development. 

Read the full report here, and read more about the event here.



Background Resources


  • Statement of Sylvie Ndongmo on behalf of the WMG and WILPF at the session, "Are we on track for mobilising the trillions we need for the SDGs?" 
  • Women’s Major Group (WMG) Intervention at the Intergovernmental consultations on the political declaration  for the High Level Political Forum under the auspices of the General Assembly  (15 May 2019) 

  • Women’s Major Group reflection on First Draft of HLPF Political Declaration (22 May 2019)​

  • Women’s Major Group Comments to the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report 

  • Report of the February Vienna Expert Group Meeting on "Tackling Global Challenges to Equality and Inclusion through Gender-Responsive Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development"  

  • Justice for Women High-level Group Report 

  • Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development’s Briefer on Development Justice

  • Global Alliance Report: Enabling the implementation of the 2030 Agenda through SDG16+: Anchoring peace, justice and inclusion

  • Read more about the May Rome Conference on "Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies: SDG 16 Implementation and the path towards leaving no one behind"