Monday 28 January: Day 1
A boosting first day meeting for civil society organisations from around the world in preparation of the CSO Outreach Day with the HLP members on Wednesday 30 January, Monrovia, Liberia.
Day 1 of the CSO pre-consultative forum brought together over 100 participants from all continents and saw the meaningful presence of the Minister of Gender and Development of the Republic of Liberia, Hon. Julia Duncan-Cassell, and Monrovia's Mayor Mary T. Broh. The meeting combined expert, citizen and governmental input concerning the post 2015 future framework and the need for civil society to agree on common perspectives to be presented to Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf tomorrow at 4pm GMT and on Wednesday at 12.30pm to the 27 HLP member representatives, co-chaired by President Sirleaf of Liberia, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Indonesian President Yudhoyono.
Prof. Gita Sen
Photo by Caroline Testud/ACORD
The Liberian Minister of Gender and Development, Hon. Julia Duncan-Cassell, Monrovia's Mayor Mary T. Broh and Professor Gita Sen from the Indian Academia, attended the Conference Opening ceremony and shared their thoughts on the importance of human rights, equal opportunities, social inclusion and efficient local governance in the development of the post 2015 framework, with a particular emphasis on advancing and protecting the rights of women and girls. Reference was made to the alarming level of sexual violence against women in India - gang rape - and in Liberia - child rape.
Professor Sen acknowledged the importance and relevance of organizing such a high level meeting here in Liberia, Africa's oldest republic still recovering from the continent's bloodiest civil war. A message of hope, peace and unity. She also encouraged CSOs to come up with concrete recommendations drawn from ‘development reality' and an ambitious and inclusive yet realistic framework.
Mayor Broh insisted on the key issues of local governance, community inclusiveness, education and water and sanitation, to shape most of the post 2015 framework. The Minister of Gender and Development would like to see a future with better opportunities for all in a more conducive environment where no women would die when giving birth, no child would die before the age of 5, where girls would access university education...The Minister regards the youth, especially adolescent girls, as a critical issue for the post 2015 framework and all harmful practices such as widespread practice of early marriages, sexual gender based violence and lack of access to sexual reproductive health, as the ‘worst off-track of the MDGs so far'. Critical too is the informal sector where most women work and it needs to be given special attention along with the urgently required access to resources and skills for women.
In her keynote address, Professor Gita Sen paid tribute to the significant role played by Liberian women in setting positive examples, led by the election of a woman president. Sen's priority 1 action is without doubt to break the culture of impunity as the scourge preventing development progress around the world. ‘SGBV and human rights must form a strong goal in the new framework'.
A major concern civil society must address is the way development actors ‘work in silos', leading to misalignment in the direction and focus, yet aiming to achieve the same overall objectives. For instance, we tackle economic growth without addressing it along with sexual and gender based violence. ‘We need to create linkages and address issues as a block not in isolation'.
Tackling the main theme of the HLP meeting "Economic Transformation", Prof Sen stressed the risk to underestimate the negative impact of an increased financialization of economic growth. Financialization being seen as the increasing importance of financial markets, financial motives and financial actors in the operations of the economy. Sen to emphasize that ‘current growth engines are dependent on resource depletion' which poses serious ecological and sustainability issues.
She invited all of us to continuously ask ourselves the following key questions as we contribute to developing the post 2015 framework: Who benefits from resources? Who is and will be impacted by growth? Who holds the cards? How are citizens involved and what is their level of influence in the development of the future framework?
Lastly, Prof. Gita Sen gave special attention to the most vulnerable people in particular children, the aged, migrants, widows, adolescents...stressing the need for an inclusive framework where social inclusion and zero discrimination would be key words. As highlighted by one of the participants who took the floor "we need to look at people's ability more than their disability; the post 2015 framework can make a difference if it starts considering people with disability in the light of their potential more than seeing them as a burden".
As the morning was coming to an end, discussions focused on measuring social progress. Whereas economic growth can be monitored through clear indicators, how would civil society suggest a way forward for evaluating social progress? Such key question must be addressed as we develop the new framework.
The following sessions led by the Latin America/Caribbean and Asia/Pacific civil society delegations, focused on regional perspectives and the journey traveled from Dakar to Monrovia. Presentations were given on the ongoing consultation processes at all levels, stressing the need to ensure that the voice of the voiceless is heard at the highest level and informs the new framework.
Latin America and Caribbean CSOs see the right of workers and SGBV as major issues in their region, and stressed the necessity to make human rights violations much more visible.
Asia and Pacific CSOs brought out the non-negotiable need for equality, human development and sustainability indicators for the new framework and advocated for stronger budget allocation for social services and protection. Least but not last, they paid particular attention to universal access to education, including the most marginalized groups with a particular focus on people with disability and migrants.
The Beyond 2015 Global Campaign on poverty eradication was presented and warned against the prioritization of one sector over another, development sectors must collaborate and work hand in hand for better results. This was reinforced by the Africa-wide CSO working group's address. Drawn from conducted studies and the outcome of the Post 2015 October Monrovia meeting, issues of food security and the right to food, energy, WASH, environmental sustainability, citizens' participation - especially the grassroots, and investment in science and technology, must be given crucial consideration and concrete recommendations.
It was agreed that civil society would present common perspectives and those will be developed and finalized in a communiqué tomorrow Tuesday 29 January.
The afternoon of Day 1 saw 5 group sessions taking place, respectively focusing on: i) children, ii) youth, iii) women and gender, iv) farmers, traders, informal sector, small businesses, and iv) ageing and disability. These groups are based upon the 5 roundtables scheduled on Wednesday during the CSO outreach with the HLP members.
Working sessions aimed at developing a "one-sentence" statement to be presented to Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf tomorrow and to the HLP members on Wednesday. The 5 groups started to address the question: ‘If there was one thing you want the Co-Chairs to remember for the post- 2015 agenda, what would it be?' and will finalise tomorrow Day 2.
Another high point of this first day of the CSO pre-consultative forum was the remarkable words of a 12-year old Liberian girl who spoke on behalf of children and articulated the need for quality education, access to decision making for children, better access to sexual and reproductive health care, and ending violence against children.
Tomorrow Day 2 - 29 January
Day 2 in a few hours...more updates here and on twitter @AskAfricaNow.