Radical Concept: Ask Women What They Want

Goal 17 in the Post-2015 Development Agenda is where the rubber hits the road. We are committing to “strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.”

Behind these gentle words are 19 very ambitious targets, more than any other goal, encompassing finance, technology, trade, and capacity-building, as well as a number of other policies and issues on which countries more often compete than “partner.”

Let’s face it — partnership is hard. Even long-agreed partnerships for humanitarian relief are being sorely tested by the current surge of refugees from Syria and elsewhere.

Mahatma Gandhi had advice for when things seem overwhelming. He instructs us to think of the face of the poorest person we have ever seen, and ask ourselves whether the action we contemplate will restore that person to control over her or his own life and destiny.

This is the question I hope national leaders will ask themselves as they consider the partnerships called for in Goal 17: Are they seeing impoverished women and men as the lead partners in building a better future — the principal “means of implementation” for their own development? Or, are they seeing needy beneficiaries waiting for the largesse of a bureaucracy?

People currently trapped in poverty — most of whom are female — are not the problem. They are the solution.

In the face of enormous odds, women small-scale farmers are growing the food that keeps most of us alive. Small-scale women farmers are the traditional caretakers of the earth, carriers of centuries of environmental wisdom.

And what kind of “revitalized global partnership” can the rest of us provide to “strengthen” such amazing “means of implementation”?

First and foremost, women need strong organizations through which they can develop their leadership, collective voice and hold their government “partners” to —> Read More