The European Development Days 2018 (EDD 2018) took place in Brussels on 5-6 June. This cornerstone event in the international and European agenda brought together leaders, practitioners, and policy-makers to share analysis, shape best practice and map priorities for the future.
Gender equality and women empowerment are at the core of European values and enshrined within the EU legal and political framework. It has always been, since its foundation and since gaining more and more visibility as a priority, recently the Commission’s VP Timmermans and our Commissioner – Neven Mimica – defined themselves as “male feminists” – something which never happened before.
This commitment has also been clear at the global level, where the EU was a principal actor in supporting the inclusion of a stand-alone goal on gender equality in the Agenda 2030, and ensured that a gender component was mainstreamed and strengthened throughout all Sustainable Development Goals. The EU recognized that the commitment to gender equality must be also a constant element in its own ‘domestic’ efforts and the European Consensus on Development identifies gender equality and women’s empowerment as a critical cross-cutting issue of EU development cooperation, as a principle and specific driver for development, as well as the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.
The Gender Action Plan in EU external relations (2016-2020) is the operational translation of this commitment, providing a practical frame for putting all this into practice. GAP II includes 3 thematic priorities (physical and psychological integrity of women and girls, socio-economic rights/empowerment of women and girls and voice and participation for women and girls) and one overarching priority, on institutional cultural shift which aims at integrating women empowerment and gender equality in the “way of working” of all EU actors in external relations and development.
In this context, the EDD 2018 aimed at bringing together the EU’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment with the Agenda 2030 under the frame of the GAP II and also around the 5 Ps of the preamble of the 2030 Agenda. This critical nexus enabled the event to focus on the vital role of women and the need for their full and equal participation and leadership in achieving the SDGs within the Consensus. In that sense, we proposd as an overarching title “Women and Girl at the Forefront of Sustainable Development: protect, empower, invest”.