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Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation: A feminist perspective following the First High Level Ministerial Meeting

FRIDAY FILE: The First High Level Ministerial of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, which took place in Mexico City from 15 – 16 April, 2014, was the latest meeting on aid effectiveness since the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea (2011). While there was some support for commitments made in Busan, a number of concerns still remain.

By Nerea Craviotto

Over 200 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) participants formed part of the approximately 1500 delegates[1] that attended this First High Level Meeting (HLM) of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) in Mexico. While delegates agreed on a final Communiqué titled “Building Towards an Inclusive Post-2015 Development Agenda”, which aims to advance effective development co-operation and ensure its inclusion in the Post 2015 global development agenda, there were mixed reactions and criticism from CSOs.

The GPCDE and concerns about private sector involvement in development cooperation

The Mexico Communiqué is built around five focus areas chosen for this conference (and somewhat arbitrarily by the GPEDC outgoing co-Chairs[2] and Mexico), namely progress since Busan and inclusive development, domestic resource mobilisation, south-south co-operation, middle-income countries and working with the private sector[3]. Little attention was paid to the Progress Report “Making Development Co-operation More Effective” and the achievements and challenges identified since the Busan HLF. Thus, gender equality and women’s empowerment were not part of the priorities for this Ministerial.

The CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) that includes a diverse array of civil society organizations across regions, stated in its press release that, the Mexican High-Level Meeting does not go far enough for the people”.

The Communiqué shows different levels of support towards inclusive development, by mentioning the need to untie aid, promote democratic country ownership, enhance the need for greater taxation and use of country systems, promote gender equality and recognize CSOs as independent development actors. However, little progress was made regarding the enabling environment for CSO’s and integrating a stronger human rights based approach in the work of the GPEDC, both a source of disappointment for CSOs with the Busan Outcome Document. This is further exacerbated by the unbalanced promotion of the private sector role in development and the lack of guidance on its accountability and transparency to the people[4].

Gender equality and women’s empowerment

Building on the commitments made at Busan HLF regarding gender equality and women’s empowerment (§20): “We must accelerate our efforts to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women through development programmes grounded in country priorities, recognising that gender equality and women’s empowerment are critical to achieving development results. Reducing gender inequality is both an end in its own right and a prerequisite for sustainable and inclusive growth[5], and indicator eight within the Global Monitoring Framework[6], the Mexico Communiqué includes “tracking and making public resource allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment” (§18) as a critical step, among others[7], “towards enhanced mutual accountability”. This is particularly important for those institutions and organizations tracking funding for gender equality and women’s empowerment, especially at country level, and can be used in the policy dialogue on resource mobilization for gender equality and women’s rights. However, the Mexico Communiqué did not acknowledge or support other important commitments made in Busan HLF (i.e. access to gender disaggregated data, gender equality and women’s empowerment in accountability mechanisms, addressing gender equality and women’s empowerment in all aspects of development, including peacebuilding and state building).

The Mexico HLM also saw governments, business, private foundations and civil society launch 38 voluntary initiatives, included in the Communiqué Annex. Within Initiative 21 Gender Equality: delivering on the Busan Commitments, UN Women, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the CPDE commit to work together, and with others, to intensify efforts to: Support countries including developed countries, to strengthen their systems to track and make public allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment; Encourage donors to increase their support to partner countries, UN Women and women’s organization to strengthen and monitor the effectiveness of the responsible institutions; Deepen inclusive and democratic multi-stakeholder dialogue on gender equality and women’s rights at country and regional level and increase the number of countries engaged in future monitoring of the post-Busan gender equality indicator. This presents opportunities for future strategizing among institutions and organizations to ensure the initiatives are taken forward.

During the HLM Gender Equality Focus session to review progress since Busan[8], participants agreed that gender equality and women’s empowerment continue to be among the unfinished goals and more needs to be done. “Where there is political will, there is significance change”, said Mr. Ram Sharan Mahat, Minister of Finance in Nepal. Mr. John Hendra, Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Programme at UN Women added that, “increased levels of resources are critical”. Roselynn Musa, Programme Manager in FEMNET and outgoing CPDE co-Chair, reminded participants about the importance of including women’s and feminist organizations in the different stages of the development process. Participants agreed that increased awareness and resources, as well as champions are needed to close the gap.

What Next

The Mexico HLM failed in defining the role of the GPEDC within the broader development framework and the Post 2015 discussions. Furthermore, the GPEDC is not the only relevant space for this discussion, when there is already a global partnership, with MDG 8, grounded in the Monterrey Consensus (2002) and its follow-up international conference (Doha, 2008). Post Mexico, GPEDC needs to think strategically about its added value, effective development cooperation, avoid overlaps (with, for example, the UN Development Cooperation Forum) and build its fit within the next development framework.

Women’s rights organizations and advocates, including those within the CPDE Feminist Group[9], will continue monitoring the GPEDC, raising concerns, not only about the commitments made on gender equality and women’s empowerment and how far they are delivered, but as well to critically engage on the broader policy discussions.

[1] Including representatives of governments, business, private foundations and civil society, including women’s rights organizing.

[2] Nigeria, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom.

[3] The Communiqué stressed the importance of south-south co-operation, the need for the proper mobilisation of public and private domestic resources, acknowledged that a more flexible development approach was required for middle-income countries and recognized the role played by small and medium businesses (as summarized by Glennie, J. «Development partnership conference: what did we learn?» in The Guardian, April 22, 2014).

[4] For further reading see Jones, S. «Global alliance warns of no end to poverty unless countries pull together» in The Guardian, April 17, 2014.

[5] ‘The rest of the text is available in:

[6] For further information, please visit:

[7] Timeliness, comprehensiveness, comparability, accessibility, usability and forward-looking nature of information

[8] With representatives from the CPDE Feminist Group, Finland, Nepal, Nigeria, the OECD, Sweden and UN Women, among the panellists.

[9] Formed by the African Women’s Economic Policy Network (AWEPON), the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), the Articulación Feminist Marcosur, the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Forum for Women’s NGO Alga, Kysgzstan, the Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) and WIDE+.