Agenda 2030: difficult to achieve the SDGs if we don’t address gender inequality

ACT Alliance joined representatives from faith communities including ACT member Zimbabwe Christian Council, the private sector, and UN experts for a day-long series of events hosted by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) on the role of faith-based actors towards the 2030 agenda.

“FBOs and Agenda 2030 share a similar goal: to ensure that no one is left behind,” said Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, General Secretary of ACT Alliance on a panel that explored FBO approaches to deliver inclusive, democratic and gender-sensitive development.

Achieving gender equality remains a key priority for ACT’s network. “We will never be able to fully achieve the SDGs if we have not addressed our relationship to each other as human beings,” he said. “If we do not fully reach gender equality, then how can we achieve Agenda 2030 without leaving anyone behind?” he asked. 

De Faria recognized that while some religious leaders and faith communities perpetuate patriarchal social and cultural norms that undermine gender equality and human rights, there is a growing number faith actors, such as ACT Alliance with the dedication and potential to support an inclusive and gender-sensitive agenda to push back against regressive voices. 

De Faria expressed ACT’s added responsibility as an FBO to tackle this issue and to engage with those perpetuating injustices, “we need to not only discuss the issues that unite us, but also those that divide us,” he said. “If we do not make an effort to understand and persuade each other, we will never be able to realize the mandate of our organization or of our Christian principles and values,” he continued. 

Dr Azza Karam, Secretary-General of Religions for Peace highlighted the crucial role of FBOs and noted that 80% of the global population is associated with a religion or a faith.

The words of Dr. Karam resonate with ACT’s network as it serves people and communities that are directly affected by discrimination and exclusion. “As faith actors, we can make a positive difference in the lives of marginalized and poor people, we can inform people to take a positive stance on issues related to poverty, inequality and issues of human rights, ensuring that communities and local groups are promoters of their own development so that no one is left behind,” said de Faria.

Reflecting on the meeting, de Faria pointed at a recent report released by UNDP and ACT Member Centro Regional Ecuménico de Asesoría y Servicio (CREAS) and supported by the Government of Argentina titled, The contribution of FBOs to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development in Argentina. “Although focused on Argentina this publication is a testimony of the work of religious practitioners and responders all over the world who contribute every day to the achievement of the SDGs,” he said.

ACT Alliance will continue to address humanitarian and development challenges in ways that promote gender equality and safeguard human dignity in the rise of social, economic and religious fundamentalism. Most recently, ACT has launched a global gender justice campaign which aims at sensitizing the churches and religious actors in the Alliance on the need for a joint approach towards gender inequality.  ACT is also working towards the engagement of its members in the Beijing + 25 process which will provide all stakeholders the opportunity to lift and progress the agenda on gender equality.