The Ministry of Home Affairs – Bureau Gender Affairs and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) organized in the first quarter of 2022 a gender brainstorming session to identify gender actions for the United Nations Joint Programme for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which focusses on the development of a roadmap for a more sustainable financial system in Suriname.
The SDG Programme has the aim of reorienting the flow of international and local resources toward more inclusive and Gender-responsive sustainable actions and contribute to the acceleration of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 5,11,13,15,17). The emphasis for this brainstorming session was on SDG 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”; Target 5.5: Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.
In October 2020 the project was launched and will be implemented over a two-year period. The partners of the programme are the Government of Suriname through the Ministry of Spatial Planning and Environment and four United Nations (UN) Agencies - United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), United Nations Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Annette Tjon Sjie Fat, Gender Specialist of the UNFPA who conducted a gap analysis among the financial and environment sector in the Diagnostic Phase said in her keynote speech that in the formal and informal sector there is a lack of information and published data on gender. This information gap is an obstacle for the evidence-based plotting of actions for Suriname to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 5.
Ms. Tjon Sjie Fat highlighted the importance of the financial sector in her keynote to create a sustainable finance system. She noted that the sector is still unaware of the impact of gender issues on their work. “There is a lack of financial literacy and knowledge of business management practices among potential clients. There is no gender mainstreaming policy and they gender issues influence their work. There is a transparent legislation when setting up companies and gender specification data is available. Lack of financial knowledge and business management among different stakeholders are the biggest obstacles in achieving sustainable finance.”
The gender component cannot be forgotten, Ms. Tjon Sjie Fat warned, and she emphasized the importance of strengthening the capacity of all actors. She recommended activities such as workshops, , round table conferences and panel discussions. “This is to ensure increased access to financial products and opportunities and reinforce the knowledge so that people understand that women's rights and equality are human rights,” said Ms. Tjon Sjie Fat.
-Keynote speaker Ms. Yvonne Towikromo, Policy Advisor of the Bureau for Gender Affairs in the Ministry of Home Affairs underlined that inequality is not just the result of a patriarchal society, but that ensuring equality is also an individual responsibility. She wondered why there is no equality between men and women in different sectors. “It may be that society is patriarchal, but it can also be ,” said Towikromo and she added that the opportunities for girls and women are reducing.
Introducing the green bonds Ms. Zaviska Lamsberg, Gender and Human Rights Officer at UNFPA highlighted that the financial sector has a key role in establishing sustainable finance in Suriname. She introduced the concepts of Green Bonds as one financial instrument for sustainable financing.
The participants had an ear for the UN commitment to leave no one behind while achieving the SDGs. " It is important to involve People With Disabilities. Deaf and hard of hearing have it difficult to get information. We cannot communicate with thehat is why non-verbal is important," said Mr. Hakiem Lalmohamed co-chair of the Youth Advisory Group of UNFPA.
Due to the COVID-19 measurements, only a small group of participants from the government, private, public and financial sectors participate. Nevertheless, the participants were selected in such a way that effective and efficient discussion was ensured. Participants were divided into three working groups. In their groups, the participants discussed various questions such as gender activities that must be taken to integrate gender into the financial road map and how to ensure participation of beneficiaries and policymakers in the process, including the implementation and monitoring progress.
In her closing remarks, Ms. Judith Brielle Liaison Officer of UNFPA in Suriname ensured that this is “the first of more sessions to be held because reaching the SDGs is a responsibility of all and it will be a benefit for all and all cooperating organizations must be involved in achieving the SDGs”.