Gender equality and racial equity as vectors of the National Development System


ABDE (Brazilian Development Association) and UNDP (United Nations Development Program) recently released a report in which they identify the volume of resources dedicated by Development Financial Institutions (IFDS) to the Sustainable Development Goals, the so-called SDGs. [1] The mapping involved 24 of the 34 financial institutions associated with ABDE, within the so-called SFN (National Development System).

It is worth remembering that the SDGs are a set of 17 objectives established in 2015 by the United Nations and its 193 member countries, and from this commitment the 2030 Agenda was derived — a document with paths, actions and goals to be pursued by nations to make a better and fairer world by the end of this decade, including responses to current global challenges and transition to a new development paradigm.

The 2030 Agenda covers poverty eradication (1); zero hunger and sustainable agriculture (2); health and well-being (3); quality education (4); gender equality (5); drinking water and sanitation (6); clean and affordable energy (7); decent work and economic growth (8); industry, innovation and infrastructure (9); reduction of inequalities (10); sustainable cities and communities (11); responsible consumption and production (12); action against global climate change (13); life in water (14); terrestrial life; peace, justice and effective institutions (16); partnerships and means of implementation (17).

The SNF constitutes a network of public and private financial institutions throughout Brazil that operate at a regional and national level with the aim of promoting the country’s development through financing strategic sectors. The system plays a decisive role, among other things, in making projects viable, providing financial support for productive activities and implementing public policies.

Released last August, the report showed good news: the amount of SNF resources directed to the SDGs grew 44% compared to 2020 (first year of the Covid-19 pandemic) and 5% compared to 2021, demonstrating a progress in aligning the activities of development institutions with the 2030 Agenda. There is, however, worrying data. Scoring SDG 5, for example, the report found that, in the 2020-2022 triennium, only 0.05% of the total was allocated by institutions to promote gender equality, reaching R$354 million, considered the smallest portion of investment , well after the amounts allocated to peace, justice and effective institutions (R$855 million) and quality education (R$2.04 billion). [2]

As the report itself records, resources allocated to gender parity are not being proactively directed through financing lines and financial products on the same scale as others. The causes can be summarized as follows:

1) Credit lines made available and operations carried out have the lowest average ticket value, such as programs aimed at micro and small companies led by women;

2) Investments do not align with unfair objectives, especially regarding gender equality;

3) The design of financing lines and market standards reflect specific objectives, not addressing the gender issue.

Although recognizing the gradual expansion of investments in gender equality, despite the negligible percentage recorded (which must be accelerated in consideration of article 5, I, of the Constitution and the 2030 Agenda), there is no mention in the Report of resources destined for people black and indigenous people, through specific public policies, revealing a lack of economic density that could characterize such measures as acceptable.

It is necessary to consider that the UN itself recognizes that the 2030 Agenda fails to achieve racial equality and combat discrimination. As Tendayi Achiume, United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, stated last year, promises to advance in combating racism and promoting racial equality are falling victim to “weak commitments”. In her report on the SDGs and the fight against racial discrimination, she stated that more commitments are needed, despite some improvements in initiatives in recent years.

The superficiality of the 2030 Agenda in dealing with the issue has an explanation, even if it is not very convincing for us, who live in a country with a slave-owning past and a racist present. The main one is the low feasibility of improving the incorporation of the racial issue in the international debate. There was one important attempt, the 2002 Durban Declaration and Program of Action, a comprehensive effort to combat racism and related intolerance. But the “international hierarchies that move beyond Eurocentrist visions” — according to Achiume’s expression — are still a limiting factor.

If there are limits at the international level, it is necessary to reaffirm some national rules that can and should inspire our financial development institutions.

The Racial Equality Statute (Law 12,888/2010) established the duty of priority inclusion of the black population in the economic, social and cultural life of Brazil through stimulation, support and strengthening of initiatives aimed at promoting equal opportunities and combating inequalities, with the implementation of incentives and conditioning criteria and priority in access to public resources (article 4, VI). Even more specifically regarding economic activity, it recommended that in the Union’s multi-annual plans and annual budgets there will be public policies aimed at encouraging the creation and maintenance of micro-enterprises managed by self-declared black people (article 56, IV).

Associated with the Statute of Racial Equality, the Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance, promulgated by Decree 10,932/22, states that it is the obligation of States Parties to formulate and implement public policies with the purpose of providing equitable treatment and generate equality of opportunities for all people, certainly black and indigenous people having to be nominated as preferred (article 6).

At the confluence of these constitutional and infra-constitutional rules, even admitting that among the SDGs there is no treatment of the racial issue, the regulatory framework of gender parity and equity is presented that should guide development actions in Brazil. It can be observed, from this point on, that structuring public policies must be crossed by the constitutional objectives of eradicating inequalities and combating poverty, which will make it possible to lead to sustainable development and social justice supported by human rights, as well as the promotion of diversity for combating structural machismo and racism.

In this quadrant, the vectors of the National Development System must be equality and equity, imposing the intersectionality of gender and race in the distribution of public resources aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. These are actions that already appear to be late, considering the deadlines and commitments imposed by the 2030 Agenda.

There is no time to lose.

[1] Available at: Published in August 2023.

[2] As also published by Jornal Folha de São Paulo on 09/08/2023, in a report by Idiana Tomazelli. Available at: .shtml.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Gender equality racial equity vectors National Development System



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