As the world marked the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action– the most comprehensive roadmap for women and girls’ empowerment, hundreds of countries came together for advancing gender equality for women and girls across the world.
Meanwhile, the UN Secretray General’s report on the review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, with inputs from 173 countries, stated that that commitments have not been matched by action, accountability or investments. The analysis said that an approach of addressing symptoms rather than causes has led to a state of perpetual crisis.
They took the pledge of gender equality at a virtual high level meeting during the UN General Assembly. The leaders also recommitted to turn the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action into a lived reality for all women and girls. The world leaders pointed that they would accelerate action towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality. They would also work for further implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security, Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Maputo Protocol, Istanbul Convention and other instruments and treaties.
The leaders maintained that actions will be taken to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls. They also promised to achieve gender parity in public and political life, including in parliaments and in countries and societies around the world. This includes implementation of social protection measures, care services to counter gender-specific impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, wage subsidies, enhancing land ownership/rights, equal pay measures and support for women in the informal economy.
With COVID-19 pandemic bringing in new challenges, the world leaders committed to seizing the opportunity for transformative change, keeping focused on closing the gender digital divide to ensure that women and girls benefit from and contribute to technology and innovation.
The UN has already noted that the pandemic was causing far reaching social and economic impacts and are disproportionately affecting women around the world. The reports have pointed out to increase of violence against women in the pandemic time. There are also reports of domestic violence, disadvantage in labour markets and unpaid care. Moreover, the UN reported that 47 million additional women and girls will be pushed into extreme poverty in 2021, bringing the total to 435 million.
In the opening remarks, Secretary General António Guterres called for a strong push to meet the unfulfilled promise of the Beijing Platform for Action. “It starts with the equal representation of women in leadership positions, in governments, boardrooms, in climate negotiations and at the peace table – everywhere decisions are taken that affect people’s lives.” He added: “Achieving this will require targeted measures including affirmative action and quotas. This is a human rights issue and a social and economic imperative,” he said.
Meanwhile, the UN Women called for actions to change the course of history for women and girls through bold leadership, unwavering political will and urgent investment, especially in women’s organizations, women’s ministries and agencies and with young feminists leading change.
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said; “women are calling for a leapfrog to 50 per cent representation, or parity in all spheres, including cabinets, corporate boards and throughout the economy, including women as beneficiaries of COVID-19 fiscal stimulus packages, engagement in all peace processes, and closing the digital divide.”
“We need big bold steps not incremental ones. The women of the world believe in the UN and the solidarity of nations. And that ‘we the peoples’ all together, can change the future,” she said.
The Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action is a strong call to action for the removal of systematic and structural barriers that prevent women and girls from enjoying their human rights across social, economic, political and environmental domains, and sets out a comprehensive catalogue of policy actions to achieve the vision.