It’s been more than 25 years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted during the landmark Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. Unfortunately, the promising public rhetoric of the Conference has not been matched by action and implementation, and not one country today can claim to have achieved gender equality. The Generation Equality Forum (GEF) is our once-in-a-decade opportunity to change that.
The GEF is an inflection point on gender equality, which will see governments, corporations, and change-makers rallying around a commitment to #ActForEqual at a critical moment for the world. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to expose and exacerbate gender inequality, the Forum offers an opportunity to advance women’s rights and ensure that gender is at the center of the post-COVID agenda.
THE BOLD FEMINIST AGENDA THE WORLD NEEDS
The historic gathering, convened by UN Women, is guided by a bold feminist agenda — exactly what the world needs right now. With diverse voices at the table, it will launch concrete, ambitious, and transformative actions to achieve lasting progress toward gender equality. The Forum is a civil society-centered, global gathering focused on intergenerational and multistakeholder partnerships.
The Generation Equality process kicked off in Mexico City in March and will culminate in Paris from June 30 to July 2. It is organized through six Action Coalitions (ACs) — multistakeholder partnerships that are working to catalyze collective action, drive increased investments, and deliver concrete results for girls and women around the world. The coalitions are being led by governments, international organizations, the private sector, civil society, philanthropies, and youth-led organizations. Through negotiations for the past year, AC leaders have decided on a set of actions and tactics to address the most critical issues facing girls and women today, and to achieve real, lasting change.
The themes for the six Action Coalitions are:
- Gender-based Violence
- Economic Justice and Rights
- Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)
- Feminist Action for Climate Justice
- Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality
- Feminist Movements and Leadership
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN PARIS?
Over three days, the virtual gathering, co-hosted by the Government of France, will bring together heads of states and governments, representatives from civil society, women’s rights organizations and youth-led groups, international organizations, philanthropic foundations, and the private sector. Commitment-makers will join Action Coalition leaders to announce their concrete and ambitious commitments toward achieving gender equality. The AC leaders are committed to the Generation Equality process for the next five years, though the commitments range from anywhere between one year and five years. Commitment-makers can decide to make a programmatic, financial, advocacy, or policy commitment — but it must be game-changing, measurable, and ideally designed with other stakeholders.
Paris will be a critical inflection point for gender equality, but it’s only the beginning. The real work starts once the commitments have been launched and are being implemented and measured. To keep the momentum going, there will also be future opportunities for organizations to get involved in the Generation Equality Forum and become commitment-makers.
HOW PARTNERS ARE GETTING INVOLVED
The UN Foundation has been engaged with the official Generation Equality process, including working with partners to support their efforts and activities around the Forum. From academia to advocacy groups, they are building momentum for gender equality in the lead-up to Paris.
● Global Institute for Women’s Leadership: The Institute will organize an event titled “How to Make Gender Pay Gap Reporting Work for Women” to launch new research into gender pay gap reporting regimes.
Julia Gillard, Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership and the former Prime Minister of Australia, will host panelists who are experts in the Australian and South African cases of gender pay disparity. Gender parity is an economic and social imperative, and achieving it is more important than ever in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pay disparity between men and women continues to underpin the power imbalance that defines the world’s working populations and will hinder global efforts to rebuild economies, ensure prosperous societies, and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Progress to reduce the gender pay gap has been far too slow, and it risks reversing.
When: June 29 at 3:45 a.m. ET
● GWL Voices for Change and Inclusion: Together with the UN Envoy on Youth, Club de Madrid, Women Political Leaders, and Sciences Po University, GWL Voices will host “Road to GEF Paris 2021 – Feminist Multilateralism for Build Back Better”— an event to bring together networks of women who are political, institutional, and corporate leaders. The discussion will aim to mobilize transformative commitments and actions to advance gender parity in decision-making and leadership, focusing on reconstruction and building back better after the COVID-19 crisis.
When: June 29 at 9:00 a.m. ET
Follow the conversation: @GWLvoices
● Conversations for Africa: The Batonga Foundation, an organization founded by singer and songwriter Angélique Kidjo, launched this project to address the issues faced by adolescent girls and young women on the African continent. The first conversation of the series features Ms. Kidjo Angélique discussing sexual and reproductive health and rights with Ketty Nivyabandi and Samuel Bazawule aka Blitz the Ambassador. Watch it here.
The Foundation will also be organizing a side event at the Paris Forum. “An intergenerational discussion around feminist leadership in Francophone Africa” will explore how to reinforce intergenerational connections and mobilization in the Francophone women’s rights and gender equality movement and will outline the opportunities and challenges consolidating the movement presents.
When: June 30 at 4:30 a.m. ET
● MenCare: This campaign launched the fourth State of the World’s Fathers report on June 15. Produced by Promundo, it is a globally recognized, biennial report and advocacy platform aiming to change power structures, policies, and social norms around care work and to advance gender equality. An advocacy publication of MenCare, the report presents the state of the field as well as a vision and pathway to achieve men’s full participation in unpaid care work for the benefit of women, children, and men themselves.
MenCare, together with the MenEngage Alliance, will also organize a side event at the Paris Forum, focused on male engagement and accountability. As an official part of the program, this side-event requires attendees to register for the Generation Equality Forum. Register for the forum here or check out the Forum’s program here.
When: July 2 at 10:30 a.m. ET
This is the moment to commit to finally fulfilling the promise of equality to all people, especially to girls and women everywhere, in all their diversity. We hope to see you (virtually) in Paris!
REGISTER FOR THE GENERATION EQUALITY FORUM IN PARIS
The Paris GEF will be virtual, free, and open to everyone. Registration is open here until June 27 at midnight CET.
Featured Photo: Images of Empowerment