The United Nations Secretary General calls gender inequality the overwhelming injustice of our age, while other speakers rallied governments to move beyond rhetoric in a year the world will mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform of Action to date – the most comprehensive blueprint for gender equality ever agreed.
“I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights” – that’s the theme of the official commemoration of International Women’s Day at the United Nations in New York, ahead of its observance on Sunday, March 8th.
A multi-Grammy award winner and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, using her voice and talent to bring attention to what the UN Chief, calls the biggest human rights challenge the world faces today.
Audio report by Sherwin Bryce-Pease:
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says, “I have said it before, and I will say it again: gender equality is a question of power. Men have used and abused power to control women and prevent them from achieving their potential for millennia. Deep-rooted patriarchy and misogyny have created a yawning gender power gap in our economies, our political systems, our corporations, our societies and our culture.”
There is strong pushback against women’s rights:
discriminatory economic & immigration policies, limited access to sexual & reproductive rights, roll back of laws that protected women from violence.
We must push back against the pushback and refuse to lose ground we have won. pic.twitter.com/ZbxOEgaLqX
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) March 6, 2020
He urges stakeholders and activists to keep up the pressure and to hold the world to account, arguing that Generation Equality means equal rights and opportunities for women and girls right now.
As the audience heard from Sanna Marin, the 34-year-old Finnish Prime Minister, less than 5% of women are heads of government on the planet.
“I argue that the best way to get gender transformative policies is to have more women in high-level political decision-making positions. I want to pay tribute to all strong women politicians and leaders in this room, in Finland and elsewhere who have pioneered in advancing the rights of women and girls. Without their hard work and without role-models I would not stand before you today,” says Marin.
Liberian Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee warned those in power that women’s rights should not only become popular during election seasons.
“Gender equality must be an understanding that equality is linked to our collective humanity. It is linked to peace and justice which for me means being willing to radically transform the systems and structures that hold women and girls down. This radical transformation must be actionable,” says Gbowee.
After a stirring musical performance, Angelique Kidjo, who’s been a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF since 2002, added her voice to the urgent calls to action.
“I don’t think there’s any man has power without women having power, that’s the thing that we have to understand. We have to teach our boys, young boys, and young girls from an early age to respect one another. To tell a young boy your power is in the way you treat women. Not the other way around. So we have been sitting here, year and year talking about women empowerment, gender equality and we produce 75% of the world’s wealth. Why aren’t we going on strike for one month and see how the men to it, all around the globe? Because we talk and it doesn’t make a difference. Action is what they understand the best,” says Kidjo.
While 18-year-old trans-disabled fashion model Aaron Philip raised the key issue of violence against Trans and non-binary people, which continues to be a global phenomenon.
“I want to be nothing more but a teenage girl from the Bronx who just lives her life, does he job the way she wants to do her job and defies what people expect of her. But in a way, I truly am objectively a black-trans disabled model. I’m also a black-trans disabled girl and black-trans women are at risk right now in society for existing. We get shunned and shamed and discriminated against and our experiences are discredited, we get killed for existing as who we are and it would be wrong to not call action to that,” says Philip.
Progress towards gender equality faltering
UN Women earlier launched a report on the gaps that still needed to be filled in order to ensure the Beijing Platform becomes a reality in our lifetimes.
The report shows progress towards gender equality is faltering and hard-won advances are being reversed.
The report, which marks the 25th anniversary of the landmark Beijing Platform of Action, flags a lack of effective action to boost women’s representation at tables of power.
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says, “A lot of work has been done but our best is not good enough. We don’t want to squeeze into 25% because what has come out of this report is that women occupy 25% of the space in power and in places of influence. 75% of the parliamentary seats are held by men. 73% of managerial positions are held by men. 70% of climate negotiators arte men, so there’s this 25% that we’re being squeezed into. Today, we are breaking out. We want to march to 50% because 50% is what really matters.”
With calls for progress to be consolidated despite the push-back being experienced on the women’s agenda in some regions of the world.
UN Women new report on progress towards gender equality…