Blog by Francesca Fletcher Williams, SI Global Policy Coordinator.
Right after the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65), the Generation Equality Forum was held virtually from Mexico, 29-31 March, with the aim of promoting bold action to promote gender equality. With a disappointing outcome for CSW65 due to concerted lack of progress on gender equality which in many places is regressing due to the impacts of COVID-19, the Forum sought to galvanise united action. In particular, the Generation Equality Forum aims to mobilise youth – those who were either not born when the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was agreed at the 1995 World Conference on Women or for those too young to be involved. To this day the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is the gold standard for achieving gender equality. But still, over 25 years after its agreement no country has achieved gender equality.
With the need for action being at the core of the Generation Equality Forum, the Forum launched a series of action agendas, or ‘blueprints’ in order to benefit the lives of all women and girls and achieve gender equality.
UN Women explains, “The Generation Equality Forum, is a civil society–centred, global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France. Kicking off in Mexico City, Mexico, on 29–31 March 2021, and culminating in Paris, France, in June 2021, the Forum will secure a set of concrete, ambitious, and transformative commitments to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards gender equality. The landmark effort will bring together governments, corporations and change to define and announce ambitious investments and policies.”
The Generation Equality Forum also ties in with the UN Decade of Action (2020-2030) which seeks to accelerate action for the Sustainable Development Goals to try and ensure they are achieved by 2030. Among the SDGs, is of course, SDG5 on gender equality and the 2030 Agenda recognises gender equality is cross-cutting across all the SDGs – meaning not one of the SDGs will be achieved if gender equality is not achieved. As we all know, there’s a long way to go before we can say that gender equality has been reached worldwide.
A key part of the Generation Equality Forum are its ‘Action Coalitions’. The Action Coalitions are “are global, innovative, multi-stakeholder partnerships that will mobilise governments, civil society, international organisations, and the private sector” that will “catalyse collective action, spark global and local conversations among generations, drive increased public & private investment, and deliver concrete, game-changing results for girls and women.”
The six selected themes of the 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
Working in partnership through these Action Coalitions, governments, civil society, the private sector and other organisations proposed ambitious and immediate actions to be taken between now and 2025 to promote women’s and girls’ human rights and gender equality. At the Generation Equality Forum, each Action Coalition launched its transformative ‘blueprint’, which together are all part of a Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality. You can read this plan here.
Many elements of the blueprint focus on increasing financing, making legal commitments and adopting key international agreements, and ensuring women’s full ability to participate, lead and make decisions. For too long actions and policies made about women, have been created without them. That cannot happen if we are to have a gender equal and sustainable world.
A Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action
In addition to the Action Coalitions and the Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality, the Forum also focused on a Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action. This Compact seeks to combine the efforts of those working towards the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and those working on Humanitarian Action in order to focus on monitoring, accountability, coordination and financing to achieve the full implementation of the WPS Agenda and humanitarian action commitments.
The WPS Agenda was formally initiated by UN Security Council Resolution 1325 back in 2000. This landmark resolution emphasises the vital role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction. It places women’s equal participation, leadership and decision making at the heart of sustainable action for peace and security. However, the WPS Agenda, along with humanitarian action has long been hampered by a lack of concrete action, political will and funding. Like the Action Coalitions, this Compact, aims to develop concrete actions that will take stock of existing commitments and drive momentum for action and implementation.
With conversations about the humanitarian-development-peace nexus growing, this Compact could represent a key opportunity to start connecting these agendas together. After all, it’s vital to recognise that how sustainable development happens, and whether it is successful will depend on there being peace and stability, and likewise peace and stability will be promoted by sustainable development. For too long these different areas of UN work have happened in silos – these barriers peace and security, humanitarian action and sustainable development must be broken down if any are to be successful. And of course, gender equality must be put at the heart of all of them.
To watch the recorded sessions of the Generation Equality Forum, click HERE.