81 years to reach gender equality

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10 November 2014. The UN warns that it will take 81 years for women to reach equality at the current pace. “On our current trajectory, it will take another 81 years to reach equality,” , UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, told a conference in Geneva.

The conference of 500 participants was convened by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and UN Women to review progress in the run up to the 20th anniversary of the so-called Beijing Declaration of the 4th World Conference on Women (1995),

“This is a wake-up call. Even where we are doing best, progress remains uneven, and discrimination against women continues in law and in practice in ECE countries,” said Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, in her speech.

UNwomen2In her opening speech Princess Mary of Denmark urged governments to make gender equality a robust goal in the post-2015 agenda and ratify the Istanbul Convention, calling it a “milestone for ending violence against women,” referring to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Government representatives, experts, academics, and members of international, civil society and private sector organizations gathered in Geneva from 6-7 November to review progress towards the most comprehensive plan for advancing women’s rights, in the lead-up to its 20th anniversary. The goals laid out in the Beijing Declaration have also served as a catalyst to the global Beijing+20 advocacy campaign.

This was the first high-level Regional Review meeting for Beijing+20. UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach emphasized the disproportionate impact of the economic crisis on women saying that it has “hampered efforts to fight violence against women and reduce inequalities,” in the ECE region. “Women’s rights should be at the centre of sustainable development,” he added.

Some of the challenges highlighted at the conference were the gaps between legislation and implementation in all areas of the Beijing Declaration, the prevalence of violence against women, insufficient sex-disaggregated data, lack of funding for action plans and other initiatives, the low participation of women in the labour market and the disproportionate and negative effect of the financial crisis on women.

The importance of ratifying the Istanbul Convention, as well as adopting and putting into motion the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and UN Security Council resolution 1325 were also stressed, as was the need for a robust, stand-alone goal for gender equality in the post-2015 agenda.
The conclusions of the meeting will feed into the global review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action at next year’s fifty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York.

- See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2014/11/ece-beijing-review-meeting#sthash.0I2V2trr.dpuf

Photos: From left to right; UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach at the Beijing+20 Regional Review Meeting, Palais des Nations in Geneva. Photo: UNECE/Violaine Martin