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More support for Beijing Declaration agreed


Political Declaration, adopted, by Member States,CSW64, women's rights, UNWomen, UN Secretary General, reportLeaders also identified specific means for tackling the gaps and challenges.

In a Political Declaration adopted by Member States commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, leaders pledged to ramp up efforts to fully implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, still considered the most visionary blueprint on women’s rights.

The Political Declaration was the main outcome of the 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, the largest annual gathering on gender equality and the empowerment of women at the UN.

This year, in view of the COVID-19 situation, the Commission scaled back the session to a one-day procedural meeting with delegations and civil society representatives based in New York.

This year’s session focussed entirely on the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The review took stock of the status of women, including in-depth assessment of current challenges that affect the implementation of the Platform for Action and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

In the Political Declaration, Member States welcomed the progress made towards the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, but expressed concern that, overall, progress has not been fast enough or deep enough.

In some areas progress has been uneven, and structural barriers, discriminatory practices and the feminisation of poverty persist.

But even as leaders reaffirmed their political will for action, they also recognised that new challenges have emerged that require concerted and intensified efforts, including with regard to:

Realising the right to education for all women and girls, with attention to areas where they are underrepresented, such as STEM;

Ensuring full, equal and meaningful participation, representation and leadership of women at all levels and in all spheres of society;

Ensuring women´s economic empowerment, for instance, access to decent work, equal pay, provision of social security and access to finance;

Tackling the disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work of women and girls;

Addressing the disproportionate effect of climate change and natural disasters on women and girls;

Ending all forms of violence and harmful practices against all women and girls;

Protecting women and girls in armed conflict and ensuring women’s participation in peace processes and mediation;

Realising the right to health for women and girls, with emphasis on universal health coverage; and

Addressing hunger and malnutrition among women and girls.

Leaders also identified specific means for tackling these gaps and challenges.

Some of these include eliminating all discriminatory laws; breaking down structural barriers, discriminatory social norms and gender stereotypes including in the media; matching commitments to gender equality with adequate financing; strengthening institutions to promote gender equality; harnessing the potential of technology and innovation to improve women’s and girls’ lives; regularly collecting, analysing and using gender statistics; and strengthening international cooperation to implement commitments to gender equality.

The Declaration also reaffirms that gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls will make a crucial contribution to progress across all the Sustainable Development Goals, as the UN Decade of Action begins.

In addition, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, presented a comprehensive report that is based on an extensive, participatory stock-taking exercise on women’s rights, combined with global data and analysis, and 171 governments submitted national reports, and hundreds of civil society activists contributed to the national and regional reviews.

And building on the UN Secretary-General’s report, UN Women published the Women’s rights in Review 25 Years After Beijing Report, examining progress made and obstacles to women’s rights since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995.

The UNWomen report revealed the advances in women’s and girls’ rights since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, such as more girls are now in school than ever before, fewer women are dying in childbirth and that around the world the proportion of women in parliaments has doubled, and that in the past decade, 131 countries have passed laws to support women’s equality.

But it also points out that progress has been far too slow and uneven:

Globally, progress on women’s access to paid work has ground to a halt over the past 20 years. Less than two thirds of women (62 per cent) aged 25-54 are in the (paid) labour force, compared to more than nine out of ten (93 per cent) men.

Women continue to shoulder the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work, and are on average paid 16 per cent less than men, a (lack of) sum which rises to 35 per cent in some countries.

Nearly one in five women (18 per cent) have faced violence from an intimate partner in the past year – and new technologies are fuelling new forms of violence, such as cyber-harassment, for which policy solutions are largely absent.

32 million girls are still not in school.

Men still control three quarters of parliamentary seats.

Women are largely excluded from peace processes, representing only 13 per cent of negotiators and only 4 per cent of signatories.

And UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said: “25 years after Beijing, we all recognise that progress on women’s rights has not gone far or fast enough.

“It is 2020, yet no country has achieved gender equality and women continue to be squeezed into just one quarter of the space at the tables of power.”

Member States, she continued, “have reaffirmed the Beijing Platform for Action, the progress and the gaps.

“Women and girls will hold them accountable as we work together for true and lasting equality and the full enjoyment of our human rights.”

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