Regional civil society activists urge for action and accountability at Beijing+25 review. A diverse group of 450 women’s rights activists from Europe, North America, the Caucuses and Central Asia came together at the Beijing+25 regional civil society forum, in Geneva, Switzerland, to call for urgent action on gender equality and speak out about the structural barriers that prevent women and girls from fully enjoying their rights.
Ahead of the intergovernmental Beijing+25 UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) regional review meeting on 29-30 October, feminist activists called for comprehensive policies that advance gender equality, their effective implementation, adequate financing, and improved accountability so that commitments made by world leaders 25 years ago at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing translate into action. “Our core framing principles of the forum are gender equality and justice, women’s human rights, respect for planetary boundaries and social, economic and environmental sustainability,” said Valentina Bodrug, a women’s right advocate from Moldova.
“Today is a pivotal moment for the voice and agency of civil society. We are here to be bold and forward-looking and to make sure that the voices of women and girls who continue to experience different forms of inequality, exclusion and discrimination are heard,” said Alia El-Yassir, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.
2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most visionary agenda for women’s rights and empowerment everywhere. Decision-makers and civil society around the world are gathering regionally to take stock of progress in achieving gender equality and realizing women’s human rights.
“Your engagement and continuous efforts to shape more equitable societies are critical to turn the Beijing Declaration from a visionary agenda to a lived reality. The force that is uniting all of you, is your conviction that we can no longer accept inequalities based on sex,” stressed Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the UNECE.
The participants represented diverse backgrounds, including migrant women, rural women, young feminists, LGBTQI, indigenous women, women with disabilities and older women. They mapped key issues related to women`s rights and gender equality and outlined common recommendations to feed into the Regional Review Meeting.
Key recommendations that emerged from the civil society meeting included:
- Strong and effective policy frameworks and measures to advance the gender equality agenda
- Redistribution of unpaid care work and investing in sustainable, quality care services
- Financing for gender equality
- Investing in gender disaggregated data
- Ratification of international conventions, such as Istanbul Convention and ILO Conventions
- Ensuring an intersectional approach that guarantees the human rights of all women, girls and non-binary persons from diverse backgrounds
- Addressing the pushback against women’s rights, the shrinking space for civil society and funding gaps
- Promoting and encouraging youth participation
- Ensuring accountability for gender equality commitments
On the side-lines of the meeting, civil society representatives took to the streets of Geneva to call for governments’ accountability to commitments set out in Beijing almost 25 years ago.
The event was organised by the Women’s Major Group, with the support of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women Geneva and UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia.