“There was a before and after the Beijing conference on the rights of women in 1995, and there will be a before and after the Forum Generation Equality in Paris in 2021. There is no choice .” With this promise, the French president, Emmanuel Macron , inaugurated the international summit aimed at promoting equality between men and women worldwide.
After three days of conferences and debates between international organizations, political leaders, associations and activists, the meeting concluded this Friday with the launch of a plan of $ 40 billion global action to promote gender equality over the next five years.
A project that comes at a particularly delicate time, when the rights of women and girls suffer a significant setback, aggravated by the coronavirus epidemic . Covid-19 is an ” antisocial and antifeminist virus” , “the pandemic has marked a huge setback in terms of equality,” said Macron during the opening of the meeting, on Wednesday, June 30. “The first victims of the health crisis [are women],” the French president recalled. In the last year and a half, 47 million more women have fallen into poverty ”.
“Innovation, solidarity and inclusion”
“[The health crisis unleashed by] covid-19, along with other barriers, are now an even greater inspiration to [promote] innovation, solidarity and inclusion, ” summed up the African Union ambassador for the eradication of marriage child, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, at the end of the meeting, led by the United Nations agency for Women and co-chaired by France and Mexico.
The Generation Equality Forum marks ” a positive and historic shift in power and perspective, ” underlined Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, head of UN Women. “Together we have mobilized different sectors of society, from the south to the north, to become a formidable force, ready to open a new chapter in gender equality, ” congratulated Mlambo-Ngcuka after three long days in search of common commitments.
This new chapter will include the mobilization of 40,000 million dollars , an amount that will allow financing, over the next five years, different programs of reproductive health, education, leadership or economic empowerment.
” Lack of funding is one of the main reasons for the slow progress in gender equality and the implementation of the women’s rights agenda of the historic Beijing Conference of 1995 -explains The UN in a statement – At the close of the Forum, governments and public sector institutions have committed to investing 21,000 million dollars in gender equality, the private sector 13,000 million and philanthropy 4,500 million “.
” Reactionary, patriarchal forces”, against gender equality
Good news for the fight for gender equality, degraded not only by the health crisis, but also by the setback led by certain political leaders. “[There are] reactionary, patriarchal forces that try to retake power in a form of ‘conservatism international’ and want to question decades of heritage [of feminist action],” Macron warned during his speech at the Forum. Turkey’s recent withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention against gender-based violence and Poland’s decision to ban abortion almost entirely , would be part of this worrying ultra-conservative trend.
An analysis shared by the UN Secretary General, the Portuguese Antonio Guterres , who also participated in the opening ceremony of the meeting. Women’s rights advocates must wage an ” ideological battle against conservative forces that are developing around the world and are questioning” the achievements of the Beijing conference, Guterres warned. The contest will not be easy, but, at least, now it has elementary economic support.