Now is the time for gender equality: why the Generation Equality Forum is a milestone we should not miss?
By Delphine O
In 2020, we are at a critical point for gender equality. The current pandemic has provoked unprecedented damage to gender equality worldwide. Reports from UN agencies, governments, NGOs all concur: the crisis has deepened, not reduced, inequalities between men and women, and in some places, it has become a threat against women’s fundamental rights. At the same time, there is a unique opportunity to build a post-Covid world where gender equality finally becomes a reality. The Generation Equality Forum in 2021 should and will be a milestone in this regard.
In 1995, the fourth UN Conference on the Rights of Women in Beijing achieved tremendous results: for the first time, women’s rights were internationally recognized as human rights and an ambitious agenda was designed to implement them. But 25 years later, the Covid-19 crisis bears the risk of dramatically widening the gender gap. Not only women have experienced hardest gender-based violence during the lockdowns (+30% of cases in France as in many countries around the world), but the economic crisis can considerably expose women to economic precariousness, especially for the 740 million women who are estimated to work in the informal economy. The crisis has put additional barriers to women’s access to public services, to sexual and reproductive health and rights — we expect 7 million more unintended pregnancies this year without access to family planning — and from girls’ access to education — 11 million girls may not go back to school after the interruption of their studies.
At the same time, women have been the forefront fighters in this war against the virus. I have particularly in mind the health, retail and care sectors, where women are over-represented and have been at the frontline to help societies face the severe damages of the pandemics. The crisis has also revealed the urgency to shift towards more equal unpaid care and domestic works and their better social and economic recognition. From my experience as a Gender equality Ambassador, I have seen grassroots communities and feminist CSOs propose innovative, local-based and concrete solutions to improve women’s rights and demonstrate commitment. The international community…