This weekend, on the 20th anniversary of the fourth world conference on women in Beijing, leaders from around the globe met in New York City to discuss concrete and measurable plans for eliminating discrimination against women.
The plans were announced and reviewed by over 80 world leaders over the weekend at the “Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Commitment to Action,” summit co-hosted by the UN and China. These commitments are country-specific, and include tangible and realistic steps toward increasing gender parity. For example, Arthur Mutharika the president of Malawi announced plans for gender-responsive budgeting in the national budget, using the HeforShe Campaign as one strategy of implementation. Similarly, Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has promised to maintain its commitments under the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The summit also coincided with demonstrations demanding that the 20 some women imprisoned for their feminism various countries, including three in China, be released.
“The highest leaders in the land are taking personal responsibility for their commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women,” UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said. “Now the world looks up to them to lead the game-changing actions that secure and sustain implementation. Today we take the first firm steps towards 25 September, 2030.”
In March, the Clinton Foundation released the “No Ceilings” report, revealing data measuring women and girls’ participation worldwide in the 20 years since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, where the 1995 Declaration and Platform for Action made women and girls a priority. The groundbreaking 14th plank of the platform declared “Women’s rights are human rights,” laying the groundwork for governments worldwide to implement action plans for the goal of full participation for women and girls. In many ways, the report showed significant increases for women and girls, such as a dramatic lowering of the maternal mortality rate; but it also revealed massive gaps to be filled and progress to be made. For example, women still make up only 22 percent of parliament globally, and 1 in 4 girls in the world was married before her 18th birthday.
Media Resources: UN Women Press Release 9/27/15; Feminist Newswire 3/16/15; No Ceilings Report, Clinton Foundation 2015;