Stepping it up – 2030 needs to be the expiry date of gender inequality

StoryoftheMonth March UNWomen Picture-final
During a march through the streets of New York City on International Women’s Day, participants call for achieving full gender equality by 2030. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown 

UN Women celebrates International Women’s Day and the opening of the 59th Commission on the Status of Women

In 1995 the Fourth World Conference on Women set out an expansive vision and landmark set of commitments for achieving gender equality in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. However, in the past 20 years, progress in achieving gender equality has been too slow and patchy. At the same time gender equality is a prerequisite to achieving the global development goals currently under discussion in the post-2015 process. On International Women’s Day, UN Women thus issued a call upon global leaders to set an expiry date to gender inequality. Under the slogan “Planet 50-50 by 2030 – Step it Up for Gender Equality” UN Women calls for substantial action on gender equality now, with particular action for the first five years, and equality before 2030.

In order to make this message heard and to celebrate International Women’s Day, UN Women and the City of New York, together with the UN Women for Peace Association, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, Man Up and The Working Group on Girls NGO, organized a march through the streets of New York City on 8 March. Holding banners and signs bearing the slogan “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights”, thousands snaked through Manhattan in a collective show of solidarity for the global women’s movement. Before the march, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke to the participants urging that “We need global action – ACTION!”

The call for action also resonated at the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) taking place in New York from 9 March to 20 March. Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, this year’s CSW reviews the progress since Beijing, identifies the main challenges for the implementation and decides on actions to be taken in order to accelerate progress. It will also specifically address one big opportunity ahead – the integration of the gender perspective into the post-2015 development agenda. Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls “is both a goal in itself, and a means of achieving all other goals”, said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the opening ceremony of the CSW on Monday.

In line with the UN Women campaign “Planet 50-50 by 2030 – Step it Up for Gender Equality”, governments from all over the world adopted a political declaration on Monday which calls for the full achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women by 2030. Governments made a pledge to commit to concrete actions for the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and significantly increased investment. In the declaration actions are summarized in six specific strategies: (1) strengthen implementation of laws and policies; (2) bolster institutional mechanisms vital to women’s empowerment at all levels; (3) transform discriminatory norms and gender stereotypes and promote social norms and practices that recognize the positive role and contribution of women and eliminate discrimination against women and girls; (4) close resource gaps through mobilization of financial resources from all sources, including domestic resource mobilization and allocation and increased priority on gender equality and the empowerment of women in official development assistance; (5) boost accountability for the implementation of existing commitments; and (6) enhance capacity-building and data collection to track progress. 

The declaration also emphasizes contributions of civil society in achieving gender equality and the essential roles of men and boys: “Men must be partners in the pursuit of gender equality, in their decision-making roles; as Heads of State, CEOs, religious and cultural leaders, and as partners and parents. […] Men and boys are key in dismantling the patriarchy, which includes ending unequal pay, and saying no to marrying children”, asserted Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in her opening speech.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day UN Women also issued a summary report of the Secretary-General’s 20 year review on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on 9 March. The report presents progress, challenges, and lessons learnt for the realization of gender equality, the empowerment of women, and the human rights of women and girls in the post-2015 context.