Beijing Remembered …

Friday, September 4, 2020 marked the opening of the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China exactly 25 years ago. “The Beijing Platform for Action imagined a world where every woman and girl can exercise her freedoms and choices, and realize her rights, such as to live free from violence, to go to school, to participate in decisions and to earn equal pay for work of equal value. As a defining framework for change, the Platform for Action made comprehensive commitments under 12 critical areas of concern.” Read more

Some Good Shepherd Sisters within Asia Pacific attended that historic conference – India, Philippines and Australia. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, document issuing from the conference has informed Good Shepherd Position Papers and ministries.

Then First Lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered what would be considered as one of the most influential speeches in the women’s rights movement at the United Nation’s 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session on September 5, 1995 in Beijing, China Read more

A very interesting piece on Beijing, 25 years later: Are women better off? was published in Passblue (Independent Coverage of the UN). Take a look!

In 25 years no country has achieved gender equality. During the COVID 19 pandemic, life for women has worsened with increases in violence and in many situations care of the children and home schooling falls to the mother. On Monday 31st of August the Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres held a town hall meeting together with UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. He said and I quote “At a time of growing nationalism and populism, the forces ranged against global solidarity can seem overwhelming. But if we are to meet today’s global challenges, from the climate crisis to growing inequality and the digital divide, we must join together, rejecting sexist and ageist stereotypes that prevent women – and men – from realizing our full humanity.” Read the full statement.

SEE

Linda Wong, Soroptomist International Advocacy Advisor wrote an interesting piece, giving an overview of the the Secretary Generals’ Town Hall with women. A recording of the session can be had HERE

A NEW REPORT: 17 pages ‘From Insight to Action: Gender Equality in the Wake of COVID-19’ published by UN Women in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme – UNDP highlights projections on poverty by sex and age in a post-pandemic world. The pandemic has widened gender and economic inequalities and without gender-responsive policies the crisis risks derailing hard won gains. (Page 3). COVID 19 has pummelled feminized labour sectors; (Page 6) will push million more into extreme poverty; (Page 8) gaps on basic services magnify care burdens; (Page 10) for many women and girls home is not a safe space (Page 12) and page 16 states clearly we have the tool to address the crisis. So, why is the global community not taking action?

Observance of International Women’s Day at the United Nations

This morning, Friday March 6, an event marking the observance of International Women’s Day at the United Nations HQ, New York was held. Women rallied under the banner “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights. The Event was moderated by Sade Baderinwa, WABC News. The programme for the events …

The webcast of the event can be seen here. Do listen to Secretary General’s address to those present. “Gender inequality is the overwhelming injustice of our age and the biggest human rights challenge we face…” Read more It was a joy for me to hear Alexandria Villaseñor, a 14 year old climate activist speak from inside the United Nations. She sat for 65 Fridays outside the UN. She is the Gretta Thunberg of New York! Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate speaks about the reality. Who is your star?

Colleagues waiting for the event to commence

UN Women launched a book entitled ‘Gender equality: Women’s rights in review 25 years after Beijing.’ It marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, as well as the first time that progress on the implementation of the Platform is reviewed in light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Publication in full

On 4 March, UNICEF launched A New Era for Girls: Taking stock of 25 years of progress, a joint report with Plan International and UN Women that reviews progress, and lack of, for girls since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The report supports the goals of Generation Equality, a multi-partner platform and campaign led by UN Women, Governments of France and Mexico and civil society that aims to accelerate progress for girls’ and women’s empowerment.

While girls’ lives are better today than they were 25 years ago, progress remains uneven, particularly across regions. The report notes that the number of out-of-school girls has dropped by 79 million in the last two decades. Yet, violence against women and girls is still common. An astonishing 1 in every 20 girls aged 15-19 – around 13 million – has experienced rape in their lifetimes, one of the most violent forms of sexual abuse women and girls can suffer.

The report also points to concerning negative trends for girls in nutrition and health, concerns about poor mental health, and that girls remain at high risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Additional findings include:

  • The adolescent birth rate has declined from 60 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 to 44 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19.
  • The proportion of young women who were married as children has declined globally from 1 in 4 to approximately 1 in 5.
  • The prevalence of overweight among girls aged 5-19 has nearly doubled from 9 per cent to 17 per cent.
  • Globally, 970,000 adolescent girls aged 10-19 years are living with HIV today compared to 740,000 in 1995, a 31 per cent increase.
Read the report

In the context of the 25-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, the EDVAW Platform is launching a publication to present its contribution to the implementation of the BPA and to providing unified responses to the challenges to women’s rights to a life free from violence and discrimination.

There are seven UN and regional independent women’s human rights expert mechanisms mandated to address discrimination and gender based violence against women and girls. All of these mechanisms are entrusted with monitoring and supporting the implementation of States’ commitments under the global and regional women’s human rights frameworks, including the Beijing Platform of Action, the 2030 Agenda, and UN and regional instruments on women’s rights.

The expert mechanisms support and complement each other in these efforts for implementation through a dynamic and complex relationship, under the Platform of independent expert mechanisms on discrimination and violence against women – EDVAW Platform.

Click here to read the publication.

Another publication launched today by UNDP is ‘Tackling Social Norms: A game changer for gender inequalities’ questioning pervasive bias and prejudice against women held by both men and women worldwide. The results indicate that almost 90% of men/women globally are biased against women. Read more HERE with links in French and Spanish

All of these publications are directly and explicitly related to our position papers and ministries. Explore them with the position papers in one hand and your strategic plan in the other. Happy International Women’s Day!

CSW64 to address procedural issues on Monday March 9 – otherwise ALL events cancelled.

Update to CSW64 Advisory

Dear representatives registered for CSW64,

In light of the current concerns regarding coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at an informal meeting held this morning, 2 March, Member States decided that the sixty-fourth session of the Commission will convene on 9 March, at 10.00 a.m., for a procedural meeting that will include opening statements followed by the adoption of the draft Political Declaration and action on any other draft resolutions. The session will then suspend until further notification.  

The meeting reiterated the Secretary-General’s strong recommendation that capital-based delegations and other stakeholders refrain from travelling to UN Headquarters. No general debate will take place and all side events planned by Member States and the UN system in conjunction with CSW64 will be cancelled.  

Best regards,
UN Women

2 March 2020

It is with a heavy heart that we have to share this regretful news with you.

Following the announcement by the UN Secretary-General on the coronavirus threat sent on Friday, 28 February, and the 64th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) briefing held on 2 March, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, New York (NGO CSW/NY) Executive Committee has decided to cancel all NGO CSW64 Forum events due to the current threat posed by the coronavirus as per recommendations by the UN Secretary-General, UN Women and the World Health Organization (WHO).

NGO CSW64 Forum events that must be cancelled include: the Consultation Day, Reception, Conversation Circles Space, Artisan Fair, Rally, advocacy trainings, caucuses and all 550 Parallel Events scheduled through our office.

Reimbursements will be given for all events. Please be advised that as it may take up to 4-6 weeks to process everyone’s reimbursement, we ask for your patience in the process. Further instructions will be sent separately to those who have purchased event tickets or venue spaces.

The only refunds we will not be able to honor will be for any ads purchased. Handbooks are in the process of being printed and will be mailed out to those who purchased an ad. Your ad will be available on the NGO CSW/NY website and will be highlighted through our social media channels.

A formal letter by the NGO CSW/NY stating the reason for cancellation to be helpful with hotel and/or airline reimbursements is attached.

We were heartened by the power of women to mobilize at the critical moment! Within 48 hours, we had over 50,000 individuals raising their voices regarding the CSW64. No CSW without NGO CSW and no NGO CSW without women of the world!

The following tweets give some flavour of the discussion on March 2nd

What is Generation Equality?

If you have been following social media over the few week you may have seen graphics and references to Generation Equality.

Generation Equality is the name of a process that will strive to give new impetus and a final push towards full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This was a ground-breaking vision and framework for Gender Equality, that came from the 4th World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. It is quoted many times in our postion papers. The subtitle for Generation Equality is ‘Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future.’ Generation Equality Forum will be a global public conversation demanding urgent action and accountability for gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women. Generation Equality will celebrate the power of women’s rights activism, feminist solidarity and youth leadership to achieve transformative change. It is a global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-chaired by France and Mexico, with the leadership and partnership of civil society. The Forum will kick-off in Mexico City, Mexico, on 7-8 May 2020 and culminate in Paris, France, on 7-10 July 2020. A website for Generation Equality Forum is coming soon!

Here are two Powerpoints that will help explain the the process – Civil Society Deck and UN Women’s Gender Equality Deck They are easy to follow and may help you to understand the process. It is partly within the United Nations with the Commission on the Status of Women and partly outside the United Nations with the meetings in Mexico and Paris

The Commission on the Status of Women, 64th Session (CSW64) will take place from March 9 – 20, 2020 in New York at the United Nations Headquarters. The CSW will review how the 12 Critical areas have been implemented. These findings will flow into the Forum in Mexico and Paris, culminating in a High Level Event on the opening of the General Assembly, 75th Session in September 2020.

Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

Already two of the United Nations Regional Commissions have had their meetings, one in the Economic Commission for Europe, Geneva, October 29th and 30th which was preceded by a Civil Society Day on Monday October 28th. Mirjam Beike, our representative in Geneva attended the three days. The UN ECE website has posted an article covering the meetings on the 29th and 30th.

Donatus Lili attended the UN Regional meeting for Africa, October 28 – 31st, 2019 which was hosted in the African Union Center in Addis Ababa. Donatus was a panelist at a side event on ‘Faith Based engagement in Africa.’ Here is a press release “Governments must deliver on the promises made to women in Beijing 25 years ago

Donatus Lili on left hand side of picture in white
Donatus sharing on Faith Based Engagement in Africa. She focused on Poverty Eradication, Social Protection and Social Services.

Gertrude Mongella , from Tanzania, a leading advocate for women’s empowerment and rights was Secretary General of the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing 1995. Gertrude attended the session in Addis Ababa where Donatus had the privilege of meeting her and having her photograph. Donatus’s participation in the conference was made possible by FEMNET – The African Women’s Development and Communication Network.

Donatus Lili with Gertrude Mongella

The global conversation on girls and women is centered around 6 themes which seek to bring together the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Platform. It is hoped that this will stimulate new intersectional thinking on how all issues are interrelated and connected one to another. The 6 cross cutting themes are: (i) Inclusive development, shared prosperity and decent work; (ii) Poverty Eradication, social protection and social services; (iii) Freedom from violence, stigma and stereotypes; (iv) Participation, accountability and gender-responsive institutions; (v) Peaceful and inclusive societies and (vi) Environmental conservation, protection and rehabilitation. Discussion on these themes has started at the regional level and will be part of the CSW 64 discussion. It is hoped to generate an Action Coalitions on some agreed topics which will be decided in Mexico and celebrated in Paris. You can get a overview of how the discussion went in this document It is divided into the 6 themes and covers the 12 critical areas from the African perspective.

A moment of voting!

The planned regional conference in Latin America and the Caribbean had to be cancelled due to political unrest in Chile. It has been rescheduled for the end of January 2020. Erika Sanchez had done an amount of preparation towards attending and 6 sisters and mission partners were registered. Unfortunately, Erika will not be able to attend in January due to other commitments. The conference for UN ESCWA in Beirut has been re-located to Amman, Jordan, again, because of political tensions in the region. It will take place on November 28th. See the Agenda On the same weekend, November 27 – 29 the regional conference for Asia Pacific will take place in Bangkok. See Website for information.

2020 is a year of anniversaries for the United Nations. The Beijing Conference is only one of them celebrating 25 years. The United Nations is celebrating its 75th birthday amid a lot of tension including some fractures of multilaterialism. On November 20, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is celebrating 30 years. Only a few weeks ago the historic Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security celebrated 20 years. It was first adopted on October 2020. The Resolution addressed the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women; recognized the under-valued and under-utilized contributions women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution, and peace-building. It also stressed the importance of women’s equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security.

2020, is also the 75th anniversary of the Commission for Social Development  and the 25th anniversary of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development. 2020 is a crucial year for the accelerated realization of inclusive societies and reducing inequalities everywhere for people of all ages. UN Women celebrates its 10th anniversary and the Sustainable Development Goals are 5 years into being realized. All the various agenda overlap and yet inching our way towards realization continues to be a felt struggle especially for girls and women on all levels. Gender Equality, Women’s Human Rights, Women’s participation remain unrealized. The catch phrase of UNICEF for the 30 years anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is ‘For Every Child Every Right’. If this happened maybe we would be on the way to say ‘For Every Girl Every Right’ and that ‘For Every Woman Every Right’ would be a reality.

Faces and Experiences of today’s Feminism Leaders – Beijing+25 Youth Task Force

Photo UN Women

The Beijing + 25 Youth Task Force comprises 30 young leaders. The are representative of the global community and come from differing background and experiences. 7 come from Africa – Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe; 5 from Latin America -Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru; 7 from Asia Pacific – Australia, China, India, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka; 4 from Europe – Germany, Netherlands, Turkey, UK; 3 from the Middle East – Iraq, Palestine, Tunisia; 3 from North America – US, Canada, and Newfoundland.

On the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, UN Women’s “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future” campaign demands equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end to sexual harassment and violence against women and girls, health care services that respond to their needs, and their equal participation in political life and in decision-making in all areas of life.

Intersectionality is a characteristic of the group. In their persons and in their experiences they bring enriched perspectives to the vision that is required towards Beijing + 25 and onward to Beijing +50. Together they highlight many salient issues of concern ranging from – Human Rights and Gender Equality, LGBTIQ Rights and sexual diversity, Sexual and Reproduction Health and Rights, Rights of Adolescents, Indigenous Peoples and Migrants, and Climate Justice, while taking up specific issues including economic empowerment, cooperatives, female entrepreneurs, gender based discrimination, FGM, menstruation issues, situations in rural areas, political empowerment, addressing conflict situations and peace building, human trafficking, HIV AIDS, new masculinities, and a consciousness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). One issue that is not mentioned is ‘Early, Forced and Child Marriages’. Read more and meet the members of this Beijing+25 Youth Task Force Team.

The Working Group on Girls is thrilled to have Aasha Shaik represent Girls on the Beijing +25 Task Force (see top of page 2). If you are wondering what intersectionality means read Aasha’s short bio. Aasha will specifically elevate the voices and needs of girls globally bringing forward the marvelous achievements of the women who ensured that the ‘The Girl Child’ was part of the Beijing Platform for Action – the L Platform. Aasha will continue to elevate the voices and girls globally re-invigorating the L Platform for our times while upholding girls’ rights within the campaign ‘Generation Equality.’ 

Photo of Mary Purcell taken form Obituary

Mary Purcell was one of those women. She passed on July 28th, 2019 at the age of 92.  Mary was one of the founding co-chairs of the Working Group on Girls when it was established under UNICEF in 1994. She represented the group during the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, serving as an ardent and essential advocate for the rights of the girl-child. Her voice and work were crucial in the establishment of the L Platform of the Beijing Platform for Action, marking the first time girls’ rights were highlighted specifically at the United Nations.  Mary’s legacy as a tireless leader for girls’ rights continues today in the leadership that Aasha will bring to Beijing +25 Youth Task Force and all WGG members to Generation Equality.

The Good Shepherd Network was honored to have two youth mission partners – one from Sabah, Malaysia and one from Bogota, Colombia make application for the Beijing +25 Youth Task Force. While not selected we know that both young women are engaged in stellar ministries in their home countries – human rights education, anti- human trafficking programs, and economic empowerment. See Malaysia and Colombia