SDG Blog Vol 25, No. 03 - March 2021

Nadine Gasman Zylbermann

Generation Equality Forum: A space for reflection, dialogue and commitment towards gender equality

By Nadine Gasman Zylbermann, President of Mexico’s National Women’s Institute (Inmujeres)

The world has changed dramatically since 1995. Yet not one country has reached substantive equality between women and men. We live in a world where there has been important progress, but the Beijing Platform for Action is more current than ever.

We need better implementation, and that requires commitment and financing. Although there have been significant advancements in terms of legislation, we have also witnessed backlash against the rights of women, girls and all gender-marginalized people.

Some rights are increasingly under question and even at risk, especially sexual and reproductive rights. Moreover, the global pandemic has made manifest the economic, social, cultural and political vulnerabilities to which women are subjected. Now, more than ever we must act towards real gender equality.

In this context, The Generation Equality Forum —an event jointly organized by UN Women, the governments of Mexico and France, civil society, and youth—will take place online in Mexico City from 29th to 31st March, and in Paris in June 2021.

The Forum in Mexico will place women and girls’ rights agenda at the forefront by centring the voices of grassroots organizations. Conceived as an accelerator for social change and accountability, the Forum offers a new way to join our voices, a horizontal space where diverse feminist movements of all generations come together with governments, international organizations, and the private sector to achieve the equality that women and girls deserve.

The Forum is working to incorporate the voices, views and expectations of grassroots, rural, indigenous, Black, sexually diverse, differently abled, and young women into the conversation.

As co-host of the Generation Equality Forum, Mexico seeks to combine its longstanding commitment to women’s rights with its current transformative socio-political agenda. The first UN conference on women took place in Mexico City in 1975. Today, Mexico has advanced parity legislation in all spheres. Mexico, for the first time, achieved in 2018 parity in Congress, as a result of successive legislative and constitutional reforms supported by the Supreme Court of Justice.

The most recent reform marks a historic moment and an unprecedented achievement to guarantee the political rights of women. This reform will ensure that half of the decision-making positions are for women in the three branches of the State, in the three levels of government, in the autonomous bodies, in the candidacies of political parties for positions of popular election, and in the election of local representatives before city ​​councils.

This milestone in gender equality is in large part due to the struggle led by women’s organizations and women politicians and legislators. We must now utilize this political momentum to continue to work towards ensuring that women in all their diversity have the ability to participate and be represented in all aspects of society.

Feminist movements, in all their diversity across Latin America and the Caribbean, have been crucial to advancing the Beijing agenda. Civil society and grassroots organizations have been demanding governments to invest in and legislate on gender equality. Progressive governments are focusing their agendas on substantive equality between women and men that address the intersections between gender and other social factors such as race, class, age, disability, sexual orientation, etc.

In the last few years, we have witnessed how youth-led feminist movements have taken to the streets to demand their rights. Feminist movements are fighting to put an end to patriarchal values and achieve gender equality. The Forum will be a space for dialogue between the future, past and present of feminist movements to accelerate change.

Our horizon is 2030, when the world aims to have achieved the Sustainable Development Goals. Governments, the UN and civil society organizations succeeded in integrating a gender perspective into the 17 SDGs in addition to SDG 5, which specifically addresses gender equality.

The Generation Equality Forum bridges the Beijing Platform for Action and the 2030 Agenda to step up change and define specific actions that bring substantive progress towards full gender equality. Without gender equality, development cannot be sustainable.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the scourge of violence against women and girls. Feminist movements have historically engaged with and brought this topic to the forefront of public agendas, and now there are clear ways to prevent, address, sanction and eradicate violence against women in all its forms.

As a result of the pandemic, for the first time in decades, humanity has come face to face with the importance and centrality of women’s care work, both in the healthcare sector and at home. Discussing these issues at the Forum is key to economic empowerment and necessary for women to have agency over their own lives.

The pandemic has also shown us how fragile, precarious, and oppressive the status quo has historically been for women. A future post-pandemic world must be a just and feminist world that addresses the structural social, cultural, political and economic causes of gender inequality.

* The views expressed in this blog are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of UN DESA.

Follow Us