2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the most visionary agenda for women’s rights and empowerment – and the 20th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security – the first time the Council addressed the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women. The year also kicks off a Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, with gender equality as one of the key drivers of transformation for a fairer world.

Twenty-five years after Beijing, the fight for gender equality is far from over, says UN Women, the UN entity working for the empowerment of women. To date, not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality and at the current rate, it will take us nearly a century to reach that goal.

As the United Nations marks the anniversary of the promise of Beijing this year, it is asking everyone to step up and take action – across countries, industries, cultures and generations. The multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality, brings together a new generation of change-makers and activists, and those who have been fighting for decades, to demand a fairer world where all women and girls can live freely and safely with dignity and access to equal opportunities to reach their fullest potential.

Check out our curated list of gender-related UN events this year. We also look at how gender equality is intrinsically linked to sustainable development, in relation to major forthcoming conferences.

UN chief: Make this the Century of Women’s Equality

Ahead of International Women’s Day (8 March), UN Secretary-General António Guterres calls for transformations to achieve gender equality and end discrimination against women and girls. Read more.

Check out his message for the Day, in six languages.

Watch the Secretary-General’s speech on “Women and Power” (27 February)

Launch of “Women’s Rights in Review 25 years after Beijing” Report | 5 March

UN Women has released a new report examining progress and obstacles in women’s rights since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The report draws from a recent comprehensive report by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Check out the snapshot here.

UN Gender Equality Events in 2020

International Women’s Day | 8 March

The Day will celebrate the next generations of women and girl leaders and gender equality activists together with the women’s rights advocates and visionaries who continue to inspire change. The commemorative event at UN Headquarters in New York will take place on 6 March and will be webcast live. Check out the event page for more information. 

Commission on the Status of Women | 9 March

The UN Commission on the Status of Womenthe principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women – will adopt a draft political declaration on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women. Due to Coronavirus concerns, the meeting will then be suspended, to be resumed at a later date to be determined. No general debate will take place and all side events are cancelled. 

Generation Equality Forum | 7-8 May & 7-10 July

UN Women will convene the Generation Equality Forum, a global gathering which will kick-off in Mexico City from 7 to 8 May and culminate in Paris from 7 to 10 July. The Forum will take stock of progress and chart the way forward to realize gender equality by 2030.

UNGA75 High-Level Meeting on Gender Equality | 23 September

Under the theme “Accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls,” a high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly will mark Beijing+25 and urge world leaders to accelerate efforts with concrete actions and commitments.

20th anniversary of  UN Security Council Resolution 1325 | 31 October 

In 2000, the UN Security Council adopted a landmark resolution that not only acknowledged the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women and girls, but also the vital role they play in conflict prevention and resolution. Marking the anniversary of the resolution, the Security Council will look at progress and challenges over the last 20 years. 

Other 2020 Events through the Gender Lens

UN Ocean Conference | Lisbon | 2 to 6 June

Women in ocean science have been shattering glass ceilings for decades. But today, less than 40% of scientists are women. Half of the marine and coastal industries workforce is female, but they are often represented in low-skilled, low-paid jobs without contracts or health, safety and labour rights.

In 2017 during the inaugural Ocean Conference, global leaders issued a call to action to include and advance the role of women in ocean science, conservation, policy and economy. 

UN Global Compact Leaders Summit | New York | 15 to 16 June

When the UN Global Compact the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative was launched in 2000, women represented 0.4% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. In 2019, that increased to 6.6%. All businesses stand to benefit from greater gender equality. Today, more than 2,000 business leaders around the world have endorsed the Global Compact’s Women’s Empowerment Principles, making it a corporate priority to support women’s advancement.

As the UN Global Compact celebrates its 20th anniversary, it is urging businesses to strengthen their commitments to sustainable development, including setting and reaching ambitions for women’s representation and leadership in business. 

UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) | Kunming | 5 to 10 October

As the United Nations and its partners prepare to adopt a new global biodiversity framework, there is a strong emphasis on making sure women and men are equally engaged in biodiversity decision-making. Women have considerable knowledge and experience in managing and conserving natural resources. Without the participation of women and girls, known to be early adopters of sustainable processes, we risk overlooking the root causes of biodiversity loss as well as potential solutions.

UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) | Glasgow | 9 to 20 November

UNFCC LogoWhy does gender matter in our efforts to address climate change? The majority of the world’s poor are women, and they face higher risks and greater burden from the impacts of climate change, including disasters. Yet, they are unequally represented in climate-related policy-making and other decisions.

In 2014, the UN Climate Conference (COP20) in Lima, Peru, saw the adoption of a five-year plan to advance women’s participation and promote gender-responsive climate policies. In 2019, that plan was strengthened to take into account human rights, just transition and the challenges indigenous women face while fighting for climate justice in their communities.


Just keep fighting, you are not alone

Footballer, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and SDG Advocate Marta Vieira da Silva talks about how women and girls still have fewer opportunities to play or to have a career in sports in comparison to men and boys. Read more.

Gender equality grows as key aspect of sustainable ocean management

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, women represent nearly half of the estimated 180 million people worldwide working in fisheries and aquaculture. Read more.

A UN-backed Boost for Women-run Businesses in the Developing World

UN News looks at a financial initiative that helps women entrepreneurs who run small businesses in emerging markets succeed in their professional and private lives. Read more.

Women Pastoralists feel the Heat of Climate Change

Members of the Samburu tribe in Kenya. Samburu women pastoralists are affected by climate change. Getty Images /Kitra Cahana

UN’s Africa Renewal magazine looks at how Kenya’s women livestock farmers are coping with the harsh effects of erratic weather patterns. Read more.

We must involve women in the peace process

Liberian women marching through the streets of Monrovia agitating for peace.

Nobel Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee talks about her work in leading a women’s peace movement that helped end the Liberian civil war in 2003. Read more.

More events can be found in UN Women’s media advisory.