On May 6, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, tweeted:
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 is the most visionary agenda. #Beijing25 must be both our present & our future for the empowerment of women and girls. That’s why we are all #GenerationEquality.
In 1995, thought leaders around the globe met to create the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, at the time considered one of the most forward-thinking women’s rights and gender equality initiative ever drafted. Developed during the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, the Platform for Action was designed as “a visionary agenda for the empowerment of women and girls, everywhere.” 189 governments committed to making strides in 12 areas of critical concern, but despite the slow progress we have seen over the last 25 years, not a single committed country can accurately claim it has achieved true gender equality.
UN Women seeks to change that.
On May 6, 2019, the organization announced its next major rights campaign: “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future.”
According to UN Women’s press release, “The Generation Equality campaign will bring together the next generations of women’s rights activists—many of whom may not have been born in 1995—with the gender equality advocates and visionaries who were instrumental in creating the Beijing Platform for Action more than two decades ago, to accelerate efforts to make gender equality and women’s rights a lived reality.”
The campaign is focused on drawing attention and action to five major issues that have not seen enough progress since the Beijing Declaration: equal pay, unpaid domestic work and care equality, sexual harassment and violence against women and girls, universal healthcare access for women, and equality and decision-making power in politics and daily life for women and girls.
“Today, nearly 25 years after the historic Beijing Conference, the reality is that not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women’s Executive Director. “Despite some progress, real change has been too slow for most women and girls in the world, and we see significant pushback in many places against their leadership and agency. As a result, women continue to be discriminated against and their contributions undervalued; they work more, earn less and have fewer choices about their bodies, livelihoods and futures than men; and they experience multiple forms of violence at home, at work and in public spaces. Generation Equality is a campaign for swift systemic change, with political will and bold, decisive actions taken on the laws, policies and outdated mindsets that must no longer curtail women’s voice, choice and safety.”
Generation Equality is designed to take effect during a pivotal time in feminist philanthropy’s history. Besides marking the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Conference, 2020 also holds the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (which promotes the safety, peace, and security of women and girls); the 10th anniversary of the founding of UN Women (marking the organization as an international champion for women and girls); and the 5th anniversary of the global Sustainable Development Goals (a collection of 17 goals adopted by world leaders in 2015 to achieve gender equality by the year 2030).
2020 is also a year of opportunity for progressive women donors. Government elections in many nations (including the United States’ next presidential election), organization and campaign anniversaries, and the growing importance of cultural and global activism are creating a sociopolitical climate that is charged with opportunity.
The point of Generation Equality is to connect longtime activists with the newest generation of equality-focused thought leaders, many of whom are just starting to find their voices as young adults and champions.
Connecting new voices with existing campaigns, donors, and sponsors will help boost feminist philanthropy efforts around the world. Generation Equality is designed as a rallying call – although UN Women has announced its program this month, it is only beginning of the official campaigns that will fall under the Generation Equality umbrella. Among them, the trending hashtag #GenerationEquality is already starting to build traction, almost a year in advance of the program’s official launch.
Generation Equality will officially kick off during the sixty-fourth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, scheduled to take place at the UN’s New York headquarters from March 9-20, 2020. Over the course of the year, UN Women will act as a focal point for feminist philanthropy efforts around the world, connecting campaigns with donor opportunities, giving women and girls a platform where their voices will be heard, and presenting existing and future generations with the opportunity to achieve gender equality once and for all.
“We are all #GenerationEquality,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka declared in her May 6 Twitter post.
And we start now. The path to gender equality has never been a clear one, but progressive women donors can use their support to make UN Women’s new initiative a reality – and by working together, we hopefully won’t have to wait 25 years this time.
To learn more about UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign, visit their website.
To learn more about ow feminist philanthropy is empowering underserved communities around the world, read about the ways philanthropy has encouraged LGBTQ representation in African and Asian media, or hear from two feminist foundation leaders as they share their stories, goals, and advice for new philanthropy representatives.