Regional Review meeting to explore status of women in the UNECE region 20 years after the Beijing Platform for Action

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In the lead up to the 20th anniversary commemoration of the landmark Beijing Platform for Action, considered the most comprehensive agenda on women’s rights, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has undertaken a review of the implementation of the Platform by its Member States. The results of this review will be the focus of the Beijing+20 Regional Review Meeting to be co-hosted in Geneva by UNECE and UN Women on 6 and 7 November 2014. The European Women´s Lobby made The Beijing+20 report calling for urgent comprehensive action to realise gender equality. From words to action: women can't wait 20 more years to enjoy their full human rights

The report “1995-2015: From Words to Action” assesses the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in Europe, 20 years after its adoption by the international community. The launch of EWL Beijing+20 report took place in the context of the Annual Meeting of the European Women’s Lobby, the largest umbrella organisation for women’s rights in Europe.

EWL President Viviane Teitelbaum said: “20 years later, much has been achieved, but much remains to be done. While we should be celebrating the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, our report shows that women and girls still face inequality, violence, discrimination and insecurity. Women and girls can’t wait 20 more years to enjoy their full human rights.”

The celebration of Beijing+20 comes at a strategic time for the women’s movement and the EU policies on gender equality. In 2015, a new international framework for development will be adopted, with new Sustainable Development Goals, amongst which women’s rights and gender equality will be the subject of a standalone goal. At EU level, a new strategy for gender equality needs to be adopted from 2016 on.

“The European Union, as part of the international community, is at a turning policy point: it must choose to lead the way towards a gender equal and sustainable future. Investing in women’s rights and empowerment is the core commitment for a more sustainable, democratic and inclusive world to evolve. We call on the future EU Commissioner for Gender Equality to build on the recommendations outlined in our Beijing+20 report to develop an ambitious new strategy for all women and girls in Europe to enjoy their full human rights” , said EWL Secretary General Joanna Maycock.

At UN Women a high-level meeting, titled “Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls for sustainable development in the UNECE region”, will be opened by UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. High-level participation is expected from the Governments of UNECE Member States, as well as from international organizations, academia, civil society and the private sector. The Beijing+20 Regional Review meeting will provide an important opportunity for discussion to all stakeholders, including women’s groups and other civil society representatives.

Adopted two years after the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, the Beijing Platform for Action aimed to bring into light the structural inequalities and human rights violations faced by all women and girls on the planet, and setting the ground for concrete action to realise de jure and de facto equality between women and men. The report of the European Women’s Lobby provides a picture of the situation of women and girls in the European Union (EU), based on the collective assessment of its 2000 member organisations. In 1995, 189 countries came together in Beijing at the Fourth World Conference on Women and adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA), a visionary road map for women’s rights and empowerment. The Platform imagines a world where women and girls can exercise their freedoms and choices, and realize all their rights, such as to live free from violence, to go to school, to participate in decisions and to earn equal pay for equal work. Governments committed to action in 12 critical areas of concern to make this vision a reality.
The objectives of the meeting of UN Women are:

  • To assess progress made towards gender equality in the UNECE region in the past 20 years. A synthesis report detailing regional achievements and obstacles has been prepared based on the national reports submitted by UNECE Member States. Both the synthesis report and the 52 national reports can be accessed at: http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=35329.
  • To identify persisting or new obstacles to the achievement of gender equality in the region.
  • To provide Member States and civil society a forum to exchange best practices of policies and actions that pave the way toward gender equality.
  • To galvanize commitment, reaffirm political will and mobilize the public to support and accelerate efforts in all 12 critical areas of concern of the BPfA.

The conclusions of the meeting will feed into the global review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action at next year’s fifty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York. The UNECE Regional Review Meeting will provide recommendations from the region to the global process. It will also convey a strong message about the importance of incorporating gender equality in all aspects of the post-2015 development agenda.

The thematic dialogues of the meeting will focus on long-term trends in the UNECE region, closing gender gaps through economic and social policies, women’s representation in policy and decision-making, ending violence against women and girls, governance and gender justice, and gender equality for sustainable development.

The programme of the meeting, as well as all background documents, can be accessed at http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=35329.

 

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