The Generation Equality Forum is a key opportunity to engage with governments, the UN, civil society and the private sector, on issues of women’s rights and gender equality. Learn about how Equality Now has contributed throughout the process, and what we’re pushing States to do.
The Generation Equality Forum (GEF) process began in March 2021 with a series of discussions in Mexico City and it culminates in a final three-day session from June 30 – July 2, 2021 in Paris. Governments, corporations and foundations and civil society organizations (CSOs) are taking part by making commitments and participating in a range of events. Equality Now has been involved throughout, engaging with UN member states and CSOs, and collaborating with our partners to ensure our messages are heard loud and clear.
Equality Now will leverage some key opportunities to speak directly to member states during the GEF discussions in Paris this week. Our Global Executive Director, Yasmeen Hassan, was invited to speak on behalf of the Global Coalition for Equality in Family Law at a High-Level Side Event on Levelling the Law for Women and Girls on July 2nd (see Yasmeen’s video clip here). And Faiza Mohamed, Director of Equality Now’s Africa Office, will speak at the Activating Faith, Feminism and Freedom to Choose event on July 1st.
Engaging national governments
Equality Now also used the time between the Mexico City and Paris GEF sessions to encourage conversations at the national level. For example, the Government of Kenya is one of the Generation Equality Forum Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Action Coalition Leaders. Although the Kenyan government has already shown political commitment towards addressing aspects of GBV through the Presidential commitment to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by 2022, Kenya needs to ensure that other forms of GBV are also addressed. In order to create and sustain a visibility campaign around the Generation Equality Forum while holding the government of Kenya to account on its commitments towards the advancement of women’s and girls’ rights, Equality Now in partnership with Better4Kenya held a series of roundtable discussions with social media influencers in Kenya from April 30, 2021, to June 30, 2021. These conversations sparked an intergenerational conversation on women’s rights spanning 25 years, reaching an audience that would not otherwise be reached through traditional media, and showing the Government of Kenya that many citizens beyond those in the CSO world care about issues of GBV and want to see their government make more progress.
Another key way that organizations like Equality Now can engage with member states, UN agencies, civil society organizations, and private sector companies in the GEF is through the Action Coalitions (like the GBV Action Coalition mentioned above). As part of this mechanism, organizations can make different types of multi-year commitments – financial, policy, advocacy etc. For example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committed US $2.1 billion for gender equality at the GEF opening ceremony. Equality Now, as well as supporting commitments by the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights and others, has made advocacy commitments in the following areas:
ECONOMIC JUSTICE & RIGHTS – MOBILIZING FOR EQUALITY IN FAMILY LAW
As a founding member of the Global Campaign for Equality in Family Law along with UN Women, Action Coalition leader FEMNET and others, Equality Now is committed to mobilizing international action towards the achievement of progressive family law reform around the world, whether codified, religious or customary law, as a prerequisite for the realization of women’s economic justice and rights, and to supporting and strengthening advocacy for reform at the regional and national level. It is essential to reform discriminatory family law as it is the root of many economic inequalities women face, especially in accessing resources and labor opportunities, and a key contributing factor to the unequal care economy.
TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION FOR GENDER EQUALITY – THE ROLE OF LAW IN THE DIGITAL AGE
We are committed to mobilizing international action towards an effective global and gendered response to ending online harms against women and girls. This means bringing together stakeholders to work towards adoption of international standards, to take into account the realities of the digital age. We will work collaboratively, including as a member of WeProtect Global Alliance, and engage governments, CSOs, the UN, and digital technology companies. Digital technology provides infrastructure for the 21st century and an opportunity for advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. However, the scope and scale of digital and internet connectivity and affordable camera-ready technology are also enabling online harms to occur at unprecedented levels across the world.
BODILY AUTONOMY AND SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS – SECURING INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS
Equality Now commits to mobilizing international action towards ending sexual violence, abuse and exploitation, and harmful practices against women and girls, which are a denial of and impact their dignity and bodily autonomy. Through our ongoing programmatic and advocacy interventions and as a member of the End FMG/C European Network, the US End FGM/C Network, and the Brussels’ Call Coalition for Europe free from sexual exploitation respectively, we will provide gendered technical and legal expertise and work with CSOs, the UN, and governments on collaborative actions that address the causes of these violations which include stereotyped sex and gender-based roles, the presumed inferiority of women and girls, attempts to exert control over their bodies and sexuality, and social inequalities and the prevalence of male-dominated power structures. Ultimately, these efforts will contribute to women and girls attaining physical and mental integrity and dignity, and the highest standard of health and well-being.
GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE – ENDING IMPUNITY FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE
Equality Now commits to ending impunity for sexual violence by advocating for stronger laws and practices, based on international and regional law and standards, that improve justice to survivors and to approach change through an intersectional lens, including partnering with marginalized women and girls to ensure the additional discrimination, such as caste, they face is understood and addressed. We commit to continuing this work in Eurasia, Africa, Asia, MENA, and going forward in Latin America and other regions, all in collaboration with local, grassroots women’s and girls’ rights organizations. We also commit to continuing our national-level work, particularly in Kenya, on specific forms of sexual violence, including FGM. These commitments support Actions 1, 2, and 4 of the GBV Action Coalition.
FEMINIST MOVEMENTS AND LEADERSHIP – THE FUTURE IS EQUAL AND INTERSECTIONAL
Equality Now commits to lending our understanding of international and regional law, standards, and mechanisms to women and girls’ rights organizations and supporting the development of strong, diverse women’s coalitions across the world. Africa: As the secretariat of the Solidarity of African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) network we will support its efforts to ensure countries ratify, domesticate and implement the Maputo Protocol. MENA: We will support the development of diverse, intergenerational sub-regional and regional coalitions for family law reform. LAC: We will work with girls and young women building a strong regional network on access to justice for adolescent girl survivors of sexual violence. South Asia: We will work with marginalized women and girls, particularly from Dalit and tribal communities, to organize and advocate for access justice for sexual violence. Together we will build an intersectional and intergenerational global movement for women’s and girls’ rights.
Additionally, Equality Now is internally committed to responding to the recommendations of its Anti-Racism Task Force, which was formed in 2020, in order to become an even more intersectional feminist organization. Equality Now believes that discrimination against women based on sex and gender is inextricably linked with other factors that affect women and girls, such as race, ethnicity, religion or belief, health, disability, status, age, class, caste, sexual orientation, and gender identity and any other status. Discrimination on the basis of sex or gender may affect women and girls belonging to different groups to a different degree or in different ways. Implementing such recommendations will enable Equality Now to further live up to its organizational values of Inclusiveness, Integrity, Perseverance, and Tenacity.
Stay tuned for more updates on the outcomes and action plans arising from the GEF discussions in Paris!