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Gender equality at the United Nations 75th General Assembly

The UN flag is depicted in the foreground with the flags of other countries behind it.

At the heart of Equality Now’s work is improving the lives of women and girls through equality in the law. It’s our belief that equality in the law provides a foundation for women and girls to be treated fairly and provide opportunities for women and girls to flourish. 

The United Nations 75th General Assembly which opened this week will feature a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA).

Equality Now has been following the progress of the BPfA since its inception. Every five years since, we’ve issued our Words & Deeds report which details discriminatory laws that still exist around the world, despite the BPfA target to remove them.

Many of the laws we’ve highlighted over the years have been fully or partially repealed, amended, or voided. The progress is thanks to a methodical and collaborative work between activists, civil society organizations, funders, and lawmakers. Equality Now is proud to be part of a wide-ranging movement, from the grassroots to the highest levels of government and the UN itself, that is addressing the structural inequalities that negatively impact women and girls.

There is still more work to be done. Over the course of UNGA, Equality Now will maintain pressure on the UN and its member states to remove all discriminatory laws. This year we have taken our commitment to full legal equality one step further, by focusing on the issue of family, religious, and customary laws. Unless there is equality in the family, when children are raised to believe that girls have less value than male family members, we will struggle to fully achieve equality in wider society.

UNGA is a crucial space for Equality Now to use our legacy of success as a platform to advocate for solutions in the law that will improve the lives of women and girls in the long term. Our team of human rights lawyers will be taking part in a number of initiatives over the next two weeks, we think you’ll be interested in:


Achieving Gender Equality in Nationality Laws: On 23 September, the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights, of which we are a founding Steering Committee member, is holding a High-Level Side Event as part of the United Nations General Assembly.

Women’s Organisations for Feminist Futures: On 21 September at 4pm UTC+3 the National Council of Women of Finland, as part of their celebration of 110 years of of co-operation of women’s organizations in Finland, will host a webinar on the state of gender equality in Finland, Europe and globally. Equality Now’s Global Executive Director, Yasmeen Hassan will be on the panel.

Fast Tracking SDG 5 by Ending Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: On October 1, 2020 at 8:00 – 9:30am EDT, the U.S. End FGM/C Network is hosting a webinar as a means to raise awareness and foster important dialogue around ending the harmful practice of FGM/C in the U.S. and globally.

High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women: Accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls: On 1 October from 9am EST the UN General Assembly will be meeting to discuss the transformative change needed to accelerate the achievement of the commitments expressed in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. You can watch the full day’s discussion on UN Web TV.


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