Last 30 June – 2 July the international community and gender equality advocates gathered at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris. The historical event marked the conclusion of a two-year multi-stakeholder process to mobilize commitments and investments 25 years after the Beijing World Conference on Women.
At a critical juncture when the COVID-19 pandemic exposed vulnerabilities and the disproportionate impact of crisis on women and girls, the Generation Equality Forum provides an actionable framework to make progress and revert pushbacks to gender equality.
The high-level event “Cities in Action: Committing to Gender Equality” was organized by UN Women and UCLG, recalling their own commitments to continue working in the upcoming years to follow up and make progress on the Generation Equality. Åsa Regnér, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women, underlined how the pandemic deepened preexisting inequalities and that “Women have not been consulted and brought into the responses to COVID or in the process of decision making. Most of COVID packages responses are gender blind even though women are the most affected by the pandemic”. It was highlighted that approximately 47 million women and girls will be pushed to poverty due to the crisis, and that although 70% of health care workers are women, 70% of task forces members deciding the response to COVID-19 are men.
The session included champions of the Feminist Municipal Movement, as Claudia López, Mayor of Bogotá, presented the city’s District Care System, as a social security and local services hub to free women from the care burden – “Women have excessive caregiving burdens, so they miss out on educational opportunities and lose job opportunities. We must ensure this care system for all people, including in the informal sector.”
Souad Abderrahim, Mayor of Tunis, emphasized how the pandemic crisis is changing the perception on women leadership and decision-making, transforming previous notions and the approach to gender equality. Nevertheless, she reminded the relevance of local public services and action to address persistent inequalities “The crisis shows us how the gaps and inequalities are widening and how fundamental it is to take these inequalities into account in urban planning: green spaces, transportation, digitalization and teleworking, youth services, cultural services, health services.”
Nasseneba Toure, Minister of Women, Family and Children of Ivory Coast and Mayor of Odienné, an intermediary city that managed to quickly take action and prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 – “A social and humanitarian support plan has also been made available, particularly for the informal sectors, which we know are mainly populated by women”. Ekrem İmamoğlu, Mayor of Istanbul, reaffirmed the city’s commitment with the Istanbul Convention on violence against women, including through a dedicated Equality Plan and different tools, training and job opportunities for women and men.
Concluding the day, Emilia Saiz, underscored that a shift is needed in public life, which can be brought to policies with a feminist approach. “UCLG is a proud member of Generation Equality. The Forum has inspired our movement to go further. As co-leaders of the Coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership, we will continue committed to this process in the coming years”.
- Read about our first session at the GEF.