Heads of State, Leaders and Activists Take Bold Steps to Accelerate Gender Equality and Address the Consequences of Covid-19 for Women and Girls – World
Generation Equality Forum to drive major political reforms and generate more than USD 40 billion in new investments
Paris, June 30, 2021 – Heads of state and government, heads of international organizations, civil society activists and youth-led organizations, philanthropists and CEOs of private sector companies gathered today for the opening of the Forum Génération Égalité which took place from June 30 to July 2 in Paris. The Forum launched a Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality, led by six action coalitions, and launched a Pact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action, with the aim of accelerate gender equality over the next five years and address the growing risks to women’s rights caused by Covid-19. The US $ 40 billion in new investments planned by the Forum will represent the largest collective injection of resources ever devoted to gender equality in the world.
The event marks the most important international meeting for gender equality since the 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference. The Forum was opened by the co-organizers, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron and the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, as well as the UN Secretary General António Guterres and Forum moderator, Phumzile Mlambo- Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. Notable speakers at the opening event also included US Vice President Kamala Harris, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Nobel Laureate Nadia Murad, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Tunisian feminist Aya Chebbi. The ceremony focused on the voices of civil society activists and women’s rights advocates and featured longtime gender activist and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an intergenerational dialogue with climate activist Julieta Martinez.
The Forum presents concrete commitments and emphasizes the implementation and financing of gender equality. During the opening event, major commitments were announced by the heads of state and government of France, the United States of America, Kenya, Argentina, Georgia, Finland, Canada, Germany, South Africa, the European Union and international organizations and the private sector. . The commitments included:
Over $ 40 billion in new investments for women and girls, with government pledges over the three days expected to total $ 17 billion. At the opening ceremony, a $ 2.1 billion commitment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance women’s leadership, reproductive health and economic empowerment was announced, along with an investment of $ 420 million from the Ford Foundation to tackle threats to women’s rights caused by COVID. -19. The World Bank has pledged to invest heavily in programs in 12 African states to address gender inequalities.
The implementation of policy reforms and major programs to advance gender equality. The President of Kenya announced a national strategy and resources to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. The Prime Minister of Canada presented the country’s commitment to invest in a health care system for the benefit of women and girls and the President of Georgia presented his commitment to lead legislative changes on the legal definition of rape. The Vice President of the United States made political and resource commitments on gender-based violence, women’s economic security, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Launching new coordination mechanisms to advance key issues for gender equality, such as a new Global Alliance for Care and an Alliance to Fund Sustainable Feminist Movements.
President Macron, speaking live from Paris, underlined his commitment to face the gender equality crisis, declaring: “Through the Generation Equality Forum, France’s objective is to affirm and strong that the rights of women and girls are universal, as are all human rights, everywhere, all the time. This model that France defends is not a negation of our differences. It is a question of reaffirming that no cultural or religious relativism, no regional or identity particularism, justifies that a woman cannot enjoy the same rights and the same opportunities as a man. Our method of achieving this is concerted international action, what I have called multilateralism by action. The French government has committed $ 100 million to improve access to contraceptives and family planning.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, speaking live in Paris, welcomed the Forum’s bold ambition, saying the Forum was a time “to correct a global imbalance, with activists, policymakers and leaders of all ages shaping our world into a more just and egalitarian society.
Also speaking live in Paris, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, said: “This is a new chapter for gender equality. Those with a radically impatient worldview converge to create big, well-resourced changes. Together, we will revitalize Beijing’s unfinished agenda, united in the conviction that we must take risks and do things differently.
Over the next two days of the Forum, more financial, political and programmatic commitments are expected from over 1,000 diverse decision makers. Additional philanthropic commitments are expected from the Co-Impact Fund, CIFF, the Chanel Foundation, Global Green Grants, the Women’s Funding Network and the Open Societies Foundation. Major private sector contributors will include P&G, Unilever, PayPal and Estée Lauder. A significant number of commitments from civil society and young people will be made; for example: GirlsForClimate will commit to establishing over 100 local climate centers in Uganda; The Cameroon Digital Rights Campaign will announce advocacy and policy work to end the digital divide; and the Egyptian Feminist Union will commit to work on equal rights to divorce and guardianship of children for divorced women. Other member states announcing pledges will include Armenia, Burkina Faso, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Finland, North Macedonia, Malawi, Maldives, United Kingdom from the Netherlands, Mexico, Rwanda, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, the United States Kingdom and Uruguay.
The Forum includes over 110 events designed to propel action on gender equality, including a youth-led stage. Sessions aligned with action coalitions – the six most catalytic actions needed to accelerate gender equality, including economic justice, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, the impact of the emergency climate change on women and girls, the need for digital and technological inclusion, and support for feminist movements and leadership – are also a key part of the event’s agenda, as are the Pact on Women, the peace and security and humanitarian action.
The Paris Forum is expected to attract more than 40,000 virtual participants. Speakers confirmed at the three-day virtual event include President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda French Gates, Brazilian rapper MC Soffia and actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador Women Anne Hathaway.
The Paris Forum marks the launch of a five-year journey designed to accelerate gender equality and a turning point in the international community’s commitment to women’s rights.