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Young girls raise signs calling for gender equality in Pershing Square, Los Angeles.
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Girls & Women

Countries Are Resisting Women's Rights Citing 'Family Values,' UN Official Says

By Ellen Wulfhorst

UNITED NATIONS, May 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — The United Nations' agency on women is finding resistance to women's rights, such as renewed support for "traditional family values," as it tallies up global progress on gender equality, organizers said on Monday.

UN Women is collecting information from nations around the world to publish next year on the 25th anniversary of a historic women's rights declaration signed in Beijing, they said at a briefing.

In 1995, a conference on women held in China resulted in the signing by 189 governments of a blueprint for gender equality, focusing on areas such as education, violence, and health.

Next year's 25th anniversary marks an opportunity to assess areas of progress, said Asa Regner, UN assistant secretary-general and deputy executive director of UN Women.

"Some of those who should be held accountable for these changes have just not lived up to their responsibility," Regner said.

While most countries voice support for women's rights, "we do have to realize there is a new reality when it comes to gender equality," she added.

"In some parts of the world, there are governments and movements who value so-called traditional family values and other ideas around women's and men's roles both in families and in societies which do not correspond to international agreements," Regner said.

Read More: 2 in 3 Afghan Men Think Women Have Too Many Rights: Report

UN nations have been asked to submit data, statistics and other evidence in gender equality reports this month, with a definitive compilation to be published next year, UN Women said.

Many nations say a status report is pending, and 22 such reports have been filed so far, said Christine Brautigam, a UN Women director.

Gender equality is one of the Sustainable Development Goals agreed upon unanimously by UN members in 2015. The goals aim to tackle the world's most vexing problems by 2030.

"The lack of implementation forces women back and actually keeps women in poverty, keeps their children in poverty," Regner said. "It makes societies less peaceful, less prosperous when part of society is not allowed to contribute."

A global forum on gender equality is planned for summer 2020 in France, organizers said.

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst. Editing by Jason Fields.)