The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest recent global threats to achieving gender equality, but world leaders hope to help get countries back on track at the Generation Equality Forum this month.
Convened by UN Women, the United Nations’ organization dedicated to empowering women, and co-chaired by France and Mexico in partnership with youth and civil society, the forum kicked off March 29 through March 31 in Mexico City and will culminate in Paris from June 30 through July 2. The second half of the forum will continue to drive urgent action and accountability for gender equality.
“The new multilateralism we need to build today will no doubt be judged on our ability to promote and defend, together, the rights of women and girls,” Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s minister of Europe and foreign affairs, said at the Generation Equality Forum in March. “Tangible progress is needed — fast. This progress, thanks to your work today, is within reach, so long as we remain mobilized, together.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the Generation Equality Forum.
What is the Generation Equality Forum?
The Generation Equality Forum marks 25 years since the Fourth World Conference on Women, where 189 countries agreed to set out to achieve gender equality and adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995. The Beijing Declaration provided a roadmap for creating a world where women have equal access to education, employment, and full bodily autonomy — but progress has been slow, and no country in the world has fully achieved gender equality.
In the wake of the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that have hit women and girls the hardest, the global gathering for gender equality is a once-in-a-decade chance to ensure that women are prioritized in the recovery.
The conference will drive financial and political commitments for gender equality and launch action coalitions to foster partnerships and call for urgent action. Each coalition will rally around one of the following themes: gender-based violence, economic justice and rights, bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights, feminist action for climate justice, technology and innovation for gender equality, and feminist movements and leaders.
Accelerating collective action, driving global and local conversations across generations, driving investments, and delivering tangible results for girls and women are all priorities for each coalition.
The Generation Equality Youth Task Force, designed and co-created the Generation Equality Forum, and will focus on ensuring that young people are prioritized in carrying out the Beijing 25+ agenda.
Who will be attending the Generation Equality Forum?
Activists, feminists, young advocates, and allies from around the world will join together at the Generation Equality Forum to call for accountability for gender equality. The conference brings together governments, businesses, civil society, cities, parliaments, trade unions, media, and more, focusing on intergenerational and multi-stakeholder partnerships.
What was accomplished at the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico City?
More than 250 speakers from 85 countries and an estimated 10,000 people virtually attended the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico City in March. Young people were widely represented with nearly half of the attendees under 30.
Leaders launched a vision for 2026 and a pathway toward a feminist agenda.
“Feminism maintains an unrepentant, unresolved optimism,” said Marcelo Ebrard, co-host of the forum and Mexico’s secretary for foreign affairs. “It is a dissatisfaction with the situation as it is and how it has been, and it is a permanent aspiration to change everything, or almost everything … The path it lays before us is to take the impulse that feminism leads to … to transform our societies, and never abandon optimism.”
Several commitments were also announced at the forum.
Mexico’s National Institute for Women (INMUJERES), in partnership with UN Women, launched an Alliance for Care Work initiative to address the imbalance of domestic labor women perform compared to men which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The global philanthropy network Women Moving Millions made a commitment to raise $100 million by the Paris Generation Equality Forum to support the Action Coalition initiative.
Several other financial commitments followed, with the Ford Foundation announcing a $15 million commitment to the Equality Fund, a self-sustaining fund for gender equality, and Canada pledging $10 million to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women. What’s more, the Ford Foundation, the Equality Fund, and the Government of Canada agreed to launch a Global Alliance for Sustainable Feminist Movements.
The Mexican government also launched the Group of Friends of Gender Equality, a group of 20 UN member states that committed to collaborate and promote action to support the Generation Equality Forum.
“What we want is ambitious and just,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, said at the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico City. “Justice is not radical; it’s a baseline and it should become completely normal. This is our moment to move for gender equality across society. We believe in allyship and no bystanders when there is injustice.”
The final day of the conference revealed the Generation Equality Action Coalitions, a blueprint of multi-stakeholder partnerships that drive the necessary actions to speed up the path toward gender equality.
How can you support the Generation Equality Forum?
Civil society can participate in the Generation Equality Forum through several actions that support the #ActForEqual campaign. Sharing the campaign placards can help draw attention to gender inequality, writing letters to governments or major companies can hold them accountable to stand up for women and girls, or a donation to women’s organizations can back grassroots efforts.
The Generation Equality Forum also recommends education through several recommended resources from a summary on the current state of women’s rights to visualizing what gender inequality looks like globally.
And Global Citizens everywhere can raise their voices for Generation Equality and take action to #ActForEqual here.