Guest Column

OPINION: 2020, a year of diplomatic activism against gender inequality

2019-12-10 14:30
South African women and non-gender conforming individuals across Gauteng marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria earlier this year. The women marched against  gender-based violence under the #totalshutdown banner. (Rosetta Msimango, City Press, file)

South African women and non-gender conforming individuals across Gauteng marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria earlier this year. The women marched against gender-based violence under the #totalshutdown banner. (Rosetta Msimango, City Press, file)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Our countries are facing similar challenges, and we have launched several national initiatives in our efforts to address them. Still, we need to design new policies that are more innovative, more progressive, more ambitious and more comprehensive, writes Aurélien Lechevallier and Ana Luisa Fajer

Women's rights, gender equality and in particular the fight against gender-based violence, are currently at the heart of national debates across the world.

Heeding the call of the Centre for Women's Global Leadership, governments are joining the "16 days of activism against gender-based violence", an international campaign for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

Here in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the mobilisation campaign on November 25 in Lephalale, Limpopo, and reflected on the progress made in tackling gender-based violence, with the help of the Emergency Action Plan initiated two months ago.

On the very same day in France, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced 30 measures to stop domestic violence, including new shelters for abused women and better training for police to handle these complaints.

In Mexico, President López Obrador signed the "Agreement for Equality" between women and men; the government made a commitment to include women in peace processes; along with UN Women, a campaign was launched to prevent gender violence in the public service; and a bill typifying digital violence as harassment against women was approved.

The campaign this year is of utter importance, as 2020 is meant to be a decisive year for women's rights on the diplomatic front as well.

It will mark three significant anniversaries: the 25th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing Declaration, a fundamental milestone in the fight for gender equality by the international community, the 20th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, which aims to protect women in conflict situations and promote their role in peace building and peace keeping operations, and the 10th anniversary of UN Women, the UN agency in charge of implementing these agendas.

In light of this, UN Women made a call for a historical Generation Equality Forum to celebrate the legacy of the Beijing Declaration, to take stock of the progress made over the past 25 years, to reflect on the setbacks and to identify what still needs to be done.

This Forum will be co-hosted by our two countries, with the first one set to take place in Mexico in May, followed by the second one in Paris in July 2020.

Our countries are facing similar challenges, and we have launched several national initiatives in our efforts to address them. Still, we need to design new policies that are more innovative, more progressive, more ambitious and more comprehensive.

The global society has changed in many ways since the 1995 Beijing Conference.

There have been improvements in women's access to employment and working conditions and an increase in the number of women in leadership positions.

Yet, stark gender inequalities remain in the workplace. In education, there has been a larger number of girls enrolled in schools, where they now reach higher levels.

But for the majority of women, significant gains in education have not translated into improved working and living conditions.

Since 1995, a new generation of men and women have grown up in a world driven by multiple actors, where information flows rapidly across borders, reaching the most sheltered of groups.

The abuse of women and children is behind increased public outrage, illustrated by movements such as #MeToo and #NotInMyName.

This generation understands how subtle discrimination and abuse can be. They have realised that the fight must be a universal one, that extends to all sectors and aspects of women's lives, and involves all kinds of stakeholders.

The Generation Equality Forum must and will be a pioneering and global event, with concrete outcomes. Through its core tripartite group — UN Women, Mexico and France — it will be underpinned by a North-South collaboration, bringing together governments, NGO's and key players of the private sector from all generations, and give birth to innovative multi-stakeholder action coalitions.

South Africa is a natural leader on these issues. The South African government has already demonstrated its commitment when Minister Naledi Pandor attended the official launch of the Generation Equality campaign at the UN General Assembly in September this year.

We also hope that South African NGOs and businesses will join us in 2020 and in the following years, as part of the various Action Coalitions that will be launched.

We witness everywhere in the world that gender equality is a cause which we need to fight for every day.

The time has come to commit again, more strongly than ever, to transformative change for gender equality. Only together can we hope to take up this challenge: we have a decade to tackle the roots of gender inequality and gender-based violence, and to actively engage even the more reluctant countries.

We trust South Africa will be a mainstay of this fight.

- Aurélien Lechevallier is ambassador of France to South Africa and Ana Luisa is ambassador of Mexico to South Africa

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.  

Read more on:    gender based violence
X

SHARE:

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.