31 March 2021
Gender Equality Forum Opens with Call to Deliberately Break Barriers
story highlights

At the opening meeting in Mexico City, Action Coalitions presented catalytic actions to accelerate women’s rights, and proposed targets, commitments, and a five-year accountability framework.

The Forum will culminate in Paris, France where Heads of State are expected to pledge major financial investments and redoubled commitments to laws and policies for women’s rights.

The Gender Equality Forum held its opening meeting, launching a three-month process to develop concrete action plans to advance gender equality by 2030. The Forum is expected to culminate with pledges of major financial investments and commitments for laws and policies to protect women’s rights.

UN Women is convening the Gender Equality Forum, co-chaired jointly by the Governments of Mexico and France with leadership and participation of civil society. The Forum’s opening meeting convened both virtually and in-person in Mexico City, Mexico, from 29-31 March 2021. Participants analyzed progress on women’s rights since 1995 (the World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China) and heard recommendations from a set of Action Coalitions regarding catalytic actions to accelerate women’s rights, along with proposals for key targets, possible commitments, and a five-year accountability framework.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico, spoke live to open the Forum. He said that in Mexico, “we are fighting classism, discrimination and racism as never before, and there is no tolerance for sexism, nor is there impunity.” Emmanuel Macron, President of France, spoke via video message to lament that hard-earned progress on women’s rights is fragile and the COVID-19 pandemic showed that it can be abruptly overturned.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also spoke via video message to call for five steps to advance gender equality, which he said is “for all”:

  • Protect women’s equal rights and repeal discriminatory laws; 
  • Ensure equal representation through special measures and quotas; 
  • Advance women’s economic inclusion through equal pay and investments in the care economy and social protection;
  • Immediately enact emergency response plans to address violence against women and girls; and
  • Give space for intergenerational transition and to the young people who are advocating for a more just and equal world.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women and convener of the Forum, spoke live to share her hope that the Forum will “help us turn the promise of the Beijing Platform for Action into a lived global reality through smart, targeted and financed actions that deliberately break the old barriers and cumulatively entrench human rights.”

Two leaders spoke on behalf of the youth and civil society groups involved in designing and co-creating the Forum. Elvira Pablo, an indigenous rights activist from Mexico and a member of the Generation Equality Youth Task Force, said the feminist agenda has been made even more pressing by rights “roll-backs” related to COVID-19. She said youth all over the world are “tired of hearing words and commitments without immediate actions.” Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, Technical Adviser of the Shifting the Power Coalition, called for action to ensure that “our daughters and sons – and our grandchildren – realize equality, development and peace across all of our nations.”

The Forum’s culmination will be take place in Paris, France from 30 June-2 July 2021. Heads of State are expected to pledge major financial investments and redoubled commitments to laws and policies to protect and advance women’s rights. [Forum press release] [Website for Mexico meeting]

related events