The UNGA President established the Group as an informal forum of eminent persons to accelerate gender equality.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed emphasized that women’s full participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making “is essential to unlocking transformational change”.
Participants further highlighted the importance of women’s full participation and leadership in achieving the SDGs.
14 August 2019: The Group of Gender Equality Leaders established by UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces issued a set of recommendations on gender parity in education and access to health services, as well as promoting women’s “full and effective participation.” The Group held its second meeting on the margins of the July 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), and a summary was released in August.
Espinosa established the Group as an informal forum of eminent persons to accelerate gender equality. The Group’s first meeting convened in January 2019 and focused on identifying barriers to women’s full participation and leadership in both the public and private sectors, and sharing best practices for accelerating women’s empowerment.
The second meeting took place as an informal plenary discussion on ‘gender equality and women’s leadership for a sustainable world,’ on 15 July 2019, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. In opening remarks, Espinosa highlighted the importance of women’s full participation and leadership in achieving the SDGs, and recognized progress made since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The President underscored continued challenges for women, including discrimination in access to financial services and land ownership. She called for a recommitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment. UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Vice President Mona Juul emphasized the centrality of women and girls in efforts to achieve SDG 1 (no poverty) and SDG 17 (partnership for the Goals).
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed highlighted the role of women leaders as agents of change. She emphasized that women’s full participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making is “essential to unlocking transformational change.” She said women’s equal participation is a “basic democratic right,” and observed that more women decision-makers translates to “more inclusive solutions that will benefit everyone.” Mohammed informed the Group that the UN is embarking on a series of anniversaries and high-level events in 2019 and 2020 that “will celebrate and reflect on global gains for women and girls,” including the 25-year review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; the 25-year anniversary of the International Convention on Population and Development (ICPD 25); the UN Population Fund’s (UNFPA) 50th anniversary; the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security; and the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
A panel on ‘Women’s Leadership – A Call for Action’ stressed the need for more women in leadership positions. Participants called for enhanced efforts to reduce the gender gap. They suggested that the private sector could promote gender equality by keeping women in high-level management and including quotas for women in leadership positions. A panel on ‘Call to End Violence Against Women’ called for increased efforts to address gender-based violence, including violence targeted at women in politics. Participants stressed that women should continue to make their voices heard and inspire other women and the younger generation.
A panel on ‘Gender Equality and Inclusive Societies for Sustainable Development’ focused on empowerment, equality and inclusion as critical elements in achieving the SDGs. Participants highlighted the role of education in facilitating gender equality and women’s empowerment and shaping a positive mindset on women. Participants further identified a critical role for the media in molding positive perceptions of women and showcasing women leaders. The panel also considered the gender dimension of poverty, and recommended that efforts to eradicate poverty be linked to gender concerns.
In addition, the UNGA President reported that the ‘Call for Action’ issued on the occasion of the High-level Event on ‘Women in Power’ in March 2019 has received the support of 26 leaders. Espinosa underscored the Call to Action’s eight areas as key in promoting women’s leadership, and expressed her commitment to work with leaders to encourage them to commit to the initiative. [Summary]