Generation Equality Forum concludes in Paris with announcement of revolutionary commitments and Global Acceleration Plan to advance gender equality by 2026
Scene from the event, “Gender equality: From the Biarritz Partnership to the Beijing+25 Generation Equality Forum”, hosted by France and Mexico ahead of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, 2019. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown.
UN Women, 2 July 2021
The Generation Equality Forum Paris concluded today with the announcement of bold gender equality commitments and launch of a global 5-year action journey to accelerate gender equality by 2026. The Forum’s bold, action-oriented agenda will be under-written by nearly USD 40 billion of confirmed investments as well as ambitious policy and programme commitments from governments, philanthropy, civil society, youth organizations and the private sector. The monumental conclusion comes at a critical moment as the world assesses the disproportionate and negative impact that COVID-19 has had on women and girls. Gender equality advocates have pressed for gender-responsive stimulus and recovery plans to ensure that women and girls are not left behind as the world re-builds.
“The Generation Equality Forum marks a positive, historic shift in power and perspective. Together we have mobilized across different sectors of society, from south to north, to become a formidable force, ready to open a new chapter in gender equality,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. “The Forum’s ecosystem of partners – and the investments, commitments and energy they are bringing to confront the greatest barriers to gender equality – will ensure faster progress for the world’s women and girls than we have seen before.” UN Women will maintain a critical role driving the Forum’s 5-year action journey, overseeing the implementation of commitments to ensure accountability and progress over the next five years.
Speaking to mark the close of the Forum for the Government of France, the host of the Paris Forum, Ambassador and Secretary General of the Generation Equality Forum Delphine O said, “After two years of collective work with Member States, civil society and philanthropic and private organizations, we succeeded in raising the largest amount of investment to advance gender equality and women’s rights ever. By implementing a new way of tackling global issues through efficient multilateralism, the Generation Equality Forum reversed the priorities on the international agenda and made gender equality, for too long underestimated, a long-term issue for the international community, along with climate, education and health. France will continue to be at the forefront to accelerate gender equality progress.”
The USD 40 billion of investments confirmed at the Forum’s close represent a major step-change in resourcing for women’s and girls’ rights. Lack of financing is widely understood to be a major reason for slow progress in advancing gender equality and in enacting the women’s rights agenda of the milestone 1995 Beijing Conference. By the close of the Forum, governments and public sector institutions had committed to USD 21 billion in gender equality investments, the private sector USD 13 billion, and Philanthropy USD 4.5 billion. UN entities, international and regional organizations committed an aggregate of USD 1.3 billion. In addition to these bold investments, many organizations made strong policy and program commitments, including 440 civil society organizations and 94 youth-led organizations. Forum organizers expect that the approximately 1,000 commitment-makers confirmed to date will be joined by many others over the next five years.
In addition to the significant commitments unveiled at the opening ceremony, the final two days of the Forum saw the unveiling of a wide range of commitments from every sector, with examples including:
- The Government of Burkina Faso’s work with Benin, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Togo to develop shared commitments related to family life education; free care for pregnant women and children under five years; and pursuing legal and social change to end gender-based violence, including FGM and child marriage
- The United States Government’s commitment to a range of significant policies and investment requests including an investment of USD 1 billion to support programmes to end violence against women, and USD 175 million to prevent and respond to gender-based violence globally
- The expansion of the Global Alliance for Care, initiated by the Government of Mexico and UN Women. This now includes over 39 countries; for example, the Government of Canada’s commitment of USD 100 million to address inequalities in the care economy globally, as a parallel to significant investment in its own care system
- The Malala Fund’s commitment to provide at least USD 20 million in feminist funding to girls education activists
- P&G’s commitment to advance women’s economic justice and rights through its global value chain by spending USD 10 billion with women-owned and women-led businesses through 2025
- The Government of Bangladesh’s pledge to increase women’s participation in the ICT sector, including the tech start-up and e-commerce sector, to 25 per cent by 2026 and 50 per cent by 2041.
- PayPal’s commitment of USD 100 million to advance women’s economic empowerment
- Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia’s commitment to collaborate with Caribbean NGOs to advocate for the recognition of the LGBTQI+ community and to undertake region-wide legislative reform to minimize discrimination and victimization
- Open Society Foundation’s commitment of at least USD 100 million over five years to fund feminist political mobilization and leadership.
The Forum in Paris, held 30 June – 2 July, engaged nearly 50,000 people in a mainly virtual format to generate action for the rapid advancement of gender justice. The convening launched a Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality designed by six Action Coalitions – multi-stakeholder partnerships that have identified the most critical actions required to achieve gender equality in areas from gender-based violence and technology to economic and climate justice. The Forum also launched a Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action, and announced new gender equality initiatives focused on health, sports, culture, and education.
Reflecting on the Forum, African Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, said, “This week, I relived the experience of 1995, when I was a young women’s rights activist at the Beijing Conference. The COVID-19 context and other barriers are now an even greater inspiration for innovation, solidarity and inclusion. I am grateful for the commitments made this week. Now it’s time to invest in girls and young women even more – for resources to reach rural and marginalized communities, for technology for public good and available to all, and for Member States’ greater accountability to human rights of women and girls.”