International Women's Day 2020

More girls are going to school than ever before but there is still a long journey to travel on the road to gender equality states the UN.

The theme for International Women’s Day (8 March) 2020 is, I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights, aligned with UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign.

Twenty-five years after the UN Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action set out a clear path on how to achieve gender equality, the world has seen some significant progress, but UN Women emphasise there is a lot more work to do.

Adopted by the UN at the end of the Fourth World Conference on Women in September 1995, Beijing Declaration is recognised as the most progressive roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls, all over the world.

There are more girls in school than ever before and more countries have reached gender equality in terms of in-school enrolment -  but half a billion women around the world still cannot read and write.

This is just one of the significant topics that are being discussed this week as women, men and children gather around the world to mark International Women’s Day on Sunday. 

The UN reports that despite progress made on the journey towards equality, real change has been extremely slow for the majority of women and girls across the world and no one single country can claim to have achieved gender equality.

A new report from UNICEF explains that new inequalities continue to emerge and multiple obstacles remain unchanged in law and culture. Women remain undervalued; they work more and earn less, have fewer choices and experience numerous forms of violence in the home and in public spaces.

Violence against women and girls is still common. As just one example, in 2016, women and girls accounted for 70 per cent of detected trafficking victims globally, most for sexual exploitation.

One in every 20 girls aged 15-19 - around 13 million - has experienced rape in their lifetimes, one of the most violent forms of sexual abuse women and girls can suffer.

“Twenty-five years ago, the world’s governments made a commitment to women and girls, but they have only made partial good on that promise. While the world has mustered the political will to send many girls to school, it has come up embarrassingly short on equipping them with the skills and support they need not only to shape their own destinies but to live in safety and dignity,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

Access to education, though significant, is not sufficient enough to make concrete changes. It is vital to change people’s attitudes and behaviours towards women and girls. Achieving any sense of true equality will not be possible until all girls are safe from violence, free to exercise their rights, and are able to enjoy equal opportunities in life, Fore continued to explain. 

The 25th anniversary of the Beijing conference makes 2020 a milestone year for gender equality. UN Women’s multi-generational campaign, Generation Equality, is evoking public mobilisation, demanding accountability and driving accelerated action to advance women’s rights and gender equality.

Katie Burt

Katie Burt

When not found with a laptop at my fingertips, it's likely I'll be running, swimming, attempting to cycle or seeking out decent coffee.

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