NAYA| What does progress look like for achieving gender equality?

Despite the progress made towards achieving gender equality, many challenges remain.
by Tala Ramadan

25 June 2020 | 18:30

Source: by Annahar

  • by Tala Ramadan
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 25 June 2020 | 18:30

Women chant and raise their signs during a rally, part of International Women’s Strike NYC, a coalition of dozens of grassroots groups and labor organizations, on IWD, March 8, 2017, at Washington Square Park in New York. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT: More girls are going to school, fewer girls are forced into early marriage, more women are serving in parliament and positions of leadership, and laws are being reformed to advance gender equality.

Despite the progress made towards achieving gender equality, many challenges remain.

Discriminatory laws and social norms remain pervasive, women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership, and 1 in 5 women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 report experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner at least once in a 12-month period.

UN Women, being at the forefront of the global drive to remove gender barriers and end discrimination, issued an annual report that aims to foster women’s empowerment and gender equality around the world.

The report states that more girls are in school than ever before, yet the gender pay gap remains unwavering. More countries have passed laws to end violence against women, but violations are troublingly pervasive and have emerged in new forms online. The share of women in parliaments has doubled since 1995, but still hovers at only about 25 percent.

Many policies and practices among entities were included in the report and backed with analyses of key impediments to progress: 

Unstoppable activism

Across the globe, women’s activists are at the forefront of economic, social, and environmental justice movements demanding systemic change. Their voices are unrelenting in calling for equality with no exceptions in any area of life. They remain undaunted even in the face of concerted pushbacks against women’s rights.

Increasingly, young women are making the case that human rights require ending all forms of inequality, exclusion, and injustice. New impetus for gender equality also comes from men, some of whom are using their positions of power to challenge discrimination. UN Women has also brought together activists through their global call for a new “Generation Equality."

A virus heightening vulnerability

In glaring relief, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted all the world's mistakes. Those who are most vulnerable—whether through age, poverty, race, and/or gender—become exponentially more so. From the moment the pandemic broke, UN Women drew worldwide attention to specific tolls on women and girls.

25 years of moving forward

2020 was cause for celebration, marking the 25th anniversary of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women. The event brings together 189 countries committed to equal rights and opportunities for all women and girls, to encapsulate their promises in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Positions to draft a new constitution and equal participation of women and men in politics

The long road to peace in Syria winds through agreement on a new Constitution. A major advance came in 2019 as women assumed nearly 30 percent of the seats on the committee to draft the Constitution. It was a long way from the 10 percent share in previous rounds. The achievement built on UN Women’s close partnership with the UN Special Envoy to Syria and ongoing support for the Women’s Advisory Board, an advocate in Syria’s political process.

From the configuration of the political system to priorities to restarting services and the economy, women will have a voice in decisions with far-reaching impacts on their country. Having a board dedicated to advising on women and peace has proven so effective that similar bodies have been created in Iraq, Libya, and Yemen.

Election barriers fall for women with disabilities

As in most countries, women across Moldova are still struggling to gain a fair share of elected offices. For women with disabilities, the barriers are even greater. So in the 2019 local elections, UN Women backed specialized training for them to run for seats as mayors and councilors. They learned campaigning skills as well as legal rights and strategies to push back discriminatory norms. Six out of seven triumphed in their races, showing just how far determination and courage can take a modicum of committed support.

The current situation in the world is precarious for many people, yet more hangs are present in the balance for most women and girls. 

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Welcome to NAYA. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment. We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. NAYA is devoted to women of all generations — Naya Editor, Sally Farhat: Sally.farhat@annahar.com.lb

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