APWW Endorsed Statement by ARROW
Twenty-five years ago this month, at the occasion of the Fourth World Conference on Women, representatives of governments and activists from across the globe came together to produce the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Through this instrumental outcome document, the platform gave us commitments in twelve critical areas of concern, envisioning gender equality in all dimensions, and a world where each woman and girl can exercise their freedoms and choices and realise all their rights.
Twenty-five years on, no country has fully realised this agenda, and many are far from reaching the goal of achieving gender equality. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges, it has exposed the existing multidimensional inequalities, reinforced long standing gender inequality with an increased severity and disproportionately impacting women and girls. In Asia and the Pacific alone there has been an increase in unpaid care and domestic work, job and income loss, the effects of the lockdown have been seen on gender-based violence related risk, forced marriage and interrupted access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.[i]
Women today in all their diversities remain marginalised and denied their human rights. Even before COVID-19, patriarchal, militaristic, and authoritarian governments were rising across the region leading to increased attacks on feminists and women and environmental human rights defenders. Women and girls continue to be made systemically invisible in decision making spaces including decisions regarding their own bodies which has made it impossible to uphold sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for all.
Gender equality does not just require addressing discrimination against women and girls, but also dismantling existing structures, social norms and institutions that replicate and promote the binary of femininity and masculinity, and centering people’s freedom, safety and dignity. The principles and actions of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action are more relevant and important today than ever if we want to build back better.
At this pivotal juncture, we urge member states to recommit to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action to ensure acceleration of actions to achieve gender equality in a measurable and meaningful way for all women and girls