Stakeholders, including civil society groups, women and gender rights activists, have expressed their worry about the increasing spate violence against women, and dwindling resources hindering the empowerment of women globally.
They said despite the progress made towards gender equality over the years, women and girls still face widespread poverty, abuses, marginalization and other human right issues, which are among the gaps that remain to be addressed.
As the year 2020 approaches to mark 25 years of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPFA) to promote gender equality, the stakeholders met in Accra, as part of the Beijing + 25 consultative review processes.
They called for a critical review of all the issues that still stood in the way to achieving equal and fair treatment of women and girls at all levels of the society.
The meeting was organized by the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) in partnership with NETRIGHT, and other organisations who are committed to upholding the rights of women and influencing decisions made at national, regional and global levels with the aim of promoting gender equality, and attended by various women’s rights and civil organisations from several African countries including Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria.
Madam Patricia Blankson Akakpo, the Programme Manager of NETRIGHT, said the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was adopted by 189 countries at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China in 1995, established the most effective and comprehensive global policy framework and roadmap for achieving gender equality and women’s rights.
She said with its adoption, there has been gradual progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment globally, but that “structural inequalities still persist in many countries preventing the full achievement of women’s rights and gender equality.”
She said on the African continent and across the world, Beijing ’95 accelerated activism within the women’s movement and governments, leading to the establishment of Women Affairs Ministries which had over time been transformed into Gender Ministries.
Madam Akakpo said notwithstanding these numerous successes, gender equality remains the greatest human right challenge of the times, as a result of the slow implementation, lack of political will, and accountability in resourcing and translating women’s rights and gender equality commitments made over the years into full reality, to address abject poverty, low status and gender-based violence against women.
She said the full realization of women’s rights as human rights was essential to any country’s development and called on all governments to put in more efforts especially in the area of funding, to address the identified gaps and ensure gender equality.
Dr Charity Binka, a Board Member of FEMNET West Africa, said it was time to pause and review what has happened after almost 25 years of adoption of Beijing declaration, saying violence against women was increasing and there is the need to assess what has been achieved so far.
Dr Binka, who is also the Executive Director of Women Media and Change, called on countries to build on the successes of the Beijing Declaration in going forward, adding that FEMNET was leading the Africa civil society review process by mobilizing, informing, supporting and convening women’s rights organisations to strategically contribute and influence the 2020 national, regional and global Beijing reviews.
In September 1995, thousands of women and men from around the world met in Beijing as part of the Fourth World Conference on Women.
The delegates, who were from government, UN bodies and civil societies, adopted the “Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), which outlined commitments in 12 critical areas of concern, and review reports were generated using specified guidelines designed to show progress made and challenges encountered in the implementation of the BPFA.
The Beijing + 25 review process is expected to offer the opportunity to look back on what has been achieved and what is needed to be done.