25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration

Part Two: 25 years later, have we made progress?


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September 15, 2020 Dr. Kaisa Wilson

Despite signing up to the Beijing declaration and plan for gender equality, no country has yet made the number of changes necessary to achieve that goal. However, progress toward that goal has generally been steady, and some significant achievements have been made. These gains are under threat though as fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic response has pushed communities back, and threatens to reverse hard-won gains.

During lockdowns violence against women has increased by 30% globally. Most of those who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 economic impacts have so far been women, and yet women make up 70% of the healthcare workforce responding to the virus.

The head of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (pictured above), says that “the outstanding value of women’s leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic is in plain sight, along with the recognition of just how much women’s work and women’s movements have sustained the world, from domestic life, the fight for human rights, to national economies”.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka also points out that by next year, 435 million women and girls are likely to have been reduced to extreme poverty. She has called on governments, local administrations, businesses and enterprises of all kinds to “not let this happen”. In NZ, despite the fact that 90% of those who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 have been women, the government has ploughed relief money into the building sector and primary industries; both of which are overwhelmingly dominated by men which will do little to help the women now unemployed.

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