ICJW’s Madeleine Brecher reports on the initiatives being taken to restart the Generation Equality Initiative that was supposed to be launched at the 2020 UN Commission on the Status of Women.

CSW64 in New York in March, which included the 25th anniversary celebration of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was cancelled due to the Covid 19 pandemic. But have you heard anything about Generation Equality?

To commemorate B+25, UN Women had launched the groundbreaking, multi-generational advocacy campaign: “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future”. It aims to bring together the next generation of women’s rights activists with the gender equality advocates and visionaries who were instrumental in creating the Beijing Platform for Action more than two decades ago. Collectively, these change-makers of all ages and genders can tackle the unfinished business of empowering women. 

The Generation Equality Forum was supposed to be a civil society–centered, global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France. It was planned to start in Mexico City, Mexico in April,  and culminate in Paris, France in July 2020. The Forum was supposed to launch a set of concrete, ambitious, and transformative actions to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards gender equality. In light of the pandemic, the Generation Equality Forum has been postponed until the first half of 2021. The new dates will be announced in the coming months.

So here’s the exciting news: Because NGO CSW, New York partnered with UN Women on the Generation Equality Forum, together they have received a $500,000 Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation grant for their proposal about the campaign. Melinda Gates recently called for immediate action to drive gender equality when she said: “People are angry, and it’s our job to take that anger and turn it into action. The Generation Equality Forum can be an organizing force for a very powerful agenda for change. It can be a lightning rod that captures all of that energy that’s crackling around us and focus it on making progress.”

The 16 person ICJW delegation was booked and ticketed to arrive in New York for CSW64. We were all so disappointed that it was cancelled, but we held a wonderful online meeting last week to catch up and discuss plans for March 2021 and CSW65. I have the following information from the chair of the NGO CSW organizing committee. She advised that the event WILL be happening, either in person or virtually.  At that time, we will finally also honor Beijing 25. Then on September 23 2021, either in person or most likely virtually, there will be a high level day to discuss Generation Equality.

One might suggest that these meetings lose much of their impact when not taking place in person, but I remind you that the NGO CSW New York April meeting, that usually attracts 80 or so women and a few men who are located in NYC near UN headquarters, this time reached 180 women around the world who tuned in on Zoom. It was one of the most exciting meetings I’ve attended over my 14 years of involvement!

Let’s continue to keep our fingers crossed. And if CSW65 does happen in person in NY next March, why don’t you join us? We’d be delighted to have more of you come to extend our very bonded group of supporters of gender equality and women’s empowerment.