2015 March 8, Int’l Women’s Day – World leaders must recommit to gender equality [China.org.cn]

By Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

March 8, 2015

If we look at the headlines or the latest horrifying YouTube clip, today – International Women’s Day – may seem a bad time to celebrate equality for women. But alongside the stories of extraordinary atrocities and everyday violence lies another reality, one where more girls are in school and more are earning qualifications than ever before; where maternal mortality is at an all-time low; where more women are in leadership positions, and where women are increasingly standing up, speaking out and demanding action.

Twenty years ago this September, thousands of delegates left the historic Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing on a high. The overwhelming feeling was that women had won a great victory. We had indeed – 189 world leaders had committed their countries to an extraordinary platform for action, with ambitious but realistic promises in key areas and a roadmap for getting there.

If countries had lived up to all those promises, we would be seeing a lot more progress in equality today than the modest gains in some areas we are currently celebrating. We would be talking about equality for women across the board – and we might be talking about a saner, more evenly prosperous, more sustainably peaceful world.

Looking today at the slow and patchy progress towards equality, it seems that we were madly ambitious to expect to wipe out in 20 years a regime of gender inequality and outright oppression that had lasted in some cases for thousands of years.

Then again – was it really so much to ask? What sort of world is it that condemns half its population to second-class status at best and outright slavery at worst? How much would it really cost to unlock the potential of the world’s women? And how much could have been gained! If world leaders really saw the Beijing platform for action as an investment in their countries’ future, why didn’t they follow through?

Some women are taking a seat at the top table. There were 12 female heads of state or government in 1990, and 19 in 2015. But the rest are men. Eight out of every 10 parliamentarians worldwide are still men…

The writer is UN Women executive director [sic].

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2015-03/08/content_34975550.htm

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