3 March 2015 - Governments meeting for the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York (9-20 March) must commit more resources and greater determination if they want to make significant progress towards gender equality over the next five years, says Christian Aid.
In 1995 promises were made to realise women’s rights as part of the Beijing Platform for Action, which prioritised 12 critical areas for action. The agreement highlighted the need to eliminate violence against women, promote women’s economic rights and ensure their full participation in power structures and decision making.
Whilst some progress has been made, 20 years later one in three women still experience sexual and domestic violence, make up just 22 per cent of parliamentarians worldwide and continue to be excluded and exploited in many parts of the global economy.
In a new briefing paper, Realising the vision for gender justice: what needs to change in 2015, Christian Aid asks why so little progress has been made and highlights the vital need for financing and long-term commitment if action is to be effective.
Christian Aid argues that governments need to provide adequate financing and investment for essential services for women and girls, release funding within the justice systems to ensure laws and policies are fully implemented, and support women’s rights organisations in order to make a real impact. They also need to consider how wider economic decisions, such as tax policy, can contribute towards achieving gender equality.
In addition to resources, long-term commitment is required to address the damaging social norms that underpin discrimination against women and girls. This will require governments to work with women’s organisations, communities, faith leaders and the media to challenge attitudes that hold half of the world’s population back, trapping many in poverty.
Helen Dennis, Christian Aid's Senior Adviser on Poverty and Inequality said: “In September world leaders will agree new global development goals, but without increased resources and the determination to tackle damaging beliefs and attitudes, commitments to achieve gender equality will just be warm words.”
“Our research shows that although some progress has been made over the last two decades a huge ‘implementation gap’ remains. The promises made in Beijing 20 years ago remain relevant but women and girls around the world need to see more rapid and tangible changes in their lives.”
“2015 could be a water-shed year if governments recommit to the Beijing Platform for Action, put women’s rights at the centre of the new Sustainable Development Goals and prioritise resources for gender equality. Then, and only then, we may start to see the changes that are so desperately needed by the millions of women and girls who are being left behind.”
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org
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5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk