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Press release: Activism and commitments to accelerate gender equality mark conclusion of the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico City

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Mexico City, Mexico, 31 March 2021 – The Generation Equality Forum Mexico concluded today with the unveiling of an Action Coalition blueprint and of new catalytic commitments for gender equality. These set the stage to pass the Forum’s torch to its next step in Paris on 30 June, which will be a major commitment-making moment. Youth and civil society leaders also launched a 2026 vision and a common feminist pathway. This progress was made possible by a vibrant intergenerational coalition of actors representing governments, civil society, feminist and youth organizations, the private sector, philanthropy, and international organizations.

The Forum in Mexico City, 29-31 March, engaged an estimated 10,000 people, including over 250 speakers from 85 countries to reinvigorate action and movements for gender equality. Reflecting the spirit to involve a new generation, nearly half the participants were under 30 years old. The meeting took place amid growing concerns that COVID-19 has exacerbated a “gender equality crisis”, making action and investment in women’s rights critical. A quarter century after the landmark Beijing Conference and Platform for Action, the Forum aimed to re-ignite efforts for full implementation.

Closing the Forum for the Government of Mexico, the co-host of the Forum, Mr. Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, shared his vision of feminism as a guide for change in the face of the great inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated. “Feminism maintains an unrepentant, unresolved optimism. It is a dissatisfaction with the situation as it is and how it has been, and it is a permanent aspiration to change everything, or almost everything… The path it lays before us is to take the impulse that feminism leads to… to transform our societies, and never abandon optimism,” he said.

The closing day also showcased catalytic commitments designed to inspire and mobilize the larger commitment-making efforts that will take centre-stage at the Paris event:

  • Mexico’s National Institute for Women (INMUJERES) in partnership with UN Women launched an initiative for an Alliance for Care Work, in a bold effort to confront the care burden that impedes women’s economic opportunity, and which has risen due to the pandemic;
  • Women Moving Millions – a global network of individual philanthropists – made a commitment to raise USD 100 Million by Paris to support the entirety of the Action Coalition agenda;
  • A strategic partnership between Ford Foundation, the Equality Fund and the Government of Canada announced a commitment highlighting the importance of feminist funding in achieving gender equality including: a USD 15 Million commitment from Ford Foundation to the Equality Fund; plans to initiate a multistakeholder Global Alliance for Sustainable Feminist Movements; and a USD 10 Million commitment from Canada to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women.

In the context of the Generation Equality Forum, the Government of Mexico also launched the Group of Friends of Gender Equality, integrated by 20 Member States who committed to coordinate efforts and promote actions on different multilateral fora in favor of gender equality.

The critical commitments made at the Forum respond to increased needs by civil society, youth and feminist movements, as well as to the ‘Blueprint’ Global Acceleration Plan of the Forum’s Action Coalitions – multi-stakeholder partnerships that have identified the most catalytic actions required to accelerate gender equality in areas from economic rights to stopping violence against women. The blueprint illustrates the critical actions needed to secure transformation in global gender equality. The full document can be viewed here.

“What we want is ambitious and just. Justice is not radical, it’s a baseline and it should become completely normal,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. “This is our moment to move for gender equality across society. We believe in allyship and no bystanders when there is injustice. Those who control power, resources and influence, have to be the champions of Generation Equality and our partners in implementing the Action Coalitions’ well thought-out catalytic actions. Each of these unprecedented emerging blueprints for change will be backed by investment and led by those who have the power and reach to achieve our ambitions.”

The Forum in Mexico established a path towards a lasting legacy of equality as the Forum now embarks on the path to Paris, where the culminating event will take place from 30 June to 2 July. Efforts in Paris will advance and solidify commitments towards creating gender-equal societies as the world begins to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the event on behalf of the government of France, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Government of France, said: “The new multilateralism we need to build today will no doubt be judged on our ability to promote and defend, together, the rights of women and girls. Tangible progress is needed – fast. This progress, thanks to your work today, is within reach, so long as we remain mobilized, together. From 30 June, I look forward to seeing you in Paris, at the Generation Equality Forum.”

Civil society and youth leaders who have been involved in co-designing the Forum marked the closing of the event by sharing their aspirations for the future. Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh, Executive Director at Wfac Cameroon, called for “actions that can be transformed into real change” and urged participants to “challenge ourselves to be the first generation to make gender equality a reality.” Chamathya Fernando, a youth activist from Sri Lanka, said that the work of the Generation Equality campaign “is the voice of all of us that breaks stereotypes, overcomes barriers, demands justice and fights for human rights. We must not leave anyone behind, and we shall not stop because this is our present and it will be our future.”

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