April 3, 2020

The Generation Equality Forums—planned for Mexico City in May and Paris in September—have been postponed until the first half of 2021 due to ongoing measures to combat COVID-19, UN Women announced today. The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) welcomes the decision as a necessary step to prioritize global health and ensure the participation of feminist activists worldwide.

“The Generation Equality Forums are intended to spark concrete actions to drive a feminist agenda for equality,” said IWHC Director of Advocacy and Policy Shannon Kowalski. “In light of the COVID-19 crisis, which has amplified and exacerbated existing gender inequalities, this mission is more important than ever. It’s critical that we use this extra time to maintain momentum, mobilize the necessary resources, and build broad coalitions behind a shared vision to deliver generation equality in every corner of the world.”

The forums were originally envisioned to serve as the focal point of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action—the groundbreaking document, adopted in 1995, that committed governments worldwide to achieve gender equality. Now, the postponement presents an opportunity for feminists and allied stakeholders to advance a shared vision for a just and equal post-pandemic world.

The ongoing crisis has revealed the ill-preparedness of governments, health systems, and social safety networks to respond to the needs of people worldwide, especially relating to the health and rights of women and girls. Though the feminist movement has long pointed to these issues—such as valuing care work, securing reproductive rights, and delivering universal health coverage—the pandemic has demonstrated their severity on an unmatched scale.

For this reason, the Generation Equality Forums remain an urgent call to action. In the coming months, UN Women will launch a series of virtual consultations to ensure ongoing engagement. They will also announce the leadership of six Action Coalitions, spanning from gender-based violence and economic justice to bodily autonomy and feminist movements. These multi-sector partnerships are an innovative model meant to establish cross-sector leadership and drive unparalleled action to achieve gender equality.

IWHC remains confident that the Generation Equality Forums will serve as a cornerstone of global efforts to achieve gender equality, and looks forward to full participation in 2021. In the meantime, IWHC will continue to play a key role in the Generation Equality Forums and broader campaign, including participating in the Core Group and the Civil Society Advisory Group, advocating for policies that advance women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights, and supporting the participation of feminist activists in global policy dialogues worldwide.

Contact: Liza Kane-Hartnett; (+1) 917.498.3346

Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown