As we commemorate International Women’s day, the world is marking the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Platform for Action is the most visionary and progressive blueprint for women’s and girls’ rights advancement and empowerment ever! Today the world is speaking of a fairer future, where women and girls have equal rights and opportunities.
Women’s world over are demanding to have equal say in decisions that affect their lives, their bodies, their policies, and their environment, from villages to cities. Twenty-five years ago, the world’s governments made a commitment to women and girls, but progress has been slow. We have seen significant progress in education, health and women’s participation, and governance although there are still glaring barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their full potential.
Women and girls continue to be undervalued; they work more and earn less and have fewer choices, and experience multiple forms of violence at home and in public spaces. Regrettably, many hard-won victories are also being reversed.
True equality will only come when all girls are safe from violence, free to exercise their rights, and are able to enjoy equal opportunities in life. It is vital that we hold each other to account on our commitment to the historic Beijing Declaration, and International Women’s Day gives us an opportunity to reflect and adopt strategies that enable women and girls to realize their rights.
It begins with making sure that women’s and girls’ needs and experiences are integrated into all policies and planning frameworks. It means thinking creatively and building smart solutions that go beyond acknowledging the gender gaps to addressing the needs of women and men more fairly. Ultimately, women and girls need innovations that disrupt business as usual, paying attention to issues and taking deliberate action to remove barriers that prevent them from accessing opportunities to better their lives and their families.
The year 2020 also marks 20 years since the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was adopted on women, peace and security. We are therefore calling on all stakeholders to commit to and implement priorities of the resolution. These include: women’s full participation in peace processes and negotiations, incorporating gender perspectives in all peace and security efforts; introduction of special measures to protect women and girls from all forms of gender-based violence, especially rape and other forms of sexual violence that are particularly widespread during times of conflict; protection and support for women human rights defenders and peacebuilders; women’s economic security in the context of post-conflict reconstruction; ensuring greater participation of women in the security sector.
UN Women is supporting innovations that will accelerate the achievement of gender equality in Uganda and we applaud the Government of Uganda and all stakeholders for the bold steps taken so far to address challenges that women and girls face. We need to make a concerted effort to accelerate the implementation of policies and programmes to achieve Sustainable Development Goals while ensuring that no one is left behind. Effective implementation of the National Development Plan provides a unique opportunity for actors to take concrete steps to realize women’s rights. We must also ensure that in all processes, women are given the opportunity to participate meaningfully and their voices are heard and priorities have taken on board in decision making.
Together we must seize this opportunity to ensure that all development programmes reflect the needs and interests of women and girls.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we call for reaffirmation and commitment to implement Sustainable Development Goals through tangible, visible and measurable actions. Achieving gender equality by 2030 is everyone’s business and we pledge our continued support to government and other national actors, toward attainment of its lofty goals. We call upon men and boys to join women and girls to say No to discrimination and violence against women.
Happy International Women’s Day.