Tokyo (Nisaa FM) - In her opening speech at the second World Assembly of Women in Tokyo, held from 28-29 August, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka declared 2015 to be “a big year for women”. This year’s assembly is held in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, considered as the most progressive blueprint ever written for advancing women’s rights. Over the past twenty years, governments across the world have worked to promote women’s rights and improve gender equality in their respective societies. It is for example worth noting that, today, more women and girls than at any previous point in time serve in political offices, are protected by laws against gender-based violence and live under constitutions guaranteeing gender equality.
Nevertheless, in many countries there is a large discrepancy between the official legal rights ensuring women and men equal opportunities, and the entrenched social norms that govern daily life. Over the past year, 168 countries have submitted review reports of the Beijing Declaration’s implementation, reports that highlight crucial focus areas for future action. These include the importance of legal reforms and ensuring the enforcement of legal equity for men and women, working towards effectively combatting sexual- and gender-based violence, ensuring universal education for both girls and boys, and further advocating the beneficial impact of women’s economic empowerment on achieving long-term sustainable growth.
Another important milestone to be made in the name of women’s empowerment in the course of 2015 is represented by the formulation of the new 2030 Development Agenda for Sustainable Development - also known as the Post 2015 Development Agenda - that is due to be adopted by a UN Summit in New York City from 25 to 27 September this year. The Beijing Declaration Review Reports have played an important role in formulating the goals and ambitions that for the next 15 years will provide the framework for global efforts to achieve gender equality and combat sexual- and gender-based violence.