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Generation Equality Forum: a promising beginning

Whereas we secretly wish we started our day walking to the conference hall in sunny Mexico City, the organisation of this year’s Generation Equality Forum (GEF) is still praiseworthy.

The Forum goes on despite the world’s latest efforts to grapple with covid-19, and this new virtual reality does not change the matter of the long-existing challenge.

Rather, it is a vivid reminder of so much unity behind the push for decisive action: delivering and accelerating progress on gender equality.

The idea of GEF first appeared in 2019, in response to the acknowledged slow pace of implementing gender equality.

This Forum is different from others; not only it is a global gathering of international and non-governmental organisations, governments, and businesses.

Essentially, it attempts to address several important questions at heart: how can we accelerate our progress and implement Beijing better?

What targets do we set in order to deliver tangible change?

How can we best unite and effectively coordinate the advancement of gender equality locally, nationally, and globally?

In its very first year and right after CSW65, this Forum – co-hosted by Mexico and France - includes Action Coalitions: the groups of governments, international and regional organisations, civil societies and businesses.

These Coalitions are organised to work over one of the six key challenges: Gender-Based Violence, Economic Justice and Rights, Bodily Autonomy & Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Feminist Action for Climate Justice, Technology & Innovation for Gender Equality, Feminist Movements & Leadership.

The cross-cutting principles such as Intersectionality, Feminist Leadership and Transformation underpin the collective power of each Action Coalition.

Intersectionality is a lens seeking to expose inequalities and power dynamics behind each system; feminist leadership aims to redistribute power and responsibility to enable a diversity of voices; transformation stands for changing the structure and the modus operandi, with the emphasis on dialogue and young voices.

Such principles lay the basis for operation and achievements of the Action Coalitions, with the emphasis on concrete and measurable goals.

In turn, Action Coalition Leaders present the Vision Statement, Actions, implementation and success measures - all ultimately being drafted into the so-called Blueprints, strategy documents. To ensure the implementation of such an outlook, GEF opened a call for commitment-makers.

Young people have not been left behind throughout the process – their involvement is still taking shape.

During one of the consultations, I was privileged to have been given an opportunity to voice ideas on how young people could actively engage as commitment makers.

My key points centred on ensuring that young voices count at the table, connecting and sharing best practices with other young participants, keeping accountability and assessment on our progress as commitment makers.

The chair agreed that these points hit the nail on the head: stakeholders gather here for a reason, to represent the voices of those who cannot be heard. Gender equality efforts exist precisely for this reason, and we need to question our methods and progress throughout.

One may say that these efforts are far too ambitious to yield global progress.

Yet, as Henry Ford once said, “obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal”.

Committing to ambitious, yet bold and much-needed objectives may still run into difficulties, and several reasonable worries remain in promoting gender equality in the midst of covid-19 and the period that follows.

Whereas this is the start, and we are yet to see initial gains in the Paris-based July GEF, I look forward to understanding how this multistakeholder collaboration will forge much-needed strategies to catalyse our gender equality achievements.

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