Speech: Bringing transformative change with accountability and accelerated pace

Opening remarks by Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Bahous, at the corporate side event, Generation Equality: The Journey Ahead – High-level Multistakeholder Intergenerational Dialogue, at the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Speech: Bringing transformative change with accountability and accelerated pace

Dear partners and friends. Thank you, my dearest Maria Fernanda Espinosa; it’s wonderful to see you. And thank you Anika Jane Dorothy, it’s also great to see you. Thank you both for your kind introduction and for your engagement and leadership on Generation Equality since its inception.

On behalf of UN Women, I am pleased to welcome you to this event, which marks the culmination of an active day of mobilization for Generation Equality in the margins of the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

It has been a day of rich interactions on a wide variety of subjects – from the interlinkages between climate change and gender-based violence, to the care economy, to the importance of education, women’s leadership and financing to achieve gender equality.

As we conclude this day, it is time to look forward to the future and the journey ahead of us to translate the promises of Generation Equality into implementation and impact in the lives of women and girls in all their diversity around the world.

Generation Equality is a top priority for me as the new Executive Director of UN Women. Under my leadership, UN Women will continue to support this innovative and transformative initiative. We will do so as its convenor and as a partner of choice to support the implementation of all commitments. Generation Equality will also support the achievement of our own results, as outlined in our new Strategic Plan 2022-2025.

Today marks nearly one year since the Mexico Forum and already eight months since we saw an unprecedented number of commitments at the Paris Forum to accelerate results for gender equality. The six Action Coalitions and the Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action hold great promise to bring about the transformative change we seek at an accelerated pace. We must not lose focus and the sense of urgency and partnerships that characterized the Generation Equality Forum.

Dear partners and friends, I see three key priorities for the way ahead.

First, we must ensure accountability for commitments. The commitments announced in Mexico and Paris cannot remain just words – they have to be translated into action. A strong accountability framework is key to our success. This mutual accountability along with transparency are essential to drive and measure progress.

I am therefore thrilled that we are publicly launching the online Commitments Dashboard today. After an extensive and detailed work of validation, the Dashboard will make all commitments searchable and visible to all. The Dashboard represents a key building block of the accountability framework we will be presenting to you today. The framework has been developed collaboratively with a group of Action Coalition leaders in the spirit of partnership and co-creation of Generation Equality.

Every year, we will track and publish progress against commitments made and their impact on the achievement of the SDGs. The first report will be unveiled in the margins of the UN General Assembly this coming September.

Another very important milestone will be the midpoint since the Paris Forum. We will hold a special event in the second half of 2023 to take stock of progress achieved and generate new commitments. This moment will feed into and leverage UN-wide processes, in particular the Summit of the Future proposed in “Our Common Agenda”, which captures the UN Secretary-General’s vision on the future of global cooperation and reinvigorated and inclusive multilateralism.

I personally intend to engage with as many Commitment Makers as I can, and to exhort them to implement their commitments and, where possible, to support them in translating these commitments into reality.

Our second priority is to generate new commitments. The incredible achievements of Mexico and Paris are only the beginning. We have so much more to do. Despite having more than 2000 commitments currently registered, we know that there are still significant gaps. Some regions have fewer commitments than others. There are also thematic gaps, with some actions requiring increased focus and support. I will do whatever I can to mobilize more commitments and close these gaps. We will leverage the full global network of UN Women offices and partners in this endeavour, and I also call on you to mobilize new partners to make commitments.

Our third priority is to continue to uphold and promote the multistakeholder and intergenerational nature of Generation Equality.

We know from experience that achieving gender equality requires an all-of-society effort. If we are serious about translating global norms and standards – the Beijing Platform for Action; resolutions on Women, Peace and Security; the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs and other relevant frameworks – into concrete results, we need all stakeholders to work together, in a coordinated manner and around common objectives.

This reinvigorated multilateralism through actions holds great promise to accelerate progress towards gender equality, at a time when we witness regression on women’s rights across the globe. The horrifying war in Ukraine – where we see with every passing day the damage done to the lives, hopes and futures of Ukrainian women and girls – is the latest in a series of conflicts that remind us just how complex our task is.

I am committed to ensuring that all constituencies and key stakeholders continue to have a voice in the Generation Equality follow-up, as they had in shaping the Forum, through structured engagement and a clear scope for inputs. This requires paying attention to power imbalances across stakeholders and finding ways to address them.

I am particularly keen to support the continuous and meaningful engagement of young people and adolescent girls in this initiative. Youth are at the heart of the Generation Equality vision and of the Generation Equality journey. Their energy, passion and impatience help drive progress and hold us all accountable. I look forward to engaging with young people, supporting them and listening to their advice and priorities in order to shape the way forward.

I am also committed to engaging women leaders across sectors as champions for Generation Equality.

Colleagues and friends, Generation Equality can help us accelerate implementation where there has been sluggish progress; to strengthen civic space where there have been challenges; and to mobilize the power of partnerships to advance meaningful global accountability on gender equality results.

You can count on my full engagement and UN Women’s leadership and support as we march forward to deliver tangible impact and drive change for women and girls around the world. We will march forward together. I look forward to this journey.

I thank you.