UN Women Executive Director attends the UN Human Rights Council

Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Speakers and panellists during the Human Rights Council High Level Panel on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: Chen Xu, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Trine Rask Thygesen, Secretary of State for Development Policy of Denmark; Michele Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, President of the Human Rights Council; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Bandana Rana, Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); Magalys Arocha Dominguez, Expert on Human Rights and Gender Equality. Photo: UN Geneva.
Speakers and panellists during the Human Rights Council High Level Panel on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: Chen Xu, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Trine Rask Thygesen, Secretary of State for Development Policy of Denmark; Michele Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, President of the Human Rights Council; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Bandana Rana, Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); Magalys Arocha Dominguez, Expert on Human Rights and Gender Equality. Photo: UN Geneva.

The Human Rights Council marked the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action with a high-level panel discussion during its high-level segment on Tuesday the 25 February.

The panel discussed the progress made on women’s rights since 1995, as well as remaining and emerging challenges today. Member States in attendance reiterated their commitment to the Beijing Platform for Action and recognized that bigger and deeper actions are required in many areas to advance gender equality.

UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, presented her views on the achievements made over the past quarter of a decade, as well as the remaining challenges and her vision to accelerate future action through the Generation Equality Forum and Action Coalitions. “We will implement a forward-looking programme that will address gender equality,” she said. “We have proposed to implement changes through Generation Equality, which will deepen the feminist and rights-based discourse on all issues that affect women and girls: Gender-Based Violence; Economic Justice and Rights; Bodily Autonomy and sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights; Feminist Action for Climate Justice; Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality; and Feminist Movements and Leadership.”

UN Women also organised, alongside the Governments of France and mexico, an Informal briefing to the international community in Geneva (UN Agencies, Member States, civil society representatives and other stakeholders) on the Generation Equality Forum and Action Coalitions.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka also highlighted 2020 as the “Year for Women” marking the many anniversaries, including the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the 10th anniversary of UN Women, and 25th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. She stressed that the Generation Equality Forum would be led by civil society, where women’s voices can be heard undiluted.

She presented the themes and leadership concept of the Action Coalitions,highlighting that actions will be carried out in partnership with multiple stakeholders, such as Member States, civil society and young people, and that over 200 expressions of interest in playing leading roles had been received.

Speaking on behalf of the Government of Mexico, Mr. Cristopher Ballinas, Director General for Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that the Generation Equality Forum is intended to be a global public conversation.

H.E. François Gave, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations In Geneva stressed that the programme of the Forum will be focused on impact and be ambitious, pragmatic and result-oriented.

Panellists at the informal briefing on the Generation Equality Forum: Valerie Bichelmeier, Representative, Make Mothers Matter (MMM); François Gave, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations in Geneva and international organizations in Switzerland; Christine Löw, Director of the Un Women Liaison Office in Geneva; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women; Cristopher Ballinas, Director General for Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico. Photo: UN Women.
Panellists at the informal briefing on the Generation Equality Forum: Valerie Bichelmeier, Representative, Make Mothers Matter (MMM); François Gave, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations in Geneva and international organizations in Switzerland; Christine Löw, Director of the Un Women Liaison Office in Geneva; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women; Cristopher Ballinas, Director General for Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico. Photo: UN Women.

UN Women also participated in an event hosted by the European Union on “Good Human Rights Stories”, an initiative to promote a fresh and positive narrative on human rights to inspire the implementation of human rights-based policies and open consultative processes in all fields, by identifying, sharing, showcasing, and promoting positive examples. These included initiatives from Argentina, Rwanda, Colombia, the Republic of Korea, Indonesia, and Georgia, tackling issues such as early and child forces marriages; empowering women with disabilities; re-integration of ex combatants; and economic empowerment of women in the tourism industry.

During her visit to Geneva, the World YWCA hosted the Executive Director for an informal intergenerational exchange and discussion with young womenfrom women’s movements, civil society organizations and think tanks. The exchange examined key challenges faced in promoting the rights of women and girls, such as effectively engaging those in positions of privilege, ensuring the effective participation of women in processes examining their rights, and the difficulty of addressing social norms.

Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka exchanged experiences with young women leaders at World YWCA. Photo: World YWCA.
Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka exchanged experiences with young women leaders at World YWCA. Photo: World YWCA.

The exchange also provided an opportunity for the young women to give feedback on the Generation Equality Forum. UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, highlighted that one objective of the Forum is an intergenerational gathering, and called upon youth to own the stories of the older generations of women in order to continue their fight for justice. In the same vein, older women needed to support and provide space for youth to have a voice.