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Evaluation of the Beijing Platform for Action +20 and the Opportunities for Achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in the Post-2015 Development

The 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA) and involves a full review of the implementation of the BPfA at global and EU level (Chapter 1). This study clearly demonstrates that the increased efforts in the EU and its Member States have had its effect the last five years: women’s participation in the labour force and in higher education have risen, the gender pay gap has improved and women’s representation in decision-making bodies has gone up. Furthermore, the provision of services for survivors of gender-based violence has improved. Importantly there is a significant increase of gender statistics produced by Member States. 

Nevertheless there is still significant room for improvement at the EU and the global level as women and girls are at a disadvantage in all the BPfA’s critical areas of concern. Overall progress on the implementation of the Platform for Action has been slow, uneven and limited. Discriminatory gender norms and stereotypes, as well as women’s unequal participation in decision-making have hampered progress in all critical areas of concern. 

Furthermore, progress on the critical areas of concern has been particularly slow for women and girls who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. Despite increased efforts at EU level, the Beijing +20 review shows that monitoring progress on the implementation of the BPfA is challenged by a lack of comparable, high quality data on gender equality globally. Positively, the study shows that the 59th session of the CSW takes place at an opportune moment, as the international community negotiates the post-2015 development agenda (Chapter 2) which will succeed the MDGs and will address poverty eradication and sustainable development globally. Among EU institutions there is a strong consensus on the central role of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the post-2015 framework. Gender equality is seen as a goal in its own right, as well as a crosscutting issue to be mainstreamed across the framework. Three key issues to be discussed at the 59th CSW are of particular concern from an EU perspective: the monitoring of results through gender statistics and indicators (Chapter 3); the rights of marginalized and disadvantaged women and girls (Chapter 4); and the managing of the transition from the MDGs to the SDGs (Chapter 5). At the 59th CSW the EU should maintain a strong common position on gender equality and women’s rights and urge the CSW to link the post-2015 agenda explicitly to the goals of the Platform for Action, as the lack of convergence between the MDGs and the BPfA are among the main criticisms of the previous framework. The study concludes (Chapter 6) that 2015 provides a once in-a-generation opportunity to position gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment at the heart of the global agenda. The CSW should therefore call for increased financing for gender equality, strong accountability mechanisms and a “gender data revolution” in the post 2015-framework.

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Petra Debusscher
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30 March 2015

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