Asia-Pacific countries today adopted a ministerial declaration committing to accelerate action on achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment across the region. Representing a strong and united regional voice, leaders from more than 40 countries committed to reinforcing their efforts to eliminate gender discrimination and inequality, as a matter of human rights and for the development and prosperity of the region.
“We stand together today as guarantors of the rights and opportunities which vest in every woman and every girl – as equal, valuable and valued partners in shaping the future prosperity and destiny of our region,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar in her closing remarks.
“This action-oriented document will help us consolidate our achievements, identify the gaps and priorities which remain, and tackle these through stronger institutions and partnerships, with greater financing and accountability, for gender equality and women’s empowerment in Asia and the Pacific.”
Over 700 Ministers, policy makers and civil society representatives from across the region came together at the “Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing +20 Review”, organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in cooperation with UN Women, where they reviewed progress, remaining challenges and priorities in advancing gender equality. Eliminating violence against women and girls, empowering women economically, increasing women’s political participation and leadership, addressing emerging environmental challenges and advancing peace and security for women and girls, were just some of the issues addressed.
The Conference delegates applauded gains in advancing the status of women and girls in Asia and the Pacific, from progress in education and employment, to gains in health, political representation and rights. Yet, as Asia-Pacific countries heard today as the high-level discussions concluded in Bangkok, challenges remain, with accelerated action needed for all women and girls to be able to fully and freely exercise their fundamental human rights, exercising choice and taking advantage of opportunities.
In closing remarks, Roberta Clarke, Regional Director of UN Women Asia and the Pacific and Representative in Thailand emphasised: “This Beijing review therefore must be connected to the other ongoing development discourses on post 2015 and the sustainable development goals which culminate in September 2015. It is vital that member States and civil society remain vigilant in this process, to maintain a far-reaching gender equality goal, as well as the targets and indicators on gender equality across other goals, and carry forward the same messages and the same commitments.”
Through today’s adoption of the “Asian and Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment”, Governments from across the region have pledged to strengthen institutions, enhance accountability, increase resources, forge stronger partnerships and support regional cooperation in order to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Following the Conference, Governments will pursue strong, inclusive and mutually accountable partnerships for the full and effective implementation of the Ministerial Declaration, alongside the global agenda for gender equality, namely the Beijing Platform for Action.
Significantly, Governments will explore dedicated funding mechanisms and programmes to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment, from the local to the national levels.
The Asia-Pacific Conference was held in advance of the historic and global commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which will take place next year in New York. During its 59th session, the Commission on the Status of Women will review the progress and remaining challenges in realizing gender equality and women’s empowerment across the globe.
The 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 9 to 20 March 2015. Representatives of member States, UN entities and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world will attend the session.