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MESSAGE ON THE OCCASION OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, 2021

THEME: A Challenge to Revitalise the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action

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On September 15, 1995, the Beijing Platform for the Advancement of Women was adopted by the United Nations.  It was lauded as the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights. As a defining framework for change, the Platform for Action made comprehensive commitments under 12 critical areas of concern. It remains a powerful source of guidance and inspiration, and will greatly assist in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5 – Gender Equality.

Yet, twenty-five years later, implementation of its Strategies and Actions proceeds at an alarmingly slow pace.

The first area for attention is education on its content. The resources for education outreach dwindled and became scarce following the passage of the Platform for Action, as if the work was done. 

As a result, the final content was not consistently passed on to the different sectors of the population as required by section 296 of the section, on national level institutional frameworks, which states, “A key activity should be to promote public awareness and support for the goals of the Platform for Action, inter alia, through mass media and public education”. Therefore, it is new to members of the population born since 1995.

A determined plea for inclusion of a section on the Girl Child moved the critical areas of concern from 11 to 12.  These are – Women and Poverty; Education and training of women; Women and Health; Violence against women; Women and Armed Conflict; Women and the economy, Women in power and decision-making; Institutional mechanism for the advancement of women; Human Rights of Women; Women and the Media; Women and the Environment; The Girl Child.

The twelve critical areas of concern deal with every aspect of women’s lives and our role as contributors to the development of ourselves, our families, our communities and our countries.  It deals with leadership roles, as well as our essential but under-valued roles as mothers, wives, and caregivers working in and outside of the home.

Section 39 of the global framework states that “The girl child of today is the woman of tomorrow. For the girl-child to develop her full potential she needs to be nurtured in an enabling environment, where her spiritual, intellectual and material needs for survival, protection and development are met……”.

Who is charged with this responsibility?  Women and men.  Beyond doubt, many of our girls are nurtured and supported through challenges, and are blooming.  However, too many of our girls are hindered from developing to their full potential when Mother is battered and bruised, when this girl child is sexually initiated by strangers, as well as her father, male and female relatives. 

Where is the enabling environment when she then is likely to grow up believing this is the norm for women, and her brother grows up believing this is the norm for men and women?  Education and Training to change such belief systems are limited and inadequate for some communities.

The key to equality, development and peace for women is to implement the Beijing Declaration and the Beijing Platform for Action in its entirety.  The urgent task of  NGO’s and women’s organisations is to challenge ourselves and our  governments to move away from repeated calls for data on situations that have already manifested themselves in all the Conferences on women, ending with the Fourth World Conference on Women that produced the Beijing Platform for Action.  

The Hon. Prime Minister has declared 2021 as the Year of the Domestic Worker”, most of whom are women.  The Beijing Platform also highlights both their contribution to the economy, and their exploitation, including minimal wages.

Here is one of the many areas in which insufficient work has been done.  We need to move away from mediocre efforts where they exist, put our fingers in the soil, and revitalize the Beijing Platform for Action.

Nelcia Robinson | Coordinator | CDW

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