LWF calls for urgent action on women’s rights

Chanset, an ethnic Khmu girl in northern Laos, with school uniform, books and other items provided by LWF as part of a program to provide access to quality education for girls. Photo: LWF/P. Simayvanh

A statement marking 25th anniversary of Beijing conference laments slow pace of progress on gender justice

(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is urging world leaders, meeting at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on 1 October, to “safeguard the gains made in gender equality and women’s empowerment and to commit to further action.”

The statement was released to coincide with the high-level meeting of the UNGA marking the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, which took place in Beijing, China in September 1995. Representatives from 189 nations at that conference adopted a platform for action, spelling out a vision of equal rights and opportunities for women and girls everywhere.

In its statement, the LWF says: “We celebrate the milestones made, but lament the slow pace of progress, the gaps that remain, and the backlash against women’s rights driven by state and non-state actors opposed to gender equality.” A quarter of a century after the Beijing conference, it notes, women continue to experience multiple forms of gender-based discrimination and violence.

New dimensions of inequality and discrimination

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing gender inequalities and turned a spotlight on new dimensions of inequality and discrimination,” the statement says. "Available statistics reveal that domestic and partner violence has increased sharply during COVID-19, and lack of access to response services has further aggravated the situation." Globally, women and girls are underrepresented socio-economically and in public life, it continues, while an estimated 130 million girls worldwide remain out of school.

The 1 October statement calls on all governments and the international community to fully implement the commitments and obligations contained in the Beijing declaration and platform for action, as well as those enshrined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW).

LWF’s head of Global Advocacy, Mr Isaiah Toroitich commented: "In the wake of an unprecedented pandemic, push-back on human rights, limited global solidarity and commitment to multilateralism, the LWF affirms gender justice as an important pillar for ensuring dignity for all. We shall redouble our efforts in advocacy to ensure that gender justice is a reality."

Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment is a long-standing commitment for the LWF which adopted its own gender justice policy in 2013. The policy, translated into more than a dozen different languages, is a tool for the global communion to work towards these goals within the churches and within their wider national contexts.