How far have states in Asia Pacific gone to achieve gender equality?

Governments report on gains, key challenges and opportunities
Source: Isis International

Ministers from the Asia and the Pacific region met today in the Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing+20 Review to report on their States’ gains, key challenges, and opportunities to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women after twenty years of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA). The governments’ pledges and priority areas for investment for the next five years will be included in a final ministerial declaration to be adopted at the end of the conference on November 20, 2014.

A representative on behalf of civil society organizations (CSO) delivered a statement to the governments during the ministerial meeting. “The Beijing Platform for Action is an unfinished promise,” Abia Akriam from the CSO Steering Committee said. “States need to be accountable.”

In their statement to governments, the representative of civil society organizations that participated in the Asia-Pacific Civil Society (APSCO) Forum showed that 20 years later commitments are not enough. Governments need strong means of implementation, including through the creation of viable target indicators for each of the critical areas and strategic objectives. Governments should review macroeconomic policies such as liberalization and privatization and should ensure that the post 2015 development agenda includes commitments under the BPfA.

In contrast, governments identified as gains the existence or creation of laws, policies, and programmes on such issues as women’s access to formal and informal education, labor protection, and an increase in women economic empowerment, mainly through microcredit programs. Several governments reported an increase in women’s participation in politics and in decision-making.

States recognized the need to advance women’s equality by addressing the following key challenges: existing policy and legislative gaps; inadequate cooperation among government institutions to mainstream gender issues; insufficient technical, financial, and human resources; and the continuing existence of discriminatory social norms.

Several countries highlighted the need to increase the protection of women migrant workers and women with disabilities. Pacific Island countries emphasized the need to address climate change and its impact on the human rights of women. Several states noted that they already have national legislation that protects against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

To read the full statement that civil society organizations prepared at the APCSO Forum, click here.