This year, marking the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, was supposed to be momentous— a time to celebrate accomplishments. World leaders and women’s rights activists had planned to come together for the anniversaries of key legal and policy instruments including the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the 40th anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has largely interrupted those plans and is threatening to undo many of the gains on gender equality of the past 25 years. But then again backsliding on gender equality is not a foregone conclusion, with bold policies, we can we can shift course and accelerate progress.
The 2020 edition of Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The Gender Snapshot brings together the latest available evidence on gender equality across all 17 Goals, underscoring the progress made, but also the progress interrupted, as a result of COVID-19. Women and girls are facing acute hardships, including higher rates of poverty, increased care burdens, greater exposure to violence and obstructed access to sexual and reproductive health services. And with few women directing policy responses at the national and local levels, such issues are not being sufficiently prioritized and resourced. Discriminatory laws and social norms also persist.