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The Movement Show with Luyanda Khumalo: Slindokuhle Cele and Nonhlanhla Mbonambi
The Gender Feminist Speak Out
Topic: Beijing Platform for Action.
Date: 17 October 2020
Radio Presenter Introduces us
Slindokuhle: Greetings, Sanibonani my name is Slindokuhle Cele and I am not riding solo but AM with my colleague, Nonhlanhla Mbonambi. We are from Agenda Feminist Media – welcome to the Gender Feminist Speak Out.
Nonhlanhla: Sawubona lapho okhona mlaleli ngiyethemba iWeekend ikuphethe kahle, igama lami uNonhlanhla and we are from Agenda Feminist Media. We are back yet again for another engaging conversation.
Slindokuhle: In 1995 from September 4 to 15, during The Fourth World Conference on Women, world leaders and 30 000 activists gathered with one purpose in mind -Gender Equality, and the Empowerment of all women. Two weeks of political debates followed and by the time the conference had ended, it had produced the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a blueprint for advancing women’s rights globally.
As a defining framework for change, the Platform made commitments under 12 areas of concern:
⦁ Women and the environment
⦁ Women in power and decision making
⦁ The girl child
⦁ Women and the economy
⦁ Women and Poverty
⦁ Violence against women
⦁ Human Rights for women
⦁ Education and Training for women
⦁ Institutional Mechanisms for the advancement of women
⦁ Women and Health
⦁ Women and the media
⦁ Women and armed conflicts
Nonhlanhla: According to the Beijing form of Action, the empowerment and advancement of women include the right to freedom of thought, religion and belief, thus contributing to the moral, ethical, spiritual and intellectual needs of women and men, individually or in community with others and thereby guaranteeing women the possibility of realizing their full potential in society and shaping lives in accordance with their own aspirations. Women have now created spaces or platforms that allow their voices to be heard and are standing firmly ON what they believe in regardless of what men in this society think. They can no longer be held hostage by societal norms that prevent women to reach their full potential. The United Nations for women, through the Beijing platform for action, sets out to tackle all these issues that have been ignored for a very long time, bringing them to light. It sets the record straight that women are human beings who are independent, who have a mind of their own, who are as much capable as men and that therefore it is important to give them a chance to prosper in whatever they put their minds to. Therefore, it is important that women’s empowerment and their participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision-making process and access to power is taken seriously, as this is fundamental for the achievement of equality, development and peace. Creating a society that allows women to succeed and prosper, not seeing women as competition to men, but as equals who should be given the same amount of opportunities and recognition in all aspects of life is critical.
Also, it’s important promoting women’s economic independence, including employment, and eradicating the persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women by addressing the structural causes of poverty, through changes in economic structures, ensuring equal access for all women, including those in rural areas, to productive resources, opportunities and public services. We can never shy away from the fact that women are the poorest and the most vulnerable compared to men, especially if we are still dealing with issues such as pay parity which is a contributing factor that prevents women from having financial freedom and being able to generate their own wealth whether it be in the workplace or in a business venture. Women are not valued as much as men.
Additionally, ensuring equal access to and equal treatment of women and men in education and health care and enhancing women’s sexual and reproductive health is also important. So are equal access to economic resources, including land, credit, science and technology, communication, and markets, to further the advancement and empowerment of women and girls. Women and girls should have the capacity to enjoy the benefits of equal access to these resources. Society should normalize exposing women to fields such as farming and agriculture, erase the mentality that these are only males. Women are capable of being self-made entrepreneurs, who can create employment, create generational wealth, and leave a legacy behind for future generations of young girls. There should be no limits as to what women can or cannot do.
Slindokuhle: 25 years later, have the governments and civil society translated the Platform for Action’s promises into concrete changes in different countries like the mission statement aimed?
Then Co-Chair of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) Bella Abzug in 1995 during the conference said, ‘We are building a consensus to face life’s realities. We are affirming human rights for all women and girls, acknowledging the full range of diversity that exists and detailing actions to prevent violence.’
In the South African Context, the government has periodically reported on the progress made in implementing the Platform for Action in the country submitting its first report in 2000, its 2nd in 2005, the 3rd in 2010, and the 4th in 2015. The national review report responds to the issues raised in the Guidance Note provided by UN Women.
However, South Africa also focused on other issues such as:
· Political participation and representation
· Unpaid care and domestic work / work-family conciliation (e.g. paid maternity or parental leave, care services)
· Gender-responsive social protection (e.g. universal health coverage, cash transfers, pensions)
· Basic services and infrastructure (water, sanitation, energy, transport etc.)
· Strengthening women’s participation in ensuring environmental sustainability
· Gender-responsive budgeting
· Digital and financial inclusion for women
· Gender-responsive disaster risk reduction and resilience building
· Changing negative social norms and gender stereotypes
(SOUTH AFRICA’S REPORT ON THE PROGRESS MADE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE BEIJING PLATFORM FOR ACTION, 2019)
Nonhlanhla: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who we are very proud to say is South African and the UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, delivered a speech on the 1st of October 2020 on the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women. She made some statements about some of the remarkable progress made since 1995, stating that women are now increasingly participating in peace processes. That gender-related crimes in conflict have been recognized and are prosecuted under international law. The lives of young girls and women have benefited from increased school enrolment and advances in maternal health and bodily autonomy. Recognition of the girl child as having distinct and different challenges has allowed harmful practices like the female genital mutation (FGM) to be tackled.
PRESENTER SHARES COMMENTS
Slindokuhle: Imperfect though it may be, the Beijing Platform for Action is the strongest statement of consensus on women’s equality, empowerment, and justice ever produced by governments. The Beijing Platform is a consolidation of the previous UN conference agreements in the unique context of seeing the world and its problems through women’s eyes. It is an agenda for change, fuelled by the momentum of civil society based on a transformational vision of a better world for all.
Nonhlanhla: In 1945, the founding of the United Nations (UN) was a decisive and courageous moment. At that time, however, there were no women of state or government. In 1995, in Beijing, there were 12 women heads of state or government. Now there are 22 women leaders among 193 countries. Women’s leadership, including that of young women, is vital. The younger generation is demanding these changes. Women are now calling for a leap to 50% representation, or parity in all spheres, including cabinets, corporate boards and throughout the economy.
It is time for action to change the course of history for women and girls, especially women between the ages of 25 to 34 who are increasingly more likely to live in extreme poverty than their male counterparts. The UN helps to address issues that bring an end to discriminatory laws, norms and all forms of gender-based violence including homophobia, to end men’s violence against women and girls in particular, and to make a concerted effort to put women at the heart of climate justice.
Slindokuhle: In 1995 the mission statement read, ‘A worldwide movement towards democratization has opened up to the political process in many nations, but the popular participation of women in key decision-making as full and equal partners with men, particularly in politics, has not yet been achieved.’ This was more than two decades ago but women still face injustice and discrimination because of their gender; women still face extreme poverty more than men. This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Platform for Action and Action. However, due to the COVID-19 virus, the event was reduced to a one-day procedural meeting on 09 March 2020 with only delegations and civil society representatives based in New York. The Declaration also flagged the following important issues:
· Progress has not been fast or deep enough and in some areas, progress has been uneven
· Major gaps and obstacles such as structural barriers, discriminatory practices and the feminization of poverty persist 25 years after Beijing
· No country has fully achieved gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls
· Many women and girls experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, vulnerability, and marginalization throughout their life cycle; this group, which has made the least progress includes women of African descent, women with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), rural women, indigenous women, women with disabilities, migrant women, and older women.
Nonnhlanhla: There is progress in changing the lives of women, even though it may be slow and not enough to reach the masses of women who are still suffering under all the issues that we have mentioned. With bold women, leadership must come solid political will, proportionate to the challenges. This must be accompanied by urgent investment to back statements, especially investments in women’s organizations, young feminists leading change and women ministries and agencies.
Slindokuhle: That brings us to the end of today’s conversation, but do not forget to share your thoughts on the Agenda Feminist Media Facebook page.
NATIONS, U. (1995). Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. UNITED NATIONS.
South African Government, D. o. (2019). South Africa’s Report ON THE PROGRESS MADE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE BEIJING PLATFORM FOR ACTION. Johannesburg:
UN WOMEN. (2015). The Beijing Platform for Action Turns 20. Retrieved from UN WOMEN: https://beijing20.unwomen.org/en/about
Report of the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, Nairobi 15 -26 July 1985 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E. 85. IV.10), chap. I, sect. A.