Will inclusion and accountability take centrestage at the Generation Equality Forum?
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Undoubtedly, the Generation Equality Forum which took place earlier this year, was a milestone to galvanize US$ 40 billion financial commitments for gender equality and human rights worldwide. This is the largest amount of investment to advance gender equality and women's rights ever. It also launched a 5-year action journey (till 2026) "to achieve irreversible progress towards gender equality, founded on a series of concrete, ambitious and transformative actions, as well as ambitious policy and programme commitments from governments, philanthropy, civil society, youth organizations and the private sector."
But 92 intersectional feminist groups have raised an issue that cannot be ignored: why was the entire region of Asia and the Pacific on the blindspot in this process? These 92 groups have written an open letter seeking inclusion and accountability in the Generation Equality Forum process. Addressed to UN Women, the statement cites the "lack of engagement and resources provided for the Asia Pacific region in the Generation Equality Forum, and its development".
Generation Equality Forum which took place in Paris from 30th June to 2nd July 2021, did not feature any government representatives from Asia Pacific nor did it have enough representation from groups like sex workers and transgender people.
"Notwithstanding our concerns, as intersectional feminists, we ask UN Women to provide space for civil society organizations to strengthen the commitments of Generation Equality Forum. We will continue to engage in good faith but we will seek increased accountability and transparency in content, structure, and process," said Alexandra Johns of the Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, a Bangkok-based SRHR network.
"We fear that the de-prioritization of the largest region in the world will result in missed opportunities to advance the gender equality agenda," said Natassha Kaur of the International Planned Parenthood Federation East & South East Asia and Oceania Region (IPPF ESEAOR).
The statement also cited concerns about the lack of accessibility of the online platform used by the Generation Equality Forum. "We were faced with barriers that are not only due to the technology-related challenges but also because of the timing and language", said Marevic Parcon of the Philippine-based Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR).
The feminists provided recommendations as to ways forward for the Generation Equality Forum rocess. These include establishing regional communities that collaborate with regional UN offices and support engagement of intersectional feminists and women in all their diversity; establishing a strong and effective accountability framework at regional, national and global levels; engaging with intersectional feminists and civil society groups to properly resource and implement a robust and inclusive accountability framework that evaluates transformative impact at the grassroots level; and strengthening engagement with multi-stakeholder groups across the region as the GEF process continues to be planned and implemented.
Climate Justice also merited its own recommendation with the feminists asking for "urgent fundraising" to fund a global campaign to increase political will on climate change, ecological and gender equality. The Asia-Pacific region is the most vulnerable to climate-related disasters, disproportionately affecting women and marginalized groups, according to the statement.
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