Beijing 25 years on: out of the shadows, into the mainstream

10 March 2020 08:30 - 14:00 EST
Public event
Much progress has been made on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls since the Beijing Declaration was adopted 25 years ago. More girls are attending primary school than ever before, maternal mortality rates have dropped, more women have access to paid work, and there has been a steady increase in women’s representation in leadership positions. However, many of the promises set out in the Platform for Action remain unfulfilled.
As we enter a new decade of action, we reflect on the key gaps and challenges to advancing gender equality, particularly in neglected, undocumented and emergent spaces, in order to develop recommendations for charting a sustainable path forward. We bring the following important, but often neglected issues out of the shadows and into the mainstream discourse. 
Supporting and protecting sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) in emergencies, 08:30–10:00

Gender equality in humanitarian settings is a neglected space. As humanitarian crises become more protracted and complex, the need to support access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services through a rights-based framework is critical.

Crisis-affected people find themselves facing unwanted and complicated pregnancies, sexual and gender-based violence, maternal mortality, sexually transmitted infections and a lack of family planning resources–all of which are shaped by gendered inequalities and power relations. Amidst the current climate of political backlash, effective SRHR in crisis settings is affected by insufficient data, limited funding and poor health care systems.

ODI’s Humanitarian Policy Group brings together key governments, donors, and development partners to examine the opportunities, challenges, and gaps in the field of SRHR in crisis settings and identify more effective ways to ensure that SRHR needs are prioritised and addressed in emergency settings.

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Bridging the gender and adolescent data gap in the SDGs, 10:30–12:00

During a girl’s lifecycle, the years between ages 10 and 19 are increasingly recognised as a critical time in which to accelerate progress against poverty, inequity and discrimination and to foster positive development trajectories. Yet this is not matched by global data generated across the SDGs, where only 18 SDG indicators explicitly call for the breakdown by gender and adolescent- or youth-specific age categories.

ODI’s Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) programme brings together research findings and expert activists to discuss key recommendations in bridging this critical gap and highlights how adolescent girls should be considered more explicitly in order to deliver on the promise of the SDGs.

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Tackling harmful gender norms: lessons to address backlash, 12:30–14:00

Understanding how advances in gender equality are secured and what drives norm change is crucial for driving progress. But a long view is rarely considered in the short time frames of development and policy initiatives. 25 years ago, the concept of gender norms was not in policy discourse. Today the term ‘norm’ is in common use in policy and assumptions about a ‘women’s place’ in society continue to be challenged and changed. Gender norms are often formed in childhood and adolescence and changing these norms is a lifelong quest.

ODI’s Advancing Learning and Innovation on Gender Norms (ALIGN) programme brings together leaders from across policy, research and academia to discuss what we have learned from gender norm change in the past in a range of contexts and historical moments, to help drive work on changing gender norms in the future.

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