The Generation Equality Forum, organized by UN Women, took place in Paris this week to accelerate progress towards gender equality. The week of events featured speeches from world leaders such as U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who underscored U.S. commitments to advancing gender equality, and French President Macron, whose government co -organizes the Forum with the government of Mexico. The Forum also saw more than $ 40 billion in pledges for gender equality by governments, donors and businesses, representing “the largest collective infusion of resources ever devoted to gender equality. in the world “.
According to UN Women, government commitments should total $ 17 billion, including $ 100 million from France to improve access to contraceptives and family planning, $ 100 million from Canada to fund health care work in low- and middle-income countries, and $ 1.2 billion in the United States for gender programs abroad. These government commitments follow on from the G7 Forum held two weeks earlier, where gender equality was also on the agenda.
In addition to providing aid, governments also provide investments for global development through development finance institutions and multilateral development banks. During the Generation Equality Forum, some of these investors, including the European Investment Bank and the CDC Group, announced their support for a new industry body, 2XCollaborative, to promote gender-focused investment.
Philanthropic foundations are also committed to increasing their efforts on gender equality. The biggest pledge was made by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is also the largest foundation in the world, committing $ 2.1 billion to promote women’s economic empowerment, strengthen the health of women and girls and family planning, and supporting women’s leadership. The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the world’s largest child-focused foundation, is committing $ 500 million over five years to two action coalitions that were established at the Generation Equality Forum. The Ford Foundation also announced a commitment of $ 420 million to five of the six action coalitions. The six action coalitions cover gender-based violence, economic justice and rights, bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), feminist action for climate justice, technology and innovation and feminist movements and leadership – themes that emerged as the most important through a consultative process.
Covid-19 appears to be a watershed moment for many leaders to double investments in gender equality. âTwenty-six years after the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, public discourse on gender equality has not been followed by action. Instead, COVID-19 has only accelerated gender inequalities for millions of women and girls who bear the brunt of the crisis, âsaid Nicolette Naylor, Ford Foundation’s international program director. for gender, racial and ethnic justice.
While the main commitments were made by governments, multilateral institutions and philanthropic foundations, some private sector actors were also present at the Forum. The consumer goods firm, P&G, has pledged to spend $ 10 billion with women-owned and run businesses by 2025. The global payments company, PayPal, has also pledged more than $ 100 million. dollars to advance financial inclusion and the economic empowerment of women and girls. around the world over the next five years.
âImproving the financial health of women is essential to building prosperous and resilient communities. Women constitute the overwhelming majority of unbanked and underserved adults in the world, and the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have only exacerbated these disparities, âsaid Dan Schulman, President and Chief executive, PayPal, who is also the private sector head for the Coalition for Economic Justice and Rights.
Injecting financial resources to advance gender equality is essential, given the urgent deadline to achieve gender equality by 2030, as set by Sustainable Development Goal five. It remains to be seen whether these big commitments will materialize, or will unfold quickly enough for action to take place.