NEW YORK, June 28 (IPS) – As the global gathering for gender equality, Generation Equality ForumLaunching in Paris on June 30, 2020, IPS gives an exclusive interview to Katja Iversen.
Iversen is a leading global influencer on leadership, sustainability, and gender equality, and executive advisor to Goal 17 partners, UNILEVER, women’s political leaders, and others. She was also a member of President Macron’s Gender Equality Advisory Board in 2019.
The Generation Equality Forum, convened by UN Women and co-chaired by the presidents of France and Mexico, comes when the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse global progress on gender equality.
The Forum is expected to confirm “bold gender equality investments, programs and policies and begin a 5-year business journey, based on a global acceleration plan for gender equality to be launched at the Forum,” according to a media statement.
Iverson spoke extensively about the need to include women in decision-making, the role of the private sector, and how the world is at a turning point.
“If we want to see a positive development for both people and the planet, we – in short – need more women in power and more power for women, in the economy and politics,” Iverson said. “The Next Generation Equality Forum, hosted by UN Women in collaboration with the governments of France and Mexico, comes at a pivotal moment and provides a great opportunity to catalyze progress. I want to see the entire world respond to the clear call from Paris this week.”
She stressed that it is time to act because “we see a destabilizing and widening inequality gap in the world. We are also seeing an increase in conservatism and a rollback of women’s rights, including the rights to sexual and reproductive health (SRHR). Very concretely, we are seeing massive increases in gender-based violence, increased misogyny, and women taking on more unpaid care work, as well as alarming rates of girls dropping out of school, and women leaving the workforce.”
You spoke about the need to involve the private sector in creating a more gender equal world.
“The private sector is the main employer of women, women are consumers, and we will not see gender equality, nor a sustainable world in general if the private sector does not commit to change. Fortunately, more and more companies are stepping up to serve and investing in sustainability and gender equality.
she and Target Partners 17, a network of CEOs and entrepreneurs who are integrating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into business practices, and working with new businesses that participate in the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 5 on gender equality and the empowerment of women. together including United Nations FoundationAnd the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights (BSR)And the UN WomenThey were nurturing commitments to Generation Equality.
“There is an enormous need and potential, not least for small and medium-sized enterprises, whether we are talking about female leadership, equal pay, parental leave, financial inclusion, diverse and inclusive workplaces free from harassment, or health and education. Investing in the different aspects of gender equality is the right and economically smart thing.”
Regarding research, Katja Iversen spoke to IPS about the need for better and more data and research: “Decision makers, whether in governments, finance institutions or the private sector, need to invest and have more disaggregated data. If we don’t know the details of how many or where you live Girls and women die, or work and want to go to school, give birth or care for the sick, whether they are rich or poor, we will not get the right policies, programs or investments that can drive the solutions needed.”
She noted that, according to UN Women, less than 25 percent of national decision-making bodies related to the Covid virus include women.
“It is very easy to cut resources from people who are not at the decision-making tables. We urgently need to get more women involved in leadership, including in the COVID response and recovery efforts. All the evidence shows that when more women are involved in the decision-making process, There would be a more holistic approach and both communities and people would do better.”
In this regard, she highlighted some of the transformative political commitments that will be made at the Generation Equality Forum, including from the vast network of women political leaders, which includes thousands upon thousands of women ministers, mayors, parliamentarians, heads of state, and leaders from the private sector.
“I think we’re going to see some real changes in the game,” she said.
Iversen expressed concern about the urgent need for more funding, not least for women’s organizations on the front line. It is linked to recent and severe cuts to gender equality and sexual and reproductive health that can severely impact women and their health, particularly in vulnerable communities.
“Adding to what happened during the era of former US President Donald Trump, the cuts we are now seeing from several countries, including the UK, will have devastating effects on girls, women and gender equality, including the most marginalized in emergency and humanitarian situations. ,” she told IPS. “The United Nations Population FundFor example, it is estimated that with 130 million pounds (US$180 million) the UK wants to withdraw from the supply partnership, UNFPA could have helped prevent some 250,000 maternal and child deaths, and 14.6 million pregnancies. Unintended and 4.3 million unsafe abortions.”
IPS: The United Nations Population Fund and its partners estimate that significant disruptions to health services due to COVID 17 could result in 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries without contraception. How do we deal with the loss of access to essential sexual and reproductive health services, especially now that the second wave of Covid-19 has again disrupted health services in many parts of the world?
ki: The shift of staff and funds away from maternal and reproductive health services due to the COVID response is devastating, and will have repercussions for years, if not decades. We know from Ebola that maternal mortality has risen, access to family planning services has declined, and that girls and women have paid a price in life and livelihoods. Unfortunately, the evidence is anecdotal mainly because women’s health has not been documented and measured in the same way as other health services, just as there is, in general, a massive lack of sex-disaggregated data, including the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators. The main cases of infection and deaths from COVID. This time – in the context of the COVID pandemic – gaps in sexual and reproductive health services, shifts in resources, and cuts to services – in data and stories.
IPS: In many countries, the abolition of the tampon tax (or period tax) has been at the forefront of equal access to sexual and reproductive health. What other key issues do you think we should focus on to ensure equal access to sexual and reproductive health and to increase body autonomy? ki: I am happy to see sexual and reproductive rights and bodily independence a priority for Generation Equality and to see countries like Denmark, France, Burkina Faso, UNFPA, etc., lead this way.
The right of a woman to decide her life and her body is a fundamental human right. The physical autonomy of girls and women – in all their rich diversity – is political, social, economic and health. It’s about having the power and agency to make decisions about our body, fertility, and future, living a life free from violence and coercion in the private and public spheres, and deciding who to have sex with and how to love. It is about the right to decide whether to have children – or not – about having a health system that supports this with the full range of readily available, affordable and accessible sexual and reproductive health services. Physical autonomy is linked to standards, structure, and regulations – and if we want justice and health for all, we need to address all of that. I am glad to see this included in Generation Equality’s progressive roadmap, with strong suggestions on how to combat gender-based violence, climate change, promote economic justice and feminist movements and leadership, etc.
The world is going through a pivotal moment and turning point. With enough people and institutions responding to Clarion’s call from the Generation Equality Forum in Paris, I believe we can make it tilt in the right direction.
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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service