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Wednesday, 10 February 2021 - Brussels Provisional edition

Challenges ahead for women’s rights: more than 25 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (debate)

  Frances Fitzgerald (PPE). – Mr President, the Beijing Platform for Action gave us all a strong clear perspective for equality, gender equality. Hillary Clinton made a ground-breaking declaration that really resonated with women around the world: ‘women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights’.

Back then if you had asked me where we would stand in 2021, I would have said the fight for gender equality would be over, that gender-based violence or equal pay and a lack of women’s representation would have been confined to history, it would have been dealt with.

Tragically, this has not happened. We hear it could be 80 years before we get political equality in the European Union. And 25 years post-Beijing and with a new generation of women we must now renew our pledge of purpose to make gender equality a reality.

We need all of society working towards this to end and eradicate gender-based violence once and for all, to combat the whole issue of women living in poverty, particularly single mothers and older women, to tackle the climate challenge with understanding of the real lived circumstances of women, and to have enough women at the decision-making table where there are clearly not enough there in critical numbers at present. The Generation Equality Forum will be an opportunity to tackle those challenges with a new generation of women seeing the next phase of this crusade.

Women have long fought this fight. We need male leaders, male champions, working with us if we are to succeed. Let this Beijing resolution be a real rallying call stating that in Europe we are the gender global leaders working for equality, all of us together.

There is much work still to do, but with determination and cooperation, working together as I say, women and men, we can make this a reality.

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