The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59) Session, currently on-going in New York, has set 2030 as the expiry date for gender inequality.
“Achieving this will require unprecedented political leadership, dedicated and vastly increased resources, and new partnerships across the whole of society,” Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, has stated.
In a survey report tagged: “The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action turns 20,” obtained by the Ghana News Agency at UN Headquarters, which focuses on progress, challenges and lessons learnt for the realization of gender equality, the empowerment of women, and the human rights of women and girls in the post-2015.
The survey report examined the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Declaration, gives clear direction on where efforts must focus, in order to deal, “once and for all, with this greatest human rights violation”.
On women and poverty, the report revealed that there is evidence that women are more likely than men to live in poverty; and less likely to have access to decent work, assets and formal credit.
It also identified that the lack of data on women’s poverty continues to be a major challenge. More and better data is needed to facilitate multidimensional and gender responsive assessments of poverty.
The report suggests that tackling the root causes of women’s poverty requires removing gender inequalities in paid and unpaid work; ensuring social protection across the life cycle and equal access to assets and increasing investments in infrastructure and basic social services.
The task states to ensure increasing women’s access to paid employment through: policies that enable women to reconcile paid work and unpaid care responsibilities; strengthening labour market regulations; and implementing public works programmes or employment guarantee schemes.
Enhancing women’s income security throughout the life cycle through social protection including: child benefits, conditional cash transfers, old-age pensions and subsidies for education, health care and housing.
States are also to create measures to improve women’s livelihoods through access to land, property and productive resources through: legal reform; the issuance of individual or joint land and property titles for women; housing subsidies and access to agricultural technologies, information and resources.
The State must ensure increasing women’s economic opportunities through access to financial services through micro credit schemes and mobile technologies.
On Education and training of women, the report revealed that there has been significant progress towards closing the gender gaps in primary enrolment; however there is great variation in progress in achieving gender parity in secondary education across regions.
The UN Women Report identified that improving the quality of education and fostering a gender-responsive learning environment is vital for enabling women and girls to equally enjoy their right to education.
According to the report, it is also essential to address the barriers to girls’ education; ensuring high quality and gender-responsive education and a safe school environment for girls and providing support to young women in their transition from school to work.
“Gender parity in primary education has been reached and parity in secondary education is close to being achieved, but with regional variations,” the report revealed.
The UN Women, therefore, task States to address economic barriers to girls’ education, through the elimination of fees, free provision of school supplies, meals and transportation, as well as measures to provide financial support in the form of loans, grants and scholarships.
The state must also increase efforts to foster gender-responsive school environment, for example, by addressing violence against girls, revising school curricula and textbooks to eliminate pervasive gender stereotypes and implementing training programmes to increase the capacity of teachers to provide gender-responsive education.
The state must also provide support for the transition from work to school, such as providing technical and vocational education and training to women and girls as well as initiatives to improve literacy skills of women and girls.
On women and health, the report indicates that women’s life expectancy has increased globally over the last 20 years, from 67 to 73 years, between 1990 and 2012.
However, significant challenges remain with unacceptably high levels of maternal mortality in some regions, lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services, and the increasing rates of non-communicable diseases.
The number of women living with HIV has been increasing globally since 2001.
Continued efforts to enhance the availability, accessibility and affordability of quality services, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, for women and girls are central to achieving progress.
States must, therefore, increase women’s access to health services through: free access to health-care; improving access in rural areas; training and education of health-care staff; and improving accessibility to free or subsidized essential drugs and commodities.
It said, realizing sexual and reproductive health and rights through legal reforms, the expansion of sexual and reproductive health services and HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care.
Increasing attention to non-communicable diseases through: greater efforts to detect and treat breast and cervical cancers early; better management of chronic and degenerative diseases; more programmes to address mental health conditions; and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.
Advancing the health rights of marginalized groups of women and girls through specific measures to improve access to health-care services.