NEW YORK, NY – As world leaders gather for the global Generation Equality Forum (GEF) in Paris this week, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) calls on world leaders to support and implement the rights of displaced women, children, and youth in their commitments to advance gender equality around the world.
The forum, which is expected to feature opening remarks on Wednesday from U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, GEF Co-Hosts French President Emmanuel Macron, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, and UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, is the second of two global events held this year marking 25 years since the landmark Beijing Declaration on women’s rights.
Harris will lead the U.S. delegation at the GEF.
“As a leading humanitarian donor, the United States has the platform in Paris to make meeting the needs of displaced women and girls a critical priority in advancing gender equality,” said Sarah Costa, executive director of the Women’s Refugee Commission. “The U.S. and its partners already have recognized that exclusion, gender-based violence, and poor access to reproductive health services in humanitarian settings, for example, disproportionately affect women and girls. Now, at this convening of global actors to set a bold agenda for achieving gender equality, recognition must go beyond rhetoric and translate into real action. We are hopeful that Vice President Harris will put forward U.S. commitments that will move the world – including the humanitarian community – forward in reaching equality.”
In line with steps the U.S. has already taken domestically to advance gender equality in the first months of the Biden-Harris administration, WRC urges the U.S. to pledge funding and announce new initiatives to address gender-based violence, improve sexual and reproductive health and rights, and escalate economic justice for women and girls globally. These commitments should bring urgently needed resources and attention to meeting humanitarian needs and closing the gaps in support that displaced women, girls, and gender non-conforming people disproportionately experience.
“We also encourage the U.S. to sign onto the Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action and leverage its diplomatic stature to meaningfully elevate women’s leadership and participation in humanitarian response and peace processes,” said Costa.
WRC further calls on all participants to commit to advancing the rights and meeting the needs of displaced women and girls across all forum action coalitions. In the lead up to the Paris forum, WRC worked closely with women’s rights advocates, UN agencies, and member states, to shape commitments around providing sustainable funding to local women's rights organizations; centering gender equality in humanitarian action; ensuring women’s meaningful leadership and participation in peace processes; promoting access to economic resources sexual and reproductive health services; as well as ensuring protection from human rights violations, such as gender-based violence and child marriage.
WRC also highlighted the need for equal nationality rights to address discrimination in law and in practice.
“We commend the diverse group of organizations, including disability rights and refugee advocates, who have been mobilizing and working tirelessly with U.N. member states to make the forum a success and bring about concrete action in advancing gender equality,” Costa said. “WRC is particularly focused on ensuring that forum outcomes include commitments on the rights and needs of displaced women and girls – including those with disabilities – who face multiple and intersecting barriers and discrimination due to their gender, disability, and displacement status.”
Among the key outcomes of the GEF is the Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA Compact), which WRC helped shape as a catalytic member. The Compact is a multi-stakeholder partnership committing to concrete actions based on the existing women, peace and security agenda and humanitarian policies.
The official launch of the Compact will take place on the last day of the forum on Friday, July 2, where signatories from governments, U.N. agencies, the humanitarian community, and the private sector will be announced.
“We look forward to the launch of this Compact, where we hope others will join us in becoming a signatory,” Costa said. “This week presents an opportunity for meaningful action by government leaders across global commitments. Any efforts on advancing gender quality must include and translate to real and lasting change for women and girls in humanitarian settings.”