On 21 July 2020 a group of global representatives crossed sectors, borders and time zones to come together at the virtual UN Multi-Stakeholder Hearing on gender equality. U21's Professor Jenny Dixon from the University of Auckland and Professor Joanna Regulska from UC Davis and Amber Bartlett, Manager for Student Experience and Educational Projects attended the event. Amber shares her thoughts on the intersecting challenges of the global empowerment of women and girls, response to a pandemic and achieving meaningful cross border cooperation.
2020 marks the 10-year anniversary of UN Women and 25 years of the Beijing Platform For Action, which identified where urgent action was needed to ensure greater equality globally. As such it seems a seminal year for the advancement of the rights of women and girls. However, it is also the year when the inspiring global leadership of some women in relation to Covid-19 is in stark juxtaposition with the very real threat that the pandemic poses to women and girls, and the progress of gender equality, globally.
Listening to the distinguished speakers at the UN multi-stakeholder event, including Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the President of the UN General Assembly, ministers from across the world and youth representatives from the UN Youth Envoy, there was a clear common understanding amongst panellists and attendees of the need for intersectionality in all discussion around the challenges women and girls face as well as recognition of the responsibility of every individual in the progress of equality.
In this way, it was striking to see the parallels that can be drawn in such calls for an inclusive, multifaceted approach to issues of gender equality and the lessons many will take away from the global pandemic we are currently living through. Indeed, the concept that we all have a role to play in preventing the spread of the virus has been key to many national responses to the pandemic and so too has been the recognition of the differing extent of disadvantage and the unequal consequences of Covid-19 amongst certain communities.
Perhaps then the combination of collective responsibility with an intersectional understanding of the shared, but locally, nationally and regionally nuanced, challenges faced by different communities globally can pave the way for a connected cross-border response to many of the immediate and long-term challenges many communities and groups still face.
Stephan Loerke, founding member of the Unstereotype Alliance, captured the challenge effectively as ‘the need to unite global agendas with local realities’ by creating networks of exceptional local advocates. In this way, it seems there is no better time to be part of a network such as U21 that brings together the experiences and innovation of global colleagues working to overcome shared challenges and bring benefit for all.