What Is Generation Equality? Behind This Year’s International Women’s Day Theme

Photographed by Sarah Anne Ward.
International Women’s Day is here, and in 2020 it's all about looking to the future. On a day that celebrates equality across all genders, IWD goes beyond just imagining a world where every person is equal and takes action to create change. It is also a day to reflect on some of the biggest moments in the history of the women’s rights movement. This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.
So, what is the meaning behind this theme? Generation Equality is the United Nation Women’s new multigenerational campaign to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
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Twenty-five years ago, the world came together to envision what that might look like and the steps we would need to take as a global community to achieve gender equality. During the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995, 17,000 participants and 30,000 activists came to the city with the intention of creating lasting change. As a result, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was created and is still to this day considered to be the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights. 
In essence, the Platform for Action aims to create a world where each woman and girl has the freedom to realize all of her rights — from living a life free from violence, to pursuing an education, to have a seat at the table in important decisions, and earning equal pay for equal work. 
Not only is 2020 the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, it is a pivotal year for other major milestones in fighting for equality. It is the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. It states that women play an essential role in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security around the world.
This touches on everything from conflict resolution to peace negotiations to humanitarian responses post-conflict. This year is the 10th anniversary of UN Women’s establishment as well as a five-year milestone of working toward sustainable development goals. This 17-step roadmap outlines how the world can only be changed for the better if women are allowed to help solve the problems as well as benefit from them. After all, evidence has shown that gender equality contributes to economic growth as well as a healthier and better-educated society.
Even in the year 2020, no country can truly claim total gender equality. Great strides have been made in the last 25 years, and because of dedicated multigenerational movements like these, the world will continue to improve well beyond the next 25 for women and girls in the future.

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