Close to $40 billion was pledged in new investments, as well as ambitious policy and programme commitments from governments, civil society and others, to help fuel a new global five-year action plan to accelerate true gender parity, by 2026.

“The Generation Equality Forum marks a positive, historic shift in power and perspective”, said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women.

The Forum has been held at a critical moment, as the world assesses the disproportionate and damaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls.

Gender equality advocates took the opportunity to press for gender-responsive stimulus and recovery plans to ensure that women and girls are not left behind as the world re-builds.

Timely commitments

The $40 billion in investments represent a major step-change in resourcing for women’s and girls’ rights, as lack of financing has been a major reason for slow progress in advancing gender equality and in enacting the women’s rights agenda of the milestone 1995 Beijing Conference, according to UN Women ??.

Governments and public sector institutions have committed to $21 billion spending on gender equality investments, the private sector $13 billion and philanthropy $4.5 billion.

UN entities, international and regional organizations committed an aggregate of $1.3 billion.

“The Forum’s ecosystem of partners – and the investments, commitments and energy they are bringing to confront the greatest barriers to gender equality – will ensure faster progress for the world’s women and girls than we have seen before”, said the head of UN Women.

Multilateral approach

Many organizations have made strong policy and program commitments, including 440 civil society organizations and 94 youth-led organizations.

Hosting the event, the French Ambassador and Secretary-General of the Forum, Delphine O, said the it had “reversed the priorities on the international agenda and made gender equality, for too long underestimated, a long-term issue for the international community, along with climate, education and health. France will continue to be at the forefront to accelerate gender equality progress”.

Others speak out

UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Anne Hathaway, gave her personal commitment to “continue to be a global advocate for the legal and policy changes that will empower both women and men to begin the equal distribution of care responsibilities that will help change our world”.

Former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, who now heads the US international development agency, USAID, offered “a simple message, informed by decades of evidence: if you want peace in this world, trust women to deliver it”.