SHAFAQNA- ALMOST two decades ago, in Beijing, 189 countries made a commitment to achieve equality for women, in practice and in law, so that all women could at last fully enjoy their rights and freedoms as equal human beings.
They adopted a comprehensive and ambitious plan to guarantee women the same rights as men to be educated and develop their potential. The same rights as men to choose their profession. The same rights to lead communities and nations, and make choices about their own lives without fear of violence or reprisal.
No longer would hundreds of thousands of women die every year in childbirth because of healthcare policies and systems that neglected their care. No longer would women earn considerably less than men. No longer would discriminatory laws govern marriage, land, property and inheritance.
In the years that followed, the world has witnessed tremendous progress: the number of women in the workforce has increased; there is almost gender parity in schooling at the primary level; the maternal mortality ratio declined by almost 50pc; and more women are in leadership positions. Importantly, governments talk about women’s rights as human rights and women’s rights and gender equality are acknowledged as legitimate and indispensable goals.