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Generation Equality Forum

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High Level Event on Action Coalition 6 on Feminist Movements and Leadership

Statement by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet

Paris, 2 July 2021

Dear friends,

It is a pleasure to be among so many courageous feminists. 

I thank France and UN Women for bringing us together today.

Twenty-six years ago, feminists were at the heart of the landmark Beijing agenda. Today they continue to be at the forefront of social justice movements around the world, demanding rights and leading efforts against oppression.

As a feminist, it is heartening to see our mobilization in the streets and on-line. Our unwavering resistance to backlash, patriarchy, and misogyny. Our collective demand for better, more equal, and more just societies for all.  

Powerful feminist activists and movements have been critical to the advancement of multiple human rights issues everywhere – from combatting gender-based violence, to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, to racial justice, to climate action.

As the international community, we need to support them in our collective struggle against all forms of oppression.

And we need to show this support politically, publicly, and financially.

The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening hard-won gains. So are efforts to sow division within the feminist movement.

The need for action and solidarity has never been stronger.

The UN has a critical role to play. And this is how we commit to playing it.

Together with other UN leaders of Generation Equality, my Office has committed to actively promoting an open, safe and inclusive civic space. We will take concrete progressive steps for the meaningful participation of feminist movements and women human rights defenders of all ages and in all their diversity online and offline.  

Backlashes come often hand in hand with threats and attacks in public and private spheres. My Office commits to strengthening our support to protection networks, with a focus on women human rights defenders and movements. We need to enhance our effective response and coordination, including protection from reprisals for cooperating with the UN.

With digital divides and online attacks rooted in gender-based discrimination, we also commit to stepping up our advocacy on protecting online civic space, including within the UN system. Our objective is that by 2026, we will have supported and contributed to an accessible, free and safe internet for all feminist movements, activists and organisations.

OHCHR also commits to increasing awareness, engagement and access for feminist movements, activists and organizations to independent human rights mechanisms and bodies at all levels.

In addition, we have also joined four of our Action Coalition’s collective commitments: to recognize women human rights defenders and counter stigma against them; to address the data gaps on civic space and work on identifying rights-based indicators; to co-create a Global Alliance for Sustainable Feminist Movements; and to deepen the integration of an intersectional approach into our collective work.

Friends,

"Generation Equality" gives us the collective energy, power and vision to heed the call for human rights and justice.

I look forward to taking these critical steps with you.

Read the Generation Equality Commitments of UN Human Rights.