Colleagues, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
There is no doubt: We are currently facing a strong backlash on gender rights. And that backlash is even exacerbated by the Corona pandemic. Some see Covid as a welcome pretext to undermine what we have achieved in decades.
Of course, it’s true: Attacks on gender rights are by no means something new.
When the Beijing Platform for Action was formed 26 years ago, many didn’t want to accept that women’s rights are human rights. And the adoption of resolution 1325 was followed by strong anti-gender protests, as well.
But today, something has changed: the anti-gender movement has increasingly started to build powerful transnational alliances. What used to be single voices has now developed into a strong and well-organized movement. And it is constantly gaining ground.
Its main targets are women’s rights, LGBTI rights and civil society.
The fiercest battle is fought over sexual and reproductive health and rights.
It is crucial to understand the structure and strategy of this movement. Because it is directed not only against gender rights, but against everything we believe in: first of all human dignity, diversity and democracy.
My big thanks therefore go to the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy for conducting the study “Power over rights”. Its results are indeed worrying:
- The anti-gender movement is highly organized and well-funded.
- It is part of a larger anti-democratic movement.
- And: it has put human rights defenders under increasing pressure.
These findings show that it is all the more important to stand up for gender equality: on the national and regional level, and in multilateral fora.
I call upon states, multilateral institutions, civil society, movements and individuals: Let us together push back the pushback!
For the German government, I can assure you: Together with likeminded partners such as Finland we will uphold and reinforce our efforts in supporting women’s and LGBTI rights organizations.
We are convinced: Supporting civil society in defending gender equality is a matter of justice and democracy; but also of social peace and stability.
That is why we have also integrated support and protection of women’s rights and LGBTI organizations in our third Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We’re at a crossroads.
The emergence of the anti-gender movement is a strong reminder: progress is no natural development. History is made by us. It is upon us to decide how our future looks like.
The anti-gender movement has gained ground. But at the same time there are so many people out there who are not willing to give in.
In November, I invited women from around the world to a digital Women’s Night In. The message of this gathering was clear: We now have the unique opportunity to ‘build back better’ after the Covid-19 pandemic. We can make this year a turning point; for example by:
- Adopting national legislation in order to guarantee gender equality;
- Making tangible progress in the implementation of WPS;
- And: securing more support, funding and protection for civil society organizations.
This is no utopia. It is plain and simple: a matter of political determination.
I am right by your side and I thank you very much for all you efforts.
Thanks to all of you.