On November 9, 2020 H.E. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the Prime Minister of Iceland and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, gathered current and former women presidents and prime ministers for the Council’s annual meeting. The meeting was comprised of a one-hour thematic discussion between Council members and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, on the issue of gender-based violence in the context of COVID-19.
2020 is a milestone year for gender equality as the global community marks the 25th anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the most comprehensive roadmap for women and girl’s empowerment. However, 25 years after its adoption, and in the context of COVID-19, the progress made falls short of what states committed themselves to in Beijing in 1995 – especially with regards to ending gender-based violence.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created conditions where those who seek to curtail women’s rights have been further enabled and it has resulted in an unprecedented increase in the number of violence reports from millions of women worldwide.
During the discussion, Council members made it clear that as we take on the enormous task of rebuilding our societies after the pandemic, we need to discuss how to build back better for women and girls and how to tackle the new gaps and challenges in the fight against gender-based violence.
Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime minister of Iceland:
"As we celebrate the Beijing+25 we are steadfast in our commitment to gender equality and the protection of the hard-earned progress concerning the human rights of women and girls around the world. We must ensure women’s participation at the highest level of decision making and that in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, gender responsive measures are included in all response and recovery decisions. Women-world leaders have risen to the enormous challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in admirable ways. The world has taken note and it is our belief that we will continue to see a greater number of women elected as leaders around the world."
The annual meeting was as in past years held in conjunction with the Reykjavík Global Forum that the Prime Minister of Iceland co-chairs.
The Council of Women World Leaders
The Council of Women World Leaders is an independent, self-governing network of 79 current and former women presidents and prime ministers. It was established in 1996 by the first woman in the world to be democratically elected president, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, President of Iceland (1980-1996), Mary Robinson, President of Ireland (1990-1997), and Laura Liswood, Secretary General. It is the only organization in the world dedicated to women heads of state and government.