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France, UNFPA zero in on women’s rights to bodily autonomy and gender equality

THE Embassy of France to the Philippines, as well as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), are organizing a webinar to highlight the progress and obstacles that remain in ensuring women are freely able to exercise their sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR), as well as to identify and address gender inequalities that persist among health-care workers.

This will be in Paris, less than a month before one of the largest international gatherings dedicated to women’s rights and gender equality takes place.

Co-convened with the Philippine Commission on Women, the webinar “On the Road to the Generation Equality Forum” will gather speakers from the Department of Health, the Commission on Human Rights, the Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, the Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines, and from the diplomatic corps to discuss the importance of a gender-equal and protected health-care workforce, as well as the promotion of the bodily autonomy of women and young girls in the Philippines.

The online event will also encourage concerned stakeholders in the country to make more ambitious commitments to ensure the access of women and girls to SRHR services and, more broadly, promote gender equality within the context of the Generation Equality Forum.

The event will be streamed live on June 10 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the official Facebook pages of UNFPA Philippines and of the Embassy of France to the Philippines. 

Generation Equality Forum

AN online event to be hosted in Paris from June 30 to July 2, the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) is a global gathering for gender equality convened by UN Women and cochaired by the governments of France and of Mexico, with close partnership from civil society.

Twenty-six years after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action—the most comprehensive blueprint to achieve women’s empowerment and gender equality—the GEF will gather a group of 90 champions composed of governments, international organizations, civil-society groups, and the private sector to draft a Global Acceleration Plan consisting of concrete goals and actions toward achieving true gender equality by 2026.

The pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges in guaranteeing women’s right to their bodily autonomy. According to the UNFPA’s State of World Population Report published in April, nearly half of female respondents in 57 developing countries are still denied their right to make independent decisions over health care, contraception and the ability to say “yes” or “no” to sex. The report also revealed that only 56 percent of countries have laws and policies supporting comprehensive sexuality education (CSE).

As part of the GEF, the UNFPA is co-leading the Action Coalition on Bodily Autonomy and SRHR, with France as one of the member-states, in order to set the agenda for concrete actions to address access to integrated SRHR, harmful practices, CSE, and women’s decision-making.

Gender-equal health sector

SEVENTY percent of the 135 million health workers all over the world are women. A 2019 report by the Gender Equity Hub outlines the extent of gender inequalities in the health sector in five key messages: 1) Decision-making in the health sector is largely dominated by men. 2) Gender biases, discrimination and inequities in the workplace are systemic. 3) Women are either underpaid or unpaid for their work. 4) Violence and sexual harassment in the health-care sector are widespread. 5) Gender norms and stereotypes deeply reinforce occupational segregation.

It is in this context that the French government, which places gender equality as a priority through its feminist foreign policy, is working alongside the World Health Organization for the Gender Equal Health and Care Workforce Initiative as a complementary action to the GEF.

This initiative aims to mobilize governments, international organizations, civil-society representatives and the private sector to empower women in the health-care sector by making concrete commitments around four major themes: women’s leadership, remuneration and informal work, sexual harassment and violence, plus working conditions.

The online registration to participate in the Generation Equality Forum is open until June 27 via https://forumgenerationegalite.fr/en/get-involved/register.

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