Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

This March, both Women’s History Month and Gender Equality Month, saw great discussions on ways to enhance equal rights and safety for women nationally and globally.

2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action at the 1995 UN Women’s Conference, which has served as the blueprint to realize gender equality and women’s empowerment. In the original document, the need for action on violence against women was stressed as critical to bringing equality to the genders.

“The fear of violence, including harassment, is a permanent constraint on the mobility of women and limits their access to resources and basic activities. High social, health and economic costs to the individual and society are associated with violence against women…Violence against women is a manifestation of the historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of women’s full advancement.”

The “No Ceilings Full Participation Report,” an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, collected global data from international agencies, like the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations to identify growth and gaps in the work for gender equity since the Beijing Platform for Action. This report shows critical areas where women are not progressing, including wage and education equality, political representation, and violence against women. Currently, one in three women worldwide are victims of violence.

One area that leaders want more focus on is the depiction and presence of women in media, something that NJCASA and its preventionists also stress as a critical focus to achieve gender equity. In the Beijing Declaration, leaders noted that images of violence against women in the media contribute to “the continued prevalence of such violence, adversely influencing the community at large, in particular young people.” Actor Geena Davis, founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, spoke this month about the achievements that can be made by representing women in media more accurately and frequently. “There is one sector where this gross imbalance can be changed overnight and that is on screen,” Davis said. “We don’t have to fix the unconscious bias they are raised with later on. We can fix it from the very beginning.”

UN Women hosted Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality earlier this month in NYC, a celebration of progress made and a call to individuals and governments to enhance their efforts to have equal gender partnerships in the next 15 years. Cheryl Saban of the Self Worth Foundation for Women and Girls supported the event and shared a sentiment to keep us moving forward:

“Just remember this:  because of an imbalance of power, gender inequalities and violence, little girls and women are forfeiting their choices, their smiles, their vitality, their art, their music, their childhoods, and their identities. But we cannot sit here with the resources we all have at our disposal and let them also lose their hope.”