Women from around the world will gather tonight at the Manhattan Center, Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th St., New York City to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the UN’s 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing. The event will be hosted by WABC New York news anchor Sade Baderinwa, while Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf will emphasize the need for gender equality in a keynote speech along with Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Additional speakers will include Melinda Gates, as well as: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director; Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO; NY City Mayor Bill de Blasio; Patricia Arquette, Academy Award-winner and actress ; Bollywood actor/director/singer Farhan Akhtar; Gertrude Mongella, activist and first President of the Pan-African Parliament; Cheryl Saban, Ph.D., Founder of The Cheryl Saban Self-Worth Foundation for Women and Girls & Former United States. Representative to the United Nations General Assembly; Angelica Fuentes, CEO, Omnilife-Angelissima-Chivas Group; Salle Yoo, General Counsel, Uber Technologies; Kamla Bhasin, stalwart of women’s rights, feminist-activist; Kathy Calvin, President and CEO, UN Foundation; Mexican activist Yahir Zavaleta; American actress, comedian and writer Maysoon Zayid; Geena Rocero, model and advocate; youth activist blogger Aya Chebbi; Grammy-nominated duo Les Nubians; and R7 B singer Melanie Fiona..
The event, entitled “ PLANET 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” will be not only take a look at the 20-year journey of women’s rights, since the Beijing Conference, but also “ look at the road ahead.” It also coincides with the 59th Commission on the Status of Women.
Although it has been two decades since 189 nations adopted a platform to achieve equality for women, yet United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon acknowledged that more than 170 member nations still have laws preventing them from the same rights granted to boys and men including opportunities for education (despite the fact that many low income countries now offer tuition-fee primary school classes for both boys and girls). Yet, nearly 200 million less females than males are on the internet in developing nations, while 300 million less own mobile phones of their own. Even worse, it is estimated that despite statements made by delegates from China at the historic UN Conference on Women held in Beijing in1995 that their country expected to “achieve gender equality by 2005,” UN Executive director of Women noted that “nearly 1.4 million girls are prevented from being born there (as well as in India) every year due to the preference for sons.”
In addition, a report entitled “No Ceilings,” composed by a joint effort between the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation, Clinton Foundation and The Economist Intelligence Unit, as well as the WORLD Policy Analysis Center at UCLA showed that violence against women continues to remain a “global epidemic,” with “1 out of 3 women attacked sexually or beaten across the globe.
On the positive note the report did show a 42% reduction in the number of women dying in childbirth since 1995 (with the biggest improvement seen in South Asia, as well as 4 more years of life expectancy since 1995 (to almost 73-years of age).