UN Women Launch New Campaign For Women’s Rights & Gender Equality


On Thursday June 26, an historic event was held in New York City. It had nothing to do with celebrities, sport, or theater. The Apollo Theater played host to a UN Women event which launched a new year-long campaign dedicated to sparking dialogue and global action on the topics of gender equality and women’s rights.

What made it historic was that the ‘Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It!’ campaign also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women which became a breakout point in modern history for women’s rights. It was at that event where Hillary Clinton made her famous speech, declaring: “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.”

The event played host to many UN Officials including UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuza, feminism activists such as Gloria Steinem who spoke during the conference, and celebrities such as Sudanese supermodel Alex Wek.

The aim of the campaign is to celebrate the achievements of the last 20 years for women all around the world, but to urge people everywhere, especially those with a large platform and who are in a position of influence, that there is still a long way to go for women to reach 100% equality in every country.

“Our goal is to rekindle the spirit of Beijing to re-energize all of us in our work to advance women’s rights, women’s empowerment, and gender equality,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuza.

“Gender equality is not Mission:Impossible. It is the mission for our time.”


She went on to identify 12 critical areas of concern for women around the world, including education, access to healthcare, economic independence, and women in politics.

“We have reduced maternal deaths, even though 800 women die a day from causes that are preventable,” she said.

Gloria Steinem talked about the rights of women being vital to that of the advancement of humanity in general.

“The human race is like a bird with two wings, and if one wing is broken, no one can fly.”

Maya Wiley, Consul to Mayor of New York City Bill De Blasio said adding women to the conversation was crucial, and focused her speech specifically on the host city.

“For our city to rise and prosper, 54% of its population cannot be marginalized. Women need access to quality childcare and flexible working. They need support so they can realize their ambitions and support their families.”


In many African countries such as Kenya, it is the woman who is the breadwinner and the homemaker, which means the burden falls on them to sustain the family and oftentimes their communities. Yet they aren’t necessarily viewed as equal beings. This campaign doesn’t just hope to bring change about physically, but allow people to change their perspective and attitudes toward women, which is where it all starts.

UN Women currently have a campaign called He for She which is dedicated to adding men’s voices to the conversation and solution. They want men to be aware of the impact they can have, and why their help is needed in furthering the cause of gender equality. It seems this is a calculated and important choice because one look through their Youtube Channel shows some of their most popular videos are the Egyptian PSA video made directed at men to stop violence against women (over 600,000 views) and the ‘Bro that’s not OK’ video aimed at men and boys in Asia to stop violence against women (over 10,000 views).

Back in 1995, the comprehensive affirmation of women’s rights and empowerment was adopted by 189 countries, but the promise made back then has only partially been fulfilled. UN Women plans to roll out events worldwide focusing on issues such as human rights, climate change, and economy in the hope they can identify where they can create change in women’s lives and accelerate the change needed.


According to a press release by UN Women, the Beijing+20 campaign which was launched online in May has already gathered a global audience of 40 million people, most of which no doubt include millennials who are tech-savvy and can use various platforms available to them to create change, that did not exist back in 1995. They are hoping to ignite more minds to work toward the same goal presented back then, on a much larger scale.

“If you involve and include women you will have a much better society and you will also have equality, peace, and prosperity,” said Norwegian Minister of Defense Ine Eriksen Soreide at the event.

While it is easy to ignore the war that is currently being waged on women globally, the truth is we can all do our part to either raise awareness, or act to change the stats. Like the campaign urges, picture what gender equality looks like to you, and use that as a starting point to contributing to this cause.


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