On 5 September 1995, Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a speech in Beijing, at United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women declaring that: “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights”. Two decades later and Clinton’s speech still resonates, reminding us that even though women’s rights advocacy is a strategy embraced by most liberals, the gap between reality and political promise is still very much in place.
Although most of the Western hemisphere countries have women’s rights on the political agenda, women still fall behind when it comes to advancements in health, education, political rights and safety. Additionally, sexism and gender discrimination are still widely spread practices affecting the lives of numerous women. Achieving gender equality and eliminating all forms of discrimination against women are United Nations priorities.
The United Nations has extensive experience for tackling complex issues like inequality and women’s rights, and the Charter of the United Nations adopted in 1945 positions these topics as priorities. Moreover, Article 1 of the Charter declares that one of the principles of the United Nations is to advance fundamental freedoms “without discrimination of race, sex, language or religion.”
In 1967, UN Member States adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which invites the States to eradicate laws, norms and regulations that are biased against women and implement adequate legislation that encourages and safeguards gender equality.
In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly established the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women. Through UN Women, United Nations advanced its gender equality and women empowerment agenda, leaving a powerful mark on the lives of millions of women who suffer from violence, discrimination and socio- economic difficulties. A year later, Canada and UN Women have co- hosted an international conference highlighting the best practices and standards for women’s economic empowerment. One of the outcomes of the conference was the creation of an online platform (www.EmpowerWomen.org) which became fully operational by the end of 2013.
Since its debut, Empower Women was designed as a platform where women can express freely their concerns, raise awareness on topics of importance, engage in economic opportunities and interact with fellow entrepreneurs and local leaders. It is more than a plain website, being completely committed to empowering women and helping them overcome socio- economic barriers.
Today, Empower Women boosts more than half a million viewers and over 18,500+ members who come from both private and public sector and an additional 410+ energetic, dedicated Champions who fight for women’s economic empowerment.
In Romania, Empower Women and UN Women seek to identify: NGOs, women’s associations, women’s coalitions and women’s business groups or institutions who have gender specific projects and programs; organizations that achieve women’s economic empowerment and roll out comprehensive plans of actions to end every form of discrimination and violence against women.
Direct cooperation with Empower Women will have a significant impact on the selected organization as both technical and financial aid can be granted to ground-breaking projects and policies. Entering in a partnership with Empower Women also implies enjoying not only the resources and knowhow of an international organization but also its technological expertise; this again, will help organizations tackle the complexity of global problems and address issues in a more competitive way.
As a human rights activist, I saw the value of becoming a UN Women Champion for Change and joining a community of change makers who are bound by the conviction that gender equality can be achieved. As a woman, I understand that certain individuals choose to embrace a peculiar misogyny or gender hostility, while others welcome the rise of the modern woman. It is only up to us to select the gender dynamic we favor; however, the women’s rising status is no longer an issue that can be swept under the rug.