* All opinions expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Cooperation could lead to feminism without a generational gap and without progress for the human rights of everyone
Sahar Moazami is United Nations Program Officer at OutRight Action International
In 1995, 17,000 participants and 30,000 activists arrived in Beijing for the Fourth World Conference on Women. After weeks of intense political debate, the outcome of the conference was the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA), to which 189 governments committed. The BPfA remains to this day one of the most progressive plans for the achievement of gender equality in the world.
Twenty-six years later, the world is far from having achieved the goals set out in the BPfA, despite progress in some areas. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the event and verify the applicability of these commitments in today’s world, UN Women launched the Generation Equality campaign. Through her, UN Women brought together feminist actors from the original platform with new voices and created a coalition of feminists that crosses generations and borders.
While remaining one of the most progressive models for gender equality in the world, the BPfA has made many compromises for universality that are particularly shocking today, especially when it comes to LGBT + equality. .
At the time, OutRight Action International served as a hub for lesbian activist groups and ensured that lesbian issues were raised at all preparatory meetings. As a result, the word gender (rather than sex) was used and four references to sexual orientation appeared in the platform project.
However, the proposal for inclusive language, conversations about sexual liberation, choice and empowerment of women’s bodies, sparked explosive debates at the conference. As such, Beijing in 1995 became the birthplace of not only one of the most progressive gender equality documents to date, but also the growing anti-gender alliance of the Holy See, States Christian and Islamic conservatives and fundamentalist religious NGOs.
In this effort, the Anti-Gender Alliance launched rhetoric focused on protecting women from specific individual harms, as opposed to the freedom to truly shape their lives and enjoy their rights. The role of women’s sexuality has been relegated to the realm of procreation, eliminating almost all conversations about women’s rights to sexuality and sexual freedoms.
More generally, gender equality has been referred to in reference to violence against women, which has produced protectionist rhetoric placing women in the role of victim in need of protection, as opposed to someone who is an agent of change and a rights holder. Meanwhile, references to sexual orientation were seen as “dangerous” and intrinsically linked to immoral perversions.
On the last night of the Beijing conference, the alliance managed to remove all references to sexual orientation from the project. While the word “gender” has stuck, many states have issued statements clarifying their interpretation of the word as referring to both sexes.
Opposition to an inclusive definition of gender has continued and grown for years and is at the heart of what we now call the ‘anti-gender’ movement. A movement of conservative states and civil society dedicated to the protection of so-called “traditional values”, determined to preserve outdated perceptions of a social order characterized by two distinct sexes, the absence of diversity of sexual orientation or gender identity and the enslavement of women.
The use of the word gender – and other inclusive terms such as “all families”, or references to diversity – has been, and continues to be, alongside sexual and reproductive health and rights and rights. LGBT +, debated whenever it is used internationally. step.
The anti-gender movement undermines all efforts to advance gender equality, of which the realization of the human rights of LGBT + people is an essential element. Movements led by LGBT + people have historically been linked to feminist concerns. The same archaic perceptions of gender roles and expression, toxic masculinity and perceptions of how things ‘should be’, maintain systems of inequality between people of diverse genders, positioning people LGBT + as a threat to society. The compromises that have been made with the BPfA have undermined the feminist agenda, which includes the desire to see the human rights of LGBT + people recognized and respected.
With movements like Generation Equality and other such efforts to re-evaluate our campaigns for gender equality, we have the opportunity to recognize the connections between the various struggles and to produce a new model that takes an inclusive and inclusive vision. expansive that refuses to exclude anyone on the basis of their identity, and that centers intersectionality.
Cooperating with each other could result in a feminism that does not have a generational gap and focuses on advancing all human rights for all.