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20th Anniversary of Women, Peace & Security and Beijing+25 Milestones Observed Under Threat


Experts available from Oxfam and partner organizations

25 years ago, Hillary Clinton famously declared that “women’s rights are human rights” at the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women. As we mark this Beijing +25 milestone year as well as kick off the 20th Anniversary of Women, Peace & Security this month, we recognize the progress we’ve made in the fight for women’s rights and gender equality thanks to the fearless leadership of diverse women around the world, but we unfortunately don’t have the space to celebrate fully.

Instead women everywhere are forced to hold the line against renewed attacks on gender equality and women’s rights, including access to sexual health and reproductive rights, efforts to end and prevent violence against women and gender-based violence more broadly, as well as full, equal, and meaningful participation in decision-making spaces.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also laid bare how fragile some of these gains have been, as women face a drastic increase in gender-based violence, duty of unpaid care and other growing challenges. This experience is only amplified for women of color, indigenous women, differently abled women, women of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, as well as women living in poverty and in situations of conflict.

We are at a crossroads as global powers, especially the United States, are using their outsized influence at the UN to push back on the progress diverse women and gender equality activists have spent decades fighting for and export their restrictive ideals globally. The Trump administration’s recent redefining of the Global Gag Rule is just one of many actions demonstrating a clear intent to control and limit work that supports diverse women’s rights and gender equality globally.  Civil society organizations see a threat of leaders in the UN Security Council politicizing this opportunity to "commemorate" this milestone while in fact rolling back hard-earned diverse women's rights and norms.

This should raise alarm for the international community, both because gender equality is at the heart of the international human rights framework, and evidence shows that gender inequality has significant negative consequences on governance, peace and security, economic performance, food security and access to livelihood, health and wellbeing, environmental protection and social progress. Stability of nations and the global order literally depends on the status of women.

Abby Maxman, Oxfam America’s President & CEO Oxfam America said:  “This year, we should be celebrating decades of leadership and progress on issues that impact the everyday lives of women, from increases in access to safe medical care, to equal and meaningful participation in decision-making spaces, and control over land and resources.   

“Unfortunately, our celebration must be measured, because we now find this progress at risk of moving backwards as the Trump administration and other global leaders use their power in the Security Council to export their regressive and repressive values abroad. We instead have to focus on fending off renewed threats to diverse women’s rights and gender equality in the form of votes against sexual and reproductive health rights, and a potential Women, Peace and Security resolution that could do real and lasting harm to women around the world.” 

Dr. Ola Awad, President of the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics & Member of MIFTAH’s General Assembly said: “Palestinian women are strong and well educated and play a major role in our struggle and endeavor towards freedom. This said, less than one fifth of women are currently in the labor market, and much less are in decision making positions. In a country where human capital is the main resource it is a pity to have half of the community not included. 

“Women’s participation strengthens our social bonds and capabilities leading towards a resilient and vigorous economy. Investing in women is the most effective way to build resilience and wellbeing. Gender inequality and discrimination against women harms not only women but all of the society. Gender equality is not a statement but a necessity to ensure that everyone is engaged in achieving development and benefiting from it.”

South Sudanese women’s rights activist, Nyachangkuoth Rambang Tai shares, “This year I celebrate 20 years of steps closer to all the things that matter the most to us women in South Sudan. We came a long way and we are on the right path because we are resilient and consistent. As we celebrate this milestone I take this opportunity to remind South Sudanese women that it is high time to push for the implementation of the Government’s 35% affirmative action plan, keeping in mind our ultimate goal of equal representation.”  

Paine Mako – Executive Director - Ujamaa Community Resource Team, Tanzania said, “In communities where land is communally owned, women’s position in land-related matters is a big question that is yet to be answered. We still struggle in identifying the role of women in a structure that is made and maintained by men.”

During October’s Women, Peace & Security month, and in the months ahead, women in all their diversity will be calling on Member States to protect the progress that has been made. They are demanding decision-makers respond to diverse women’s unique needs – especially the increase in gender-based violence amidst a global pandemic; meaningfully include them in peace and security decision-making; and afford them the right to monetary and natural resources, systemic support for care work and ownership of land. A calendar of events is available here.

Oxfam and partner organizations have experts available to speak to these and other issues addressed during Women, Peace & Security Month:

  • Abby Maxman, Oxfam America President & CEO – gender and humanitarian crises
  • Anna Tonelli, Oxfam International Senior Policy Advisor; Inclusive Peace & Security – women, peace and security
  • Maria-Jose Moreno Ruiz, Oxfam International Gender Justice Director – unpaid care work
  • Mayssam Zaaroura, Oxfam Canada Women’s Rights Knowledge Specialist – violence against women, gender-based violence
  • Nyachangkuoth Rambang Tai, #BorntoLead Campaign member, South Sudan – women’s rights, women’s meaningful participation in peacebuilding
  • Paine Mako, Executive Director, Ujamaa Community Resource Team, Tanzania – land rights and access to resources
  • Saraswati Dhruv, Khoj Avam Jan Jangriti Samiti (KAJJS) Program Officer, India –land rights and access to resources
  • Amani Aruri, Generation Equality Youth Ambassador from Palestine – Beijing +25 anniversary commitments, young women's rights
  • Mary Akrami, Director, Afghan Women Network – women’s rights and women’s participation peace processes
  • Dr. Bilqis Abouosba, Head of Awam foundation for Development and Culture, Yemen – women’s participation in peace process, anti-corruption initiatives
  • Dr. Antelak Almutawakel, Co- founder and Chairwoman of Youth Leadership Development Foundation (YLDF), Yemen - women’s participation in the peace process

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For more information, contact:

Lauren Hartnett
Humanitarian Media Lead
New York, NY
Cell: (203) 247-3920
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