Anne Claire Legendre

By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Women’s Cultural and Social Society in Kuwait organized a webinar on gender equality on Monday. Speakers included Dr Tarek El-Sheikh, United Nations Secretary General Representative and Resident Coordinator in Kuwait, Anne Claire Legendre, Ambassador of France to Kuwait, Miguel Angel Isidro, Ambassador of Mexico to Kuwait and Sharifa Al-Khamis, Board Member of the Women’s Cultural and Social Society.

Legendre spoke about the upcoming Generation Equality Forum to be held both in France and Mexico, as they are the current chair and co-chair of the forum. The Generation Equality Forum is a civil-society centered global gathering for gender equality convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France.

Kicking off in Mexico City and culminating in Paris between June and July 2021, the forum will launch a series of concrete, ambitious and transformative actions to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards gender equality. On its website, it says this time is a critical moment for everyone, as COVID-19 has exacerbated existing gender inequities, with reports of rising violence against women, as well as higher adverse economic impacts caused both by increased unpaid caregiving and the fact that women work in more insecure, low-paid and informal jobs. Women of color, indigenous women and youth face compounded risks and barriers. So the Generation Equality Forum offers a critical opportunity to confront a gender equality crisis.

“Equality and women’s rights are part of our government’s priorities headed by Emmanuel Macron. That is why we are honored and happy to be here today to talk about gender equality. The Generation Equality Forum – arranged with the United Nations – marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Conference. Women’s rights are also human rights, and that conference actually pushed for the Beijing Declaration. Twenty-five years later, France has become the chair. This will be the biggest gathering of feminist activists, global leaders and people who are willing to participate and contribute to women’s rights issues,” said Legendre.

“Our aim is to not again make another declaration – we already have the Beijing Declaration and we believe that is the legal framework we want to keep. But we need to build a concrete coalition, and here we want to focus on our six main coalition principles to be tackled during the forum. The six main priorities in advancing women’s rights were discussed earlier, but during the forum they are going to deliberate it broadly,” Legendre said.

“The first is gender-based violence – this issue is a global phenomenon. Violence against women is rampant all over the world, even in their own homes at the hands of their partners or husbands. We’ve been working on this issue, including here in Kuwait, so we are ready to move forward. The second is economic justice and rights; women can express themselves when they have economic autonomy as they can protect themselves from any kind of domination, and this issue is also critical to uphold,” she said.

The other issues to be discussed during the forum include body autonomy (sexual and reproductive rights), feminist action (movements) and gathering all of them to create dialogue among them, and technology, innovation and leadership. “We want to get women empowered. We added to this climate transition – we want to highlight this as well. When we look at male domination, it starts with the body. But women can decide for their own body and themselves, so this must be discussed as well. This is a very sensitive and critical issue for women, and across cultural boundaries, it is not being tackled with the same passion,” Legendre pointed out.