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With the clarion call of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind, addressing gender inequality is fundamental for achieving a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable future for all. 2020 marks a series of converging global milestones: the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security; and the five-year milestone of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs. Together, these offer an opportunity to take stock of progress and persisting challenges and identify and accelerate actions to make gender equality and the empowerment of women a reality for all women and girls in Asia and the Pacific. The Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on the Beijing+25 Review was convened by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in late 2019 to review progress on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Sustainable Development Goals. More than 600 participants from 54 countries and 166 civil society organizations attended the conference, which culminated in the adoption of the Asia-Pacific Declaration on Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. It offers a comprehensive set of commitments and actions on region-specific issues to move forward the gender equality agenda over the next five years. Within this context, ESCAP and UN Women conducted a study of the progress made and gaps that remain in implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This synthesis report is the result of an analytical review drawing from national review reports of ESCAP members and associate members on Beijing+25, SDG data and secondary literature. Asia and the Pacific has made good progress in terms of the empowerment of women and girls over the last 25 years, but much work remains. Gains are currently threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, with gendered effects that are in large part attributable to the social and economic inequalities women have long faced. At the regional level, governments highlighted progress in some key areas, including the expansion of social protection programmes that put resources into women’s hands, women’s greater educational attainment, increased economic empowerment and participation in public life, and improvements in health outcomes, including the halving of the region’s maternal mortality rate since 2000. Alongside these achievements, governments also identified common challenges. These comprised limited government coordination and collaboration, and weak or insufficient implementation of relevant laws and initiatives. Discriminatory social norms continue to limit women’s and girls’ abilities to exercise and enjoy the full scope of their rights and available protections. Persistent gaps in gender data hinder effective policies and programmes. Governments also noted that, in spite of progress, further efforts will be needed to end violence against women and girls; increase women’s political participation and leadership; enhance women’s economic participation; improve women’s and girls’ health; and address environmental issues, such as climate change and natural resource management, as ongoing challenges to the realization of gender equality and women’s empowerment. To further advance gender equality in the region in the coming five years, governments indicated that eliminating violence against women and girls, promoting women’s political participation and enhancing women’s access to decent work are top priorities. Additional investments are needed in key areas as diverse as social protection, inclusive digital access and skills building, and sustainable infrastructure.

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