Message received from Natasha Stott Despoja AM
Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls
Twenty y ears ago at the landmark Beijing World Conference on Women, 189 countries unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for gender equality. 1995 was a highpoint in international cooperation to secure commitments to women’s rights; we have not seen such an unequivocal statement of support for women and girls since.
However, in no area of women’s participation in economic or public life have we achieved what we aspired to in 1995. In no area of women’s and girls’ safety - at home, in places of work, or learning, or in situations of conflict - can we say our work is done.
We are marking this 20th anniversary in a spirit of both celebration and sober reflection. While we applaud the many gains made in 1995, and since, we also realise that we have a long way to go.
Throughout this year, Australia has been working hard with other countries to ensure the progress we have achieved is not rolled back. I am encouraged that Australia’s efforts on the international stage are reflected in national programs of action, too, like “My Voice, My Vote” at the Parliament of Victoria.
It is great to see young women reviewing progress made towards gender equality over the past twenty years and charting the path ahead. I can’t think of a more promising, untapped resource than the world’s young women. And there is no one better equipped to shape the future than the young leaders of today.
I commend you, and your schools, on participating in this important event; and I congratulate the National Council of Women of Victoria and the event sponsors for arranging this program.
The world cannot afford to wait another twenty years to achieve the goals we set in Beijing, and we look to our young women to take up this challenge, to build momentum to make the Beijing Platform for Action a reality.
I hope today’s event inspires you all to continue the work you are doing in your communities, your schools and beyond, to achieve gender equality.