Fri, June 21, 2024

No country has achieved gender equality yet: Divya Panta, Local Committee President of AIESEC in Nepal

B360 June 9, 2024, 4:50 pm
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"One in 10 women live in extreme poverty." This powerful statement was made by the President of the General Assembly, Dennis Francis, at the 68th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) conference held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 11 to 22 March. 

Divya Panta, Local Committee President of AIESEC in Nepal, represented both AIESEC and Nepal at the event. 

CSW68 is the UN's largest annual gathering on gender equality and women's empowerment. This year, the theme was 'Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective'. 

According to Panta, the United Nations had been a 'dream place' for her since she was a young adolescent, and this dream finally came true. She had high expectations from this forum, and it certainly did not disappoint. From collecting the UN grounds pass with her name and photo on it to actually being in the headquarters, the experience was surreal. But more than that, what amazed her was seeing activists, predominantly women, from around the globe who all cared deeply about gender equality. 

She expressed, "Being inside the United Nations headquarters, particularly the General Assembly room, was magical, an experience of a kind. The magnitude of the issues discussed and the collective efforts aimed at addressing them left a lasting impression on me. While the outcome of CSW68 marked a significant milestone, it also highlighted the ongoing challenges and the determination needed to drive meaningful change." 

The 11-day conference dealt with critical issues such as feminist financing, social protection, the care economy, gender policies, and the challenges faced by minority groups in accessing sexual and reproductive services. "I felt privileged to have gotten the chance to speak with amazing activists from around the world who shared inspiring stories and struggles that I believe every youth should hear," she said and added, "One fact that stood out to me was that not a single country has been able to achieve gender equality to this date. This highlighted the urgent need for feminist financing and the decolonisation of neoliberal economics, themes that resonated across various sessions during the conference."

According to Panta, the side events and the representation of different countries made her realise how far Nepal still has to go in terms of reducing the gender gap and providing women with the access they need to sexual, reproductive, infrastructural, and financial resources. 

Statistics shared at the event were both sobering and motivating. For instance, globally, 10.3% of women live in extreme poverty, and progress towards ending poverty needs to be 26 times faster to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030. The sheer scale of the financial investment required — an additional $360 billion per year — underscored the enormity of the task ahead. 

Yet, the solutions presented were equally compelling. Investing in policies and programmes that address gender inequalities and boost women’s agency and leadership can yield enormous dividends. Prioritising education, family planning, fair wages, and expanded social benefits could lift over 100 million women and girls out of poverty. Additionally, investments in care work have the potential to create almost 300 million jobs by 2035, significantly boosting GDP per capita across all regions. 

Being present at the UN headquarters was a mind-blowing experience for Panta. "My journey towards advocacy doesn’t end here. Instead, this experience has catalysed my determination to take action to bridge the gender gap. This experience has been transformative for my personal and professional development. Being among so many amazing, knowledgeable, interesting people with whom I share the same values was heartwarming and affirming. It was a reminder of the power of collaboration, the importance of amplifying each other’s voices, and the collective responsibility we share in shaping a more equitable and just world."

The CSW68 experience at the United Nations has truly been a lifetime experience. She expressed her gratitude to AIESEC for giving her the opportunity and to her parents for their never-ending support.

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MAY 2024

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