Picture it: The day the Beijing Declaration becomes irrelevant

Cross-posted from UN Women

Nive Sharat Chandran is a 23-year-old From New Zealand who has served as the Vice-President and on the Board of Directors of the YWCA in Auckland.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of domestic violence among OECD countries.

Nive Sharat Chandran

Photo courtesy of Nive Sharat Chandran

On average women earn 13 per cent less than their male counterparts for doing the same job. Women still get judged by the way they dress and how they conduct themselves. Rape culture is still prevalent in New Zealand. As recently as 2013, young men were gang-raping intoxicated underage girls. And young girls are still forced into marriage in New Zealand.

While New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote back in 1893, we only have 39 women MPs currently in Parliament. Women make-up only one-third of the New Zealand Parliament! 

In 2015, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set in 2000 will expire and it will also be 20 years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

In 1995, when the Platform for Action was adopted, I was four years old and living in Chennai, India. In the past 20 years, I have migrated to and grown up in Aotearoa, New Zealand.  As a young ethnic woman growing up in a developed country, I have realized the importance of the Beijing Declaration.

I do not want domestic violence to be our national shame.

I do not want a friend getting gang raped.

I do not want to get paid 13 per cent less than a male colleague for doing the exact same job.

I want my Parliament to be representative of the population of New Zealand.

I certainly do not want any young woman like myself to be forced into marriage.

The day when women, young women and girls are living in a world free from violence; are given the same economic opportunities as their male counterparts; are given equal say in the decision-making bodies of nations; and are able to live in a world where their sexual reproductive health and rights are not discriminated against, is the day the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action becomes irrelevant.

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