PRESS RELEASE: Feminists want system change, civil society forum, 28 Oct in Geneva

Press release
28 October 2019

Feminists want system change!

Women and non-binary persons speak out at regional civil society forum on Generation Equality, Geneva. “It’s a unique event, there will be 450 feminists from 48 different countries in the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) region coming together, sharing our anger, hope and call for action.” says Olga Djanaeva, Kyrgyzstan.

In 2020 it will be 25 years since the historic fourth world conference for women, held in Beijing. Decision-makers and civil society around the world are therefore gathering regionally to take stock, to see how far we have come in terms of achieving gender equality and realising women’s human rights. 

On this day, 28 October, feminists and activits will share their anger at the structural barriers across the region that still persist and prevent women, girls and non-binary persons from fully enjoying their rights. They will map successes, such as progressive legal frameworks, to share hope and make sure they are implemented on the ground. More importantly, they want to inspire to action, by outlining common recommendations to decision-makers at the Official UNECE Regional Review meeting 29-30 October 2019. 

WHEN:  28 October 2019  
WHERE: International Congress Center Geneva (CICG)
Rue de Varembé 17, Geneva, 1211 Switzerland

“Our core framing principles of the forum are gender equality and justice, women’s human rights, respect for planetary boundaries and social, economic and environmental sustainability.” says Valentina Bodrug, Moldova

Feminists and human rights activitis from diverse backgrounds will work together to overcome structural economic, social and environmental crises that disproportionately impact women, girls and non-binary persons. Together, we are calling on everyone concerned about gender equality to fight to tackle intersecting inequalities and multiple forms of discrimination based on gender, age, class, caste, race, ethnicity, migratory status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics, disabilities, motherhood and any other status.

“We strive to create diverse, vibrant, equal and just societies for everyone” says  Almudena Rodríguez from Spain, “Activists from across the region are coming together to hold governments to account on their commitments for gender equity and women’s human rights as set out Beijing Platform for Action, Agenda 2030 and in CEDAW.”

In a time of uncertainty and division, the civil society organisers are volunteers who are striving to reflect all the diverse intersecting voices and concerns from the  region and not focus on single issues. 

We speak with a collective voice, we will build on our inclusive approach, as used in other United Nations processes, to ensure that this is a space for our diverse civil society, in particular for marginalized groups.” says Hanna Gunnarsson, one of the organisers from Women’s Major Group. “Even if you are not able to attend the Forum in person, you can support drafting our common positions or join discussions online on #FeministsWantSystemChange

Zere, a famous singer from Kyrgyzstan, will perform her song “Kyz” (The girl) during the opening. She has received death threats after sharing the video of the song, where she sings passionately for women’s rights.

“I was born in 1995, exactly 7 days after the end of the 4th world conference on women and the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action. As a young woman of 25 years old, I strongly believe that it is the UN’s mission is to bring back the momentum for the empowerment of all women and girls everywhere.“ Clémence Mathiaud, France

There is an urgent need to re-institutionalize gender accountability since the existing bodies are not responsive to women’s human rights. It is high time that we had a Global Independent Women’s Body: A body where all women can appeal to and present their complaints without any barriers, get workable solutions, and devise policies on enhancing women’s human rights, gender equality, and feminist values.” Selma Acuner & Sehnaz Kiymaz Bahceci, Turkey.

“My mother went to Beijing full of hope for change for the better. She chartered a flight to enable hundreds of women to go. Many there were disappointed that the language wasn’t stronger, but today we are still fighting to keep even those commitments. And we are still a long way from the world outlined in the Platform for Action. What is truly inspirational about this event is the unity of vision and a powerful concern to make a difference. We are going to make a difference.” Zarin Hainsworth, UK


Media contacts

  • Altin Hazizaj –, +355675002020, Languages: English, Italian, Albanian  
  • Natasha Dokovska –, Languages: Macedonian, English 
  • Valerie Bichelmeier – NGO CSW Geneva & Make Mothers Matter,, +41 78 930 2575, (Languages: French, English)



About Women’s Major Group
The Women’s Major Group comprises 1300+ member organizations and individuals that self-organize to promote human rights-based sustainable development with a focus on empowering women at all ages, women’s human rights, and gender equality through engagement with intergovernmental negotiations on sustainable development and environment. Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) is the organising partner for the UNECE Region who together with feminists from the region is coordinating the civil society forum ahead of UNECE regional review meeting (29-30 Oct, Geneva) on Beijing Platform for Action.