In recent decades the international community has achieved considerable advances on the path to gender equality. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 were milestones that in their own way made a contribution to the elimination of discrimination against women. However, women’s full participation in political and societal processes cannot be taken for granted. It requires the complete commitment of all the actors involved. Politics and civil society are jointly called upon to eliminate barriers and secure women’s equal place in society.
From Olympe de Gouges to Malala
An exhibition at the Federal Foreign Office is highlighting the successes that have already been achieved in overcoming gender-based inequality and the future challenges facing the international community. The biographies of significant women’s rights activists are presented on one gallery wall: from Olympe de Gouges with her 1791 “Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen” to Eleanor Roosevelt with her contribution to the drafting of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and Aung San Suu Kyi with her untiring struggle against military dictatorship to Malala and her struggle for more education for girls in Pakistan. Despite considerable resistance within society, all of them have had an outstanding impact.
The exhibition also looks back into the history of the diplomatic service: the Federal Foreign Office long found it difficult to overcome traditional role models. Even by the middle of the last century, at the beginning of the training programme for new staff, the proportion of women was extremely low. The situation may have changed fundamentally in the meantime, but there is still much to be done.
Exhibition on “Women and the United Nations” from 26 October to 25 November 2016 in the Atrium at the Federal Foreign Office, Berlin