UN Women’s incoming Executive Director celebrates the impact of the Generation Equality Forum and affirms its potential to drive transformative progress on the SDGs


On 21 September, in a conversation with co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda French Gates, UN Women Executive Director elect, Dr. Sima Sami Bahous, affirmed the impact, diversity and reach of the Generation Equality Forum, saying it offered “a tremendous opportunity for the whole world to help women rise, and to rise with women as well”.

At a time when the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and major challenges to progress across the 17 SDGs, the historic nearly USD 40 billion of confirmed financial investments achieved by the Forum, supported by ambitious policy and programme commitments from governments, philanthropy, civil society, youth organizations and the private sector, will ensure concrete advances for women and girls.

Without real progress on gender equality, a meaningful and holistic recovery from this multifaceted pandemic will not be possible, stressed Bahous and French Gates at the UN-organized SDG Moment dialogue. “We know that economies flourish when women are engaged; what is good for gender equality is good for the economy and society. As the world learns to live with COVID-19 and starts to emerge from the crisis, we have a generational opportunity to use the recovery to shape a better, greener, more gender equal and sustainable world”, said Bahous.

Seizing this opportunity and achieving the full implementation of the SDGs will require the mobilization of knowledge, resources, and partnerships on an unprecedented scale. Acknowledging this, French Gates emphasized the timeliness of the Forum and its Action Coalitions, to which the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation has committed USD 2.1 Billion for the advancement of women’s leadership, reproductive health, and economic empowerment.

“The Generation Equality Forum’s six Action Coalitions worked together to bring private sector, governments, civil society, and advocates together at one zoom table to discuss what good policy looks like...where we need more data and how to carry on work afterward; it’s the only way we will ever get to some of the 2030 goals on gender equality”, she asserted.

The dialogue underscored that transformative change at scale is possible between now and 2030, but its realization hinges on effective collaboration between all relevant actors. Reflecting on the Forum’s success in expanding the space for the achievement of gender equality, Bahous emphasized that “when you are inclusive of different actors, including civil society, the private sector, youth, women and girls, it brings success and ensures that gender equality can be achieved”.