Generation Equality Forum: Men & Masculinities in the intersectional feminist agenda

MenEngage Alliance, plus members and partners of the global network, are supporting feminist leaders for gender-transformative social change at the Generation Equality Forum Mexico Forum.

What is Generation Equality Forum?

Generation Equality Forum is a global initiative to advance gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-chaired by the Governments of Mexico and France. It brings together an array of stakeholders from the private sector to civil society. An event in Mexico City from 29-31 March 2021 marked the official opening of the Generation Equality Forum journey, which culminates in Paris from 30 June – 2 July.

In this update you can find out about:

  • Highlights of the session per day
  • MenEngage Alliance at the Forum
  • Road ahead to Paris in June

Highlights from the Mexico City Forum

The Forum in Mexico City hosted an estimated 10,000 participants and more than 250 speakers from 85 countries.

Nearly fifty percent or participants were youth under 30 years of age. A critical goal of the Forum was to engage and inspire the next generation of gender equality leaders, and to reinvigorate action and movements for gender equality.

With the COVID-19 pandemic remaining center stage across the world, many noted its dire implications upon and related set-backs to gender justice globally. 26 years after the landmark Beijing Platform for Action, the Forum aimed to re-invigorate efforts towards the full implementation and realization of this framework, as well as to advance beyond its scope to meet the current moment.

Overall, the discourses and conversations hosted within the GEF Mexico City Forum were progressive, aspirational and forward looking. They centered key issues to gender justice long advanced by feminist movements, including:

  • The importance of feminist movement and women human rights defenders
  • The need for systemic transformation, especially in meeting the challenges of COVID-19
  • The importance of intersectionality and advancing intersectional feminist political agendas, including LGBTQIA+ rights, racial justice, indigenous rights, disability rights and youth leadership
  • A strong analysis on power and gendered power relations
  • Critical discussions took place across various spaces on the need for increased funding for feminist movements, as well as for accountability for funding mechanisms in order to ensure funds reach target groups, such as local women’s rights organizations.
  • As well, many conversations called for the need to work with men and boys across various sessions and stakeholders, including in remarks made by the President of Mexico on the importance of work with men and boys

Mr. Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, elevated the essential role of feminist movements stating:

“Feminism maintains an unrepentant, unresolved optimism. It is a dissatisfaction with the situation as it is and how it has been, and it is a permanent aspiration to change everything, or almost everything… The path it lays before us is to take the impulse that feminism leads to… to transform our societies, and never abandon optimism.”

Here is a breakdown of the highlights per day of the Mexico City Forum:

Day 1 - Opening the Generation Equality Forum

During the Opening Plenary global leaders called for “bold, unapologetic, and concrete progress towards gender equality”.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres remarked that some progress has been made since the historic Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995, but also centered that: “In many places, the very idea of gender equality has come under attack. Regressive laws are back, and violence against women is increasing. And now, the seismic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic have shattered the lives of millions of women and girls and destroyed many of our gains.”

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico, raised the intersectional fight ahead stating that: “We are fighting classism, discrimination and racism as never before, and there is no tolerance for sexism, nor is there impunity. Hate crimes and femicides are punished.” He also referenced the importance of engaging men and boys in efforts to achieve gender equality.

Emmanuel Macron, President of France and the host country of the upcoming second Generation Equality Forum in June, added, “women’s rights are human and universal rights: no relativism or justification can make them regress”.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, addressed the global audience saying, “no one can wait any longer. With the driving energy of a new vast and diverse population of feminists across multiple sectors, we can and must achieve gender equality in our generation. The Forum will help us turn the promise of the Beijing Platform for Action into a lived global reality through smart, targeted and financed actions that deliberately break the old barriers and cumulatively entrench human rights.”

Several high-level plenary sessions followed, unpacking critical topics in the realization of gender equality, including:


Day 2 - the Action Coalitions

Day two focussed on the work of the Action Coalitions – partnerships between governments, civil society, international organizations, and the private sector. Each of the six Action Coalitions was tasked with addressing a particular theme. These groups presented a blueprint for action for local-national-regional and global commitments towards gender justice over the next 5 years.

“The Generation Equality Action Coalitions are mobilizing governments, women’s, feminist and youth-led organizations, international organizations, and the private sector to: catalyze collective action; spark global and local conversations among generations; drive increased public and private investment; and deliver concrete progress on gender equality across generations for girls and women.

Each Action Coalition is led by a group of partners or leaders who have been working together to co-design Blueprints for action. Each blueprint articulates an ambitious agenda that will accelerate progress towards gender equality in this UN Decade of Action. Additional stakeholders are joining the Action Coalitions as Commitment Makers”. UN Women

To view the presentations developed by the Action Coalitions for the GEF Mexico City Forum, please see below:

The draft Generation Equality Accelerator Plan was unveiled, which collated the blueprints of all the Action Coalitions.

Day 3 - Closing Plenary and Global Commitments

Day three was where High-level commitments were showcased. Unveiled in the Global Commitments Plenary discussion, these commitments aim to catalyse actions to accelerate progress towards gender equality and to inspire further commitments by global stakeholders on the road to the Paris Forum.

Commitments included:

  • The Government of Mexico announced the launch of the Group of Friends of Gender Equality, integrated by 20 Member States who will coordinate efforts and support collective actions within various international forums in favor of gender equality.
  • Mexico’s National Institute for Women (INMUJERES) in partnership with UN Women launched an initiative for an Alliance for Care Work, in a bold effort to confront the care burden that impedes women’s economic opportunity, and which has risen due to the pandemic;
  • Women Moving Millions – a global network of individual philanthropists – made a commitment to raise USD 100 Million by Paris to support the entirety of the Action Coalition agenda;
  • A strategic partnership between Ford Foundation, the Equality Fund and the Government of Canada announced a commitment highlighting the importance of feminist funding in achieving gender equality including: a USD 15 Million commitment from Ford Foundation to the Equality Fund; plans to initiate a multistakeholder Global Alliance for Sustainable Feminist Movements; and a USD 10 Million commitment from Canada to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women.

MenEngage Alliance at the Mexico City Forum

Action Coalition civil society organisational (CSO) leaders

Five MenEngage Alliance members were selected by UN Women to serve as civil society organizational leaders across four Generation Equality Forum Action Coalitions. Working tirelessly over many months, they worked alongside UN Member States, private sector companies and other civil society leaders to advance ambitious and compelling blueprints in their respective Actions Coalitions.

MenEngage Alliance members of Action Coalitions include:
Gender-Based Violence – Breakthrough (India/USA) & ABAAD (Lebanon)
Economic Justice and Rights – CARE International (Global)
Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) – IPPF (Global)
Women, Peace and Security & Humanitarian Action Compact – WILPF (Global Catalytic Member)

As part of the Action Coalition central role in sharing the AC blueprints during the Mexico City Forum, MenEngage members Breakthrough, ABAAD, CARE International, IPPF and WILPF participated in the general discussion of Day 2. They centered the work that had been carried out over the last six months in reaching the framework and analysis of each thematic priority of Generation Equality Forum.

MenEngage Alliance Policy Agendas

The Action Coalitions are mandated to assess each theme through a series of cross-cutting transversal issues. One of these is ‘Transforming Gender Norms (including by engaging men and boys)’. This, alongside the other cross-cutting issues, is being used to strategize on, and inform the actions put forward by the Action Coalitions’ blueprints.

MenEngage Alliance developed Policy Agendas as advocacy tools which seek to support the uptake and nuancing of a progressive intersectional feminist political framework to transform patriarchal masculinities and engage men and boys within the Action Coalition blueprints.

Each Policy Agenda goes into practical tactics and substantive analysis on how to streamline global commitments to dismantle patriarchal masculinities, harmful social-gender norms, and unequal power relations for the realization of gender, social and environmental justice for all.

These Policy Briefs were shared with all Action Coalitions in order to advance advocacy towards this end.

Sessions MenEngage and our members took part in

MenEngage Latin America
Members of the MenEngage Latin America network unpacked the roles and responsibilities of men and boys in transforming patriarchal masculinities in a session at the Mexico City Forum. Titled, Experiences and Challenges in working with Men in Latin America, the session centered an analysis by Menengage Latin America of experiences, lessons learned, and challenges working with men through activism, academia and policy.

Members of MenEngage Latin America spoke on the need to challenge gendered power relations, the roles and responsibilities of men and boys in personal transformation as well as the need for those who work with men and boys to center accountability in all their efforts to women’s rights organizations, feminists, LGBTQIA+ and other social justice movements, including standing in solidarity and allyship towards systemic transformation.


ABAAD’s founder and Director, Ghida Anani, represented civil society in the high-level plenary discussion: Gender-based Violence. The crisis of gender-based violence – especially in the context of COVID-19 – and the need for awareness, prosecution and eradication.

Ghida Anani joined the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against women, its causes and consequences – Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Fabiola Alanis Samano, Commissioner on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women, Government of Mexico, Sarah Schlitz, State Secretary for Gender Equality, Equal Opportunity and Diversity, Government of Belgium, and Gambia Rocio Rosero, Women’s Rights Defender.

The panel held a rich discussion on the global surge of gender-based violence in lieu of COVID19 lockdowns, including pathways towards the acceleration of the elimination of GBV.

Road ahead to Paris

Registration is now open to participate in the Generation Equality Forum in Paris, which will largely be a virtual session with global participants joining from around the world.

Registration will be open from Monday, May 10, until Sunday, June 27 at midnight Paris time (CEST).

Click here to register