Fourth World Conference on Women
The United Nations convened the Fourth World Conference on Women on September 4-September 15, 1995 in Beijing, China . Delegates had prepared a Platform for Action that aimed at achieving greater equality and opportunity for women. The three previous World Conferences had been held in Mexico City (International Women’s Year, 1975), Copenhagen (1980) and Nairobi (1985).
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The official name of the Conference was “The Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace”. 189 Governments and more than 5,000 representatives from 2,100 non-governmental organizations participated in this event.
The principal themes were the advancement and empowerment of women in relation to women’s Human rights, women and poverty, women and decision-making, the girl-child, Violence against women and other areas of concern. The resulting documents of the Conference are the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
The overriding message of the Fourth World Conference on Women was that the issues addressed in the Platform for Action are global and universal. Deeply entrenched attitudes and practices perpetuate Gender Equality and Discrimination against women, in public and private life, in all parts of the world. Accordingly, implementation requires changes in values, attitudes, practices and priorities at all levels. The Conference signaled a clear commitment to international norms and standards of Gender Equality; that measures to protect and promote the human rights of women and girl-children as an integral part of universal human rights must underlie all action; and that institutions at all levels must be reoriented to expedite implementation. Governments and the UN agreed to promote the “Gender mainstreaming” in policies and programmes.
The Beijing Platform for Action
This outcome of the Beijing Conference is an agenda for women’s empowerment. It aims at accelerating the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women. It deals with removing the obstacles to women’s public participation in all spheres of public and private lives through a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making.
The Platform for Action sets out a number of actions that should lead to fundamental changes by the year 2000 – the Five Year Review of the Beijing Conference at a Special Session of the UN General Assembly (Beijing +5).
Implementing the Beijing Platform for Action is mainly a responsibility of governments, but also of institutions in the public, private and non-governmental sectors at the community, national, subregional, regional and international levels. The Platform acknowledges that significant progress will depend on building strategic partnerships and involving all stakeholders in the efforts towards change.
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action were adopted by consensus on 15 September 1995. The Declaration embodies the commitment of the international community to the advancement of women and to the implementation of the Platform for Action, ensuring that a gender perspective is reflected in all policies and programmes at the national, regional and international levels. The Platform for Action sets out measures for national and international action for the advancement of women over the five years until 2000.
If implemented, the Platform for Action will enhance the social, economic and political empowerment of women, improve their health and their access to relevant education and promote their Reproductive rights . The action plan sets time-specific targets, committing nations to carry out concrete actions in such areas as health, education, decision-making and legal reforms with the ultimate goal of eliminating all forms of discrimination against women in both public and private life.
Towards a Fifth World Conference on Women?
- U.N. Aims at Major Global Conference on Women in 2015 (IPS, 8 March 2012)
- Official UN Statement
- Mary P. Burke U.N. Women’s Conference Collection (MS105). Finding Aid. Suffolk University Archives, Suffolk University; Boston, MA.
- United Nations: Fourth World Conference on Women
- Official documents of the Fourth World Conference on Women
- An exclusive interview with Fourth World Conference on Women chairperson Patricia Licuanan