The United Nations convened the Fourth World Conference on Women on 4-15, September 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 were in Mexico City (International Women's Year, 1975), Copenhagen (1980) and Nairobi (1985). The official name of the Conference was "The Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace". The Conference was participated in by 189 Governments and more than 5,000 representatives from 2,100 non-governmental organizations.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 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.
Beijing + 10
2005 marked the tenth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, including the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. In recognising this, the forty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) reviewed its implementation. Find out more about Beijing +10 (external link) and WNC's involvement in CSW 49 (2005).
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe produced a report following from its Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 10-Year Review of Implementation of the Beijing PfA, which can be read here.
In light of the ten-year anniversary, the WNC put together a brochure, Having it all? (pdf 214 Kb), which highlights what women in the UK want the Government to do now to ensure the Platform for Action continues to be implemented.
Beijing + 5
The year 2000 marked the fifth anniversary since the United Nations' (UN) Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. The UN held a Special Session of the General Assembly to review progress in implementing the Platform for Action.
The Special Session called Women 2000: Gender, Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st century, and the anniversary is popularly referred to as Beijing + 5. It examined how much further women's equality had been advanced over the previous five years, what the remaining obstacles were, and looked at new and emerging trends in the world which particularly affect women. The UN made recommendations on how to speed up the implementation of the Platform for Action and work towards ending discrimination against women. Governments were asked to review progress in respect of women's equality and set out their plans for future action. In parallel, non-governmental organisations were invited by the UN to produce 'alternative' reports giving their own assessments of what still remains to be done.
The WNC, on behalf of women’s NGOs, produced an 'alternative' report entitled: ‘Women 2000’ and a shorter version ‘Having it All’ on the status of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the UK. See International Work Archive for a copy of these reports.