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Fourth World Conference on Women

Fourth World Conference on Women

Platform for Action

Mission statement

By: United Nations

Date: September 1995

Source: United Nations. Fourth World Conference on Women. "Platform for Action." September 1995.

INTRODUCTION

The United Nations declared 1975 the International Women's Year, and as such began to sponsor a series of conferences on women's issues. The first, which met that year in Mexico City, produced UN resolution 33/185, which proclaimed 1976–1985 the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development, and Peace.

The next conference, held in 1980 in Copenhagen to assess progress made toward the goals originally identified in Mexico City, penned the "Programme of Action for the Second Half of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace." The declaration identified additional obstacles in the quest for equality and produced an international agreement focusing on actions needed to address them. The Third World Conference for Women met in July 1985 in Nairobi and produced the "Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women." This agreement addressed objectives for the advancement of women through the year 2000, identifying concrete objectives for evaluation. These objectives were based on the United Nations Charter and other declarations and covenants addressing international cooperation toward the elimination of gender inequalities.

In 1995, the Fourth World Conference for Women convened in Beijing with representatives from 189 member nations, after meeting in Cairo the year before at the United Nation's International Conference on Population and Development to establish a conference platform. There, delegates determined that advancing the status of women would be instrumental in resolving issues of population, environmental destruction, and sustainable economic development.

The Beijing conference produced a platform for action that concentrated on advancing the aspiration of equality, sustainable development, and peace for all women. It asserts that poverty affects women and children disproportionately and that empowering and advancing women's causes—including the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief; economic independence; freedom from violence; and equal access to medical treatment, education, resources—would contribute to a more peaceful world.

PRIMARY SOURCE

United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women

Beijing, China 4–15 September 1995

Chapter I

Mission Statement
  1. The Platform for Action is an agenda for women's empowerment. It aims at accelerating the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women and at removing all the obstacles to women's active participation in all spheres of public and private life through a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural, and political decision-making. This means that the principle of shared power and responsibility should be established between women and men at home, in the workplace, and in the wider national and international communities. Equality between women and men is a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice and is also a necessary and fundamental prerequisite for equality, development and peace. A transformed partnership based on equality between women and men is a condition for people-centred sustainable development. A sustained and long-term commitment is essential, so that women and men can work together for themselves, for their children and for society to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.
  2. The Platform for Action reaffirms the fundamental principle set forth in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights, that the human rights of women and of the girl child are an inalienable, integral, and indivisible part of universal human rights. As an agenda for action, the Platform seeks to promote and protect the full enjoyment of all human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all women throughout their life cycle.
  3. The Platform for Action emphasizes that women share common concerns that can be addressed only by working together and in partnership with men towards the common goal of gender equality around the world. It respects and values the full diversity of women's situation and conditions and recognizes that some women face particular barriers to their empowerment.
  4. The Platform for Action requires immediate and concerted action by all to create a peaceful, just, and humane world based on human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the principle of equality for all people of all ages and from all walks of life, and to this end, recognizes that broad- based and sustained economic growth in the context of sustainable development is necessary to sustain social development and social justice.
  5. The success of the Platform for Action will require a strong commitment on the part of Governments, international organizations, and institutions at all levels. It will also require adequate mobilization of resources at the national and international levels as well as new and additional resources to the developing countries from all available funding mechanisms, including multilateral, bilateral, and private sources for the advancement of women; financial resources to strengthen the capacity of national, subregional, regional, and international institutions; a commitment to equal rights, equal responsibilities and equal opportunities and to the equal participation of women and men in all national, regional and international bodies and policy- making processes; and the establishment or strengthening of mechanisms at all levels for accountability to the world's women.…

Chapter III

Critical Areas of Concern

41. The advancement of women and the achievement of equality between women and men are a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice and should not be seen in isolation as a women's issue. They are the only way to build a sustainable, just and developed society. Empowerment of women and equality between women and men are prerequisites for achieving political, social, economic, cultural and environmental security among all peoples.

42. Most of the goals set out in the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women have not been achieved. Barriers to women's empowerment remain, despite the efforts of Governments, as well as non-governmental organizations and women and men everywhere. Vast political, economic and ecological crises persist in many parts of the world. Among them are wars of aggression, armed conflicts, colonial or other forms of alien domination or foreign occupation, civil wars and terrorism. These situations, combined with systematic or de facto discrimination, violations of and failure to protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all women, and their civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights, including the right to development and ingrained prejudicial attitudes towards women and girls are but a few of the impediments encountered since the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, in 1985.

43. A review of progress since the Nairobi Conference highlights special concerns - areas of particular urgency that stand out as priorities for action. All actors should focus action and resources on the strategic objectives relating to the critical areas of concern which are, necessarily, interrelated, interdependent and of high priority. There is a need for these actors to develop and implement mechanisms of accountability for all the areas of concern.

44. To this end, Governments, the international community and civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, are called upon to take strategic action in the following critical areas of concern:

  • —The persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women
  • —Inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal access to education and training
  • —Inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal access to health care and related services
  • —Violence against women
  • —The effects of armed or other kinds of conflict on women, including those living under foreign occupation
  • —Inequality in economic structures and policies, in all forms of productive activities and in access to resources
  • —Inequality between men and women in the sharing of power and decision-making at all levels
  • —Insufficient mechanisms at all levels to promote the advancement of women
  • —Lack of respect for and inadequate promotion and protection of the human rights of women
  • —Stereotyping of women and inequality in women's access to and participation in all communication systems, especially in the media
  • —Gender inequalities in the management of natural resources and in the safeguarding of the environment
  • —Persistent discrimination against and violation of the rights of the girl child

Chapter IV

Strategic Objectives and Actions

45. In each critical area of concern, the problem is diagnosed and strategic objectives are proposed with concrete actions to be taken by various actors in order to achieve those objectives. The strategic objectives are derived from the critical areas of concern and specific actions to be taken to achieve them cut across the boundaries of equality, development and peace—the goals of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women—and reflect their interdependence. The objectives and actions are interlinked, of high priority and mutually reinforcing. The Platform for Action is intended to improve the situation of all women, without exception, who often face similar barriers, while special attention should be given to groups that are the most disadvantaged.

46. The Platform for Action recognizes that women face barriers to full equality and advancement because of such factors as their race, age, language, ethnicity, culture, religion, or disability, because they are indigenous women or because of other status. Many women encounter specific obstacles related to their family status, particularly as single parents; and to their socio- economic status, including their living conditions in rural, isolated or impoverished areas. Additional barriers also exist for refugee women, other displaced women, including internally displaced women as well as for immigrant women and migrant women, including women migrant workers. Many women are also particularly affected by environmental disasters, serious and infectious diseases and various forms of violence against women.

SIGNIFICANCE

The United Nations twenty-third special session, "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development, and Peace for the Twenty-First Century" met at Hunter College in New York. The agreement that emerged from the conference was called "Further Actions and Initiatives to Implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action." The declaration examined the effectiveness of programs created at the Beijing Conference and identified achievements and obstacles to reaching the goals set there.

In the area of women's health, the declaration acknowledged an increased life expectancy for women and girls and improved concentration on sexual and reproductive health issues, which includes reproductive rights. In addition, the platform cited achievements in contraception education and family planning, HIV/AIDS education, and increased awareness toward nutrition and breastfeeding.

The document also acknowledged obstacles. In developing nations, for example, women's health is hindered by a lack of clean water, adequate nutrition, and safe sanitation. In addition, a lack of gender-specific health research in some countries created an impediment. The conference called for additional investment into obstetric care and a holistic approach toward women's health care. At the UN Millennium Summit held in New York in 2001, over 150 member nations signed the Millennium Declaration and agreed to work toward the Millennium Development Goals, which include empowering of women and moving toward gender equality.

FURTHER RESOURCES

Periodicals

Johnson, Jeanette, and Wendy Turnbull. "The Women's Conference: Where Aspirations and Realities Met." International Family Planning Perspectives 21, no. 4 (December 1, 1995) 155–159.

Web sites

United Nations. "Third World Conference on Women, Nairobi." <http://www.earthsummit2002.org/toolkits/Women/un-doku/un-conf/narirobi.htm> (accessed May 10, 2006).

United Nations. "Further Actions and Initiatives to Implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action." <http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/followup/ress2 33e.pdf> (accessed May 10, 2006).

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