From Rhetoric to Effectiveness: Assessing Change 20 Years After Beijing

A review of worldwide progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women will be conducted at national, regional and global levels. States are urged to undertake comprehensive national-level reviews of the progress made and challenges encountered in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly.

The Beijing Platform for Action, which identifies 12 critical areas of concern, constitutes the most comprehensive political and programmatic framework to date for women's/girls’ rights. However, data and daily experiences of women and girls in many parts of the world testify to both the extent of the resistance to its implementation and to achievements in the field of gender equality that are not up to the ambitions leading to its development and consensus that has led to its adoption. As emphasized by the Executive Director of UN-Women: “Beijing Platform for Action has not honored its promise to women and girls. Our goal is clear: renewed commitment, capacity measures and increased resources for achieving gender equality, women's empowerment and human rights of women and girls." (UN Women. June 22, 2014)

National Reviews must cover trends, achievements and remaining gaps, as well as future plans for speeding up the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. Governments are strongly encouraged to work with relevant stakeholders at all levels of this preparatory process and support the role and contribution of civil society, especially non-governmental organizations and women's organizations.

At the regional level, the five UN economic commissions will use national reviews to prepare regional assessment reports over the course of 2014. This process also involves the organization of intergovernmental meetings in all five regions. The outcomes of these regional reviews will feed into the work of the 59th Commission on the Status of Women.

At the Global level, this review process will be the agenda of the fifty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (March 9 to 20, 2015) to discuss the current challenges affecting the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, as well as opportunities for the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Beijing + 20 and Post 2015 Agenda for Development: a Strong Appeal for Human Rights and Justice for All

Since the adoption of the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG, 2000) by the international community, based on the observation that no dimension of economic and social development is neutral from a gender perspective, the international feminist movement has consistently (I) emphasized that the rights of women and girls have been collated to the MDGs rather than being an integral part of it and (ii) focused on the need for strong political commitment of the international community and Goverments in favor of gender equality so that the next post-2015 Agenda for Development adopts a rights-based approach and integrates a systematic gender perspective.

The current process initiated by the international community to accelerate progress in achieving the MDGs by 2015 and the establishment of a new framework for development is a historic opportunity to bring equality, empowerment and the fight against violence against women / girls to the heart of the global agenda for development.

The World Forum of HR (MFHR, Marrakesh 27, 28, 29 and 30 November 2014)

In December 2013, the State Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil organized the First World Forum on Human Rights (WFHR), with more than 5,000 participants from Brazil, Latin America, and many other countries.

The second edition of WFHR will be held in Marrakesh from 27 to 30 November 2014, while Argentina will host the next edition in 2015. The Marrakesh WFHR comes just months before the dates set ??by the international community to review the progress made ??in implementing the Beijing Platform and the MDGs. In this regard, the organization of Beijing +20 Thematic Forum is a real opportunity and a milestone for these dates. Indeed, representatives of governments, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and human rights organizations and other stakeholders will be able to exchange, discuss and adopt conclusions and recommendations to be brought to the final conference of the WFHR which will bring together civil society organizations at the national, regional and international level, governments, NHRIs, the international system of human rights of the UN, as well as individuals committed to human rights.

Beijing + 20 Thematic Forum will be organized around the theme "From Rhetoric to Effectiveness: Assessing Change 20 Years After Beijing" with the aim of contributing to framing the Post 2015 Agenda for Development in a rights-based approach and influencing future commitments of the international community in favor of women and girls’ rights, both in the context of the Beijing+20 process and the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

Proposed Areas for Debate

Since the adoption of the Beijing Platform and the MDGs, globalization and the economic crisis, human mobility, wars and conflicts pose new challenges and issues for equality and the promotion of human rights of women and girls:

  • What are the main obstacles and challenges to promoting gender equality and parity in all areas and in fighting against impunity in matters of gender-based violence in a globalized world, which has gone through profound economic, social and technological changes?
  • What new paradigms / approaches for the renewal and acceleration of commitments of the Beijing Platform and the Post 2015 Development Agenda?
  • What are the main driving forces and paths for Change; and how to strengthen the articulation and convergence of the international community commitments in favor of women's rights in the after Beijing and in the framework of the Post 2015 Development Agenda?
  • What are the means and tools to be mobilized by human rights defenders and advocates to strengthen their mobilization and advocacy at the national, regional and international levels in order to influence the global process of the after Beijing and post 2015 agenda and ensure the effectiveness of commitments to women's rights?
  • How to contribute to the improvement of the consideration of women's rights in the international aid/development system and how to increase the impact, effectiveness and accountability of the system?

Beijing +5; WOMEN 2000: Gender equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century; Special Session of the General Assembly, 5-9 June 2000.

States are encouraged to complete their review by May 1st 2014 based on a guidance note prepared jointly by UN Women and the UN Regional Commissions.