by Monique Cuillerier
The Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing in September 1995. At the conference, 189 governments agreed to the Beijing Platform for Action, a consensus document that addressed twelve critical areas to be addressed. These areas encompass poverty, education and training, health, violence against women, armed conflict, the economy, power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women, human rights, the media, the environment and the girl-child.
The previous three conferences were held in Mexico City (1975), Copenhagen (1980),and Nairobi (1985). A five-year review took place in June 2000 in the General Assembly, a ten and fifteen year reviews during the annual meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2005 and 2010 in conjunction with meetings of the General Assembly.
To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the conference, there are various plans for what is being referred to as Beijing+25. All States were called upon to develop national reviews of their implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and submit them to UNWomen and their regional UN commission by May 1, 2019.
There are also plans for civil society reporting, for example in Canada there is a broad group of interested organizations working on developing a parallel report. These reports will be submitted, during the summer of 2019, to the regional commissions ahead of their meetings.
Regional meetings and reviews in the fall of 2019 will ensure that the outcomes of intergovernmental processes at the regional level can feed into the 2020 review. These will take place at the regional commissions (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA).
In March 2020, during the annual meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, the United Nations will conduct a review and appraisal of progress made on the Beijing Platform for action and outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, which was held in 2000. Additionally, the review will assess current challenges that affect the implementation of the Platform for Action and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women in reference to the full realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
A civil society forum will be held in France and Mexico in June 2020, with the opportunity for remote participation. The purpose of the forum is to energize the global feminist and women’s movements and mobilize young leaders. The expected outcome will be recommendations for urgent implementation actions directed at policy makers with the goal of achieving key gender equality markers by the end of the SDGs in 2030.
Then, in July 2020, there will be a High Level Political Forum held in New York. Governments will do a 5-year review of the 2030 sustainable development agenda. Within the seventeen sustainable development goals is Goal 5, which focuses on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.
And finally, in September 2020, in conjunction with the opening of the General Assembly session, there will be a one-day high-level meeting to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary and encourage concrete steps towards the realization of gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls.
It is hoped that this schedule of consultations and reviews at all levels will result in improved implementation plans and the setting of ambitious yet achievable goals.