The 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration (or also known as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action) was adopted during the 4th World Conference on Women in 1995. It is an agenda for women’s empowerment and considered the key global policy document on gender equality.
This pivotal declaration had aimed to eliminate all barriers and challenges that prevented women’s full and active participation in all spheres of public and private life. This included ensuring that women around the world are able to enjoy full and equal rights in political, economic, social, cultural decision-making processes.
The Beijing Declaration had identified 12 critical areas of concern and the measures or strategic interventions that was needed to deal with these concerns:
- Women and poverty
- Education and training of women
- Women and health
- Violence against women
- Women and armed conflict
- Women and the economy
- Women in power and decision-making
- Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women
- Human rights of women
- Women and the media
- Women and the environment
- The girl-child
The Beijing Declaration consolidated visions, approaches, concepts and had set goals which remains valid 25 years after its adoption. Today, gender issues are no longer seen as marginal to political issues, but as imminently political, if not in practice, at least in theory and conceptualization. Women’s human rights must be taken into account across all sectors and societies. The Beijing Conference also resulted in connecting and reinforcing the activism of women’s movements on a global scale, and achieving official recognition of the women’s movements as important political actors.
It was at this conference, the then First Lady of the United States, Hilary Clinton announced “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, it is that human rights are women’s rights. And women’s rights are human rights.”
But civil society remains concerned about the regression of women’s rights in a number of countries. While we have witnessed concerted efforts in some countries to include women in the decision-making process, we have also seen that in a number of other countries, that the rights gained by women are being eroded. There is a clear indication of regression of women’s rights in many parts of the world. Not every constitution around the world recognizes women as equal citizens. To date, not every State have ratified, the 1981 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discriminations against Women (CEDAW)
In the coming weeks and months, EMPOWER Malaysia will be releasing opinion pieces and other related public awareness/education materials to commemorate the Beijing Declaration and its importance for the advancement and fulfilment of women’s human rights. We hope to draw the attention of the Malaysian government to their promises made on the issue of women’s rights.
Image : Vectors by Vecteezy