UN Women today launched a major campaign in the lead-up to the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the historic Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. A year of activities around the world will aim to mobilize governments and citizens alike to picture a world where gender equality is a reality and to join a global conversation on empowering women to empower humanity.
Events will focus on achievements and gaps in gender equality and women’s empowerment since 189 governments adopted the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This visionary blueprint paves the way for women’s full and equal participation in all spheres of life and decision-making.
“The Beijing Platform for Action is an unfulfilled promise to women and girls,” says UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “Our goal is straightforward: renewed commitment, strengthened action and increased resources to realize gender equality, women’s empowerment and the human rights of women and girls.”
The Beijing Women’s Conference drew an unprecedented 17,000 participants while 30,000 representatives attended the NGO Forum. Next year, in 2015, the United Nations will assess progress on implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action over the past 20 years, based on national reports currently being prepared by UN Member States.
The campaign will kick off with an all-day Tweetathon spanning the globe. Participating groups will include the UN, Lean In, the World YWCA, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, Half the Sky, the European Women’s Lobby, the Women’s Media Centre, Devex and other regional and national experts.
UN Women will unveil a global information hub featuring diverse voices, testimonies of personal experiences and achievement, celebrity champions and a calendar to track Beijing+20 events. The HeforShe web platform will spotlight prominent men standing up to end violence against women and advance equality. UN Women will support engagement through its network of country offices and release an interactive Facebook app, “Close the Gap”.
“This anniversary takes place at an historic moment,” stresses UN Women’s Mlambo-Ngucka, “as the nations of the world are coming together to accelerate progress to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and define a new global development framework. We must seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to position gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment at the centre of the global agenda and make it a reality.”
Major campaign events are being planned around the world. This June, tens of thousands of people will gather in Sweden to advocate for the protection of the human rights of women and girls. In September, at the Climate Summit in New York, a special event will be held with women heads of State and activists. In India in November, men and boys will make a show of force for gender equality.
The formal commemoration of the 20th anniversary will take place during the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women and International Women’s Day 2015 will be dedicated to Beijing+20. A high-level commitment meeting is expected in September 2015.
During the past two decades much progress has been made in women’s legal rights, educational achievements, and participation in public life. But much still remains to be done to address gender wage gaps and unequal opportunities, low representation of women in leadership in public office and the private sector, child marriage, rampant violence and other violations against women and girls.
“Today I call on everyone to be part of the solution,” said Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka. “Picture It! Together we can realize the promise of Beijing: equality between women and men.”