Population Matters

Beijing +15 Moving Beyond Rhetoric

March 4th, 2010

This week and next the United Nations is holding a fifteen year review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. It is an opportunity to look at what has been accomplished since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 and what still needs to be done in achieving gender equality and realizing women’s rights.

The Platform for Action that came out of Beijing reinforced the importance of women’s rights and empowerment that were established a year earlier at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. The Platform for Action called the international community to action in 12 key areas: poverty, education and training, health, violence against women, armed conflict, economy, power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media, environment and girls.

One of the highlights from the Beijing Conference was the rousing speech given by then First Lady Hillary Clinton. In her 1994 speech Clinton stressed that, “if there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.”

She concluded saying that:

“As long as discrimination and inequities remain so commonplace everywhere in the world, as long as girls and women are valued less, fed less, fed last, overworked, underpaid, not schooled, subjected to violence in and outside their homes – the potential of the human family to create a peaceful, prosperous world will not be realized.

Let this conference be our – and the world’s – call to action. Let us heed that call so we can create a world in which every woman is treated with respect and dignity, every boy and girl is loved and cared for equally, and every family has the hope of a strong and stable future. That is the work before you. That is the work before all of us who have a vision of the world we want to see for our children and grandchildren.”

Secretary Clinton, over the years, has made it clear that women’s empowerment is a goal near and dear to her heart, and next Friday when she delivers her remarks at the United Nations she will have an opportunity to reaffirm that commitment.  But the realization of gender equality and women’s rights will require that the U.S. increase its spending on maternal health in general, and family planning and reproductive health in particular.  In the current budget climate, will the administration be able to deliver on its commitments, or will those commitments fall victim  to budget cuts?

Let’s hope that the Administration’s political will is translated into real dollars and real programs, so that the goals set forth in Beijing 15 years ago are, at last, fully realized.

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One Response to “Beijing +15 Moving Beyond Rhetoric”

  1. International Women’s Day 2010-- Population Matters Says:

    […] There are many different themes depending on the country or group, the United Nations theme for 2010 is: Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all.  As part of this year’s observance, the UN is presently hosting a conference on the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.  You can read more about this in our last blog entry, “Beijing +15 Moving Beyond Rhetoric.” […]

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