The Beijing Platform for Action was the outcome statement of the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in 1995, and has been held up as a road map to advance gender equality and secure women’s rights.
Twenty-five years on, the world is taking stock of how far we have come toward delivering on the promise of Beijing, and asking the question, have we addressed all critical areas of concern outlined in the Beijing Platform for Action?
While some progress has been made, we still have a long way to go. Particularly when it comes to ending violence against women and girls. Still today, 1 in 3 women experience violence in their lifetime. 1 in 3. In some countries, up to one third of adolescent girls report their first sexual experience as being forced.
We must all take a stand to end all forms of violence against women and girls, as was promised back in 1995.
The 189 UN Member States who adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action at the 4th World Conference on Women in 1995 took up the global call to end all forms of violence against women and girls by highlighting violence as one of their 12 critical areas of concern. They agreed on a comprehensive definition of what violence is, whether it takes place in the family or community, or is perpetrated or condoned by the State.
They recognised that violence is one of the main mechanisms denying women equality, and that it imposes high social, health and economic costs.
Since Beijing, an historic two-thirds of countries have put laws on the books to stop domestic violence. Advocacy campaigns around the world have heightened awareness and galvanised actions to stop violence. These involve committed women and girls, men and boys. Yet gaps in laws, implementation of legal protection and essential services remain. Women are still reluctant to report violence. Attitudes in some places tolerate, if not encourage, it.
The promise of Beijing was that governments, community organisations, schools, businesses and others would work tirelessly to stop violence, in whatever form it takes. Momentum has begun, but needs to rapidly accelerate. The world can be free from violence — that is women’s inherent right.
The regional conference for Beijing +25 in Bangkok this November, will provide an in-depth regional assessment and key areas for further work, investment and attention as we forge ahead to put an end to violence against women and girls everywhere.