Review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
Wednesday, March 9, 2005 10:15 AM

Ten years ago 189 governments adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BFPA), a comprehensive plan that highlighted 12 critical areas that directly impact women’s empowerment: poverty, education, health, violence against women, armed conflict, the economy, political participation, human rights, media, the environment, the girl-child, and institution-building. The BFPA demanded specifically that governments take steps to see that women have equal access to quality health care and sexual and reproductive health services, provide the means for all girls to receive primary education, afford women equal property rights to men in society, and ensure women’s equal participation in civil and political life. The plan also required international institutions to incorporate women’s rights into their internal structural agendas.

For the past week and a half, women’s rights advocates and government representatives from around the world have come together at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to assess the progress made on the BFPA since its initial inception. In the context of the 49th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, the high-level meeting has focused on the implementation of the BFPA and the outcome documents of the special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the 21st century." Focus will also lie on the current challenges and forward looking strategies for the advancement and empowerment of women and girls.

To facilitate discussion and promote the flow of ideas at the review session, the United Nations Secretariat will generate a Secretary-General’s report, documenting the progress made on the BFPA. The report stems from a variety of sources including: Feedback from Member States of the United Nation; national action plans; reports submitted by States parties under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers; and Millennium Development Goal Reports.

Women’s organizations have approached the review session with a mixed sense of optimism and reservation with regard to the achievements made under the BFPA. For example, a number of governments have passed laws regarding women’s property rights and domestic violence and have taken measures to promote gender equality in the work place. Nonetheless, discriminatory laws remain in place in many countries.

According to Hilary Anderson, spokesperson for U.N. International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) most of the changes have occurred because of grassroots action and not action by the government at all: “There has been less massive change at the national level in terms of traditional gender roles, the promotion and protection of women’s human rights, or the visibility of women and gender issues in national decision-making processes.”

In addition governments’ habit of dragging their feet on women’s rights legislation, violence against women continues to grow nationally and internationally. Armed conflict, religious fundamentalism and globalization have served to exacerbate women’s exposure to HIV/AIDS, trafficking and poverty.

To adequately address these growing concerns women’s organizations have stressed the need to link the BPFA and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs comprise of eight goals, set by governments in 2002, which seek to eliminate global poverty by 2015. In approaching the review session, women’s organizations have also reinforced the importance of coordination and cooperation between women’s NGOs. For example, INSTRAW and UNIFEM have made open statements about their intention of working together to promote both the Beijing action plan and the MDGs.

During the review session women’s organizations are holding a number of side events. Descriptions of some of these events as well as articles on developments at the review session are attached below. Women’s organizations hope that such collaboration in the context of the Beijing 10+ review session will prompt governments to develop fresh strategies and policies toward continued implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Events Affiliated with Beijing 10+:

Schedule of NGO Side Events

Developments at Beijing 10+:

UN: Women’s Conference Sees Progress on Rights Overshadowed by Violence, Robert McMahon, Radio Free Europe,, 1 March 2005.

The First Week of the Commission on the Status of Women 49TH Session / Beijing+10: Defending Beijing, Confronting Conservative Agendas at the UN, Resource Net discussion list, The Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID), 8 March 2005.

Women Reaffirm U.N. Equality Blueprint, Associated Press, New York Times, 5 March 2005.

Compiled from:

U.N. Takes Measure of Women’s Equality, Bojana Stoparic,, 27 February 2005.

Forty-Ninth Session on the Status of Women- 28 February to 11 March 2005, Womenwatch,, March 2005.

WIDE Statement to the 49th Session of CSW, New York, 28 February to 11 March 2005, WIDE-News No.2/2005,, February 2005.