The year 2015 marks an important milestone in the international community’s efforts to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women: the twenty year anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA). Adopted unanimously in 1995 by 189 governments at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, the BPfA is a blueprint for gender equality and women’s empowerment. During the past twenty years, the BPfA has galvanized unprecedented global social and political mobilization to end discrimination and inequality against women.
The adoption of the BPfA stemmed from the recognition of the persistence of inequalities between women and men, and of their consequences for the well-being of all people. The Platform provides the vision of a world where each woman and girl can exercise her freedoms and choices, and realize her rights, including the right to live a life free from violence, to go to school, to participate in decisions and to earn equal pay for equal work.
Five years after the historic adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the international community re-assembled during the Special Session of the General Assembly to assess progress made in the implementation of the commitments made in Beijing. Governments reaffirmed their commitment to: (i) promoting and protecting the equal rights and inherent human dignity of women and men; and (ii) addressing the constraints and obstacles and to enhance the advancement and empowerment of women all over the world. They agreed that this required urgent action. These commitmentswhich have reaffirmed and expanded in the Political Declaration and outcome document of the Twenty-third Special Session, constitute the basis for global action to promote gender equality, empowerment and development. Although the Beijing process unleashed remarkable political will and worldwide visibility for the empowerment of women and gender equality, there are still many challenges and obstacles to overcome in order to fully realize the goals of the Beijing agenda. In this context, the United Nations has undertaken a global review and appraisal of the implementation of the BPfA to measure progress and identify challenges encountered.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) is mandated by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), in Resolution E/RES/2013/18, to provide support in the follow up process to the Fourth World Conference on Women, and to the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly. In this context, the ECLAC Caribbean Subregional Headquarters will host a subregional technical meeting to review progress and propose recommendations in compliance with the commitments made in Beijing and those being proposed within the context of the post-2015 development agenda. The outcome of the meeting will be a Caribbean Synthesis review and appraisal report.
The twentieth anniversary of Beijing has engendered a wave of activity in commemoration of the historic fourth World Conference on Women. In June 2014, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) launched a year long, global campaign in New York to mark the anniversary and to spark dialogue and actions on women’s rights and gender equality.
In March 2015, a global review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action will be undertaken by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York, where governments and civil society will come together to debate and set the agenda for sustainable development after 2015.
This will be a signal opportunity for the women of the Caribbean to let their voices be heard; to seek the solidarity and support of the global community in advancing issues and initiatives central to the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the subregion.