On 25th Anniversary of Beijing World Conference American Women Face Regression

The United States is at great risk of regression – not only for women, girls, LGBTQI and minorities, but also as the world leader that should be helming the very progress we now are in the midst of destroying.  

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW), which took place in Beijing, China in September 1995. United Nations General Assembly UNGA celebrates this with a high-level meeting on the overall theme, ‘Accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls’.

In 1995, by the report of the Fourth World Conference on Women, governments adopted a 38-paragraph declaration and the 129-page Beijing Platform for Action.  The Platform identifies 12 “critical areas of concern”: poverty, education and training, health, violence, armed conflict, economy, power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media, environment, and the girl child.

The UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has conducted periodic reviews of the Platform’s implementation, in 2000, 2005 and 2010. Its 25-year review and appraisal in March 2020 was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today’s high level convening is being held in part at the UN in New York and remotely.

After listening to all the opening speeches, I must call out the women in my own country, in the hope that this can be seen as one of the most imperative calls to action of our life time. This must be seen in the context of the Pandemic we are living through and its impact on us as women:

While the World celebrates 25 years since the Women’s Beijing Conference, the strides made, with leaders acknowledging that to attain gender equality and parity there is much work still to be done, the United States especially is at great risk of regression – not only for women, girls, LGBTQI and minorities, but also as the world leader that should be helming the very progress we now are in the midst of destroying.

American women face a vote that could determine their future. Many are influenced by men – their husbands – as if chattels without minds of their own. Our Democracy is suffering and when democracy suffers women and girls are its greatest victims. Many women still believe they are here to serve men. How can you vote in your own interests if you listen to the men of America. The men who WE have allowed to relegate us to the level of doormat? And we are – until such time as we assert our equality to every realm of our lives. It is up to us… Women of America your VOTE will impact your future, the future of your daughters and the future of women and children around the GLOBE.

I implore you to seek ways to inspire yourself and that may well start with listening to Women leaders from around the World. You are sheltered here in America. The supposed most advanced country in the World. Yet you have no clue about the rest of the World.

The women of the World are our best example. Many with way less opportunity have asserted leadership roles, and emerge as example to us, for what we can do.  Women appear at the General Assembly in New York City and most of you do not have a clue about their leadership as Global influencers.

It is time for us all to commit to opening ourselves to the entire world and our role in it for women and girls. AND while that starts with your VOTE here in America, you must open your eyes to women and girls around the world.

Our lives are about us all as a collective social, political and economic genius, seeking the implementation of the most very basic of truths – we are EQUAL. To do this we must do all in our power to ensure the reduction of poverty, the eradication of gender based violence, equal education for all,  equal access to health care, and parity in every aspect of our lives.  We must take special heed of the extra impact of COVID-19 and its iniquitous hardship on women and children, exacerbating violence and poverty.

We must vote women into every level office so that we have at the very least 50% representation in every political, social and civil society organ.

So I urge you in your vote to seek candidates that will SEE YOU and most importantly serve who YOU are as a WOMAN and GIRL. YOU ARE NOT who you are told to be by the men around you.

Here is a list of leaders who spoke at the UN General Assembly’s  25th Anniversary of the World Conference on Women and its the Beijing Blue Print for Action: Please Google them and follow their work and most importantly seek out reposts of today’s inspiring and important Speeches.

  • Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director;
  • Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director;
  • Hilary Gbedemah, Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination againstWomen;
  • Elizabeth Broderick, Chair of the Working Group of the Human Rights Council on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice;
  • Dubravka Šimonovic, Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on violence against women, its causes and consequences;
  • Sascha Gabizon, civil society representative;
  • Ixchel Adolfo, young woman leader.

We must now recommit to the Beijing Platform for Action – and as Americans we call to mind and do this as we realize we just lost one of our own giants for women’s equality. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s profound leadership and legacy must be honored by each and every one of us with our promise to fight like we have never fought before! Regression is not an option.


Please support our work here: www.AfricanHRC.org/donate

By Melanie Nathan
Law, Human Rights Advocacy and Mediation
African Human Rights Coalition
Executive Director
pronouns: she / her / hers

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