The year 2020 marks 25 years since the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) was held in Beijing, China in 1995. The Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) which came out of the Conference is, along with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the major blueprint for global gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The BPfA set out how to remove the systemic barriers that hold women back from equal participation in all areas of life, whether in public or in private. Despite some progress, real change has been agonisingly slow for the majority of women and girls in the world. The world has changed drastically since 1995 and many of the obstacles and multiple discriminations facing women and girls today, such as digital technology, HIV and access to assisted fertility treatments were not there when the plan was set in action. Today, not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality. Multiple obstacles remain unchanged in law and in culture.peace.
This 25-year anniversary corresponds with the 20th anniversary of the Security Council resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on Women Peace and Security (WPS) , 5 years of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2030 and 2019 makes it 40 years since the formulation of CEDAW (Convention on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).
For Governments, Civil Society Organisations (CSP’s), Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), Feminist Groups and Women’s groups , preparations for the Beijing + 25 Review consisted of national reporting (Government and CSO) to inform the national gender equality frameworks. The national reports are shared with the UN Women team in New York and for Australia the UN Women team at the UN Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand. Governments from each UN Region in the world then attend a regional meeting on Beijing+25 in order to report and inform others in their Geographic Regions of updates, issues and actions and to compile a regional report which reflects the situation within the region. For Australia this was held at UN ESCAP and the report reflects the Asia Pacific position. Given the Asia Pacific Region is the largest in the world with 60% of the world’s population, and much diversity in terms of language, religion, culture, ethnicity, geographic range and climatic activity as well as it contains many colonised countries, the negotiations at ESCAP can be extremely fraught with the multiple States who participate in the decision making.
National and regional reviews are an important part of this process. The regional review for Asia and the Pacific took place in three separate events: (a) a Young Feminists’ Forum; (a) a Civil Society Organisations’ (CSO) Forum; and (c) an intergovernmental meeting. The Young Feminist Forum and AP CSO Forum and was organised by the Asia-Pacific Civil Society Steering Committee. The Steering Committee has representatives from 10 feminist and women’s rights organisations : Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) (Chair) ; Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW); Asia Pacific Women’s Watch (APWW); Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN); Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM); Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW); Gramya Resource Centre for Women; International Center for Research on Women (ICRW); International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific); and Shirkat Gah – Women’s Resource Centre.
The reports from these forums can be found in the reports section of this website.
In March 2020, a global review and appraisal of the implementation of the BPfA will take place at the 64th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations (UN) in New York, USA. Reviews of the BPfA take place every 5 years and governments and civil society report on progress against the Platform.
As this is the 25th anniversary year of the BPfA, UN Women are bringing together the next generations of women’s rights activists with the gender equality advocates and visionaries who were instrumental in creating the Beijing Platform for Action more than two decades ago. Collectively, these change makers of all ages and genders are tasked to tackle the unfinished business of empowering women through a new, groundbreaking, multigenerational campaign: “Generation Equality: Realising women’s rights for an equal future”.
COVID – 19 IMPACTS ON CSW 64th Session
In the lead up to B+25 CSW 64th Session, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out which resulted in the format of the 64th Commission on the Status of Women changing. There was a one day procedural meeting held on 9 March 2020 with no general discussion. A further procedural meeting to confirm the Draft Programme of Work and to close CSW 64th and set the committee for CSW 65th was due to take place on Friday 13th March. Due to UN staff being asked to work from home – all meetings were cancelled on 12 March, 2020. This procedural meeting will be rescheduled once the COVID-19 emergency is under control. Any further CSW 64th sessions will be scaled down procedural sessions.
All CSW side events on UN premises and all NGO parallel events were cancelled. There was no issuance of CSW grounds passes and CSW 64th confirmation letters were not applicable. Capital based delegations and others due to attend CSW 64th were advised to refrain from travelling to UN HQ.
NGOCSW NY cancelled all CSW 64th related events and venues.
Relevant documents related to CSW 64th including Draft Programme of Work and Draft Political Declaration on Beijing +25 can be found listed below:
Multi-year programme of work of the Commission on the Status of Women E/CN.6/2020/L.6
Provisional agenda of the report of the Commission on its sixty-fourth session – Item 7 Action on the draft proposal(s): E/CN.6/2020/L.3
Adoption of the report of the Commission on its sixty-fourth session – Item 7 Action on draft proposal(s): E/CN.6/2020/L.2
The list of documents before the Commission at its sixty-fourth session is available here
The two Generation Equality Forum global meetings due to be held, one in Mexico City, Mexico on the 7-8 May, 2020 and the other in Paris, France on 7th to 10th July, 2020. Have been delayed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
New dates have not yet been set and the nature of the meetings will be reassessed within a post-COVID-19 pandemic context.
The Generation Equality Campaign will add onto the Beijing + 25 review process and will develop a new forward looking 10 year plan to target key areas of work to carry forward. The agenda setting and decision making on this new 10 year forward looking plan is informed through the regional reports to CSW 64th Session and through NGO CSW NY led action coalitions.
Generation Equality will work to align the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG’s) Agenda 2030, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) and will serve as a celebration of the 10 years since the establishment of UN Women. (Note: UN Women was formed through the UN Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign which brought together the four existing gender machineries of the UN into one UN machinery that could be strengthen policies and action in terms of coherence and coordination in the areas of gender equality, development, humanitarian affairs and the environment.)