WHAT IS THE BEIJING DECLARATION?
The Beijing Declaration is a series of commitments agreed upon by the 186 United Nations countries during the fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. These countries marked the 50th anniversary of the United Nations with this declaration which is, effectively, a promise to work towards equality for all women.
WHAT IS ‘EQUALITY FOR WOMEN’ ACCORDING TO THE DECLARATION?
The Declaration states that equality is the UN and all its countries’ governments working to protect women’s human rights, as these are, in some countries, less well protected than men’s rights.
One of these rights is the right to a peaceful living situation, free from any sort of violence or threat.
Other types of ‘freedom’ are included in ‘equality’ too: freedom of thought, freedom to make one’s own decisions and freedom to choose one’s religion and belief.
The Declaration also states that women should have the same access to food, water, shelter and other resources as men.
WHAT ARE THE OBSTACLES THAT MAKE ACHIEVING THIS EQUALITY DIFFICULT?
The Declaration tells us that poverty is the biggest obstacle to achieving gender equality. It also says that poverty affects the majority of the world’s population, especially women. This is because women often have the responsibility of caring for children and therefore may not be able to earn their own money.
However, with “determination, hope, cooperation and solidarity” the problems caused by poverty can be tackled. This will happen if women are included in efforts to make societies fairer, to boost local industries that can help the economy and to help the environment. The UN wants the message of the Declaration to be a positive one.
WHY IS THE BEIJING DECLARATION RELEVANT IN 2020?
The Declaration states that equality for women is “in the interest of all humanity” – and this will continue to be true. If inequality between the genders is not addressed there will be “serious consequences for the wellbeing of all people”.
But, more specifically, the Beijing Declaration will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in the course of the next year. The 2019 UN International Day of the Girl drew attention to this important milestone and the goals set out in the Declaration that have been achieved since 1995.
According to the UN website, the Declaration has led to fewer child marriages, more girls finishing school, less, gender-based violence and better self-esteem among girls who are at risk of this mental health difficulty.