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25 Years After Beijing: A review of the UN system’s support for the implementation of the Platform for Action from 2014-2019

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INTRODUCTION

BEIJING DECLARATION AND PLATFORM FOR ACTION: A VISIONARY AGENDA

In September 1995, Governments participating in the Fourth World Conference on Women gathered in Beijing with the objective of advancing the goals of equality, development, and peace for all women. After substantive negotiations, they unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (the Platform for Action) — a visionary agenda for the empowerment of women and girls. At that conference, Governments agreed that women’s rights are human rights; that the eradication of poverty requires women’s involvement in economic and social development; that there must be equal opportunities for women and men in sustainable development; and that peace is attainable and inextricably linked to the advancement of women.1 Member States would bear the major responsibility for implementing the Platform for Action, but the UN system would also have a key role to play in realizing the goals of the Beijing Conference.

Twenty-five years after its adoption, the Platform for Action remains the most comprehensive global policy framework for gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls and the realization of their human rights. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015, provides an additional framework for action to support gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The 2030 Agenda reaffirms the vision of the Platform for Action by both prioritizing gender equality as a standalone goal and recognizing it as a cross-cutting issue, essential to the achievement of all other goals.

BEIJING AT 25 IN 2020

Since the Beijing Conference, reviews held by Member States every five years have assessed progress, identified gaps and challenges, and provided recommendations to accelerate the achievement of substantive gender equality. To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Platform for Action, the Economic and Social Council, in its resolution 2018/8,2 called upon Member States to undertake comprehensive national-level reviews of the progress made and challenges encountered in the implementation of the Platform for Action and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly.3 The Council also called on the Commission on the Status of Women to undertake, at its sixty-fourth session, a review and appraisal of the implementation of the Platform for Action and its contribution towards the full realization of the 2030 Agenda through a gender perspective.4

To facilitate comprehensive national-level reviews by Member States, UN Women together with the five UN regional commissions developed a “Guidance Note for Comprehensive National-Level Reviews” (Guidance Note for Member States) and shared it with all Member States. Based on these national reviews and in response to the Council’s request, the Secretary-General of the United Nations subsequently issued his report on the Review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly. 5

Because the UN system also plays a key role in supporting the implementation of the Platform for Action, it was only fitting, albeit not mandated, that a similar review be undertaken. The present report, coordinated by UN Women, is an initiative of the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE), which is comprised of gender focal points and gender specialists from across the UN system. This report seeks to capture the UN system’s support for implementation of the Platform for Action between 2014 and 2019.