2020 could be a watershed moment for women’s rights and the global feminist movement as it marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action—the groundbreaking document that committed governments worldwide to achieve gender equality. Many remember the Beijing Conference as the moment Hillary Clinton famously proclaimed “women’s rights are human rights.” For the feminist movement, Beijing was a result of years of sustained advocacy, and unleashed a powerful agenda for equality and a tool to hold governments accountable.
To celebrate the progress made and recommit to addressing the remaining gaps, the UN has launched Beijing+25—a drive for new commitments to gender equality—to finally make the vision of Beijing a reality. A key touchpoint in this process is the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)—the largest annual gathering on women’s rights globally.
Over the next few weeks, IWHC will provide analysis on the Beijing+25 process and its outcomes. Follow along, here.
What Is CSW?
On March 9, tens of thousands of feminist activists will arrive at UN Headquarters to advance gender justice at the 64th session of CSW. Over the following weeks, activists and governments will review the impact of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and identify areas for increased action. This will include a series of discussions aimed at addressing key challenges to gender justice, ranging from decriminalization of abortion to disability rights and comprehensive sexuality education. These events will inform governments and policymakers about the priorities, challenges, and perspectives of the feminist movement and seek to mobilize action to address ongoing inequalities.
For 64 years, CSW has served as a critical platform for civil society to influence government action. Today, it unites a powerful network of policymakers and advocates from the sexual and reproductive health and rights, LGBTQI, disability rights, indigenous rights, environmental, and youth-led movements behind a common agenda to advance human rights for all.
What is Beijing+25?
The 25-year review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action takes place in a series of regional and global meetings with the purpose of mobilizing new commitments to achieve gender equality. The centerpieces of this process are the Generation Equality Forums, to be held in Mexico City in May and Paris in July, and the Action Coalitions, cross-sector partnerships to mobilize resources and catalyze urgent action across six key issue areas. With themes ranging from sexual and reproductive health and rights to gender-based violence, climate justice, and feminist movements, this innovative model shifts the power to the feminist organizations that are doing the work at the local, regional, and global levels, and arms them with the financial and technical support of the global community.
What’s IWHC’s Role?
Since its founding in 1984, IWHC has played a critical role in advancing gender equality—and specifically sexual and reproductive rights—at the United Nations. IWHC was one of the first to recognize the role of advocacy and coalition-building in securing women’s and girl’s rights at a global level, understanding the power of global agreements toward shaping regional and national-level policies.
IWHC remains a leader in this year’s Beijing+25 process by:
- Bringing the next generation to the table. Prior to CSW, IWHC will continue to host its flagship Advocacy in Practice (AIP) program—a three-day intensive training that prepares young feminist activists to influence UN negotiations and advocate for policies that advance gender justice. Since the program was launched in 2007, IWHC has trained more than 250 activists.
- Supporting participation of global activists. IWHC knows that the most important voices to drive change on gender equality are from the feminist movement. That is why we invest in feminist activists around the world and support their participation in the entirety of the Beijing+25 process, from regional meetings to the Commission on the Status of Women.
- Co-convening the Women’s Rights Caucus (WRC). The Women’s Rights Caucus is a UN-based coalition of more than 250 feminist and women’s rights organizations worldwide that advocate for gender equality. The WRC works collaboratively to coordinate the feminist agenda and amplify the voices of women and girls globally, particularly those historically marginalized, ensuring that policies reflect the diversity and intersectionality of the feminist movement.
- Working with the UN to ensure Beijing+25 is inclusive and impactful. IWHC has worked in partnership with civil society bodies to ensure that the Beijing+25 process is representative of the feminist movement and effective at mobilizing resources by developing an agenda that will inspire new, bold, and urgent commitments to gender equality worldwide.
Photo: UN Photo/Milton Grant