March 9, 2015

NEW YORK—UN Member States today adopted a Political Declaration on the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women after several months of closed-door negotiations, in which women’s groups were largely excluded.

Nearly 1,000 women’s rights and feminist organizations worldwide have issued a statement decrying the lack of transparency in this process. Historically, the Commission on the Status of Women has adopted declarations or “agreed conclusions” after a two-week session that includes robust civil society participation.

In fact, engagement of civil society and women’s groups was critical in securing a bold and progressive declaration in 1995 to promote gender equality and the human rights of women and girls.

The groups say that the Political Declaration adopted today does not go far enough in committing to the transformative agenda that is needed to achieve gender equality.

At this moment in history, women and girls face extraordinary and unprecedented challenges, including rising fundamentalisms, violent extremism, increased number of displaced persons, climate change, and increasing inequalities within and between countries, among others. The evidence is clear: women and girls suffer the disproportionate impact of these challenges and without real commitment and resources to address them, gender equality and the full realization of the human rights of women and girls is a pipe dream.

Bold leadership by governments is needed now more than ever.

Moving forward, governments must ensure that efforts to realize gender equality, empowerment, and the human rights of all women and girls is critical to sustainable development. None of the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social or environmental – can be achieved without the full participation of women and girls and without all of their human rights being fulfilled.

The full statement of women’s rights organizations in response to the draft Political Declaration is available in English, French, and Spanish at: