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The Fourth World Conference on Women - 25 Years Later

In 1995, 20 years before the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was formulated, the Fourth World Conference on Women took place in Beijing, the aim of which was to achieve more equality and opportunities for women.

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The Fourth World Conference on Women was preceded by three world conferences in 1975, 1980 and 1985. Each conference defined areas in which progress towards equal rights for women should be made as a priority. During the first three conferences, for example, these were education, labor market opportunities, adequate medical care and the participation of women in all areas of human activity, including political participation and decision-making.

The Fourth World Conference recognized that most of the goals set in the Strategies for the Advancement of Women at the Third World Conference in Nairobi had not been achieved, and a platform for action with twelve priority areas was adopted. This comprised some areas that had already been classified as priorities in the first three conferences and other topics such as women and armed conflicts, violence against women, women and the media and girls. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is still today - on the occasion of its 25th anniversary - as one of the most progressive concepts for promoting women's rights.

Review progress on gender equality

In March of this year, representatives of the member states, UN agencies and NGOs as well as the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) came to the sixty-fourth annual meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women of women, CSW) to review progress on gender equality and empowerment of women. At this meeting, participants addressed the current challenges that could affect the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and expressed their intention to “contribute to the full realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development from a gender perspective”. This intent underscores the importance of looking at each of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from a gender perspective and not just focusing on SDG 5 as the SDG that affects women. This aspect is crucial in order to achieve the goal of women's participation in all areas of human activity.

In preparation for the sixty-fourth annual session, each state was asked to conduct a comprehensive review at the national level looking at the priorities, successes, challenges and setbacks in the journey to gender equality and the empowerment of women over the past five years should. In the German report, current challenges, such as the equal participation of women in management positions and decision-making processes, were highlighted. Laws such as the Law on Equal Participation of Women and Men in Management Positions in the Private and Public Sector (FüPoG), which came into force in 2015, were cited as evidence of how Germany addresses gender inequality issues. According to the report, the absence of women in leadership and decision-making roles is not only a problem in itself, but also leads to other aspects of gender inequality, such as the gender pay gap. In order to tackle these problems, the law prescribes “a binding gender quota of 30 percent for supervisory boards of German companies that are listed or subject to codetermination”. In 2018 this quota was increased to 50%.

Other challenges, such as combating violence against women and girls, are included in the report. It was stated that the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) entered into force in Germany on February 1, 2018. The provisions of the convention have been implemented in national law, e.g. through the establishment of a helpline "Violence against women", which is available around the clock, 365 days a year and free of charge in 18 languages. In addition, the principle “no means no” has been implemented, which states that “a sexual act is a criminal offense if it is carried out against the recognizable will of the victim”.

Intergenerational Justice: Implementing the Declaration

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action are groundbreaking, but ultimately the ongoing work on putting this Declaration into practice helps promote gender equality and women's rights to self-determination and personal responsibility. Recognizing women who have made and continue to make this progress possible is an integral part of achieving this goal. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, UN Women initiated the “Generation Equality campaign: Realizing women's rights - for a future with equal rights” (Generation Equality campaign). For this campaign, the UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia produced, among other things. the series "25 women". In this series, 25 women who have campaigned for gender equality and the promotion of self-determination and personal responsibility for women report on their activities.


  • In an effort to combat violence against women, for example, Jonada Shukarasi, a 16-year-old Albanian youth, worked with Arla Hoxha and Dea Rrozhani to develop an app called GjejZâ (Find Your Voice), which aims to identify domestic violence across the board Fight Albania. It provides comprehensive information for women who suffer from abuse. The app offers support, such as B. breathing exercises, emergency hotlines, self-help programs and information about local workplaces and workshops that can help women become more financially independent.
  • Anastasiia Yeva Domani, a 40-year-old Ukrainian trans activist, takes action against violence against trans women (and all transsexuals) by campaigning to stop classifying transgenderism as a disease in Ukraine. She has also helped create a database of trans-friendly doctors and trains medical staff to treat patients in a tolerant and ethical manner.
  • Bahar Toksoy Guidetti, a former Turkish professional volleyball player, talks about promoting girls through sport. She states that women are underrepresented in management positions in sport, which is why she has launched a summer academy for girls. There they can learn different sports and study other subjects such as art, science, economics and nature. This gives them access to well-founded further training in which their needs are promoted and given priority. Creating safe spaces for girls and women and spaces where they can learn and develop in different directions is an important step on the way to gender equality. This enables girls and women to find their place in the world as independent individuals.


The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been in existence for five years. In order to keep the goal of gender equality in view and to further promote women and girls, it is therefore necessary to orientate oneself on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and to use the next decade to look at all SDGs primarily from a gender perspective . At the same time, stories must be told about the work of women and girls who contribute to the implementation of the declarations and resolutions of the United Nations - in order to document their contribution in all areas of human activity.

Teri Shardlow
Translation: Angela Grossmann

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