Africa: Helen Clark – Statement on International Women’s Day
This week, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which remains the world’s best blueprint for achieving gender equality and empowering women.
The review of this visionary roadmap, adopted at the Fourth World Conference for Women in 1995, is an opportunity to celebrate the world’s progress toward ensuring the rights and opportunities of women and girls, and also to renew and reinvigorate commitments to achieve gender equality.
One of the great achievements of the Beijing Platform for Action was the clear recognition that women’s rights are human rights. Since that historic gathering in Beijing, when 17,000 participants and 30,000 activists gathered to voice and demonstrate their support for gender equality and women’s empowerment, there has been increasing recognition that gender equality, in addition to being a human right, is also critical to making development progress. If women and girls are not able to fully realize their rights and aspirations in all spheres of life, development will be impeded.
Twenty years on, we can see both progress and challenges in the twelve areas of critical concern laid out in the Beijing Platform for Action. Gender parity in primary education has been achieved, but completion rates and the quality of education are not high across all countries.