What’s changed for women in 20 years?

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UN Women launches global campaign to mark 20 years since the landmark women’s rights conference in Beijing.

First Phase DigitalThe Beijing Platform for Action was launched at the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing in September 1995. Attended by some 17,000 people, the Conference was a landmark event for gender rights as world leaders committed themselves to an agenda for women’s empowerment. This month UN Women is launching a global campaign to celebrate the gains made across the world over the last two decades, and raise awareness of the challenges that still remain before women can enjoy their full human rights equally with men.

The global campaign, called “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!” centres on the 12 core areas in which gender equality requires progress, which include unequal access to education, health and justice; political marginalisation; and violence. The campaign aims to engage the public in mobilising political will to work towards gender equality.

The Australia National Committee is launching a program of activities to support the global campaign, beginning in June with a launch at Parliament House in Canberra. The campaign will run from May 2014 to September 2015, in time for the world conference which will discuss progress made on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“The Beijing Platform for Action sets out a manifesto for women’s rights,” says the Executive Director of the Australian National Committee for UN Women, Julie McKay. “For the first time UN Member States acknowledged that gender equality was at the heart of the development agenda and that no economic or political progress could be made when half of the world was excluded from leadership roles.”

UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka notes that “during the past two decades much progress has been made in women’s legal rights, educational achievements, and participation in public life. But much still remains to be done to address gender wage gaps and unequal opportunities, low representation of women in leadership in public office and the private sector, child marriage, rampant violence and other violations against women and girls.”

“This anniversary of the Beijing Conference takes place at an historic moment,” stresses Mlambo-Ngcuka, “as the nations of the world are coming together to accelerate progress to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and define a new global development framework. We must seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to position gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment at the centre of the global agenda and make it a reality.”

The website of the Australia National Committee for UN Women will be regularly updated with details of the campaign: www.unwomen.org.au

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