Women´s Issues After Beijing
Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women
Positions - Networks - Results
The Twelve Critical Areas of Concern of the Beijing Platform for Action: A Women´s Agenda for the Twenty-first Century
9 Human rights of women: codified
in binding form and disregarded every day
"Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all human beings; their protection and promotion is the first responsibility of Governments". The Platform incorporates the exact wording of the Vienna Declaration, adopted on July 12th, 1993 by the World Conference on Human Rights, in its own text. In line with the Vienna text, it continues "that the human rights of women and the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights".
Human rights of women are the concern of the international community
Both documents declare the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights
and fundamental freedoms to be a priority concern of Governments and the
Vienna and Cairo: human rights of women apply without any reservations.
Both documents equally condemn any form of violence against women in
armed conflicts and demand punishment for war crimes against women. Governments
and the UN are both called upon to take urgent action to protect the human
rights of women.
Unless the human rights of women, as defined by international conventions, "are fully recognized and effectively protected, applied, implemented and enforced in national law as well as in national practice,..., they will exist in name only".
Protection of the human rights of women inadequate
Discrimination and social exclusion will persist as long as a lack of awareness within the judicial system and under-representation of women in the justice and legislative systems continue, as long as violations of the human rights of women are not taken seriously, education about existing rights is insufficient and traditional attitudes remain unchanged.This will in turn perpetuate lack of enforcement of full legal rights because of their normative nature.
Strategies and actions to be taken
The Platform demands in its strategic objectives "the full implementation of all human rights instruments, especially the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women". It demands not only equality under the law, but equality in practice and education with the aim of achieving legal literacy. All forms of gender-specific violence constitute a violation of human rights. The Governments are urged to take actions to eliminate all forms of violence against women in private and public life, "whether perpetrated or tolerated by the State or private persons". The commitments entered into in the catalogue of fifty-two actions to be taken are directed against the widening gap between documented rights and increasing violence against women, "resulting from harmful traditional or customary practices, cultural prejudices and extremism".
Violence against women is the crucial problem
The United Nations must intensify their efforts to implement de facto human rights of women and the girl-child, in particular because of the "systematic and systemic nature" of the violations. "The human rights of all women and the girl-child must form an integral part of United Nations human rights activities". In order for the human rights of women to be genuinely implemented at the international level, the United Nations must be reformed.
Reform of the United Nations
The Platform wishes to close the still-existing gaps in the human rights instruments by the turn of the century. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women should be universally signed and ratified by the year 2000. States which have ratified the Convention should review procedures to ensure that they fulfil all the obligations set out in it (by the end of ´95 149 States had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), five more States had signed it. The Federal Republic of Germany ratified the Convention in ´85).
Anti-discrimination Convention to apply universally by the turn of the century
International cooperation must be extended, including prosecution and punishment of those profiting from organized exploitation of women and children, with the aim of eradicating trafficking in women and children, prostitution and sex tourism. All States are strongly urged to accede to the Convention on the Rights of the Child of November 1989 in order to provide for equal rights for girls and boys world-wide (by the end of ´95 187 States ratified the Convention, two more States have signed it. The Federal Republic of Germany put it in force in 1992).
Combat trafficking in women and children
The Governments have declared their willingness to strengthen the United
Nations with the aim of preventing female infanticide, of abolishing child
labour and of stopping trade in children and human organs and child prostitution.
Education on human rights to counteract ignorance and helplessness
Women engaged in the defence of human rights in women´s organizations and feminist groups must be particularly protected and supported.They are playing "a catalytic role" with their grass-roots activities, networking and advocacy of women´s human rights. The Governments are called upon to support them and enable them to continue their work. Human rights education must start at school. The Platform demands that appropriate programmes and school curricula should be designed to this end. Human rights education is also applicable to members of the armed forces.
Exiled Tibetan women: silent protest at the NGO Forum in Huairou
© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | Net Edition mv&ola | Oktober 1997