By October 14, 2013 Read More →

Special Briefing on Beijing + 20 by UN Women

Tuesday 17 Sept.

AshaLakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women began this special briefing by saying that Beijing+20 is like a 20 year old and asked – “Can she fully realize her dreams and fulfill her capacity”?

No country can say they have reached gender equality. Progress has been made, but it is uneven and there are still major obstacles – this was true at the time of the creation of the Beijing Platform of Action (the outcome document of the Beijing Conference on Women in 1996) and it is still true today.

The Platform of Action has as its foundation polices and it is a plan of implementation of how to realize those rights. It is ageless and immutable – it is the gold standard that needs so be implemented. In it there were 12 critical areas (chapters) that remain areas of concern.

• Women and Poverty
• Education and Training of Women
• Women and Health
• Violence against Women
• Women and Armed Conflict
• Women and the Economy
• Women in Power and Decision-making
• Institutional Mechanism for the Advancement of Women
• Human Rights of Women
• Women and the Media
• Women and the Environment
• The Girl-child

Today implementation of The Platform of Action is lagging behind – The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) (an annual UN review conference) keeps track and keeps the platform alive – deepening and adding to the framework of the 3rd committee of the UN (The Social, Humanitarian Cultural Affairs Committee) which includes a permanent focus on women.

So what is so special about this moment – it is a strategic moment – there is something special about turning 20, but it is not only about chronology, it is also about how it coincides with other areas of policy and primacy: It coincides with the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 Development agenda currently under consideration by the UN Member States including the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)s.

This gives a once in life-time chance to put Women’s Equality, Rights and Empowerment front and center stage.

It is also the first major review under UN Women, looking at the intrinsic quality of equality and women’s rights.

To leverage and add value to the agenda of the CSW mandate the ECOSOC resolution formally launched the Beijing+20 national and regional reviews. These reviews, together with the active engagement of civil society, is also hoped to be forward looking, dynamic, and visionary.


-Renewed political will and commitment and concrete actions by member states for acceleration
-Enhanced social mobilization, awareness-raising and revitalized public debate
-Strengthened evidence base
-Enhanced and sufficient resources


-Broad-based mobilization
-Analytical work and knowledge generation – and what it means to every women, girl and man.
-Communications and advocacy – creating a movement and reaching new audiences
– power and consciousness need to be harnessed – bringing youth with recognized branding.
– UN System engagement – not just an event but how they bring into their work
-Resource mobilization – need $US 10-13 million

Questions from the floor:

Is this a good use of UN Women resources? – We need to implement what we already have in place. We don’t really need more documents to tell us where we are – so I just wonder if this is a best use of money and people. Do we really want to make a big process? I do understand that we want to influence the post 2015 development agenda and the SDGs also. What is the most useful use of our resources to reach our goal – do we need to spend so much on a review? How is this already linked to the work that you are doing for the 2015 Development agenda?
How will you measure success?
How do we view donors?
What do you see of the role of the rich countries?


We need to do both review and implement. This is integral and mutually supportive. The Movement is dying we cannot let that happen. We have to move it forward – Beijing+20 is a way to add to that, we need to reinforce the Platform of Action and implement the strategic plan. We need to mobilize the effort.

UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka then spoke briefly:

There is a role for Beijing+20 in advancing the women’s agenda.
It is important to strengthening all areas, for example eliminating gender violence – We are taking advantage of the moment. This is also an opportunity for inter-generational collaboration in the process. For those of us who have a before and after (before and after Beijing), we need to be sure to bring in the younger generation. We need to use this moment in history to make it exciting for young but not resource heavy. Let them bring resources – we need to expand the network: Men and boys, traditional chiefs, religious leaders and collaborate with UN family.


This was an interesting and well-presented briefing. There were concerns that this would be expensive and resource consuming, with resources better spent on implementation, but on the whole, the women I spoke with were excited and could see the opportunity to galvanizing the process and encourage more participation from a new generation and broader base.

It was mentioned when speaking of approaches, that consciousness needed to be harnessed. The Brahma Kumaris can definitely contribute to raising awareness and exploring the consciousness needed to truly and sustainably achieve gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment.

– Julia Grindon-Welch, NGO Representative

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