In September 1995 an unprecedented 17,000 participants and 30,000 activists attended the opening of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China with a single purpose in mind: the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women, everywhere. After two weeks of political debate, representatives of 189 governments hammered out commitments that were historic in scope and produced the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a progressive blueprint for advancing women’s rights.The Declaration identified 12 critical areas of concern and outlined actions to be taken in each of these areas in order to create a better world for women. The role of women in power and decision making was among these areas of concern. In calling for ‘gender balance’ in ‘governmental bodies’, ‘public administration entities’ and ‘the judiciary’, two broad objectives were outlined:
1.Take measures to ensure women’s equal access to and full participation in power structures and decision making;
2.Increase women’s capacity to participate in decision making.
In order to achieve this some governments have taken initiatives such as the implementation of gender quotas. In this discussion we would love to hear about more such examples. Governments have also worked towards the second component that calls for increasing women’s capacity to participate in decision making through projects to enhance the capacity of national machineries for the advancement of women and mainstreaming of the gender perspective and providing training programs. Again, we are looking forward to hearing more about such initiatives! We would like to hear your thoughts on what it will take to finally make the vision of Beijing a reality. Please share your analysis, including of the factors that have had the greatest impact on the achievements to date, options for strategic and innovative actions to respond to remaining obstacles and challenges, and key recommendations to governments, development partners, political parties, civil society and women on how to best advance all women’s rights and support the full implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.