Introduction to the Beijing+20 review

The Fourth World Conference on Women held in 1995 resulted in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BDPfA) by 189 member States of the United Nations that had 12 Critical Areas of Concern to guide the mainstreaming of gender in policies, strategies and programmes. The Declaration called upon member States to commit to the advancement of the goals of equality, development and peace for all women while reaffirming the fundamental principal that the rights of women and girls are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.

The accountability framework for the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action requires member States of the United Nations to meet on a five-yearly basis to review their implementation, at both regional and global levels, of the Platform for Action with a view to fine tuning, remapping progress and reactivating commitment, taking into account prevailing global and local conditions. The 1999 (Beijing +5) review noted that progress had been made since the 1995 world conference, although more needed to be done to tackle poverty and violence, trafficking in women and girls and women’s participation in political decision making. The key issues that arose from the 2004 (Beijing +10) included the continued low representation of women in decision-making, inequality in employment and economic activities, unequal access to social and economic resources. While the 2009 (Beijing+15) regional review revealed that government implementation of various global and continental commitments on gender equality and women empowerment had led to positive changes in the lives of African women, an outcome document, “The Banjul Declaration on the Strategies for Accelerating the Implementation of the Dakar and Beijing Platforms for Action” was adopted. The outcome document identified 7 Strategic Areas of Focus for which a five-year follow-up strategy was formulated that provided concrete actions to accelerate implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), focusing on the seven strategic areas agreed upon in Banjul. A subsequent mid-term, review carried out by UNECA, in 2013 to assess the progress of implementation of the follow-up strategy showed significant improvement in five of the seven key strategic focus areas identified in Banjul, the Gambia.

The 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women held in New York from 4 to 15 March 2013 decided to conduct a review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in 2015. In preparation for this global review, the regional commissions were encouraged to undertake regional reviews so that the outcomes of intergovernmental processes at the regional level can feed into the 2015 global review. To initiate the regional review process, UNECA and UN Women have jointly prepared the following guidance note for the preparation of national reviews.