The centrality of gender equality, women’s empowerment and the realization of women’s rights in achieving sustainable development has been increasingly recognized in recent decades. This recognition is evident in a number of international norms and agreements. The equal rights and inherent human dignity of women and men and other purposes and principles are enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments, in particular, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and the Declaration on the Right to Development.
An important milestone in this regard is the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 is a visionary agenda for the empowerment of women. It still remains the most comprehensive global policy framework and blueprint for action, and is a current source of guidance and inspiration to realize gender equality and the human rights of women and girls, everywhere. This landmark text was the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China, in September 1995. After two weeks of political debate, exchange of information on good practice and lessons learned, and sharing of experiences, representatives of 189 Governments agreed to commitments that were unprecedented in scope. The Platform for Action covers 12 critical areas of concern: poverty; education and training; health; violence; armed conflict; economy; power and decision-making; institutional mechanisms; human rights; media; environment; and the girl child. For each critical area of concern, strategic objectives are identified, as well as a detailed catalogue of related actions to be taken by Governments and other stakeholders, at national, regional and international level.
Non-Aligned Movement has highlighted the significance of Beijing Declaration and a Plan of Action as a major mechanism to promote the empowerment of women. NAM has called for an accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and its review and appraisal at the international, regional, national and local levels. The Movement has also recalled that the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action encourages men to participate fully in all actions towards gender equality and the empowerment of women, and particularly reiterates the importance of engaging men and boys to take an active part in the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women.
In accordance with the principles of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, NAM states that women’s empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision-making process and access to power, are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development and peace. The Movement is firm in its stand that human rights cannot be fully achieved until there is an effective mechanism for the protection of rights of women. Hence, NAM believes that it is essential to design, implement and monitor, with the full participation of women, effective, efficient and mutually reinforcing gender-sensitive policies and programmes, including development policies and programmes, at all levels that will foster the empowerment and advancement of women.
NAM states that no country in the world has fully achieved gender equality and has expressed deep concern that progress has been slow and uneven and that major gaps and obstacles remain in the implementation of the 12 critical areas of concern of the Platform for Action. The Movement has reaffirmed the political will and firm commitment of the Member States to tackle challenges and remaining implementation gaps in all twelve critical areas of concern.