Beijing-PosterLAsked to take note of two or three commitments in the Beijing Declaration, a document that emerged from the 4th United Nations Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, and to comment on which commitments interest me, this is what I wrote up. I encourage all of those who are interested in gender equality to familiarize themselves with the Beijing Declaration and the Beijing Platform for Action.

 

Being quite familiar with the Beijing Declaration, nothing in it really surprises me when I read the 1995 declaration in 2014. However, I find some of the commitments inspirational in the sense that they confirm the areas to which I advocate for gender equality today.

The issue of women’s human rights, just like the different waves of feminism, has evolved across time, changing the way people recognize those rights and the ways they struggle to ensure them. My grandmother’s struggle was different than that of my mother’s, which is also different from my own, and yet our struggles for gender equality are part and parcel of the same movement. Moreover, I cannot shake the fact that I simply wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the past struggles of women. It is both a source of anxiety for me (how can I ever live up to their legacy, and yet embrace my different approach to gender equality) and a source of great pride (yes folks, I come from a long line of very strong women!).

It is for this reason that I am very interested in cross-generational cooperation in the struggle for gender equality. In many instances, it is difficult to get this type of cooperation going because the dynamics of women’s human rights is always evolving (both positively and negatively), and the tools that we use to advocate and ensure women’s human rights does so too. I can’t help but to appreciate the 4th article of the Beijing Declaration, adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995, as it “[acknowledges] the voices of all women everywhere and [takes] note of the diversity of women and their roles and circumstances, honoring the women who paved the way and inspired by the hope present in the world’s youth.” I recognize that one of the main ways I can contribute to the social cohesion of the women’s movement in my country is to use modern tools, such as social media and blogging, to promote the struggle and achievements of previous generations of women. As a young person who has been able to benefit from education opportunities not afforded to my grandmothers and great-grandmothers, it seems only right that I use that education and experience in such a way that allows future generations to appreciate the struggle that allows us to be where we are today. Through this knowledge and appreciation, future generations will feel empowered to continue that struggle until full gender equality is achieved.

I strongly believe that the most fundamental reason why we have yet to experience any form of world peace is because women have been excluded from peace and conflict transformation processes at all levels. Any true development has to consider the advancement and empowerment of women at all levels, from the local/community level all the way up to the global level. As women are the most victimized during armed conflict and lack of peace, they also have the most to gain if peace would prevail. And since development cannot happen without peace and vice-versa, women advancement and participation in peacebuilding processes is essential if we are to experience world peace one day. There are tons of examples across the world where women have played a pivotal role in bringing about peace in their communities. It is high time the world gets a clue and recognizes this viable force that can bring about lasting peace at all levels. It is for this reason that I truly appreciate the clause in the Beijing Declaration that states “… local, national, regional and global peace is attainable and is inextricably linked with the advancement of women, who are a fundamental force for leadership, conflict resolution and the promotion of lasting peace at all levels.”

 

For the Eritrea’s 2004 report on the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, CLICK HERE!

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