From Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development



Beijing Betrayed: Women Worldwide Report that Governments Have Failed to Turn the Platform into Action

NEW YORK, March 3, 2005 – The Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) today offered governments worldwide a comprehensive view of reality as women themselves see it in 150 countries. The 208-page report, Beijing Betrayed, uses women’s contributions from every region of the world to point out that a combination of global trends have created an environment increasingly hostile to women’s advancement.

The trends include the spread of a neo-liberal economic model, growing militarization, and rising religious and cultural fundamentalism.

“Governments need to be really strong to counterbalance these forces and push the Beijing Platform for Action to further women’s rights,” said June Zeitlin, WEDO executive director, “but they are just not doing it.”

Instead, governments have adopted a “piecemeal and incremental” approach to furthering women’s rights that cannot achieve the goals the governments set for themselves ten years ago in Beijing at the Fourth World Conference on Women, the report said.

The document was issued to coincide with the United Nations’ two-week assessment here of progress since the Beijing gathering in 1995. Patricia Licuanan, chair of Asia-Pacific Women’s Watch, told a press conference introducing the report that real achievements have been made but more needs to be done. In Asia, many governments have created “focal points” for women’s concerns, she said. “They are weak and not well resourced, but they do serve a purpose.”

“The report is very clearly the voices of women,” Zeitlin said. “We did not seek input from governments. We wanted to have a report with women assessing the Beijing Platform of Action, since the UN report represents the governments’ assessments.”

Countries need to change the mechanisms that deliver services and the mind-sets that dictate the pace of change, she continued. She called on governments to pick three concrete steps to take on women’s rights between now and the UN’s Millennium assessment meeting in September.

Asked about controversy over the U.S. position on a pending conference declaration, Gladys Mutukwa, chair of Women, Law and Development Africa, said it was “a distraction, and a very destructive one at that.”