What is Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 2015…
“You can tell the condition of the nation by looking at the status of women.” By- Pt Jawaharlal Nehru.
“I believe that the rights of women & girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century.”By- Hillary Clinton.
United Nation since 1975 has organized the four world conferences on Women at the various venues-Mexico,Copenhagen,Nairobi & Beijing.The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, approved in September 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women, is a global pledge to attain equality, development and peace for women worldwide.The Platform requires immediate action by all( i.e-By the national government at ministerial level) to generate a just, humane and peaceful world based on fundamental freedoms and human rights.2015 has marked the two decades long journey of -“Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action”,In this anniversary year, there are 12 key-areas enlisted for women empowerment & protection.
The 12 Key Areas Of Beijing Declaration-
-facilitation of agricultural loans,land ownership,education & vocational training for poor woman for self-reliance and independence.
-Adoption of gender budgeting.
-Providing social security & pension.
-Security against exploitation of migrant womenfolks in term of economic (proper wages).
-Provide affordable healthcare,reproductive health care options;HIV/AIDS prevention.
-Prevention of prenatal sex determination ,forced abortion,genital mutilation and medical abuses.
Violence & Human Rights-
-Gender sensitization training for judicial,police & health officials.
-Creation of medical-legal-vocational help centers.
-To stop forced marriages, sex-tourism & prostitution.
-Measures to tackle women & children trafficking.
-Government must take action to stop violence against women in public & private life.
-Non plan expenditure(i.e- military budget allocations) has to be reduced,instead provisions have to be made for peaceful development.
-Stern action should be taken against extrajudicial killing,sexual abuse.
-80% in armed conflict victims are women & children, hence proper rehab & protection to be provided to them.
Institutional Mechanism & Decision makings-
-Women participation in policy making to be increased by the government at national & regional level.
-Gender balance approach is needed in appointment in government bodies.
-In developing nation excesses against girl child has been reported discrimination,child abuses & labor, infant rape,incest & other heinous crimes have come to fore
-Proper case to case mitigation is needed
-Gender-biased syllabus,teachings & behavior has to be wiped off.
female literacy still low and dismal.
– Environmental degradation is directly proportional to the Low pay(i.e-fetching water from far off places-cost to worth ratio is nil).
- Proper policy to ease the conditions of women which is interlinked with environment need to be formulated.
-Excessive propagandist victim portrayal of women has to stop,Rather affirmative measures have to be adopted.
-Gender Stereo-typing; Commodification; Male Bashing & Generalization as an expression of rage against male also has to stop.
What are the Key areas of agreement post Beijing…?
-Feminization of Poverty has to stop, since the minimum wages women workers get is less than ~$2 a day.
-Migrant women worker to be provided effective labor right-awareness camps, rehab facility & one-stop-center to discuss their problems has to be established.
-It was observed that the induction of girls at primary level was high but exponentially declined in middle and high schools, owning much to the Socio-Eco-Cultural situations in the developing countries.*
-Challenges are still persistent in shortage of birth attendants,unsafe abortion still on rise,proper address mechanism has to be devised.
-Age right sex education is needed in schools*
-Travel safety measures in wake of incident of crimes against women are needed.
-Wiping off the Medieval practices, Superstitious and false magical & witch doctors beliefs are a way to ensure safety.*
-Play acting representation of women in local politics & on boards of big corporate governance is in rife, which has to stop, instead more independence & power is needed to fulfill the duty is the call of the hour.
Bone Of Contention in the Declaration…?
In the Beijing declaration and platform for action, Section 96 had said: “The human rights of women include their rights to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. Equal relationships between women and men in matters of sexual relations and reproduction, including full respect for the integrity of the person, require mutual respect, consent and shared responsibility for sexual behavior and its consequences”.
Fruit without the teeth ..?
The key aspect of the Beijing declaration and platform for action adopted in 1995 on sexual rights was left out after the objections by some countries & the reference is only for the protection of reproductive rights for all( i.e language too vague to decipher and implement in real time scenario). It has also left out the issues of cybercrime, date rape, sexual assault in educational institutions from its ambit.This “selective truth” & “pick and place” approach has diluted the premise on which conference was established, also it has further disenchanted the womenfolks and genuine interested parties advocating for women rights and activists from the cause…In short the declaration has offered the fruit of rights in glossy covers but no teeth to sate the hunger!!!…
Other Countries & Their Stand…?
The UNSG campaign ‘Unite To End Violence Against Women’ cites observations to show that 50 per cent of sexual assaults in the world take place against girls who are under 16 years of age, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime, between 15 and 76 per cent of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, and 60 million girls are married before they are 18 years old.According to ESCAP, for every hundred employed men, there are only 62 employed women in the Asia Pacific region, the average wage gap is 10 to 30 per cent, and women are still concentrated in low-paid, low-status and low-skilled work. The Asia Pacific region’s child sex ratio, which is in favour of boys, is one of the highest in the world. As a result of this, gender-biased practices including prenatal sex selection exist. Yet, comprehensive sex education is nonexistent in many countries and the ministerial declaration took a retrograde step by not recognizing the sexual rights of women, which was an important right contained in the Beijing Declaration. In 17 Asia Pacific countries, less than 10 cent of seats in Parliament are held by women.
The Beijing+20 Declaration,even after twenty years later and 35 years after the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted, many countries are still denying to recognize the feminist organizations (IRAN being one of them), the Balkan & Eurasian countries still twitch their nose in pedagogy of sex education in schools,With only six countries have ratified the national action plan on women, peace and security. Thus the affair of the declaration and its adoption is seen as a lukewarm approach to solve major issues in its docket.
The MenEngage programme and the HeforShe movement are some of the initiatives by UN Women,focus on making the men and boys as equal partners in the attainment of zero-crime against women & gender equality etc..Thus these are some of the positive approaches to the problems.
India’s stand on the Declaration is bit uneven,considering the facts that, India has denied to acknowledge the Armed Conflict & Caste issues, Identification of the Sexual Rights for women, Differences in sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) from ratifying.The only action India took which was backed by Indonesia,was to Delete/Remove the word ‘armed conflicts’ out of the final declaration.In the similar veins India succeeded in replacing “Caste” with -“Social Origin”, & the “sexual orientation” was replaced with “men and women in their diversity.”
My Take On The Declaration…?
Considering many facets of the Declaration,I would like to take the two routes to discuss the issues
A.Global Perspective & Changes.
B. Indian Perspective & Changes.
A. Global Perspective & Changes.
Living in the fast paced and ever-changing world at click of button the only way to cope/deal and march forward is to embrace the Changes, The UN with its many branches as mentioned earlier (UNGC,ESCAPE,UNDP ,UNHCR AND VERY IMPORTANT- UNFPA,et al…list is exhaustive) and its regional presence in the world is the agency of proactive actions..While we enlisted the various programmes and agencies of UN, there are also the initiatives /Goals such as the recent SDG’s (17 goals) from the former MDG’s (8 goals).
The problems of the Developing countries differ from that of the Developed Nations…the dichotomy of the Basic Human rights i.e.-Patriarchal norms and their faulty approach and their mitigation is rampant in former case, while the Developed Nations face problems of the Unbalanced Professional Rights i.e.-Pay/wage gradation and allocation,Gender-bias issues in workplaces,Racial diversity.
B. Indian Perspective & Changes.
Being the hub of multi diversity and hues,women related problems and their effects are at variance in the nation called India, avoiding the generalization and giving importance to the case-to-case inquiry are necessary measures . Looking at the India’s stand in the Beijing +20 Declaration is dismissive,the problems in India ranges from Armed Conflicted areas ;Insurgency in the Red zones(Baster in Chhattisgarh,naming one) ;to the Communally Affected Regions; Patriarchal & Khap regions;Refuge problems (from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) ..et all only shows our lack of courage to face the issues on home ground (Legislative Laws of women in India)*^1 .
The recommendation of the Verma Committee post Delhi Rape Case 2012*^2a ,*^2b is a perfect literature of actions,needed by the Governmental agency to implement in fighting against the crime, It gives a detail action plan to ratify the Legislative-Judicial & Executive provisions needed to address the problems.
“If it’s not now, then when?”the remark was heard in the Beijing Conference,According to the UN terms-“Declaration”,is the international instrument not having legal bindings,it only expresses the aspiration of the interested parties(here its- Various Governments) without intention,commitment or obligation toward them.*^3
Thus we need to respond it as our duty to ratify and not just pass the paper plan, it calls for the urgency of the reform and efficient policy needed to address Women & Children issues,The power lies in the Collective Voices (including- men) against the gender bias issues,the one sided approach of Male Bashing is not the way Feminist movement works, equality can only be attained by the equal participation and not on rage-infused propaganda and excessive self-inflicted victimization.The variable factors of Climatic Changes & their impacts, Rights of the Vulnerable & native(tribal), Survivors of armed conflicted zones & their rehabilitation, low percentage of school enrollment & lastly Maternal Mortality are some of the key- areas we need to focus and take actions with the help of minuscules efforts by us at community level to the strong political commitment at the national level in form of structural and systemic changes,anything less will be a political failure.
*^1 A Detail document of the Indian Constitutional & Legal laws related to Women & Children (in brief) , source- Internet-
*^2 A Detail the Verman Committee Report 2013.
a) My brief notes from the prsindia .org site-
b) Detail Provision of Verma Committee in pdf format-
*^3 UNTC Terminologies-
Reference taken from the article of the Hindu-dated 21 November 2014,about Section 96-
* Important aspect wrt India.
Image Credit- Google
Originally published at beaconred.wordpress.com on October 21, 2015.