Press release: UN Women Beijing+20 event in Berlin urges accelerated progress on gender equality and women’s rights


Berlin — To mark the historic 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, and its 20th anniversary this year,  representatives from politics, the private sector, civil society and academia came together today in Berlin. The event with German Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Manuela Schwesig, and the UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, was held in the Representation of the State North Rhine-Westphalia in Berlin, hosted by the UN Women National Committee for Germany and attended by high officials and other dignitaries.

German minister Manuela Schwesig speaking at podium. Photo: UN Women National Committee Germany/Jenna Dallwitz

On the occasion of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 many aspects had been dealt with for the first time in the context of international conferences: Violence against women had never before been described in such detail, as well as the means to overcome it. The need for equal rights to inheritance for girls and boys were also addressed for the first time.

Minister Schwesig made it clear that “no country has achieved gender equality entirely– Germany is no exception. Therefore we have to keep alive the spirit of Beijing and, all together, stand up for women’s rights. Gender equality must become a reality for all people.” She pointed out “how important it is for the future of societies to include women and girls equally in economic and political systems, to strengthen their role in conflict areas and to protect them of violence and abuse. The recently passed bill on equal participation of women and men in leadership positions is an important and historic step forward.”

Executive Director Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka speaking at podium. Photo: UN Women National Committee Germany/Jenna Dallwitz

Executive Director Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka commented: “Across the world, the Beijing Platform for Action has been the focus for renewed attention to progress and constraints, and never more so than this year. The data gathered through the extensive process of reviews by UN Member States has allowed us to articulate the current achievements and the gaps – and to galvanize governments, the private sector and civil society to do more – reaffirming and expanding their gender equality goals, tackling the deep-seated social norms and discriminatory attitudes that continue to hold back substantive equality, and investing in an inclusive future.”

In her welcome address, Karin Nordmeyer, the President of UN Women National Committee Germany, hosting the event, pointed out to those present: “We are here to review the results and achievements of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action during the last 20 years. We are also here to appeal to everybody to intensify their commitment for gender equality globally.” Furthermore, Ms. Nordmeyer stated:  “We are living in a world in which women do not participate to their full potential in shaping their societies.”

The Berlin event took place as part as part of the global mobilization to spur engagement and action around gender equality as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action turns 20. The Platform for Action is considered to be one of the most comprehensive agreements on the empowerment of women and a blueprint for achieving gender equality. All speakers of the evening underlined this framework, and demanded the need for a concerted push which will not allow any backsliding. Women and girls, boys and men must work together to ensure that gender equality will become an unquestioned matter of fact for future generations by the year 2030.