12.5 What is the Beijing Platform for Action?


In 1995, the United Nations organised the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. At the conference governments met and committed themselves to the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA).

The Beijing Platform for Action was a landmark agreement. It identified a range of actions governments, the United Nations and civil society groups should take to increase women’s equality, remove barriers to women’s development and advance women’s human rights.

This was the first time a UN world conference had identified such practical and measurable actions (rather than just policy statements) and had governments commit to doing them.

  1. Women and Poverty
  2. Women and Education
  3. Women and Health
  4. Violence Against Women
  5. Women and Armed Conflict
  6. Women and the Economy
  7. Women in Power and Decision-makers
  8. Institutional Mechanisms for the Advancement of Women
  9. Human Rights of Women
  10. Women and Media
  11. Women and Environment
  12. The girl-child

Women’s groups had a strong presence and influence at the Fourth World Conference on Women. At the World Conference, there were two parallel meetings, a formal meeting of global government leaders and an NGO Forum. Women attended the NGO Forums and lobbied at the government meetings. The result was a strong recognition of women’s issues, women’s rights and women’s language in the BPFA document. It showed that women’s groups, working strongly together, could influence such government meetings.