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The 4th UN Conference on Women in 1995 was the birth of The Beijing Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights. Governments around the world pledged to change or remove their existing unfair laws and make legal equality a reality. But that goal is far from being realized.

Gender inequality in 2022

Only 12 out of 190 economies surveyed by the World Bank in 2022 had achieved legal equality and a typical economy only grants women 75% of the same rights as men.  

Income inequality and gender inequality are intimately linked, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that inequality kills. Sexist laws and gender stereotypes during the COVID-19 pandemic have perpetuated economic violence against women and exacerbated physical domestic violence.  To stop COVID-related inequality from killing women and other vulnerable people and instead put both gender and income equality first, States must get rid of all discriminatory laws. 

Diverse movements are key to change

People coming together into cohesive, inclusive, yet diverse movements is critical to future-proofing equality, including achieving legal equality.  In Africa, for example, the SOAWR network is leading efforts to ensure that the Maputo Protocol (probably the most progressive instrument for women and girls’ rights in the world) is ratified and domesticated.  This has resulted in 43 of 55 African states ratifying it (as of September 2022), thereby guaranteeing women’s right to take part in the political process, to social and political equality with men, to improved autonomy in their reproductive health decisions, and an end to female genital mutilation.  In the United States, the ERA Coalition, for example, is expanding and diversifying until equality is finally incorporated into the US Constitution.

Feminist movements for change are vital to shaping the law for women and girls. More support for the emergence of international and regional coalitions of human rights and faith-based organizations determined to end discrimination in family law and push back against conservative forces that seek to deny women equal rights in the family and society is needed. The UN Secretary-General has included the repeal of discriminatory laws as a key priority of the UN’s A Call to Action for Human Rights and law and policy reform will is a key component of the work of Generation Equality Action Coalitions.

Words and Deeds in 2022

Every five years since 1999 Equality Now has highlighted explicitly sex discriminatory laws that need to be reformed in our Words and Deeds report. As we approach 30 years since The Beijing Platform for Action, we are releasing a series of briefs exploring the impact of sex discrimination in the law and what still needs to change. 

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07 October 2022

The 4th UN Conference on Women in 1995 was the birth of The Beijing Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint ever …

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Words and Deeds: Beijing+25 Report

02 March 2020

The 4th UN Conference on Women in 1995 was the birth of The Beijing Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint ever …

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Words and Deeds: Holding Governments Accountable in the Beijing+20 Review Process

07 March 2015

In 1995, at the historic United Nations 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, governments from around the world agreed on…