Journal Article


Beijing+20: Where Now for Gender Equality?

Published on 27 July 2015

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA), celebrated by feminist activists as a triumph for women’s rights, is 20 years old. The world that it once described has changed profoundly in some respects, and yet in others remains surprisingly similar. This IDS Bulletin reflects on those changes and continuities, tracing the trajectories of the Beijing conference in different policy arenas, national settings and domains of practice.

Articles chart the development of policies and practice worldwide, drawing out both obstacles to progress and gains for women’s rights. They explore three major areas: creating more opportunities for women to earn a living and exercise economic autonomy; enhancing women’s political representation and enabling women to have more of a say in the decisions that affect their lives; and affirming women’s rights to have control over their own bodies and a sexuality of their own choosing. Many articles concern the long, slow process of turning the commitments of Beijing into real gains for women’s rights and the implications for turning subsequent commitments into action. Contributors identify a number of pathways forward to reanimate some of the radical potential of gender equality and women’s empowerment now.

As the SDGs shape future development policy and funding, women’s rights organisations and transnational networks have an important role to play in monitoring implementation, holding states to account and mobilising consumer and political pressure on non-state actors. They can contribute directly to the realisation of women’s rights and empowerment by challenging limiting gender stereotypes and social norms by raising consciousness and collective action.

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Table of contents

Introduction: Beijing+20 – Where now for Gender Equality?Andrea Cornwall and Jenny EdwardsView this article for free

Myths to Live By: Beijing NarrativesRosalind Eyben

Wearing Platform Shoes: How the Platform for Action Changed our Lives, and how Women’s Lives have Changed since the Platform for ActionSuzette Mitchell

‘To Beijing and Back’: Reflections on the Influence of the Beijing Conference on Popular Notions of Women’s Empowerment in GhanaTakyiwaa Manuh and Nana Akua AnyidohoView this article for free

Beyond the Rhetoric of Choice: Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment in Developed CountriesClaartje J. Vinkenburg

Rural Women’s Empowerment through Employment from the Beijing Platform for Action OnwardsPaola Termine and Monika Percic

Feminist Movements and the Gender Economic Agenda in Latin AmericaAna-Laura Rodríguez Gustá and Nancy Madera

Interrogating the Rights Discourse on Girl’s Education: Neocolonialism, Neoliberalism, and the Post-Beijing Platform for ActionNavtej Purewal

Beijing, Gender and Environment – Challenges for Ecological Sustainability, Development and Justice?Anke Stock

Gendered Rights in the Post-2015 Development and Disasters AgendasSarah Bradshaw

Beyond Tinkering with the System: Rethinking Gender, Power and PoliticsMariz Tadros

Gender Mainstreaming Critiques: Signposts or Dead Ends?Kirsty Milward, Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay and Franz F. Wong

No Shortcuts to Shifting Deep Structures in OrganisationsAruna Rao, David Kelleher and Carol Miller

Twenty Years after Beijing: Can Promises be Turned into Progress?Jessica Woodroffe

The Digital Age: A Feminist Future for the Queer African WomanNyx McLean and Tiffany Kagure Mugo

Big Plans, Small Steps: Learnings from Three Decades of Mobilising Resources for Women’s RightsZohra Moosa and Happy Mwende Kinyili

If Not Now, When? Reasserting Beijing for a Progressive Women’s Rights Agenda in 2015 and BeyondAbigail Hunt

Brazilian Feminisms in Global Spaces: Beijing and Beijing+20Cecilia M.B. SardenbergView this article for free


Andrea Cornwall

Honorary Associate

Image of Jenny Edwards

Jenny Edwards

Project Manager

Publication details

published by
Edwards, J. and Cornwall, A.
IDS Bulletin, volume 46, issue 4


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