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It has been a little more than 25 years since the watershed Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China, in September 1995, which forged a global agenda towards the achievement of gender equality. 

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action - which identified 12 key areas, including education, poverty, health, conflict, economy and power, and decision-making – was endorsed by 189 countries.  Its objective was to inform policy measures that would facilitate the eradication of gendered inequality.

While significant inroads have been made in terms of the achievement of legislative equality for women and girls globally and limited access by women to decision-making, the reality is that years later, “no country has achieved gender equality” (Mlambo-Ngcuka; Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action Turns 20 Report 2015: 6).

Waves of movements against sexual violence and femicide from South Africa, Chile, Mexico, United States and Kenya, for example, show that physical security in private and public spaces remains elusive for women and girls.

The global increase of gender-based violence during the COVID-19 lockdown in many countries is reflective of the continued reality that for women and girls, the ‘war is at home’. Some feminists have questioned whether “women could ever become defining participants of ideologies and equals of men in structures predicated on their exclusion and disadvantage” (Zinsser, 2002: 167), such as institutions of the masculine nation-state that define the current international order.

The Centre for Women and Gender Studies at Nelson Mandela University, the Politics and International Relations Department at Rhodes University and the University of Pretoria’s English Department are collaborating to host an inter-generational dialogue to commemorate and critically engage on the legacy of the Beijing Conference.

This conversation seeks to answer some of the following questions:

  • What are the successes and failures in the achievement of the goals of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action?
  • Can gender equality be achieved with current domestic and global institutions?
  • Why has legislative equality not translated to lived equality for women and girls?
  • What are the lessons for this generation about strategies and mobilisation that led to the Beijing Declaration Platform for Action?
  • What are new points of solidarity towards the achievement of gender equality by 2030?

The conversation will also be streamed on YouTube and can be access via


Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777