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Past Conferences, Meetings and Events  >  Fourth World Conference on Women

Fourth World Conference on Women
(September 1995, Beijing, China)

A meeting of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, on 4 September 1995. A meeting of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, on 4 September 1995.   UN Photo/Yao Da Wei

The United Nations has been working on the issue of women's rights almost since its founding. Within the Organization's first year, on 21 June 1946, the Economic and Social Council established its Commission on the Status of Women, as the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Among its earliest accomplishments was ensuring gender neutral language in the draft Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

After three conferences dedicated to the advancement of women's rights, in Mexico City in 1975, Copenhagen in 1980, and 1985 in Nairobi, the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 resulted in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which asserted women’s rights as human rights and committed to specific actions to ensure respect for those rights. According to the UN Division for Women in its review of the four World Conferences:

"The fundamental transformation that took place in Beijing was the recognition of the need to shift the focus from women to the concept of gender, recognizing that the entire structure of society, and all relations between men and women within it, had to be re-evaluated. Only by such a fundamental restructuring of society and its institutions could women be fully empowered to take their rightful place as equal partners with men in all aspects of life. This change represented a strong reaffirmation that women's rights were human rights and that gender equality was an issue of universal concern, benefiting all."


Related:

Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: fifteen years later