Beijing Plus Ten: An Ambivalent Record on Gender Justice


  • Maxine Molyneux,

    1. Professor of Sociology at the Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London (31 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9HA, UK).
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  • Shahra Razavi

    1. Research Co-ordinator at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Palais des Nations 1211, Geneva 10, Switzerland.
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The 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women (the ‘Beijing Conference’) was a landmark in policy terms, setting a global policy framework to advance gender equality. Ten years after Beijing, in March 2005, the UN's Commission on the Status of Women presided over an intergovernmental meeting in New York to review the progress achieved on the commitments made in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This ‘Plus 10’ event was decidedly low key. Its aim was not agenda setting but agenda confirming; not policy formulation but policy affirmation. Whether it proves to be part of an ongoing worldwide movement in support of gender equality, or whether it marks the decline of that process, is a question that many in international women's movements are asking. This article, drawing on research undertaken for the UNRISD report, Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World, reflects on the ambivalent record of progress achieved by women over the last decades and considers how the policy environment has changed over the period since the high point of global women's movements. It examines how the changing international policy and political climate over this period has given rise to new issues and challenges for those active in global women's movements.