The NGO Beijing Declaration
A coalition of women NGOs, unhappy at the watered down position of the official documents, issued their own NGO Beijing Declaration on 15 September 1995, the final day of the UN Women's Conference. The alternative declaration challenges governments to radically transform social, economic and political structures that oppress women and girls worldwide. The text of the NGO Beijing Declaration is produced below.
A DECADE after the Nairobi Conference, the Forward Looking Strategies have not been fully implemented by any government. We live in a world marked by growing poverty, inequality, injustice, unemployment, environmentally destructive economic growth, war, sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and other forms of discrimination and violence against women. Moreover, the intersection of gender, race and poverty create multiple burdens of discrimination for many women of colour.
We, NGO women of the world, rich in our diversity, have gathered along with governments in the largest global conference ever to address women's issues and the existing barriers to our achieving equality, development and peace. We believe that these goals can be realised by ending the oppression of women and girls, by women's full participation in national and international decision-making, and transforming the social, economic and political structures which underlie and perpetuate poverty, racism, inequality, injustice, unemployment, violence and war.
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, despite the many obligations undertaken by its member states, women's human rights are not yet respected, protected and promoted as inalienable, indivisible and universal.
Resources are being persistently squandered on the military with no gain in peace and common security. The dominant development model and global market economy generate great material wealth for a few, while impoverishing many; create homelessness and environmental racism and degradation; encourage overconsump-tion and arms proliferation; deplete our natural resources; pollute our air, water and soil; and contribute to violations of women's civil, economic, cultural and political rights. The current growth model fails to meet the fundamental material and spiritual needs of the peoples of the world.
Women are major contributors to every economy but much of our labour is unrecognised and undervalued. We do two-thirds of the world's work, yet earn only 5% of its income, our labour serving as an invisible subsidy to the world's wealth.
The globalisation of the world's so-called 'market economies' is a root cause of the increasing feminisation of poverty everywhere. This violates human rights and dignity, the integrity of our eco-systems and the environment, and poses serious threats to our health. The global economy, governed by international financial institutions, the World Trade Organisation and transnational corporations, imposes Structural Adjustment Programmes on countries in the South and economic restructuring in countries in the North in the name of fiscal health. The result is increasing poverty, debt and unemployment. The resulting reductions in social programmes and services in the areas of health, education and housing harm the very people they purport to assist. The media, controlled by transnational corporations acts as an instrument of social control, denying women's rights to free communication.
Supported by the wisdom of our elders, inspired by indigenous peoples, energised by youth, and sustained by our sisterhood, we call for an end to these conditions and refuse to accept them as inevitable for the future of humanity. WOMEN'S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS.
WE CALL ON ALL GOVERNMENTS:
Governments must abolish weapons of mass destruction by banning testing, sales and stockpiling of nuclear, chemical, biological, and all other weapons. The production, trade and use of all landmines must be banned. We demand that our governments work together to solve conflicts without using violence, and that they fully include women in peacemaking and conflict resolution initiatives.
We must build upon alternative models that currently exist in both South and North, which are based on equality, mutual respect, true participation and accountability to all women. These models must be economically and socially equitable and environmentally sound.
All development projects must take into account their effects on women, including the additional workload imposed on women by unsustainable and inappropriate technology.
WE CALL FOR:
WE DEMAND AN END TO RAPE, AND TO ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE, SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN. WE FURTHER DEMAND AN END TO THE TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN AS WELL AS SEX TOURISM.
We seek these transformations in the spirit of service to humanity, partners with youth as agents of change, keeping our children, grandchildren and future generations in our hearts. We are convinced that as women achieve full and equal participation in all the affairs of the planet, peace will be realised, and the well-being of every individual secured. WE REAFFIRM THAT WOMEN'S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS. (Third World Resurgence No. 61/62, Sept/Oct 1995)