20 Years After World Conference on Women in China, Things Are Getting Better

Real progress has been made, but regressive laws remain on the books.
<span>Women's rights&nbsp;activists carry posters as they shout slogans during a protest march against the gangrape and murde
Women's rights activists carry posters as they shout slogans during a protest march against the gangrape and murder of a teenager, in Kolkata on January 3, 2014.

It’s been two decades since world leaders gathered at the Fourth World Conference on Women in China and pledged to do what they could to revoke laws discriminating on the basis of sex.

Progress remains to be made on numerous fronts, but there are many successes to celebrate. Public Radio International's The World is delving into both as part of a new series called Her Rights, launched on Sept. 4 -- the 20th anniversary of the finalization of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, described in its mission statement as an international “agenda for women’s empowerment.” The series is part of The World's Across Women's Lives initiative.

The successes outlined in Jane Little’s introduction to the series include Nigeria banning female genital mutilation and Malawi changing its minimum age of marriage from 15 to 18, both of which took place earlier this year. 

The series also features women-led efforts for women's and girls' civil rights, including a women’s prison in Thailand offering a vocational training program that helps inmates learn skills -- such as massage therapy -- that will help them succeed after their release. In another story, advocates claim a U.S. law that validates the claims of asylum seekers escaping domestic violence in their home countries doesn’t go far enough to protect victims of other circumstances such as forced marriage or sex trafficking.

In addition, the series links readers to Equality Now’s Beijing+20 page, catalogues discriminatory laws by country alongside information on how to take action.


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