The Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 was a milestone for affirming women’s rights and human rights. In total, 189 states signed the Beijing Platform for Action, a document subdivided into 12 strategic objectives describing how women’s equal participation in decision-making as well as in social and economic life can be guaranteed. Twenty years on, when reaffirming their allegiance, the signatories of the Platform for Action had to admit that the results were rather disappointing. Implementation, if undertaken at all, had been slow, and although today women’s rights are part of the constitutions and legal systems of some countries, the overall social balance of power has hardly shifted – and in some regions progress on women’s rights has actually been reversed.
In this edition of Perspectives Asia, the authors highlight certain aspects of gender relations and offer some very personal insights into the situations of women and men in Asia.
Twenty years after the World Conference on Women, Asia still has a long way to go in order to achieve equal rights for all genders. Continuing individual and institutionalized exclusion and violence results in setbacks. However, exemplary successes on many different levels of society demonstrate that education, tenacity, and putting pressure on political decision-makers may, over the long term, help to achieve changes.