The Fourth World Conference on Women met in Beijing, China, from 4 - 15 September 1995. Delegates discussed and adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. They also heard Plenary statements and commitments from Member States regarding the actions they would take to promote equality, development and peace for and with the women of the world.
Four official negotiating groups two Working Groups and two Contact Groups and numerous informal groups were formed at the FWCW to reach agreement on the draft Platform for Action and the Beijing Declaration. Work progressed at a slow but steady pace throughout the negotiations. Night and weekend sessions were necessary to provide adequate time for consultation, and agreement was reached on all but three of the outstanding issues by Thursday, 14 September. Two of the outstanding issues a footnote reference to implementation in accordance with religious and cultural values, and references to non-discrimination based on "sexual orientation" were decided by rulings from the Chair during a late night session of the Main Committee on 14 September.
Delegates to the largest UN conference ever held emerged from the FWCW with a 38-paragraph Declaration and 345-paragraph Platform for Action. Several dozen countries made reservations, but all nations joined the consensus to adopt and implement most, if not all, of the document, which calls for action to achieve equality, development and peace.
The 38-paragraph Beijing Declaration summarizes the positions and proposed actions agreed upon in the Platform for Action. The Declaration recognizes that the status of women has advanced, but inequalities and obstacles remain. It reaffirms commitments to: equal rights in a number of existing agreements; ensuring full implementation of human rights of women and the girl child; and empowerment and advancement of women, including the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief. Delegates stated their conviction that: women's empowerment and full participation are fundamental to equality, development and peace; equal rights and responsibilities are critical to families; women's involvement is required to eradicate poverty; peace is linked to the advancement of women; and gender-sensitive policies are essential to foster women's empowerment and advancement. Governments are determined to: intensify efforts to achieve goals from the Nairobi strategies; ensure the full enjoyment by women and the girl child of human rights; eliminate discrimination and remove obstacles to equality; encourage men to participate in actions towards equality; promote women's economic independence; promote sustainable development and education; prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls; ensure full participation; and ensure equal access to economic resources.
The Platform for Action contains six chapters: Chapter I Mission Statement; Chapter II Global Framework; Chapter III Critical Areas of Concern; Chapter IV Strategic Objectives and Actions; Chapter V Institutional Arrangements; and Chapter VI Financial Arrangements. Chapter IV contains twelve sections that diagnose the critical areas of concern and propose concrete actions. The twelve areas are: poverty; education; health; violence against women; armed conflict; inequality in women's access to and participation in the definition of economic structures; decision-making; insufficient mechanisms for the advancement of women; human rights; mass media; women and the environment; and the girl child.