Journeying With Beijing
Presented by Nelcia Marshall-Robinson, at the “Faith-based Responses to Institutional Barriers” side-event hosted by Ecumenical Women on Monday, March 8, 2010
What is Beijing?
It is not an event in itself, it is not a temporary excitement, rather it is a “journey of hope and restoration,” to lift women into a situation of equality. Isaiah 54:6 says “For the Lord has called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and as a wife of youth when thou wast refused,” and again in Isaiah 61: 3, “to give women beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
The Beijing Platform for Action, signed on to by governments at the Fourth World Conference on Women, held from 4-15 September, 1995 in Beijing China, is an agenda for women’s empowerment. The twelve critical areas of action are:
Women and Poverty
Education and Training For Women
Women and Health
Violence Against Women
Women in Armed Conflict
Women and The Economy
Women in Power And Decision-Making
Institutional Mechanisms for the Advancement Of Women
Human Rights of Women
Women and The Media
Women and The Environment
The Girl Child
I will focus on the Institutional Mechanisms for the Advancement of Women. I will address the institutional mechanisms in preparation for the conference, at the conference itself, and for implementation post-conference.
PREPARATION FOR THE BEIJING CONFERENCE
Various mechanisms helped contribute to preparations for and participation in the Fourth World Conference on the Status of Women.
In 1993, I was employed at a national women’s organization in my country. I was also President of the National Association for Adult Education, in a voluntary capacity. I received a call from a Mr. John Harrison, the Head of the British Development Division for the Eastern Caribbean, based in Barbados. I assumed that he wanted to talk to me on women’s issues. He did, but it was in relation to the adult education process, which he saw as the best vehicle to educate people on the upcoming Conference on Women. Mr. Harrison had funds for the purpose, which he channeled through the Government Community Services Ministry. In collaboration with the Women’s Desk, we embarked on an island-wide educational program that included the involvement of civil society organizations – women’s organizations, and faith-based organizations. As a result, a national report was produced on the situation of women.