Happy Women’s History Month! Help JWA continue to lift up Jewish women’s stories, this month and every month, by making a gift today!
Close [x]

Show [+]

Bella Abzug's Speech at the Fourth World Conference On Women, Beijing, People's Republic Of China, September 12, 1995

"What will we accomplish at the week's end when the Platform for Action is adopted by the world's women and its 187 governments?

We are building a consensus to face life's realities. The affirmation of women's sexual rights is an important and bold step forward.

We are creating a better environment, attributing the cause of environmental degradation to unsustainable over-consumption and production and military conflict.

We are affirming human rights for all women and girls, acknowledging the full range of diversity that exists and detailing actions to prevent violence.

We are generating better opportunities for women who are living at the margins of life, women who are the majority of the world's poor, hungry and illiterate....

We are strengthening all families by supporting their economic and social needs. We are fashioning new ways to involve women at all stages of negotiation and decision-making. From kitchen tables to peace tables women propose to turn the tables on the status quo.

We are challenging all corporations to play by the rules and all governments to ensure that the rules are fair. We are moving a political, social and economic agenda for equality and democracy. Democracy within homes, markets and the state. From Beijing, the world will never be the same.

Beijing has given birth to a global movement for democracy that as Gertrude Mongella said in her opening statement in the Great Hall of the People, is a "revolution." -- New partnerships between men and women based on real equality.

Imperfect though it may be, the Beijing Platform for Action is the strongest statement of consensus on women's equality, empowerment and justice ever produced by governments. The Beijing Platform is a consolidation of the previous UN conference agreements in the unique context of seeing it through women's eyes.

It is an agenda for change, fueled by the momentum of civil society, based on a transformational vision of a better world for all.

We are bringing women into politics to change the nature of politics, to change the vision, to change the institutions. Women are not wedded to the policies of the past. We didn't craft them. They didn't let us.

As women, we know that we must always find ways to change the process because the present institutions want to hold on to power and keep the status quo. Just five short years ago, we developed the Women's Caucus methodology to influence the global agenda at the UN for the Earth Summit. WEDO and countless other NGOs have carried this work forward, linking the gains made at each conference, trying to prevent collective amnesia by governments.

Now as we leave Beijing, women will not stop. It's like jet propulsion. The fact that so many women made such an effort to participate in this historic conference is a testament to the seriousness of the agenda. Now, women around the world own this agenda. Women will ensure that others know about the provisions agreed to and the commitments made and millions will press their governments to follow through."

Citation: "Plenary Speech." Fourth World Conference On Women, Beijing, China. Sept. 12, 1995. Gifts of Speech, accessed 1999; available at http://gos.sbc.edu/a/abzug.html.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Bella Abzug's Speech at the Fourth World Conference On Women, Beijing, People's Republic Of China, September 12, 1995." (Viewed on April 1, 2023) <https://jwa.org/media/abzugs-speech-at-fourth-world-conference-on-women-september-12-1995-beijing-peoples-republic-o>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox

Read the latest from JWA from your inbox.

sign up now