Women and Health

Beijing +20 - Women and Health

Reproductive health and rights are a central element of the “Women and Health” chapter in Beijing. It goes far beyond basic family planning and refers, for example, to the right to live in an environment that allows people to enjoy their sexuality or be free of sexual force and sexual violence. Its focus is therefore on the individual’s right to self-determination, physical well-being and freedom of discrimination. In this respect, Beijing was a milestone for a variety of feminist causes, e.g. those opposing population policy or in support of women’s health. 

At the same time, Beijing is an ambivalent benchmark due to the fact that, since the 1990s, the discussions surrounding self-determination have functioned as new forms of leadership: individual needs and rights have become linked to bio-political power strategies, and “empowerment” has also become code for a “need for advice and support”. In the wake of Beijing, feminists point to the medicalization of population policy objectives.

Its ambivalence aside, Beijing also has a loophole: the right to abortion was not entrenched as a human right. The right to abortion can only be safeguarded where it is already legal. Those supporting the rights to sexual and reproductive self-determination must therefore continually and repeatedly fight for them because they are being met with resistance. Peking +20 is good reason to look into these past and present struggles.


Sexual and Reproductive Rights

Women’s bodies have regularly been – and still are – the central target of conservative and fundamentalist ideology and praxis. This essay provides analytical background information for critical and controversial debates and motivation to explore political intervention.

„We want the youth to have a voice“

Sok Sothea, a young Cambodian activist from the Youth Fellowship for Democracy reports on the situation of women and girls in Cambodia with regards to education, health and employment.

By Sok Sothea

Still a long road ahead

"Cambodia still has a long road ahead", believes Ms. Sok, who spoke at the roundtable on Beijing +20 at the Metahouse in Phnom Penh, hosted by Heinrich Boell Foundation. Since the promises of Beijing, a lot has been improved, but especially concerning education and economy, much remains to be done.

Cross-Border Observations on Rape in India and South Africa

In early 2013, the cases of two young women, brutally gang-raped and murdered in different parts of the world received uncharacteristic national and international attention. One was Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old from India; and the other was 17-year-old Anene Booysen in South Africa.

By Claudia Lopes

Forced Sterilization: The Hidden Human Rights Abuse

The sterilization of women without their consent remains a persistent problem for public health systems worldwide. Public health administrators and justice systems have yet to learn the lessons of such abuses.

By Gwendolyn Albert

Good to Know

  • Progress of the World's Women 2015/2016: detailed report by the UN Women on the economical barriers facing women, and strategies of improving the political participation of women on a global scale. more>>
  • Beijing Platform for Action
    Read the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action here
    An overview the Platform's 12 critical areas of concern by the UN Women. more>>
  • Women in Armed Conflicts: in the context of the CSW 59, the GWI co-hosted an event at concering a pressing issue for the Platform - women in armed conflicts. more>>


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