US Human Rights Network Blog

US Human Rights Network Blog



USHRN Statement on the Beijing Declaration at the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women

Mar 13, 2019

The US Human Rights Network would like to thank the Commission on the Status of Women for giving us an opportunity at the sixty-third session to address accelerating implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: towards Beijing+25. The US Human Rights Network is a network of approximately 300 U.S.-based member organizations representing thousands of individuals working to strengthen a human rights movement and culture within the United States. The movement is led by the people most directly impacted by human rights violations. We work to secure dignity and justice for all.


It has been nearly 25 years since the Beijing Declaration was adopted and we still have not made sufficient progress with regard to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in the United States. In particular, women and girls of color (including cisgender and transgender women/girls as well as gender non-conforming people) continue to be systematically denied basic human rights, including access to health services, education, decent work, security, safety, and access to and protection of sacred sites.


As the global community, in 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, we recognize that this anniversary is occurring during a turning point for women’s rights and gender equality globally. In the United States, we have seen an explosion in the number of women speaking out and taking public office—perhaps in response to an administration that is hostile to women in the “Me Too” era.  


Despite these advances and due, in part, to the feminization of poverty, women and girls face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, which are particularly acute for women of color and indigenous women. Currently, significant gender gaps remain in virtually all human rights areas, and, in the United States, progress is threatened by austerity measures and budget cuts to programs like TANF (food stamps), welfare, and subsidized housing which disproportionately impacts women and children. 


Women from poor households, rural areas, women of color, and indigenous women experience a multitude of depravations including lower access to education, health care, decent housing, clean water and sanitation. Women and girls with disabilities also face additional hurdles including inadequate access to education, housing, employment, healthcare, and a host of other basic human rights.  


Currently, over two million children experience parental incarceration. Indigenous, African-American and Latino children are disproportionately affected. Federal and state governments should require courts to consider the impact of parental incarceration on children and allow judges to exercise discretion in sentencing parents to an alternative to incarceration.


Further, legislators must introduce and support bills that could have a profound impact on women, including in the workplace where women face sexual harassment, unequal pay, and no parental leave.  


To truly achieve the goals of the Beijing Declaration, transgender women of color who are disproportionately targeted for violence by police, immigration enforcement, and private citizens must be fully protected. The United States must also work to ensure that every transgender and gender non-conforming child is able to get an adequate culturally competent education free from bullying, violence, and harassment.  


Additionally, it is the United States government’s obligation to protect indigenous sacred sites. It is essential to have free, prior and informed consent for indigenous peoples who are preserving and protecting spiritual rights and responsibilities and defending their cultural practices, resources, and land bases such as in the cases of Mauna Kea in Hawaii and Mt Shasta in Northern California.


In conclusion, The Beijing Platform for Action covers 12 critical areas of concern that are as crucial today as they were nearly 25 years ago. We recommend that governments, including the United States, instruct their institutions, and agencies to comply with their human rights obligations regarding women and girls.