“Women’s Rights Under Attack” – UN High Commissioner For Human Rights

The 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration witnessed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warning against complacency on women’s rights.

Even though the world has made several strides towards achieving gender parity, a lot of gap still needs to be filled. In fact, there have been increased cases of gendered violence around the world. Despite that, efforts made by the United Nations have led to some landmark changes. This includes the enactment of sexual harassment laws in various countries.

Michelle Bachelet had some words for the issue in a panel discussion.


Bachelet talked about the progress in women’s rights since the landmark Beijing Declaration from 25 years ago –

“Women’s rights are threatened and attacked” on many fronts, she warned, adding that there over this period there has been “a backlash and the resurgence of gender inequality narratives based on age-old discrimination”.

She called the rights of women non-negotiable –

“They cannot be an optional policy, subject to the changing winds of politics,” she warned. According to Ms. Bachelet, the women’s rights agenda must not be torn apart by the establishment of a hierarchy between what is acceptable and what is deemed “too sensitive”.

However, while counting on the problems, Bachelet acknowledged the incredible progress that had been made –

“Although we are still far from parity, the number of women national parliamentarians has almost doubled. More than 150 countries now have laws on sexual harassment. The number of child marriages has decreased worldwide”.

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The Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing, China on 15 September 1995. An important outcome of this conference was the Beijing Declaration. It was a resolution adopted to lay down principles to bring about gender equality.

According to Ms. Bachelet, it was the result of deliberate action by governments, civil society and other partners.

Bachelet’s words are very truthful. Even though progress on some level has been achieved, the violence against women in all political conflicts has become a common thing. Strict measures need to be put in place in order to deal with such problems that keep arising.


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