UNESCO Social and Human Sciences
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Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted unanimously at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women (4-15 September 1995) held in Beijing, China. by representatives from 189 countries. While the Declaration does not directly address language rights, the Platform for Action, in identifying the "critical areas of concern" that represent the main obstacles to the advancement of women, includes numerous proposals to promote language rights for women. The most relevant recommendations for action in this area appear below.

Platform for Action

[Actions to be taken:]

80. By Governments:
(a) Advance the goal of equal access to education by taking measures to eliminate discrimination in education at all levels on the basis of gender, race, language, religion, national origin, age or disability, or any other form of discrimination and, as appropriate, consider establishing procedures to address grievances;

125. By Governments, including local governments, and community organizations, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, the public and private sectors, particularly enterprises, and the mass media, as appropriate:

(b) Establish linguistically and culturally accessible services for migrant women and girls, including women migrant workers, who are victims of gender-based violence;

147. By Governments, intergovernmental and non- governmental organizations and other institutions involved in providing protection, assistance and training to refugee women, other displaced women in need of international protection and internally displaced women, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme, as appropriate:

(g) Facilitate the availability of educational material in the appropriate language - in emergency situations also - in order to minimize disruption of schooling among refugee and displaced children;

(l) Provide, as appropriate, women who have been determined refugees with access to vocational/professional training programmes, including language training, small-scale enterprise development training and planning and counselling on all forms of violence
against women, which should include rehabilitation programmes for victims of torture and trauma; Governments and other donors should contribute adequately to assistance programmes for refugee women, other displaced women in need of international protection and internally displaced women, particularly taking into account the effects on the host countries of the increasing requirements of large refugee populations and the need to widen the donor base and to achieve greater burden-sharing;

(p) Facilitate the productive employment of documented migrant women (including women who have been determined refugees according to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees) through greater recognition of foreign education and credentials and by adopting an integrated approach to labour market training that incorporates language training.

233. By Governments and non-governmental organizations, the United Nations and other international organizations, as appropriate:

(a) Translate, whenever possible, into local and indigenous languages and into alternative formats appropriate for persons with disabilities and persons at lower levels of literacy, publicize and disseminate laws and information relating to the equal status and human rights of all women, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 33 , the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Declaration on the Right to Development 34 and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, as well as the outcomes of relevant United Nations conferences and summits and national reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women;

(g) Promote education on the human and legal rights of women in school curricula at all levels of education and undertake public campaigns, including in the most widely used languages of the country, on the equality of women and men in public and private life, including their rights within the family and relevant human rights instruments under national and international law;

242. By non-governmental organizations and media professional associations:

(d) Encourage the media industry and education and media training institutions to develop, in appropriate languages, traditional, indigenous and other ethnic group forms of media, such as story-telling, drama, poetry and song reflecting their cultures, and utilize these forms of communication to disseminate information on development and social issues.

Note: The full text of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is available at http://www.unesco.org/education/information/nfsunesco/pdf/BEIJIN_E.PDF

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