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This article reviews the 25-year progress made in implementing the ‘Beijing Platform for Action’ and the challenges that remain towards achieving gender equality in the Asia-Pacific region. Adopted in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women, the ‘Beijing Platform for Action’ has been hailed as the most progressive policy blueprint for gender equality and women’s empowerment. In November 2019, over 600 participants from 54 countries, comprising representatives from Governments, international organisations and civil society organisations attended the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on the Beijing+25 Review in Bangkok. The delegations reviewed the “achievements, challenges and priority areas for realizing gender equality and women’s empowerment” (UNESCAP, 2019a:1) in Asia-Pacific. For 25 years, since the adoption of the ‘Beijing Platform for Action’, Asia-Pacific has witnessed significant progress in girls’ education and women’s health. Unprecedented progress has been made in and reducing maternal deaths and enhancing women’s representation in national parliaments and local governments in several countries. However, there are some enduring challenges, including women’s economic empowerment and political participation, and violence against women. Whilst women play a pivotal role in protecting the environment and natural resources, they have been underrepresented in environment-related decision making and negotiations. Accordingly, the key actions outlined by the ‘Asia-Pacific Declaration on Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing+25 Review’ cover a wide range of issues, from women’s economic empowerment, political participation, to women’s full and effective participation in environment conservation, climate action and peace building process.
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