Beijing and Urban Issues

The Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW), held in Beijing, China, from 4–15 September 1995, addressed poverty alleviation and other issues related to the urban environment in the context of empowering women and improving their economic, political and social status.

The FWCW Platform for Action points out that increased rural to urban migration in recent years has profoundly affected family structures and well-being, with unequal consequences for women and men. It cites problems common to poor urban and rural families, including a lack of food and inequitable distribution of food for girls and women, inadequate access to safe water, sanitation facilities and fuel supplies, deficient housing conditions and environmental health hazards, all of which overburden women and their families and have a negative effect on their health.

Among the relevant recommendations of the Platform for Action:

Increase allocations for social services and health care, especially programmes at the primary level in poor areas, giving special attention to the reproductive and sexual health of girls and women.

Develop and promote employment programmes.

Improve the effectiveness of anti-poverty programmes; provide adequate safety nets to enable those living in poverty to withstand times of economic crisis.

Expand the access of disadvantaged women to financial services, appropriate technologies, transportation, extension services, marketing facilities and credit; ensure that laws and regulations do not discriminate against enterprises owned by women.

Eliminate child labour that is contrary to international standards; protect working children, and street children in particular, by providing appropriate health, education and other social services.

Promote the participation of local communities, particularly women, in identifying public service needs, spatial planning and providing and designing urban infrastructure.

Design and implement environmentally sound resource management mechanisms, production techniques and infrastructure development.

Design structural adjustment programmes to minimize their negative effects on vulnerable and disadvantaged groups and communities; prevent the marginalization of these groups in economic and social activities and devise measures to give them access to and control over economic resources; design economic policies and programmes to take account of their impact on women and girls, especially those living in poverty.