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Gail Hershatter, Emily Honig, and Lisa Rofel

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Reflections on the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing and Huairou, 1995

This is a report on the fourth world conference on women held in Beijing and Huairou in September 1995. Much of the coverage in the United States used the occasion of the conference to portray China as the nemesis of capitalist democracy. Women’s rights in an international context were thus overshadowed in the discussion of a conference whose focus was women’s rights. At the same time, many of the “background” stories in the press were framed in terms of the need for other cultures to liberate “their” women so that they can modernize. This treatment is misleading, not least because it renders simple and predictable the story of a meeting that was fragmented into dozens, perhaps hundreds, of subcultures. The conference experience and its significance varied with where one was located geographically and professionally. Women came from all over the world to enact their political passions in Beijing. The authors’ pervasive feeling was that thousands of those attending experienced different meetings from each other, and would all go home with different stories.

United Nations, international conferences, women’s movement, nongovernmental organizations (NGO)

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 23, Nos. 1-2 (1996): 368-375

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