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Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security and The Rockefeller Foundation Launch New Beijing+25 Initiative

Hillary Rodham Clinton one of 25 Global Women Leaders to Issue New Recommendations to Accelerate Progress for Women and Girls during and post-Covid-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. | June 23, 2020 – The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security (GIWPS), with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and in collaboration with Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State (2009-2013), today launched a new initiative to accelerate progress for women and girls around the world.

Secretary Clinton and two dozen former presidents, foreign ministers, NGO heads, and leading activists will provide a series of bold recommendations for creating a future that champions gender justice. The forthcoming significant report will be released this September ahead of the next UN General Assembly meetings and marking the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, which took place in Beijing, China in 1995. Factoring in the scope and scale of the Covid-19 pandemic, this report will establish a framework for the next 12-18 months which could shape the next century and beyond.

Looking back, an unprecedented 17,000 participants and 30,000 activists streamed into Beijing for what would become of the largest meetings to promote women’s rights ever held. Then First Lady Clinton proclaimed, “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.” The conference resulted in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action which 189 countries adopted by consensus and continues to serve as a blueprint for advancing women’s rights today.

Nearly two and a half decades later during the Beijing +25 Summit, a closed virtual meeting convened by the GIWPS and The Rockefeller Foundation earlier today, Secretary Clinton emphasized a renewed sense of urgency as a result of the pandemic to invest in solutions that provide opportunities for everyone – girls and boys alike – to be hopeful about the future.

“We are at a moment of reckoning when it comes to the roles of women in economies, governments, societies, and our own homes and families,” said Secretary Clinton. “We’re seeing a global groundswell of women demanding racial equality, gender equality, human rights, and more.  When it comes to the work ahead of us, we need to be even bolder and more ambitious than we were 25 years ago in Beijing. And that’s where ‘generation equality’ comes in.”

Covid-19 has deepened the challenges facing women and girls, including rising violence, stagnating labor force participation, and exclusion from decision-making, to name a few. The initiative will draw upon the wisdom and contributions of 25 global women leaders with extensive experience championing gender equality across all geographies and sectors. In addition to Secretary Clinton, they include:

  • Shaharzad Akbar, Chairperson for The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission,
  • Leila Alikarami, Lawyer and Human Rights Advocate in Iran
  • Laura Alonso, former Head of the Argentina Anti-Corruption Office
  • Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Chile
  • Ikram Ben-Said, Founder of Aswat Nissa in Tunisia
  • Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • Drew Faust, former President, Harvard University
  • Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia
  • Dalia Grybauskaitė, former President of Lithuania
  • Rima Khalaf, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
  • Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund
  • Susana Malcorra, former Foreign Minister of Argentina
  • Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, MB, Executive Director of UN Women
  • Chouchou Namegabe, Founder and CEO, ANZAFRIKA in The Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Reema Nanavaty, Head of Self-Employed Women’s Association of India
  • Marta Ramírez, Vice President of Colombia
  • Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland
  • Judith Rodin, former President of The Rockefeller Foundation
  • May Sabai Phyu, Kachin Women’s Rights Activist in Burma
  • Trisha Shetty, Founder of SheSays, India
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia
  • Virginia Tan, Co-Founder and President of Lean In China
  • Carolyn Tastad, Group President for North America at Procter & Gamble
  • Margot Wallström, former Foreign Minister of Sweden

During the Beijing +25 event, a cohort of NGO leaders and activists met virtually to exchange ideas as part of a strategic review of the Beijing Platform.

In her opening remarks, Melanne Verveer, the first U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues and current Executive Director of the GIWPS, told the group “Although the Platform for Action was adopted 25 years ago and there has been genuine progress, significant gaps remain in achieving the goal of gender equality. The Beijing+25 Initiative draws on the experiences, insights and lessons of global women leaders who are working to overcome obstacles and accelerate progress in their communities. Together, we can chart the way forward.”

Next Steps:

Over the summer, the group will identify the largest gaps in progress on the Beijing Platform and most promising opportunities to accelerate the closing of these gaps. With the series of recommendations for cross-cutting levers and entry points for closing these gaps that are critical to accelerating and sustaining progress for women and girls, the forthcoming report will establish an organizing framework for gender equality in a Covid-19 world. The goal will be to create a new galvanizing call to action that captures this unique moment to build a global community – with the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action at the center – in which everyone, especially women and girls, can be hopeful about the future.

“We cannot wait for the pandemic to end to start addressing its far-reaching impact on communities all across the world, especially women,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “We have the opportunity to create real systems change that dramatically reduces gender gaps and empowers women and girls around the world. If we meet this moment together, we can unlock human potential on an unimaginable scale.” 

About Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security (GIWPS)
Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace & Security seeks to promote a more stable, peaceful, and just world by focusing on the important role women play in preventing conflict and building peace, growing economies, and addressing global threats like climate change and violent extremism. We engage in rigorous research, host global convenings, advance strategic partnerships, and nurture the next generation of leaders. Housed within the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, the Institute is headed by the former U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer.

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About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas, and conversations. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @RockefellerFdn.

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