Twenty years after the most important U.N. conference on women, what – if anything – has changed?

By Aili Mari Tripp and Alice Kang

Bargaining for Women's Rights by Alice J. KangOn Sunday, more than 70 world leaders are expected to participate in a United Nations meeting in New York on gender equality, a 20th anniversary commemoration of the most important United Nations conference on women that was held in Beijing in September 1995 and attended by 37,000 national representatives, U.N. officials, and women’s rights activists. At the Beijing conference, first lady Hillary Clinton famously asserted, “Women’s rights are human rights,” which to this day has inspired women’s mobilization around the globe.

But while women around the world were energized in 1995 to take steps to improve their status, the United States has fallen behind in many key areas. When ranked according to women’s legislative representation, the United States slid from 53rd to 76th place in the world over the past 20 years.

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