The Nordic Forum in Turku 1-6 August 1994
“Women´s Life and Work - Joy and Freedom”


The Forum was the regional Nordic preparatory meeting for the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing and Huairou 1995. It was preceded by the following UN events:

  • the UN International Woman´s Year 1975
  • the UN Decade for Women 1975-1985
    which led to
  • the First World Conference on Women in Mexico 1975
  • the Second World Conference on Women in Copenhagen 1980
  • the Third World Conference on Women in Nairobi 1985

After Nairobi, the first Nordic NGO (Non-Governmental Organisations) Forum was arranged in Oslo in 1988, with around 8.000 participants, and with the Official Conference dealing primarily with the Equality Plan drafted by the Nordic Council of Ministers. In Turku 1994, the plan was developed further and the results of the discussions taken to Beijing and Huairou, to the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.

After Beijing, several follow-up meetings have been arranged in the Nordic countries and the Baltic Region during the years 1997-2003. After the 10th Anniversary Seminar in Turku 2004, the next follow-up meeting will be in St. Petersburg, in 2005.

The Nordic Forum in Turku 1994


Over 15.000 participants from mainly the Nordic and Baltic countries took part. A mammoth opening ceremony was held on the banks of the Aura river, the Seminar Programme consisted of 716 lectures, workshops and seminars in six different theme houses: the Houses of Spirits, of Future, of Good and Evil, of Innovation, of Welfare and of the World. In addition, there were 277 exhibitions, 27 sports events as well as 162 theme discussions. All in all, 1.182 various events were organised.

Special attention was paid to such groups as the Samis, the Romany, immigrant women, youth, sports and cultural groups, the disabled, as well as women inventors. The cultural programme included a huge range of art and culture produced by Nordic women, including a special Women´s Film and Video Festival.

Secretary-General for the Beijing Conference, Mrs Gertrude Mongella attended the Forum, and so did also for instance the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú Tum.

The official conference 

Arranged by the Nordic Ministers of Equal Opportunities, the Official Conference was held August 4-5 and dealt with the main areas of Nordic cooperation on equal opportunities. The themes of this Conference, which concluded with a panel discussion, were the following:

  • Towards equal opportunities. What has happened since 1988?
  • Political and economic power. How do women get it?
  • Women’s and men’s economic prospects - not only a question of equal pay!
  • Combining parenthood and paid work. Just as important for men as for women.
  • The Nordic Countries as a part of Europe. Looking towards year 2000. 


The Beijing Platform for Action

Several hundred participants of the Nordic Forum in Turku took part in the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and Huairou, 1995. The outcome document, the Beijing Platform for Action, points out twelve Critical Areas of Concern:

  • women´s poverty
  • access to education and training
  • access to health care and related services
  • violence against women
  • the effects of armed and other conflicts on women
  • inequality in economic structures and policies
  • inequality in sharing of power and decision-making
  • insufficient mechanisms to promote the advancement of women
  • women`s human rights
  • access to and participation in all communication systems
  • inequalities in the management of natural resources and in the safeguarding of the environment
  • discrimination against and violation of the rights of the Girl Child

A Fifth World Conference on Women will not be arranged in 2005. Instead, a review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action will be made on three levels.

Firstly, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) took the matter up at its 49th session in March 2004, and the review was based on an analysis of government responses to a questionnaire. Secondly, the Economic and Social Council will look at the themes cutting across several global summits and conferences, and thirdly other more policy-related issues may be taken up at the General Assembly level, during its 60th session.