The full speech for United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women Plenary Session in 1995, Beijing.
I believe that, on the eve of a new millennium, it is time to break our silence. It is time for us to say here in Bejing, and the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.
These abuses have continued because, for too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words.
The voices of this conference and of the women at Huairou must be heard loud and clear:
It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.
It is a violation of human rights when woman and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution.
It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small.
It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.
It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide along women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes.
It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.
If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, it is that human rights are women’s rights – and women’s rights are human rights. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely – and the right to be heard.