/** headlines: 191.0 **/
** Topic: Beijing Followup #84 **
** Written 9:58 AM Mar 27, 1997 by mmason in cdp:headlines **
International Women's Tribune Centre, 777 United Nations Plaza, New
York, NY 10017, Tel: (1-212) 687-8633. Fax: (1-212) 661-2704 .
The 41st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW41) met in New York, March 10-21, to consider the implementation of four of the twelve critical areas identified in the Beijing Platform for Action (PFA): Economy, Environment, Politics and D ecision-Making, and Education and Training. Also meeting was a Working Group on an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). These CSW meetings are important because:
Women and the Environment: The "Agreed Conclusions" on Women and the Environment [E/CN.6/1997/L.3/Rev.1] contain a hard-fought-for paragraph which includes the following statement: "In the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, women should be accorded full and equal rights to own land and other properties, inter alia, through inheritance". They also refer to the need to mainstream gender concerns throughout UN approaches to the environment, particularly in the review of Agenda 21, the documen t that came out of the Earth Summit held in Rio, 1992. NGOs began this process in the NGO/Earth Council meeting which met in Rio during the CSW41. Five hundred NGOs and representatives of the UN and its specialized agencies met to identify areas of conce rn to be discussed at the Rio+5 review, scheduled to take place in New York during the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 7-25, 1997. The recommendations of this meeting will be sent to a Special Session of the General Assembly in June 1997.
Women and the Economy: The "Agreed Conclusions" on Women and the Economy [E/CN.6/1997/L.12/Rev.1] state that women's unpaid work is to be measured and valued, despite initial moves by the European Union to block the use of this language. A global action, coordinated by the International Women Count Network, highlighted the fact that this language was in line with the language of the PFA and incorporates the language of the Forward Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women (FLS) which came out of the Nairobi Conference on Women in 1985. The Women Count action saw women from all over the EU send faxes to their governments expressing their concern at their negotiating position. The "Agreed Conclusions" also reiterate the need to formulate and monitor s tructural adjustment policies within a gender framework and support women's participation in the economic sector. Women and Power and Decision-Making: The "Agreed Conclusions" and discussions focused on the need of governments, institutions, and NGOs to actively facilitate women's participation at all levels of power and decision-making, including programmes to encou rage the participation of women at grassroots level, the use of quotas to ensure women's participation in formal political institutions, and programmes to prepare The Girl-Child for participation in decision-making structures. They also encourage the Secr etary-General to appoint a woman to the proposed new position of Deputy Secretary-General of the UN. Human Rights groups are also working to lobby for the appointment of a woman as High Commissioner for Human Rights. Suggestions of names should be forward ed to the Centre for Human Rights in Geneva (Fax: (41 22) 917 0123), your own country's UN Mission, or the Center for Women's Global Leadership (Fax: (1-908)932-1180; E-mail: email@example.com) which is coordinating an international list to be forwarded to Geneva.
Women and Education and Training: A number of key issues emerged at the panel discussions and forums around the issue of education and training. These included the promotion of information technology to produce literacy and post-literacy education materia ls relevant to women in local communities and creating effective links between formal and non-formal education sectors. The "Agreed Conclusions" include reference to promoting life-long learning for women, recommendations to governments to include referen ce to educational programmes in their National Action Plans (agreed to in the PFA), and recommendations to Donor Governments to commit 0.7% of their Gross National Product to official development assistance, 20% to be spent on social development programme s which integrate gender, including education.
Resolutions: In addition to the "Agreed Conclusions", CSW also passed resolutions on the following issues: Release of women and children taken hostage in armed conflicts and imprisoned (E/CN.6/1997/L.5); Older women, human rights and development (E/CN.6/1 997/L.6); Palestinian women (E/CN.6/1997/L.7); Violence against women migrant workers (E/CN.6/1997/L.10); and Traffic in women and girls (E/CN.6/1997/L.11). Resolution E/CN.6/1997/L.14 calls on the UN to mainstream gender concerns into all areas of UN wor k. Importantly, the resolution also recognizes that gender focal points are essential to the success of such a programme. It also calls on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to "ensure that the equal status of all human rights of all women and gir l children are integrated in UN system-wide activities". For copies of these resolutions contact DAW at fax: (1-212) 963-3463. Alternatively, if you have access to a computer, you can access them through WomenWatch, the UN women's website <http://www.un.o rg/womenwatch>.
Optional Protocol moves forward:CEDAW is the only UN Convention which relates specifically to protecting the human rights of women. 139 governments have ratified CEDAW. These governments are obliged to implement measures to protect women from discriminato ry practices in political, social, economic, and cultural spheres. In a parallel meeting to CSW41, government delegates met to discuss the drafting of an Optional Protocol to CEDAW, a mechanism by which governments can be held accountable by individual wo men for failure to implement the obligations of CEDAW. Adopting an Optional Protocol would bring CEDAW in line with other UN human rights instruments, and would increase the effectiveness of CEDAW. The Chairperson of the parallel meeting reported that the Protocol would contain both an inquiry procedure (which would allow the Committee to investigate systemic abuses of states obligations to protect women from discrimination) and an individual complaint procedure. The ability of NGOs to lodge a complaint w ill be discussed next year at the OPworking group at CSW42. Funding will need to be approved at the next UN General Assembly. Please lobby your government to indicate your support. Contact the International Women's Rights Action Watch (Fax: (1-612) 624-0 068) or CWGL (see fax earlier) for further informationl.
NGO's Participate in CSW441: More than 300 NGOs contributed to CSW41 through panel discussions, lobbying governments, and participating in caucus meetings and dialogues. Sharon Brennan-Haylock (Chair of CSW41) congratulated NGOs for their effective contri bution to the proceedings. Daily NGO briefings brought together UN officials, government delegates and NGOs. The WEDO Linkage Caucus met twice during the session, highlighting the need to integrate gender into all UN Commissions, including the upcoming Rio+5 meetings and the Commission on Human Rights (Geneva, 10 March - 18 April). Women from the Europe, Asia/Pacific, Latin America/Caribbean and Africa met in Regional caucuses.The Asian women's caucus sent a letter to Angela King, Director of DAW, congr atulating her on her recent appointment as Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues. They also identified three areas to improve the input of NGOs at the CSW, including the expedition of the accreditation process, earlier dissemination of CSW documents, and the strengthening of regional commissions to assist more with preparations. NGO-organized panels on such issues as gender mainstreaming, popular education, education and training, women's human rights, and the International Criminal C ourt were held. NGOs participating in the OP working group made strong interventions, and were an effective lobbying force in the discussions. Preparations for CSW42 are already underway. Global Faxnet/Globalnet #85 will have more details.