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BRIEFING for Monday, 15 March


The second session of the CSW was declared open at 10:00 am on 15 March 1999 at the UN, New York. The Acting Chair Patricia Flor (Germany) congratulated the incoming Chair Irma Engelbrecht (South Africa), elected by acclamation. Christine Kapalate (United Republic of Tanzania) nominated by the Group of African States; Rasa Ostrauskaite (Lithuania), Dubravka Simonovic (Croatia) nominated by the Group of Eastern European States; Sonia R. Leonce (St.Lucia), Monica Martinez (Eucador) nominated by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States; Patricia Flor (Germany), Kirsten Mlacak (Canada) nominated by the Group of Western European and other States were elected as Vice-Chairs of the Preparatory Committee by acclamation.

The Chair then invited Angela King, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, to make the introductory statement on agenda item 2: Preparations for the Special Session of the General Assembly (GA), which is due to take place from 5-9 June 2000. She noted that the CSW has been designated as the Preparatory Committee and is thus scheduled to hold another meeting in March 2000 to complete the work that will be advanced this week. One of the objectives of the Special Session set out in General Assembly resolutions is to review and appraise progress in implementing the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women to the year 2000 adopted in 1985, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (POA) adopted in 1995. She pointed out that the GA resolution calls for the review of progress to focus on examples of good practices, positive actions, lesson learned, obstacles and key challenges remaining. She then introduced the following documents:

  • Initiation of the comprehensive review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing POA (E/CN.6/1999/PC/3) which starts the review and appraisal process by setting out a framework for the review. This review will be the third five-year review since the adoption of the Nairobi Forward-looking strategies. UN organizations will provide an assessment of implementation of the System-wide Medium-term Plan for the Advancement of Women, 1996-2001. Several publications scheduled to come out this year and early next year will also contribute to the review, including The World's Women, 2000 and The World Survey on the Role of Women in Development.
  • Report prepared by the CEDAW on progress in implementing the POA based on its review of the States Parties' reports (E/CN.6/1999/PC/4); and
  • Framework for further actions and initiatives that might be considered during the special session of the General Assembly (E/CN.6/1999/PC/2). This proposes a framework for identifying further actions and initiatives for overcoming obstacles to implementing the twelve critical areas of concern in the POA. The framework is made up of five functional categories for identifying actions and four cross-cutting themes. It recommends the application of a holistic approach to actions and functional categories.

    After this she noted that the Secretary-General's report focuses attention on five categories of action which may present serious obstacles to implementation and for which further actions and initiatives need to be identified. These five categories of actions are:

  • political will and commitment to creating an enabling environment for implementation of the POA;
  • capacity-building for advancement of women and gender mainstreaming;
  • accountability for and assessment of the implementation of the strategies and actions in the POA;
  • cooperation and partnership for implementing the POA; and
  • assistance to women and girls currently subject to discrimination and disadvantage.

    Finally, she stated that the report also proposes four cross-cutting themes as a basis for identifying further actions and initiatives:

  • globalization and the economic empowerment of women;
  • women, science and technology and the new information age;
  • women's leadership; and
  • human security and social protection.

    The Chair thanked Angela King for her speech before asking for comments from the floor. Twenty-two delegates made interventions. Several, including Cuba, Algeria, Pakistan, the Dominican Republic and Egypt, questioned the methodological basis for this week's agenda, including the five categories of action and four cross-cutting themes identified for discussion in background papers. Noting that it is less than five years since Beijing, these delegates suggested that discussion should be based on the 12 areas of concern articulated in the POA, rather than setting out new goals or methodologies. Some felt that introducing new concepts could cloud the clear aims set out at Beijing. Other delegates, including Canada (on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), the US and South Korea said they found the new categories and themes to be useful. After brief additional statements from Angela King and the Secretariat, the Chair adjourned the meeting at 12:15 pm.

    At 3:00 pm the second meeting of the PrepCom began. The Chair asked delegates to consider agenda item 2, "Presentations for the special session of the General Assembly". This started with presentations by a panel of experts outlining further actions and initiatives.

    Patricia Licuanan (Philippines), President of Miriam College and Professor of Psychology, Ateneo de Manila Unversity, discussed successes, failures and obstacles since Beijing from a Asia-Pacific perspective. She noted that implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action has been uneven. She highlighted favored areas for action since Beijing, including micro-financing schemes and legal reform, noting the need for ongoing monitoring of programmes and projects, as well as gender-sensitive indicators. She emphasized the impact of the Asian financial crisis on women in the region. Stating the importance of a highly participatory approach at Beijing, she said that Beijing+5 and its preparations must be as consultative and participate, as involving and interesting and as meaningful and empowering as possible.

    Mihaly Simai (Hungary), Research Professor at the Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, discussed factors that have affected the status of women this century, concluding that the world is facing a large number of unprecedented tasks and challenges to all segments of society. Observing that active government and civil society involvement will be necessary, he added that governments will have to transform many policies and programmes and intergovernmental organization will need to become more responsive.

    Asma Jahangir (Pakistan), UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, said changing the status quo in traditional societies is a major obstacle to change. She then identified specific areas where problems exist, including: lack of political will; discrimination in the family; crimes by women against women; lack of human rights for many disadvantaged women; and the effects on women of civil conflict or religious militancy. She emphasized the importance of forging alliances with civil society.

    Hassan Keynan (Somalia), a researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, said the main cause of gender inequality was "men and masculinities". He argued that efforts to promote gender equality must enlist men as partners in the process.

    Following this, delegates were invited to make comments or ask questions of the panel. There were twenty-one interventions in all, to which panelists responded. The meeting closed at 6:15 pm.

    INFORMAL NEGOTIATIONS ON INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISMS In the evening, informal consultations continued from the previous week's panel discussion on "institutional mechanisms" aimed at reaching an agreed text on the issue. This was not achieved last week, and the CSW agreed at 4am on Saturday, 13 March to continue trying to reach consensus through informal consultations scheduled for this week.

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    Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 1999. All rights reserved.