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New York,
1 - 19 March

BRIEFING for Tuesday, 2 March

Delegates met at 10.00 am to continue their general discussion on agenda items 3(b) and 4. Item 3(b) relates to the �Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women: Emerging issues, trends and new approaches to issues affecting the situation of women or equality between women and men.� Item 4 is on �Initiation of the comprehensive review and appraisal of the implementation of the Platform for Action and preparation for the special session of the General Assembly in the year 2000.�

Seventeen delegates spoke on these items during the morning session and several spoke in the late afternoon. Participants provided details of national plans, programmes and initiatives aimed at furthering women�s rights and sharing perspectives on critical and emerging issues. Subjects raised included: the need for more resources; the importance of effective institutional mechanisms; the need for strong health systems that can reach remote areas and vulnerable groups; the progress made in legal protection, including abolition of harmful practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM); and the importance of monitoring and evaluating programmes. The need for economic empowerment, access to education and training, and participation in politics and decision making were stressed. In addition, challenges from emerging issues, including HIV/AIDs, an ageing population, poverty, external debt and economic crises, were discussed.

At 12.00 pm, Chairperson Patricia Flor (Germany) opened a dialogue segment with NGOs. Over a dozen NGO representatives made their presentations on the issues of health and institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women. They drew the attention of delegates to the various projects they were engaged in and the successes and challenges they faced in their work, followed by their recommendations. UNIFEM emphasized its work on facilitating gender sensitive national planning and legislation. International Federation of University Women and International Federation of Business and Professional Women urged governments to use the experience, expertise and potential of women's NGOs to monitor the implementation of the Platform for Action. World Islamic Call Society drew attention to the plight of women in Afghanistan in the context of war and urged for restoration of peace in the country as the first step in this process. International Women Count Network emphasized the urgency of bringing unmeasured and unpaid work by women to the attention of policy makers. International Council of Women highlighted problems of gender discrimination that are disguised by poverty.

The afternoon session was given to structured dialogue on presentations made by representatives of national machineries on good practices. The panel consisted of Slovakia, Republic of Korea, UK, Zambia and Chile. The common theme in the presentations was the need for national mechanisms at a high level, with legitimacy and a clear mandate for its functioning. Effective functioning of these mechanisms would require that they monitor, coordinate and advise on policy issues and act as catalysts for change. The speakers alerted the delegates to the challenges of managing such national machineries and the issues of aligning political and social priorities. A question and answer session followed where several delegates including those from Vietnam, Mexico, Bangladesh, Cote d'Ivoire, Philippines raised queries and the panelists answered. The session adjourned at 6.00pm and will reassemble at 10.00 am in conference room 1 tomorrow.

The Open�ended Ad Hoc Working Group (WG) of the CSW met informally from 3.00pm-6.00 pm today to continue discussion on agenda item 6, namely the elaboration of a draft optional protocol to CEDAW. Negotiations on the bracketed sections of the text began with Article 2, which relates to a complaints procedure for women where violations of any of the rights/provisions set forth in CEDAW are alleged.

Today's photo highlights

Kicki Nordstrom, who spoke on behalf of disability groups, highlighted the urgency for concerted action.
Amb. Daudi N. Mwakawago, delegate for Tanzania, noted the impacts of his country's foreign debt on the health and well-being of women. He said that financial obligations force his country to limit spending in area of social development and health, which directly affect women.
Najiba Tabibi, on behalf of the World Islamic Call Society, highlighted the plight of women in Afghanistan. She emphasized the need for restoration of peace in her country before problems of gender equality can be addressed.
Vice-Chairperson Nonhlanhla P.L. Mlangani (Swaziland) presided over the last segment of the day's discussions

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Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 1999. All rights reserved.