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BRIEFING for Wednesday, 3 March

The commission gathered for its fifth meeting and began with a panel discussion by experts on the implementation of strategic objectives and action in the critical areas of concern with the topic of women and health. The panelists were Sandra Dean-Patterson, Ministry of Housing and Social Development (the Bahamas), Mahmoud F. Fathalla, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Assiut University (Egypt), Stephen Matlin, Director, Human Resources Development Division, Commonwealth Secretariat (London) and Peter Piot, Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. The panelists made contributions on the various aspects of health and women, including: sexual violence against girls; women and substance abuse; domestic violence; rape; sex trade; violence; and HIV/AIDS. Following the presentation the floor was opened to all delegates for questions and comments. Kenya, Mali, Cuba, Bangladesh, Guyana and Sudan were among those who participated in the dialogue with the panelists.

Delegates reassembled for the sixth meeting at 3:00 pm, where they heard the presentations of Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO) and Nafis Sadik, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Gro Harlem Brundtland underlined the linkages between the outcomes at Cairo, Beijing and the present tasks of the CSW (RealAudio of the presentation). She emphasized that if development is about ensuring an equitable distribution of resources, responsibilities and rewards that allow women and men to widen their choices, including those related to health, then the interaction of gender and poverty constitutes the greatest limiting factor to human development. She pointed out that to take on the challenges related to the health of women there was a need to acknowledge several "realities". The need of the hour was to focus beyond the sexual and reproductive health of women and view the different needs in their entire life-span. In this context she stated her commitment to incorporating a gender perspective across WHO's work and to move forward the women's health agenda. Nafis Sadik updated the gathering on the ongoing work on the International Commission on Population and Development (ICPD) review, which emphasized the importance of the right to health of women and girls, especially their reproductive health and rights (RealAudio of the presentation). Several of these issues were discussed at the Hague Forum where many countries shared best practices while noting that there were gaps that needed to be addressed. Important issues identified at the Hague Forum included pre-natal sex selection and poor nutritional status, maternal mortality, gender-based violence, female genital mutilation and HIV/AIDS. Sadik concluded by calling on governments to take the actions recommended during the ICPD+5 review. Following these presentations, the floor was open for comments and questions addressed to the speakers. Bangladesh, Mexico and Iraq were among those who had questions for the speakers on issues touched on in their presentations. On conclusion of the question and answer session the commission continued its dialogue on the topic of health. Delegates from different country-representatives and NGOs made their presentations. At 7:00 pm the commission resumed its general discussion of agenda items 3 (b) and 4. Sixteen delegates consisting of different country-representatives, international organizations and NGOs spoke on the issues of equality between men and women and 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. The commission will reconvene for its seventh meeting tomorrow at 11:00 am in conference room 1.

The Open�ended Ad Hoc Working Group (WG) of the CSW met informally shortly after 10:00 am 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 continued with Articles 10, 11 and 11 bis. The WG then moved on to Articles 4 to 7. Although consensus was almost reached on some issues, most were set down for resolution over the next few days in what Chairperson Aloisia Woergetter (Austria) referred to as �informal informals� � closed meetings involving delegates - aimed at reaching agreement on the parts of the text in brackets. The meeting closed at 1:00 pm, then reconvened briefly at 3:00 pm, when delegates agreed that it was time to move on to the �informal informals� stage of negotiations. Victoria Sandru (Romania) is acting as facilitator in these negotiations.

On Thursday 4 March, the Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan and Hillary Rodham Clinton will address a panel discussion on the status of women in the Trusteeship Council at 3:00 pm.

Today's photo and RealAudio highlights

Address to Plenary by Gro Haarlem Bruntlund and Nafis Sadik

RealAudio of Gro Harlem Brundtland's presentation
RealAudio of Nafis Sadik presentation

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Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 1999. All rights reserved.