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UN General Assembly Special Session (Beijing +5): Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century
New York; 5-9 June 2000

BNT (version française)


Highlights from Monday 5 June

On Monday, 5 June, the GA opened its Twenty-third Special Session, entitled Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century. The Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole (COW) met in the morning. Working Group II met in morning, afternoon and evening sessions. Working Group I met in the afternoon and evening to discuss Sections II and III. A contact group met in morning, afternoon and evening sessions to debate paragraphs on human rights, the girl child and armed conflict. Secretary General Kofi Annan (pictured below with Wu Yi, State Councillor of China) addressed the General Assembly. After adopting the report of the PrepCom (A/S-23/2) and the provisional agenda (A/S-23/1), delegates heard opening statements on the review and appraisal of progress made in the implementation of the PFA's 12 critical areas of concern given by two Vice Presidents, one Head of Government, two Deputy Prime Ministers, 20 Ministers, four Vice Ministers and two Chiefs of Delegations. Plenary statements can be found on the Internet at: Hillary Rodham Clinton (above), First Lady of the United Statesaddressed a panel discussion on the "Contribution of the Microcredit Summit Campaign to the Platform for Action." (click here for coverage of the panel discussion, including RealAudio of Hillary Clinton's speech)

Coverage of the Commission on the Status of Women acting as the Preparatory Commitee for Beijing +5.




UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed all participants and highlighted progress since Beijing, including the record number of women leaders and decision-makers in the UN system, greater understanding that women's equality is a prerequisite for development, and an increase in legislation addressing violence against women. He noted that much work remains on issues such as the economic divide between genders and violence against women in new types of armed conflict that target civilian populations. He emphasized the spread of HIV/AIDS and the trafficking of women as challenges that require immediate action.
A minute of silent prayer

PrepCom Chair Christine Kapalata (Tanzania) called for the full implementation of the PFA, stating that it should be matched with financial resources such as ODA. She highlighted the importance of political will and responsible political decisions as delegations conclude negotiations.
Delegates in the in the General Assembly during the morning session

Yakin Ertürk, Director, Division for the Advancement of Women (left) and Angela King, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women (right) in the Committee of the Whole. The COW then heard a brief general debate to accommodate speakers unable to address the Plenary. Speakers included SADC, UNAIDS, the WFP, the IMF, the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, FAO, the ILO, the Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention, UNESCO, the All India Women's Conference, and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. The Working Groups began their work in the afternoon.

Panel Discussions: "Contribution of the Microcredit Summit Campaign to the Platform for Action" organized by UNIFEM, ILO and the Microcredit Summit Campaign
Microcredit: Much More Than Money: Panelists included Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady of the US, Ela Bhatt, SEWA (Self-Employed Women's Association), Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Founder of the Grameen Bank, Chief Bisi Ogunleye (Founder of Country Women Association of Nigeria), Sam Daley-Harris, Director of Microcredit Summit Campaign, Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP Administrator. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of UNIFEM, moderated the panel.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady of the US, recalled the universal goal of recognition of women's rights as human rights and noted improved national legislation since Beijing, thereby creating tools to punish human rights violations. Ms. Clinton highlighted the linkages between gender equality and social and economic development and highlighted US financial and technical support to women around the world to help build civil societies and peace. She emphasized the importance of microcredit in converting women's efforts into entrepreneurship. She further called for an international crusade to curb the feminization of AIDS and underscored that women trafficking is one of the most serious current human rights violations.

Following Hillary Clinton's speech, participants sang We Shall Overcome Photo: Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank, Bangladesh, Noeleen Heyzer, UNIFEM Executive Director, and Hillary Clinton

Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of UNIFEM, highlighted two factors in the campaign for microcredit: commitment and courage. She noted that: women have a low credit risk with high rates of repayment; microcredit is an essential ingredient for building local organization; and many microcredit groups are sites for empowerment. She called for: a culture of economic enterprises among women; participation in women-friendly markets; structures and rules that women can organize and operate; improvements to women's bargaining power; a greater role for women in shaping policies and institutions; and reduced risk for women through insurance. Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Founder of the Grameen Bank, outlined progress in Bangladesh through his organization and other microcredit initiatives. He stated that the people's coping capacity for disasters such as the floods of 1998 was reinforced through microcredit, and noted increases in women's participation in local politics. He identified successful ventures such as a phone, solar energy and communication companies.

Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP Administrator (left), said the definition of democracy had broadened since Beijing and the rights of the poorest women had improved. He welcomed technological and financial transformations and anticipated that the use of the Internet and related-low transaction costs would bring a revolutionary expansion of microcredit to remote areas. Sam Daley-Harris, Director of Microcredit Summit Campaign (center), reported that over 6 million poor people had received microcredit since the Beijing Conference and emphasized the sustainable value of microcredit. He deplored the lack of effective means to identify and motivate the poorest and to render credit institutions self-sufficient. Ela Bhatt, SEWA (Self-employed Women's Association) (right), stated that women's banking is freedom and power, and highlighted future challenges of microcredit, including: moving from microcredit to microfinance, such as savings, inflation protection and insurance services; getting mainstream banks to treat microfinance as an alternative business line through, for example, deregulation of interest rates on small loans; and recognition of the important role of the informal sector in national economies.

Chief Bisi Ogunleye (Founder of Country Women Association of Nigeria) highlighted the importance and success of linking traditional forms of savings and credit schemes in Africa to microcredit strategies. She described the "three-legged empowerment approach", which incorporates economic, social and political empowerment, such as through African Traditional Responsive Banking and the Women's Political Participation Forum.

Panel Discussion: Progress of the World's Women

Diane Elson, UNIFEM Coordinator (above right), made a presentation of the new biennial UNIFEM report on Progress of the World's Women 2000. Valerie Amos, Spokesperson on Women's and International Development Issues for the UK Government (above left), underscored the importance of, inter alia, international development and the elimination of poverty, solid targets to give a clear sense of purpose, and access of the poor and women to the benefits of globalization. Other panelists included: Dr. Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe, Vice-President of Uganda (pictured on right), E.L. Herfkens, Minster for Development Cooperation, Netherlands, Benedita da Silva, Vice-Governor, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Gita Sen, Professor, Indian Institute for Management, India

ENB Summary of CSW-44 and the Informal Consultations
Linkages FWCW page
UN Division for the Advancement of Women Beijing +5 Site with official documents and information for participants

Special Events during the Special Session
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