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ENB Background Document for CSW-44
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ENB Background Document for CSW-44


In 1972, the United Nations General Assembly (GA), in resolution 3010 (XXVII), proclaimed 1975 International Women's Year, to be devoted to intensified action to promote equality between men and women, to ensure full integration of women in the total development effort, and to increase women's contributions to the strengthening of world peace. In resolution 3520 (XXX), the GA then proclaimed 1976-1985 the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace.


The Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women (NFLS) present concrete measures to overcome obstacles to the Decade's goals and objectives for the advancement of women. The NFLS provide a framework for renewed commitment by the international community to the advancement of women and the elimination of gender-based discrimination. The NFLS call for:

Sexual equality: the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women; equal rights under the law; equal rights to marriage and divorce; and the establishment of a high-level governmental body to monitor and implement progress towards equality;

Women's autonomy and power: the right of all women to buy, sell, own and administer property and other resources independently; the protection of women's rights to land, credit, training, investment and income as an integral part of all agrarian reform and agricultural development; the equal involvement of women, at every stage and level of development; the promotion of women to positions of power at every level within all political and legislative bodies in order to achieve parity with men; and measures to promote equal distribution of productive resources and reduce mass poverty among women, particularly in terms of economic recession;

Recognition of women's unpaid work: recognition of the extent and value of women's unpaid work, inside and outside the home; inclusion of women's paid and unpaid work in national accounts and economic statistics; the sharing of domestic responsibilities; the development of services, to reduce women's child-care and domestic workload, including introduction of incentives to encourage employers to provide child-care facilities for working parents; and the establishment of flexible working hours to encourage the sharing of child-care and domestic work between parents;

Advances in women's paid work: equal employment opportunities and equal pay for work of equal value.


The Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) was held in Beijing, China, from 4-15 September 1995. An estimated 50,000 government delegates, UN representatives, NGOs and members of the media attended the conference and its parallel NGO Forum at Huairou. The principal themes of the Conference were the advancement and empowerment of women in relation to women's human rights, women and poverty, women and decision-making, the girl-child, violence against women and other areas of concern. The resulting documents of the Conference are The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (PFA). The PFA sets out an agenda for empowering women and accelerating implementation of the NFLS, and aims to achieve significant change by the year 2000.

Beijing Declaration and Platform For Action

The Beijing Declaration aims at accelerating the implementation of the NFLS. It deals with removing the obstacles to women's public participation in all spheres of public and private lives through a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making.

The PFA acknowledges that significant progress will depend on building strategic partnerships and involving all stakeholders in the efforts towards change. The action plan sets time-specific targets, committing nations to carry out concrete actions in areas such as health, education, decision-making and legal reforms with the ultimate goal of eliminating all forms of discrimination against women in both public and private life. PFA implementation is mainly a responsibility of governments, but it also involves institutions in the public, private and non-governmental sectors at all levels.

Platform for Action: 12 Critical Areas


  1. Poverty: Develop macroeconomic mechanisms to improve access to economic resources.
  2. Education and Training: Ensure equal access to education and promote lifelong education and training for girls and women.
  3. Health: Increase women's life-long access to affordable, appropriate, and quality health care, and to information dealing with maternal mortality, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health.
  4. Violence: Adopt and implement legislation to end violence against women, ratify the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and encourage international cooperation to dismantle trafficking in women.
  5. Armed Conflict: Increase participation of women in conflict resolution at decision-making levels, condemn ethnic cleansing and rape as a consequence of war and a violation of human rights.
  6. Economy: Promote women's economic rights and independence, including access to employment and appropriate working conditions and control over economic resources.
  7. Decision-making: Ensure women's equal access to and full participation in public sector power structures, increase women's capacity to participate in decision-making and leadership positions.
  8. Institutional Mechanisms: Create/strengthen national bureaucracies to ensure the advancement of women is vested in the highest possible level of government.
  9. Human Rights: Promote human rights of women by fully implementing all human rights instruments, especially CEDAW.
  10. Media: Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.
  11. Environment: Integrate gender concerns and perspectives in policies and programmes for sustainable development.
  12. The Girl-Child: Eliminate discrimination against the girl-child: enforce rights to succession; eliminate female genital mutilation, son preference, economic exploitation of child labor; and strengthen the role of the family in improving the status of the girl-child.


In Resolution 52/100, the GA decided to convene a Special Session to review and appraise progress in implementing the NFLS and the Beijing PFA to take place five years after the FWCW, and to deliberate on further actions and initiatives. This review is not intended to renegotiate existing arrangements, but will assess successes, failures and obstacles to goals set at Nairobi and Beijing. The GA entitled the Special Session, "Women 2000: Gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century." The Special Session is scheduled to take place from 5-9 June 2000.

In Resolution 52/231, the GA designated the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to act as the Preparatory Committee to the Special Session during its 43rd and 44th sessions in March 1999 and March 2000. The GA invited the Commission to propose the agenda and documentation for the Special Session and to focus in particular on the report requested from the Secretary-General that will contain suggestions on further actions and initiatives. The Committee was asked to pay particular attention to mainstreaming a gender perspective and common trends and themes across the twelve critical areas of concern set out in the PFA. To enhance participation in the Beijing +5 process, ECOSOC invited those NGOs that were accredited to the FWCW to attend the 43rd and 44th sessions of the CSW.

Regional reviews of PFA implementation conducted by the UN Regional Commissions also contribute to the Beijing +5 process. UN agencies have been invited to supply information to the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) for the assessment of the implementation of the System-Wide Medium Term Plan (SWMTP) for the advancement of women (1996-2001). This assessment will be submitted to the CSW in March 2000 as part of the review and appraisal.


The CSW held its 43rd session at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 1-19 March 1999. The CSW met in two sessions: in the first session (1-12 March), the Commission followed up on the FWCW, and in the second session (15-19 March), the Commission acted as the Preparatory Committee to the Beijing +5 process. The session, which was attended by approximately 1000 participants, including ministers and other high-level government officials, UN agency representatives, NGOs and the media, had the following objectives: to follow-up on the FWCW; to initiate a comprehensive review and appraisal of the implementation of the PFA that was adopted at the FWCW by acting as the Preparatory Committee for the UN General Assembly Special Session to take place in June 2000 (Beijing+5); and to agree on an optional protocol to CEDAW.

Optional Protocol to CEDAW

The Optional Protocol to CEDAW, one of the commitments of the Beijing PFA, gives individuals and groups of women the right to complain to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women about violations of the Convention.  This procedure is known as "the communications procedure". It also enables the Committee to conduct inquiries into grave or systematic abuse of women's human rights in countries that have become party to the Optional Protocol. The Working Group adopted the Optional Protocol, as did the Commission, which also adopted a draft resolution for the ECOSOC. The ECOSOC adopted the draft resolution of the Commission in its resolution 1999/13, and the GA adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention on 6 October 1999. The Optional Protocol was opened for signature on 10 December, 1999.


CSW-44 will be held from 28 February – 17 March, 2000 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. During the first four days, the CSW is expected to continue its work with the follow-up to the FWCW, with the remaining days dedicated to the CSW acting as the Preparatory Committee for the Beijing +5 GA Special Session in June 2000.

A panel will be held during CSW-44 on emerging issues, trends and new approaches affecting women or equality between women and men, and another panel during the Preparatory Committee will discuss an outlook on gender equality, development and peace beyond year 2000.

DAW has been analyzing 133 reports from Member States and two reports from observers on national implementation of the PFA in order to prepare the comprehensive review and appraisal document to be submitted to the Committee in March 2000. The review and appraisal is made up of three parts: Part I: background and overview of trends in the implementation of the PFA; Part II: critical areas of concern, institutional and financial arrangements; Part III: trends and challenges of global change. 


Documents are available online at:



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