Summary report, 15 March – 7 April 1995

39th Session of the CSW

The 39th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) met at UNHeadquarters in New York from 15 March to 7 April 1995, where it served as thepreparatory committee for negotiations on the draft Platform for Action, the documentto be adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) in Beijing, inSeptember 1995. Many delegates came into the negotiations directly from the World Summit for Social Development, which had ended three days earlier in Copenhagen,Denmark. After a full three weeks of negotiations, including weekends and many latenight sessions, participants left New York exhausted.

The draft Platform for Action, which served as the basis for negotiations, was preparedby the FWCW Secretariat with input from five regional group meetings, four expertgroup meetings, consultations with UN agencies, and informal, open-endedconsultations in December 1994. Negotiations were originally scheduled to take placeduring two weeks, on a twenty page text. The sixty-eight page draft, numerousamendments and the difficult issues under discussion resulted in delegates adding threedays to the meeting so that all sections of the text could be discussed before sendingthe draft to Beijing. In addition, a draft Declaration was drawn up by the G-77/Chinafor adoption at the FWCW, and an extra section dedicated to the girl child was addedto the Platform.

Ten years after the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies, the Beijing process isintended to launch action on and implementation of a comprehensive agenda that seeksto re-define and re-make equality, development and peace. In order to take action, thequestion of resources is key, but the reallocations and increases recommended in theBeijing Platform are modest. These include a recommendation for an increased shareof ODA targeted towards implementation of the Platform in developing countries, andan "invitation" to the international financial institutions to allocate grants and loans.Within the UN system, important decisions on funding for INSTRAW and UNIFEMwere deferred because of the continuing debate in other fora on their merger. It hasbeen suggested that the 39th Session itself was under-funded. In view of these factors,attention focused on two initiatives: the Australian call for a "Conference ofCommitments," and behind-the-scenes lobbying to install an ombudswoman andsupport unit in the office of the Secretary-General of the UN. The Australian initiativewill possibly add momentum to implementation of the Platform by Governments,where primary responsibility lies, but it remains in brackets going to Beijing.

Two key debates marked the Session. A small but persistent group of delegationsrepeated their reservations to language that had been agreed to at previous UNconferences, notably ICPD. This led to disagreements over the modalities forreferences. Secondly, a number of delegations objected to the use of the term"gender" in the Platform and proposed that it be bracketed throughout. Anintervention by the Australian Ambassador, Mr. Richard Butler, smoothed the way to acompromise decision to lift the brackets and establish a Contact Group, chaired byNamibia, to discuss the term in light of the Platform.


In resolution 45/129, the UN General Assembly endorsed resolution 1990/12 ofECOSOC, which called for a world conference on women in 1995 and requested thatthe CSW serve as the preparatory committee for the Conference. In section III ofresolution 37/7, the CSW requested that the Secretary-General prepare a draft Platformfor their 38th Session. Following that meeting, the CSW requested, in resolution38/10, that the Secretary-General further develop the draft Platform, taking intoaccount the results of regional group meetings.


The regional group meetings were organized by the Economic Commission for Europe(ECE), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), theEconomic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ECAP), the Economic Commissionfor Africa (ECA), and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia(ESCWA). Each meeting adopted a regional Platform.

EUROPE: The High-level Regional Preparatory Meeting of the ECE washeld in Vienna from 17-21 October 1994. The critical areas of concern identified bythis region are: insufficient promotion and protection of women"s human rights;feminization of poverty; insufficient awareness of women"s contribution to theeconomy and promotion of their potential; insufficient de facto gender equality;insufficient participation of women in public life; insufficient statistical systems,databases and methodologies; and insufficient intra- and interregional networking andcooperation.

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: The Sixth RegionalConference on the Integration of Women into the Economic and Social Developmentof Latin America and the Caribbean met in Argentina from 20-25 September 1994,where the region"s Platform for Action was discussed. The Platform was finalized at a16-18 November 1994 meeting in Chile. Participants discussed the strategic areas of:gender equity; economic and social development; elimination of poverty amongwomen; women"s equitable participation in decision-making and in the exercise ofpower in public and private life; human rights, peace and violence; shared familyresponsibilities; recognition of cultural plurality; and international support andcooperation.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC: The Second Asian and Pacific MinisterialConference on Women in Development was held in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 7-14 June1994. The delegates suggested actions to address the following critical areas:feminization of poverty; unequal participation in economic activities; inadequaterecognition of women"s role in environmental management; inequitable access topower and decision-making; violation of women"s human rights; health; access toeducation and literacy; negative portrayal of women in the media; mechanisms forpromoting the advancement of women; and women"s role in peace-keeping.

AFRICA: The Fifth African Regional Conference on Women was held inDakar, Senegal, from 16-23 November 1994. The conference suggested actions to betaken in the following critical areas: women"s poverty, food security and economicempowerment; access to education, training, science and technology; women"s role inculture, family and socialization; women"s health; women in environmentalmanagement; women in the peace process; political empowerment; women"s legal andhuman rights; gender-disaggregated data; women, communication, information and thearts; and the girl child.

ARAB REGION: The Arab Regional Preparatory Meeting was held inAmman, Jordan, from 9-10 November 1994. Delegates suggested actions to be takenon the following issues affecting Arab women: the right to participate in power anddecision-making structures; alleviation of poverty; equal opportunity in education;equal access to health services; strengthening capabilities of Arab women to enter thelabor market and achieve self-reliance; the impact of war, occupation and armedconflict on women; violence against women; environmental management; and the useof communications to change roles in society and achieve equality.


The Expert Group meetings focused on: gender, education and training; women andeconomic decision-making; institutional and financial arrangements for theimplementation of the FWCW"s Platform for Action; and gender and the Agenda forPeace. The experts recommended specific actions to address the issues underdiscussion.

GENDER, EDUCATION AND TRAINING: The Expert Group meeting onthe promotion of literacy, education and training, including technological skills, tookplace at the ILO International Training Center in Turin, Italy from 10-14 October1994. The report stressed: access to education as a human right; the need forinterventionist approaches; science and technology; the special needs of refugees andothers in vulnerable circumstances; and education resource implications flowing fromstructural adjustment.

EQUALITY IN ECONOMIC DECISION-MAKING: The Expert Groupon women and economic decision-making met in New York, from 7-11 November1994. The Group examined the challenge of increasing and improving the presence ofwomen in economic decision-making and the market. Five areas of action wereproposed: affirmative placement and retention of women, and transparency andmonitoring; greater access to finance, markets and technology; linkages betweenformal financial institutions and NGOs; highlighting the market potential of women incertain sectors; and training initiatives. Finally, the Group made a number ofrecommendations to increase the visibility of economic opportunities for women.

INSTITUTIONAL AND FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR THEIMPLEMENTATION OF THE FWCW"s PLATFORM FOR ACTION: TheExpert Group considering institutional and financial arrangements met in New Yorkfrom 21-23 November 1994. The Group considered principles and guidelines forimplementation and monitoring of the Platform, and examined the roles of relevantactors at all levels. The principles identified by the Group for effective arrangementsfor implementation are: clear mandates; transparency; consistent flow of information;and transparent monitoring and reporting on progress. National Governments areexpected to be catalysts for implementation. The Group drew upon the language andideas of the ICPD Action Programme and stressed the need for specific fundingarrangements. The group proposed that governments establish and fund effective coreprogrammes for women"s empowerment, and anticipated that as much as two-thirds ofimplementation costs will come from member States.

GENDER AND THE AGENDA FOR PEACE: The Expert Group meetingon peace and women in international decision-making took place in New York, from5-9 December 1994. This Group"s report is predicated on the argument that equalparticipation by women will "make a qualitative difference, in terms of content andstyle, to the benefit of society and the achievement of peace." Recommendations forincreasing female participation in peace and security fora include: inclusion of womenin all candidate lists; a 40% target for women"s involvement in UN peace operations;UN registration of arms production; education on links between violent play and theculture of violence; designating rape during the conduct of war as a war crime; andgender sensitive training for personnel in peace and security operations.


The 39th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was called toorder on 15 March by Ms. Patricia Licuanan (Philippines), Chair of the Commission.She stated that the goals of Nairobi remain valid but, for the most part, unattained.She noted that the conference title, "Fourth World Conference on Women: Action forEquality, Development and Peace," indicates the need for concerted action.

Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Development, Nitin Desai, notedthat this session is where the basic outcome of the Beijing Conference will be shaped.He urged delegates to place the Conference in the context of the other recent UNconferences. All of the UN conferences, beginning with the 1990 World Conferencefor Children, are part of the process of searching for a role for public policy in arapidly changing world and of defining the responsibility of government for the socialgood.

Mrs. Gertrude Mongella, Secretary-General of the Fourth World Conference onWomen, highlighted the Secretariat"s innovative process of involving youth in theregional meetings. She noted that the draft Platform for Action sets forth more than200 actions, and stated that NGOs are an essential, democratizing element in thisprocess.

Delegates then turned to the matter of NGO accreditation. The EU, supported byseveral other delegations, called for a transparent, open NGO accreditation process,and proposed that the list of NGOs to be accredited be left open until the end of theCSW Session. Armenia questioned the accreditation of the Armenian Relief Society.The Holy See challenged the accreditation of "Catholics for Free Choice," objectingto the use of the word "Catholic" in their title, while espousing positions opposed tothe Catholic Church, including its position on abortion. Delegates adopted the list ofNGOs ad referendum, pending examination of the questioned NGOs and leavingthe list open until the end of the CSW.

Mongella introduced Agenda Item 3, Preparations for the Fourth World Conference onWomen, by noting that the Commission"s decisions will shape the conduct of theconference in Beijing. The remainder of 15 March, all of 16 March and the morningof 17 March were then devoted to statements on preparations for the FWCW.


Negotiations on the draft Platform for Action began with a Drafting Group and a Sub-Drafting Group, but by the end of the first week, mid-way into the discussion of thesection on health, most of the remaining text was sent to informal-informalnegotiations. First readings on Chapters III (Critical Areas of Concern), IV (StrategicObjectives and Actions, Sections A, B and part of C), and V (InstitutionalArrangements) where chaired by Ms. Irene Freudenschuss (Austria). First readings onChapters I (Mission Statement) and II (Global Framework) were chaired by Amb. JuliaAlvarez (Dominican Republic). Amendments were submitted in written form on theremaining texts, and expert groups were used to integrate the compilation texts intomore manageable drafts from which negotiations proceeded, in closed informal-informal sessions. Ms. Patricia Licuanan (Philippines) and Ms. Freudenschuss chairedthe two informal groups, which worked in parallel from 28 March to 3 April. In anafternoon Plenary on Monday, 3 April, the Bureau recommended that delegates extendthe CSW, as many texts had not yet been addressed and the meeting was scheduled toend the next day. Delegates agreed to extend the CSW for three days, and created athird informal group, chaired by Ms. Patty O"Neill (New Zealand), to ensure that alltexts would be considered by the negotiation deadline of midnight Wednesday, 5April. All sections, except the Declaration, were completed during all day and latenight sessions, although the number of brackets reveals that consensus has not yetbeen reached on many substantive issues. The following summarizes each section inthe Platform for Action and highlights the issues that remain bracketed.


Delegates met to discuss the proposed Declaration, tabled by the G-77/China, late inthe negotiation process. All agreed that there should be a Declaration, but participantswere not ready to negotiate the final text. Consensus focused on the need for a shortstatement that focused on the main cross-cutting themes. Four parts were envisaged forthe text: a preamble noting the need for action and referencing past internationalinstruments and World Conferences for Women; a description of the globalenvironment; a prescriptive statement focused on creating an enabling environment;and a statement of commitment. The Beijing Declaration will be drafted entirely at theFWCW.


This chapter, which contains five paragraphs, begins by noting that the Platform is anagenda for women"s empowerment and goes on to: reaffirm the human rights ofwomen; emphasize the necessity of partnership between women and with men; call forimmediate and concerted action; and identify the need for a strong commitment fromGovernments, international organizations and institutions at all levels.

Bracketed text in this chapter includes: the [the full enjoyment of all universal] humanrights; an [equitable] world and [equity] for all; and [adequate][new and additional]resources.


This chapter identifies the global situation and reasons for the FWCW. Previous UNConferences and agreements are recognized, international changes due to the end ofthe Cold War are noted, and challenges faced by women, such as the feminization ofpoverty and exclusion from institutions of power, are identified.

Bracketed paragraphs in this chapter regard the World Conference on Human Rights,arms production and trade, the social dimension of development, the role of women infamilies, and the role of religion in the lives of women. Other bracketed referencesinclude: [universal] human rights; [alien domination and foreign occupation]; thedismantling of South Africa"s policy of apartheid and the change to parliamentarydemocracy in Central and Eastern Europe; [a just and equitable social and economicinternational order]; feminist ideals; restrictions on NGOs to operate freely in somecountries; lack of commitment by the media to promote human values and dignity; anddiscrimination against women begins even before birth.


This four-paragraph chapter notes that the advancement of women should not be seenin isolation as a women"s issue. It states that most of the Nairobi Strategies have notbeen achieved and identifies areas of particular urgency that stand out as priorities foraction. Strategic action is called for on the twelve areas of concern that correspond tothe twelve sections in Chapter IV (Strategic Objectives and Actions).

Brackets in this chapter remain around references to: respect for women"s innatedignity and the fundamental equality between men and women; [equity] betweenwomen and men; colonial and other forms of alien domination; the failure to protectrights and freedoms, including the right to development; and action with full respectfor religious and ethical values.


This chapter is introduced by two paragraphs. The first notes that this chapter containsdiagnoses of each area of critical concern and proposes strategic objectives withconcrete actions to be taken by various actors in order to achieve them. The secondparagraph, which is bracketed, recognizes that many women face particular barriersbecause of factors such as race, age, culture or religion. In the first paragraph, areference recognizing differences among women is bracketed.

SECTION A. THE PERSISTENT AND INCREASING BURDEN OFPOVERTY ON WOMEN: This section describes poverty and some causes ofthe feminization of poverty, noting that the majority of people living in poverty arewomen and that women do not have equal power in policy and decision-making. Italso notes that women often do not qualify for social security and fall into deeperpoverty. Brackets remain around references to unemployment and underemployment,cultural and social factors for family instability, and sustained economic growth andsustainable development. Bracketed references in the strategic objectives include:

A.1. Macroeconomic policies and development strategies that address theneeds and efforts of women to overcome poverty: people-centered sustainabledevelopment; the easing of migration policies; increased resources; absolute poverty;families in poverty; debt cancellation; the creation of an enabling environment; and anew paragraph on NGO action.

A.2. Revise laws and administrative practices to recognize women"s rights toeconomic resources and to ensure women"s access to economic resources:laws to prevent rural and indigenous community resources from passing to theprivate sector; ratification of ILO Convention 169; and adoption by ECOSOC and theGA of the draft International Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

A.3. Provide women with access to savings mechanisms and institutions andto credit: [increase] [provide adequate] funding for entrepreneurial activities.

A.4. Conduct research in order to enable women to overcome poverty:[seek to] apply methodologies for incorporating gender perspectives on all policies.

SECTION B. UNEQUAL ACCESS TO AND INADEQUATEEDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: This section calls for: equality of accessto education, literacy, scientific and technological training; gender-sensitive curricula;the use of mass media as an educational tool; resources for education; andmainstreaming gender perspectives in policies and programmes. Brackets remain onreferences to: sustained economic growth, sustainable development and developmentcentered on the human person; early marriages; sexual harassment; the impact of "thelack of sexual and reproductive education" on women and men; parental rights, dutiesand responsibilities; girls in higher branches of education and in the professions; andfostering moral and spiritual values. Brackets in the strategic objectives include:

B.1. Ensure equal access to education: parents" ability to choose qualityeducation; freedom of conscience and religion; and the repeal of discriminatory lawsand priorities in women"s education.

B.2. Eradicate illiteracy among women worldwide: the target year 2000.

B.3. Improve women"s access to vocational training, science and technologyand continuing education: [quality] education.

B.4. Develop non-discriminatory education and training: a sub-paragraphcalling for awareness about the status, role and respective contributions of women andmen in the family and society; the removal of barriers to sexual and reproductivehealth education; integrated education and services related to youth sexuality; respectfor cultural and religious diversity in educational institutions; and the removal ofbarriers to schooling of pregnant girls and young mothers.

B.5. Allocate sufficient resources for educational reforms and monitorimplementation: mobilization of funding from the [private sector]; emphasis onmeeting educational costs of [under-served populations]; monitoring the closure of thegap between women and men in education; and allocation of a minimum percentage ofassistance to women and girls" education.

B.5 (bis) [To promote life-long learning [educational processes] for girls andwomen]: the title contains the only brackets in this section.

SECTION C. INEQUALITIES IN ACCESS TO HEALTH AND RELATEDSERVICES: This section notes that women"s health involves their emotional,social and physical well-being and that it is determined by the social, political andeconomic context of their lives as well as by biology. [The major] barrier to women"shealth is inequality and inadequate responsiveness and lack of services to meet healthneeds related to sexuality and reproduction. Additional brackets in the introductionrefer to: counseling and access to sexual and reproductive health information andservices; [unprotected] [premature] sexual relations; unsafe abortions; safe sexpractices; responsible sexual behavior on the part of women"s partners; increasingprivatization of health care systems; and sexual rights. Bracketed references in the strategic objectives include the following:

C.1. Increase women"s access throughout the life-cycle to affordable andquality health care, information and services: support and implementation ofICPD and WSSD [commitments]; removal of all barriers to women"s health; equalaccess for women to social security; provision for ethical/religious objection forproviders of health information and services; provision of full information on medicalprocedures; and unsafe and illegal abortion.

C.2. Strengthen preventive programmes that address threats to women"shealth: informal and formal education focusing on elimination of harmfulattitudes and practices; public health campaigns on sexuality and reproduction takinginto account parental responsibilities; and women"s health care training in medicalschools.

C.3. Undertake [gender-sensitive] multisectoral initiatives that address STDs,AIDS/HIV pandemic and other [sexual and reproductive health] issues:review, adoption and implementation of laws and practices that may contribute towomen"s susceptibility to HIV infection and other STDs; information for all womenon HIV/AIDS and pregnancy and research; and programmes for adolescents onresponsible sexual behavior.

C.4. Promote research and information dissemination on women"s health:race and ethnicity and genome and genetic engineering research.

C.5. Increase resources and monitor follow-up for women"s health:qualifications [where necessary] and [where appropriate] regarding increases anddevelopment of resources; assistance to youth NGOs; and the development ofmechanisms to coordinate and implement health measures in the Platform.

SECTION D. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: The introduction to thissection defines violence against women and notes groups particularly vulnerable toviolence, some of the causes and effects of violence against women, suggestions forthe elimination of violence against women and the problem of international traffickingin women. Brackets remain around references to: [universal] human rights; terrorism,forced abortion, forced sterilization, forced use of contraceptives, prenatal sex selectionand female infanticide; internally displaced women; foreign occupation or aliendomination; destitute women; equity; and unwanted pregnancy. Brackets in thestrategic objectives include references to:

D.1. Take integrated measures to prevent and eliminate violence againstwomen: the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women; therehabilitation of victims and perpetrators; compensation for victims; the considerationand ratification of all [relevant][universally] accepted human rights[norms][instruments]; the norms contained in the Convention on the Elimination of AllForms of Discrimination against Women; national and local plans of action; the[creation, funding and improvement] of training for personnel; updating the mandate ofthe Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women; family planning centers andschool health services; educational campaigns about the effects of violence; and theresponsibility of the media.

D.2. Study the causes of violence against women and effective methods ofprevention strategies: the social, economic, cultural and political context ofwomen.

D.3. Eliminate trafficking in women and assist female victims ofviolence: commercial sex work other than prostitution; national and internationaltrafficking networks; and resources for programmes to heal victims of trafficking,including job training, legal assistance and confidential health care.

SECTION E. ADVANCE PEACE, PROMOTE CONFLICT RESOLUTIONAND REDUCE THE IMPACTS OF ARMED OR OTHER CONFLICT ONWOMEN: This section notes that an environment that maintains world peace is aprecondition for the advancement of women, equality and development, but identifiesthat armed and other types of conflicts including [foreign occupation], ethnic andreligious conflicts are an ongoing reality affecting women in every region.

Bracketed text in the introduction includes references to: systematic ignorance ofhumanitarian and human rights law in armed conflicts; emphasis on preventivestrategies; excessive military spending; international stability and security; andcontribution of women as peace educators. Bracketed text in the strategic objectivesincludes references to:

E.1. Increase and strengthen participation of women in conflictresolution and decision-making and protect women in armed and otherconflicts: the establishment of gender balance in all UN forums and peaceactivities; actions to strengthen women"s role in national and international [peacebuilding, fact-finding, and preventive diplomacy]; and training for prosecutors handlingcases involving rape [and its consequences] and [integrate a gender perspective intotheir work].

E.2. [Reduce military expenditures and control availability of armaments]:military conversion for [development/peaceful] purposes; expansion of the UNRegister of Conventional Arms; the illicit arms trade; and action to [immediatelyadopt/consider] a moratorium on the export and planting of anti-personnel land mines.

E.3. Promote non-violent forms of conflict resolution and reduce humanrights abuse: creation of a UN unit for third-party conflict prevention; thedeclaration of rape as a war crime; terrorism; ending unilateral measures againstpopulations; alleviation of economic sanctions; [preventive diplomacy]; and violationsof [international humanitarian law] by security forces.

E.4. Promote women"s contribution to fostering a culture of peace: Acall to take into account the FWCW [during future] reviews of the plan of action forthe UN Decade for Human Rights Education is bracketed.

E.5. Provide protection, assistance and training to refugee and displacedwomen: international emergency provision for Governments in [countries ofasylum] training and rehabilitation resources for refugees; basic support for womendisplaced as a result of violence; the right of refugee women to safe and protectedreturn to homes; protection of migrating families; and [internally displaced] women.

E.6. Provide assistance to women of colonies: self-determination andpublic awareness of women of the colonies.

SECTION F. INEQUALITY IN WOMEN"S ACCESS TO ANDPARTICIPATION IN DEFINING ECONOMIC STRUCTURES AND POLICIES[AND THE PRODUCTIVE PROCESS ITSELF] [ECONOMIC POTENTIALAND INDEPENDENCE OF WOMEN] [GENDER EQUALITY IN THEECONOMIC STRUCTURES, POLICIES AND IN ALL FORMS OFPRODUCTIVE ACTIVITY]: This section notes that considerable differences inwomen"s and men"s access and opportunities to exert power over economic structuresexist and states that continuing obstacles hinder their ability to achieve economicautonomy.

Bracketed text in the introduction includes references to: women"s participation inremunerated economic life; women"s increasing share in the labor force but lack ofcorresponding change in responsibility for unremunerated work in the household; thecontribution of women migrant workers; and obstacles for women in paid work.Bracketed references in the strategic objectives include the following:

F.1. [Promote women"s self-reliance and guarantee economicopportunities]: equitable rights; measures for transparent budget processes;integration strategies for migrant women; compliance of transnational corporationswith national laws and codes; and the use of [contract compliance regulations] inpursuit of equal opportunity provision.

F.2. Take positive action to facilitate women"s equal access to resources,employment and markets: [equitable] state employment opportunities andstrategies for international [development] institutions to assist micro to medium scaleenterprise.

F.3 Provide business services and access to markets, information andtechnology to low-income women: actions [by Governments in cooperation withNGOs at the community and national levels and the private sector].

F.4. Strengthen women"s economic capacity and commercial networks:actions to be taken by [transnational and national corporations] and [by the privatesector].

F.5. Eliminate occupational segregation and all forms of employmentdiscrimination: the extension of international labor standards to females inexpert processing zones; measures to prohibit and redress direct and indirectsexual/parental status discrimination; and employment of migrant women and those re-entering the labor market.

F.6. [Create a flexible work environment]: [actions to be taken]; anintroductory reference to [better harmonization of work and family responsibilities];and extension of protection to part-time and temporary employment, protection foratypical workers and parental leave benefits.

SECTION G. INEQUALITY BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN IN THESHARING OF POWER [FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES] AND DECISION-MAKING AT ALL LEVELS: The introduction to this section notes that:improvement of women"s social, economic and political status depends on the sharingof power between women and men and women"s equal participation in decision-making at all levels, from the household to the highest levels of Government; womenare under-represented at all levels of government and economic and political decision-making; and structural and attitudinal barriers to their advancement to top levels exist.In the introduction, brackets remain around references to: the functioning ofdemocracy; the culture of many political parties and government structures;unbalanced power relations between women and men within the family; and diplomatsand negotiators. Bracketed text in the strategic actions include references to:

G.1. Ensure women"s equal access to and full participation in powerstructures and decision-making: electoral systems; increasing the number andraising the position of women in Government-funded organizations; ensuring women"sparticipation in the leadership of political parties; equity; the impact of data on womenand men in decision-making and the progress towards the S-G"s goals for women indecision-making positions; the integration of women into elective and non-electivepublic positions; shared work and parental responsibilities; monitoring women"saccess to senior levels of decision-making; policies to achieve gender parity inemployment by the year 2000; and the use of databases in appointing women to seniordecision-making positions.

G.2. Increase women"s capacity to participate in decision-making andleadership: no brackets remain in this section.

SECTION H: INSUFFICIENT MECHANISMS AT ALL LEVELS TOPROMOTE THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN: This section notes thatgender factors often are not taken into account in policy and programme planning. Itnotes that national machinery for the advancement of women is the central policy-coordinating unit inside government, should be located at the highest possible level inthe government and should have sufficient resources in terms of budget andprofessional capacity.

Brackets in the introduction remain around references to: limited resources of theCSW and CEDAW and international mechanisms that facilitate decentralized planningwith a view to involving NGOs. Bracketed references in the strategic objectivessections include the following:

H.1. Create or strengthen national machineries and other governmentalbodies: action by INSTRAW and UNIFEM.

H.2. Integrate gender perspectives in all legislation, public policies,programmes and projects: paragraphs regarding mainstreaming a genderperspective into all policies, ensuring that analysis of the impact on women and men iscarried out before policy decisions are taken, systematic review of policies and regularreview of national policies to ensure that women are beneficiaries of development;legal reform with regard to the family, conditions of employment and other matters;and promoting increased participation of women in the development process.

H.3. Generate and disseminate gender-disaggregated data and information forplanning and evaluation: collection of data that reflects problems and questionsrelated to men and women in society; [measure] [make visible] the full contribution ofwomen and men to the economy; satellite accounts of women"s and men"sunremunerated economic contribution; data collection on access to comprehensivesexual and reproductive health services; statistical methods of data collection for useby the CSW and other UN bodies; and development of national capacity to measureremunerated and unremunerated work done by women.

SECTION I: LACK OF AWARENESS OF AND COMMITMENT TO[INTERNATIONALLY AND NATIONALLY] RECOGNIZED HUMAN RIGHTSOF WOMEN. [THE ENJOYMENT OF [ALL] [UNIVERSAL] HUMAN RIGHTSBY WOMEN.]: This section defines the human rights of women, urgesgovernments to close the gap between women"s de jure and de factohuman rights, notes different forms of violence that constitute human rightsviolations and groups particularly vulnerable to human rights violations, and calls forlegal literacy so that women may become aware of their rights.

In the introduction, brackets remain around references to: the requirements ofinternational law; [all the major international human rights instruments include sex asone of the grounds upon which States may not discriminate]; reservations contrary tointernational treaty law; de jure equality; factors undermining women"senjoyment of equal rights; negative effects of SAPs; integration of women"s humanrights into all UN human rights activities; reproductive rights; and feminist groups.Paragraphs referring to the definition of human rights, systematic discriminationagainst women, violence and women in vulnerable circumstances remain bracketed.Bracketed references in the strategic objectives sections include:

I.1. Promote and protect [all] the human rights of women through theimplementation of all [international] human rights instruments: the option to[consider] ratification and implementation of international human rights treaties;withdrawing reservations to CEDAW; [independent] national institutions; the sale ofchildren"s organs; the drafting of an Optional Protocol to the Convention on theRights of the Child; links between human rights, military aggression, ethnic cleansing,genocide, refugees and displaced women; reservations to the Convention on theElimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women; the mandate of CEDAW;drafting an Optional Protocol to the Convention; an international convention againstsexual exploitation; and cooperation between the UNHCHR and the UNHCR.

I.2. Ensure equality and non-discrimination under the law: customarylaws and legal practices and the right of women to be judges; reproductive rights;violence resulting from traditional or customary practices; sexual orientation orlifestyle; the right of women to be members of professional organizations; and thehuman rights of women activists in the field of human rights.

I.3. To Achieve legal literacy: human rights education programmes formilitary, law enforcement personnel, and judiciary, legal and health professionals, aswell as for women themselves.

SECTION J: INEQUALITY IN WOMEN"S ACCESS TO ANDPARTICIPATION IN ALL COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS, ESPECIALLYTHE MEDIA, AND THIER INSUFFICIENT PROMOTION OF WOMEN"SCONTRIBUTION TO SOCIETY [MOBILIZE THE MEDIA TO PORTRAYWOMEN"S CONTRIBUTION TO SOCIETY] [RESPONSIBILITY OF THEMEDIA FOR THE IMPACT OF THEIR CONTENT ON WOMEN] [WOMENAND THE MEDIA]: The introduction to this section notes that: the media exertsa great influence, especially over children and adolescents; there are few women atdecision-making levels; negative images of women do not accurately reflect theircontributions to the world; and women should be more involved with the developmentof information systems. In the introduction, brackets remain around references to thenegative effect of pornography and the control or influence of transnationalcorporations. Bracketed references in the strategic objectives include the following:

J.1. Participation and access of women to expression and decision-making inand through the media and new communication technologies:[ensure][promote] women"s access; professional guidelines and rules of conduct;regulatory mechanisms; non-stereotyped portrayals of women; reflection of cultures,cultural values, and moral, ethical and religious systems; and reflecting indigenous[cultural values] in the media.

J.2. Promote a [positive][balanced and non-stereotyped] portrayal of womenin the media: [positive][non-stereotyped] images of women; regulatorymechanisms; professional guidelines and codes of conduct; gender equality and non-stereotyped roles within the family; the role of women as mothers and nurturers offamilies; the rights of women as provided for in international human right instruments;encouraging the media to present women as contributors to and beneficiaries of thedevelopment process rather than as a sexual objects and commodities; professionalguidelines and codes of conduct for violent, degrading and pornographic materials inthe media; and the development of a new alternative media to address women"sconcerns.

SECTION K. [LACK OF ADEQUATE RECOGNITION AND SUPPORTFOR] [PROMOTE] [WOMEN"S CONTRIBUTION TO MANAGING NATURALRESOURCES AND SAFEGUARDING THE ENVIRONMENT] [WOMEN ANDTHE ENVIRONMENT]: This section notes that women have an essential roleto play in the development of sustainable and ecologically sound consumption andproduction patterns and natural resource management. It also notes that they haveoften played leadership roles in promoting an environmental ethic.

Bracketed references in the introduction include: the unsustainable pattern ofconsumption and production, particularly in industrialized countries; the relationbetween poverty and environmental degradation; and women"s role in promotingsustainable development. Bracketed references in the strategic objectives include thefollowing:

K.1. Involve women actively in environmental decision-making:empowerment of women as consumers and GEF projects for women.

K.2. Ensure integration of gender concerns and perspectives in policies andprogrammes for sustainable development: women"s [control over resources].

K.3. Establish or strengthen mechanisms at all levels to assess the impact ofdevelopment and environmental policies on women: prohibition of[transboundary movement of hazardous toxic and radioactive material waste].

SECTION L. [PERSISTENT DISCRIMINATION AGAINST ANDVIOLATION OF THE RIGHTS OF][SURVIVAL, PROTECTION ANDDEVELOPMENT OF] THE GIRL CHILD: This section notes that girls areoften treated as inferior and that education, society and media reinforce genderstereotypes. Discrimination against the girl child in access to nutrition and physicaland mental health services, and the devastating effect on children"s health of sexualviolence and sexually transmitted diseases, are also identified.

Bracketed text in the introduction includes references to: the rights and duties ofparents; reasons that boys have fared better than girls in education, includingcustomary attitudes, child labor and teenage pregnancies; responsible sexual behaviorand sexual education; and trafficking in human organs and tissues. Bracketedreferences in the strategic objectives are as follows:

L.1. Eliminate all forms of discrimination: ratification of the UNConvention on the Rights of the Child; equal succession and inheritance rights; lawsensuring that marriage is not entered into without the consent of the intending spouses;and universal human rights.

L.2. Eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices: ensure thatreligious attire and practices are not the basis for discrimination at educationalinstitutions; eliminate the root causes of son preference; and provide programmes toeducate parents about sexual abuse, rape and incest.

L.3. Increase public awareness of the girl-child"s value, needs andrights: international human rights instruments.

L.4. Eliminate discrimination in education, skills development andtraining: this section is bracket free.

L.5. Eliminate discrimination in health and nutrition: recognize the rights,duties and responsibilities of parents; sexual and reproductive health care programmes;education and outreach programmes regarding HIV/AIDS and STDs, [as contained inthe ICPD report]; and family planning.

L.6. [Eliminate the economic exploitation of child labor and protect younggirls at work]: minimum age for child [employment].

L.7. Eradicate violence against girls: effective actions and measures toenact and enforce legislation; gender sensitization training; female feticide/pre-natalsex selection; safe and confidential programmes; and medical and psychologicalsupport.

L.8. Educate about social, economic and political issues and problems:this section is bracket free.

L.9. [Strengthen [the role of the] family [responsibility] to advance the statusof the girl-child]: education and campaign for parents to enhance equal treatmentand to ensure shared responsibilities between girls and boys in the family.


This section notes that, while implementation is primarily the responsibility ofGovernments, it is also dependent on institutions in the public, private and non-governmental sectors at all levels. It notes that implementation would be facilitated bytransparency, and calls on organizations to promote an active policy of mainstreaminga gender perspective. Actions are specified for the national, sub-regional/regional andinternational levels. On the international level, most actions focus on the UN,including the GA, ECOSOC, the CSW, CEDAW, the UN Secretariat, the Division forthe Advancement of Women, INSTRAW and UNIFEM.

Bracketed text include references to: elimination of sexual harassment, includingtreatment of women as sex objects; equity between women and men; the "Conferenceof Commitments" proposal; feminist movements; the Agenda for Peace and theAgenda for Development; a high-level post in the office of the S-G to advise the S-Gon the integration of gender concerns throughout the UN system; a mid-term WorldConference on Women; the CSW; provision of resources within the regular budget ofthe UN; INSTRAW; UNIFEM; WTO"s contribution to implementation; and amechanism for collaborating with NGOs to monitor implementation.


This section notes that financial and human resources have been generally insufficientfor the advancement of women and calls for political commitment to make availablehuman and financial resources for the empowerment of women. National, regional andinternational level actions are identified and include: review of how women benefitfrom public-sector expenditures; mobilization of resources from regional developmentbanks; 0.7 percent of GNP for ODA; and an invitation to developed and developingcountry partners to mutually consent to allocate 20% of ODA and 20% of the nationalbudget, respectively, to social programmes, taking into account a gender perspective.

Bracketed references include: mobilization of additional public and private resources,including from innovative sources of funding; feminist associations; fundingmobilization by regional commissions; outcomes of previous summits and conferencesregarding debt management; doubling the resources targeted towards eliminatingdisparities between women and men; paragraphs regarding INSTRAW and UNIFEM;and mobilization of resources from within the UN regular budget.


Chair Licuanan opened the last Plenary of the 39th Session of the CSW andannounced the formation of a Contact Group, to be chaired by Ms. Selma Ashipala(Namibia), to find a common understanding of the word "gender" in the context ofthe Platform for Action. Benin requested clarification about how and to whom thegroup would report. After a lengthy debate, Morocco proposed that the Chair of theContact Group report directly to the FWCW. Chair Licuanan formally proposedestablishing the group, which would meet from 15 May to 15 June in NY with themandate of finding a common understanding on the word "gender" in the context ofthe Platform, and which would report directly to the FWCW. She noted that therewould be a pre-conference on 2-3 September, at which the Chairperson could presentthe report. The proposal was accepted.

In draft resolution E/CN.6/1995/L.21, Provisional agenda and proposed organization ofwork of the FWCW, Australia proposed adding an additional sub-Item 8, entitled"National Priorities and Commitments," and the explanatory note: "ParticipatingStates are invited to make statements of national priorities and/or commitments,including specifying actions that they will take in their own countries to bring aboutchange by the year 2000, taking into account the draft Platform of Action." Theprovisional agenda was adopted, as orally revised.

Delegates then turned their attention to the draft rules of procedure (E/CN.6/1995/L.3),the amendments to which had been circulated in English. Most of the amendmentsrelated to participation of the European Community at the FWCW. The EU noted thatthey did not consider their request to be a matter of precedent, but was considered ona case-by-case basis, depending on whether the EU could use transfers of competence.Following adoption, the US stressed the need to know whether the EC or the EUspeaks for the member states, and on which issues.

The Plenary adopted the draft Platform, as contained in a variety of documents,including E/CN.6/1995/L.17, addenda 1, 2, 3 and 4 and corrigendum 1, 5, 7, 8-11, 13,14 and 16. The US bracketed a sentence regarding the uncertain economic globalclimate. Peru made a statement on Section C (inequalities in health status), pointingout that Peru does not support abortion. The G-77/China said more work is requiredon peace and development. The Chair noted that there would be a two-week periodduring which corrections could be made to the text, to ensure that the documentsaccurately reflected the work of the informal negotiations.

The Chair then presented the outline of and draft texts for the Declaration, andproposed that they be sent to Beijing to serve as the basis for the Declaration, butnoted that the document was informal. The CSW adopted the proposal. DocumentE/CN.6/1995/L.8 and addenda 1-3 (adoption of the report of the Commission on its39th Session) were also adopted.

Secretary-General of the FWCW, Mrs. Gertrude Mongella, closed the Plenary bystating that it is clear that equality between women and men is an accepted, non-negotiable principle which permeates the entire Platform. She encouragedGovernments to include NGO representatives and young people at the FWCW and todeclare commitments and pledge resources.


Procedural questions dominated the FWCW preparatory process, and are the focus ofthis analysis. However, it should be noted that an understanding of procedural issues isoften incomplete without acknowledging the political or issue subtext that can shape"procedural" outcomes. Nevertheless, a number of internal and external forcespresented significant challenges for the work of delegates. For example, delegates hadnot adequately met as a whole to conceptualize the issues under discussion and thedocument as a whole, preparation time before the conference began was limited, andthe relationship between member States and civil society continued to evolve. A keyfactor that informed both the procedural (timing) and political (maintaining a fragileglobal consensus) content of the Session was its proximity to other relevant UNconferences, including Vienna, Cairo and Copenhagen. Attempts by some delegationsto use the opportunity to "upgrade" reservations to earlier international agreementsraises a serious question for the UN conference process " a question that also emergedafter the reversals in the debates on the New International Economic Order in the1980s.

The preparatory process was originally scheduled to take two weeks and the draftPlatform was originally scheduled to be approximately twenty pages. The draftPlatform, however, was a sixty-eight page text, which was released in February whendelegates were preparing for the Social Summit. Late publication was compounded bythe quality of the draft text. The draft Platform"s language of victimization and under-developed integration of key demands into the context of the ICPD, the ViennaDeclaration and WSSD were among the criticisms. A suggestion that key UN agenciesshould have been involved in expert drafting of the Platform was belatedlyacknowledged during the Session when the Secretariat referred the section on health topersonnel in WHO and UNFPA.

A major problem faced by the FWCW preparatory process was the lack of adequateissue definition. The 38th Session of the CSW saw one stage of the Secretariat"s drafttext, and sent it back, expecting it to be influenced by the regional meetings. Theregional meetings that took place during 1994 provided a chance for each region toidentify their concerns and define the issues under discussion in their regionalcontext, but delegates returned to the 39th Session of the CSW without a commonapproach. During opening statements at the 39th Session, it became clear that somedelegations defined all of the issues as a violation of women"s human rights, whileothers preferred to treat the issues within the sectoral categories into which the drafttext separated them. This debate continued into the negotiating rooms.

The special nature of the agenda for Beijing produced inevitable tensions within andacross regional blocs. The central demand for the empowerment of women to co-determine the discourses on political and economic processes continues to attractresistance in some regions. Within the G-77/China, some delegations were accused ofattempting to use the power of the bloc to entrench conservative elements in thePlatform, inserting qualifiers and "escape clauses" by calling for respect for culturaland philosophical conditions. The tensions were sufficient to create serious problemsfor the Philippines, 1995 coordinator for the G-77/China " problems serious enough tobe taken up back in the capital.

The debate over the word "gender" revealed some of the fundamental differences andpositions of delegations regarding the Beijing objectives. Indeed the debate couldbecome a textbook case study on the state of global feminism and feministepistemology. The issue raised central debates on the relation between language,knowledge and power; the political contest over "natural" and socially negotiatedidentity; and ideas informing the current "backlash" against some of the feministadvances made in the US. Several countries expressed discomfort with the term"gender," and asked to bracket the word throughout the text. Others felt that thiswould impede the process, and pointed to years of use of the term in the UN (and incontemporary academic literature) and the lack of any questioning until this point.Those who wanted to bracket the term suspected that there was a hidden/unacceptableagenda behind its use, for example, tolerance of non-heterosexual identities andorientation. The Bureau circulated and retracted a definition of gender as the sociallyconstructed roles adopted by men and women. Some of those who objected to thebrackets suggested that the obstruction had serious implications. During one of thefloor debates on the term, the delegate from the EU suggested that those who hadasked for brackets might have a greater motive than the one stated, and that perhapsthey wanted to bracket "women" throughout the text. The clash between those whothought the draft Platform was taking the role of women too far and those whobelieved that others were trying to derail the process slowed down negotiations andfrustrated the participants. This definitive question should have been aired andaddressed earlier in the preparatory process. Some of the most interested parties in thedebate are now represented in the Contact Group set up to arrive at an agreedunderstanding of the word "gender." As one senior US delegate put it, the likelyoutcome will be the introduction of some "positive fuzziness" to the text. It is to behoped that the exercise will provide an important forum for those with differingconceptions to learn more about each other"s approach to the Conference and issues athand.

A number of possibly precedent-setting procedures are significant outcomes of thisnegotiation process. The non-governmental accreditation process was questioned fromthe first day, when accreditation of certain groups was challenged for their beliefs andexclusion of whole categories of NGOs, such as those from Taiwan or Tibet, wererevealed. The CSW set up a small working group to address the issue, but the groupreached an impasse. Interested parties therefore introduced a draft resolution in theCSW regarding NGO accreditation. China called for a vote on the resolution, and indoing so noted concern with the extraordinary, precedent-setting procedure. Manyother delegates shared China"s concern, but there were no dissenting votes. Delegatespreferred to settle the matter and focus on other issues.

There was talk of a draft resolution to establish a high-level post in the office of theSecretary-General to focus on gender matters. This would have had implicationssimilar to the precedent-setting method of resolving the accreditation issue, given thatthe text under consideration was in a bracketed paragraph of the Platform. Problemswith the nature of the proposed voluntary fund for the post prevented action on this inNew York. However, high-level support, including that of Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, exists. Together with the Australian initiative for a "Conference ofCommitments," the proposal for a high-level post offered NGOs and delegations thepromise of tangible breakthroughs in a programme that even Secretary-GeneralMongella found difficult to describe in terms of concrete initiatives.

Another outcome of this process was a critical focus on the evolving relationshipbetween member States and civil society. The relationship between NGOs anddelegates at the World Summit on Social Development was said to have signaled anew partnership between the two. Many at the CSW felt that NGOs" input wasindispensable and represented a necessary creative approach, but NGOs felt shut outfrom the process at the 39th Session. Secretary-General Mongella characterized thesituation as one where the delegates, as hosts, invited the NGOs into their sittingroom, but then disappeared to the kitchen to cook, keeping their guests waiting andhungry. NGOs found it hard to keep up with the texts, since most of the documentwas negotiated in closed sessions. NGOs are looking forward to Beijing and havebegun working to ensure a greater partnership there, but no new decision regardingNGO access had been made by the end of the CSW. Behind the accreditation andaccess debates is the UN"s evolving role as the facilitator of an unprecedenteddialogue involving the representatives of sovereign States and global civil society.Since Nairobi, women have been in the vanguard of this promising but difficultmarriage of an essentially American model of democratic lobbying and a forum with abuilt-in democratic deficit, which reflects the current global dispensation. This helps toexplain the gap between expectations and realizations in the NGO camp, and thecontinued nervous response by some Government delegations. Some delegatesexpressed unease about the intensity of lobbying activities at the Session, and it was attimes apparent that lobbying objectives might have been better served by morecoordination. Any delays in addressing these issues may pose a threat to some of theadvances made by civil society into the corridors of power. It has been suggested thatthis may well be one of the most significant issues to be taken up with serious intentas a result of the Beijing preparatory process.

The preparatory committee of the draft Platform for Action was faced with negotiatingissues that have time and again evaded consensus in international fora. The Platform isan attempt to generate a women"s perspective and agenda for action drawing on thefragile consensus reached in related areas, including human rights, reproductive rightsand health care, and women"s articulation of and participation in economics, politicsand society. The politics of gender will help define and re-define numerous debateswell into the next century. If Nairobi represented the moment for setting down a seriesof statements of intent, Beijing is intended to become the threshold of action andimplementation. Despite all the internal and external challenges, delegates picked up amomentum in the last days of negotiations, and achieved some agreement. ChairLicuanan noted that delegates had negotiated the longest text in the shortest period oftime in recent memory. The bracketed text, and remaining areas of contention, are welldefined, and interim bilateral and multilateral informal discussions may be essential.The fate and momentum of the draft Platform for Action, whatever its weaknesses onquestions of re-defining and remaking macroeconomic and political structures,whatever its achievements in advancing a comprehensive vision of the world throughwomen"s eyes, will largely be determined by the continued vigilance of one of themost innovative critical social movements in civil society.


NGO ACCREDITATION: According to CSW resolutionE/CN.6/1995/L.20, "Accreditation of NGOs to the FWCW," 28 April 1995 is the newdeadline for receipt of applications and supporting materials for NGO accreditation.

CONTACT GROUP ON GENDER: The contact group established todiscuss a common understanding of the use of "gender" in the Platform for Actionwill meet between 15 May and 15 June in NY, chaired by Ms. Selma Ashipala(Namibia). The results will be sent on to Beijing, and may be presented during pre-conference meetings (2-3 September).

DISCUSSIONS ON UNIFEM AND INSTRAW: These two UN agencieswill be the subject of discussion in both ECOSOC and the fall GA session. Decisionstaken in these fora are expected to inform negotiations in Beijing regarding the futureof UNIFEM and INSTRAW, and their role in implementing the Platform.

CEDAW: Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on the Elimination ofAll Forms of Discrimination against Women on 22 May in New York.

COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD: The ninth session ofthe committee will meet 22 May to 9 June in Geneva.

NGO FORUM: 30 August to 8 September 1995, in Beijing, at a yet to bedecided location (the original location was found to be structurally unsound at the endof March). Information on alternative venues is expected soon.

Further information


National governments
Negotiating blocs
Central and Eastern Europe
European Union
Group of 77 and China
Non-state coalitions