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THE ROLE OF NGOS AT PREPCOM III:

NGO participation at PrepCom III was unprecedented at all levels. The sheer numbers alone were impressive. Over 1200 people from 500 different NGOs, most of whom were women, came from all regions of the world. Never before had NGOs been so mobilized, so well-organized and so prepared for serious and systematic advocacy and lobbying. They came from as diverse backgrounds as the governments they came to lobby: feminist activists; family planning and women's health service providers; population control advocates; environmentalists; religious groups; and "right-to-life" organizations.

They met each day in regional caucuses; lobbying strategy sessions; issue-based task forces, and the Women's Caucus, which became such an institution that it took over Conference Room 1 each morning to accommodate the large number of participants. But unlike other negotiating processes, the NGOs did not restrict their role to meeting among themselves at the Church Center and planning their own political agendas. NGOs, especially the Women's Caucus, played an extremely active role inside the UN. They were on official government delegations. They enjoyed unprecedented access to closed drafting sessions; monitored the negotiation of each chapter; advised "friendly" delegations and the Secretariat; lobbied potentially "unfriendly" delegations; and, generally, ensured that not a single paragraph of the Programme of Action escaped their vigilant scrutiny.

Some specific examples of NGO influence at PrepCom III include:

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