The Chair opened the morning session with a minute of silence for Flor Contemplacion. The Plenary then continued with discussion of Agenda Item 3, Preparatory activities for the Beijing Conference.
ALGERIA stressed the negative effects of religious fundamentalism on women, and noted that economic problems exacerbate all other problems in society. Women"s problems have been compounded by debt restructuring programs. UNICEF noted the need for: equality at all levels and in all spheres of society; empowerment; gender analyses; and time bound goals. She expressed concern about the increase of violent backlash against women and urged ratification of the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Violence Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. PANAMA said men no longer consider women as an enigma as they prepare to take a place in a new order alongside men in economic and political spheres. Priority issues include literacy and access to scientific and technological education and training.
CYPRUS called for a new emphasis on practice over theory, and stated that women have lost patience with persistent inequalities. The Beijing Conference should look critically at past achievements and should be one of commitments. A representative of THE FEDERATION OF INTERNATIONAL CIVIL SERVANTS ASSOCIATION noted the UN"s failure to meet most of its targets to promote women. Action programmes and the underlying organizational system had proven ineffective. He called attention to the FICSA"s recommendations for progress, and suggested that they be included in the Platform. MALAYSIA called on the CSW to review its achievements and modus operandi, and to improve its membership, representation and capacity for action. The Platform should include the objective of reducing poverty by 50% over the next decade.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA said the majority of the casualties of its three-year conflict have been women and children. As refugees and victims of systematic sex war crimes, women have been stripped of their right to development. She called on the CSW to recognize that rape conducted during war is a systematic strategy that should be regarded alongside the crime of genocide. The US said that social, economic and legal barriers impede women"s progress and suggested that governments implement programs to educate women about their legal and human rights. She stressed partnership in decision-making at all levels. SAMOA informed delegates of national activities for the advancement of women, including the establishment of the Ministry of Women"s Affairs and a national plan of action. She stressed the importance of issues regarding the family, the environment, violence against women and adequate resources.
CAMBODIA stated that his nation had set up information centers to help women participate in the development process. He noted that women are the driving force for development and a prerequisite for national conciliation. He also proposed a fund for women"s higher education. ITALY noted that increased numbers of female judges will improve the achievement of women"s human rights, and she suggested that the Platform reflect the decisions of the ILO regarding women"s work. The UNITED ARAB EMIRATES stressed the issues of family and children, and noted national commitments and objectives, such as support for child care and the family.
SWEDEN highlighted its achievement of gender equality in government and noted that the main obstacles to equality for women lie in the structure of society. She noted a number of reservations on the draft Platform for Action. BRAZIL said that violence, poverty and economic independence are linked, and noted that the judicial system in Brazil and many other nations is insufficient to ensure women"s legal rights. CANADA stated the need to recognize the diversity of women, noted that economic restructuring policies should reflect women"s needs and contributions, and said that governments should consider women"s programs a necessary investment. She also reaffirmed that women"s rights are an integral part of human rights, and that education, power sharing and partnership are priorities.
The CONGO said that, through the Beijing Conference, nations should firmly commit to the reduction of poverty, a priority of her government and region. Multilateral financial organizations should be asked to relieve debt burdens and provide technical support. IRAN said a number of offices have been created in her government to oversee the advancement of women, and increased numbers of women have entered parliament. She stressed the moral and cultural dimensions of the position of women. MOZAMBIQUE noted that her country had been at war during the Nairobi conference, and that women and children have been most seriously affected by the war. She called on the international community, NGOs, and the private sector to support efforts to advance women in Mozambique. NIGER referred to the linkage between social progress and peace, and noted the financial handicaps experienced by her country. Institutional and resource improvements are required for the Beijing Platform, along with provisions for refugees, handicapped women and those affected by natural disasters.
SWAZILAND noted many of the problems that women in her country face, and discussed a number of national programmes to improve the status of women. Examples include the establishment of a multisectoral national steering committee on women"s affairs, the drafting of a national policy on women, and the creation of NGOs to educate women about their rights. NIGERIA proposed free medical care for children under five. He also noted a number of national programmes that support women, including a programme to help rural women and a family support programme. HAITI outlined a number of priority issues, including: mechanisms to assist victims of rape; the fight against poverty; and access to health care, including reproductive health care.
The representative of the AD HOC INTERAGENCY MEETING ON WOMEN described the work of the UN inter-agency group, and stated that UN agencies have a role to play in implementation. The representative from ITC/UNCTAD/GATT stated that the external trade sector can be a vehicle for promoting equity, particularly through entrepreneurship. She noted the need for forward and backward linkages between demand and factors of production.
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