Vol. 14 No. 42
Tuesday, 6 June 2000
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.
H.E. Mr. Theo-Ben Gurirab (Namibia), President of the Special
Session, welcomed participants and, recalling that the 1995
Beijing Conference had been called the conference of commitments,
appealed for renewed dedication toward women’s equality and
empowerment. 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.
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
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: http://www.un.org/ga/webcast/
AD HOC COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair Kapalata opened the Ad Hoc COW and welcomed
delegates. Angela King, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General
on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, commended delegates
for recent work and forecasted a strong, practical and focused
document. Delegates elected the Vice-Chairs and the Rapporteur of
the Bureau of the COW and noted the organization of work. The COW
then heard a brief general debate to accommodate speakers unable
to address the Plenary. Speakers included SADC, UNAIDS, the World
Food Programme, 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
WORKING GROUP I
SECTION II: ACHIEVEMENTS AND OBSTACLES
Violence: In paragraph 11, on obstacles, LIBYA, with EGYPT
and IRAN, suggested, while SOUTH AFRICA, SLAC, SADC, the EU, and
JUSCANZ opposed, deleting text stating that domestic violence,
including sexual violence in marriage/marital rape, is still
treated as a private matter in some countries. Text remains
bracketed. References to insufficient awareness, child pornography
and lack of prevention strategies were agreed. An EU proposal on
trafficking remains bracketed.
Economy: In paragraph 14, on achievements, delegates
accepted references to maternity, paternity and parental leave;
and to child and family care services and benefits. In paragraph
15, on obstacles, delegates accepted references to:
"many" women confronted with a wage gap; equal pay not
"fully" realized; and care-giving within families,
households and communities. PAKISTAN, with others, opposed
reference to "equal" ownership of land, property and
inheritance. EGYPT could accept reference to equal rights only if
"to inherit" replaced "inheritance." SADC and
SOUTH AFRICA opposed, SUDAN supported, and the EU and MEXICO asked
for time to consider this proposal, which remains bracketed.
Power and Decision-making: In paragraphs 17 and 19, on
obstacles, delegates adopted references to: dialogue and
cooperation with NGOs; the media hindering inclusion of gender
perspectives in particular spheres of influence; organization and
political structures, which enable all women to participate in all
spheres of political decision-making; and the lack of
disaggregated data and methods of assessing progress. Libya’s
proposal to eliminate references to selection criteria for
decision-making posts was adopted.
Media: In paragraph 23, on obstacles, SADC, JUSCANZ, LIBYA,
SLAC, the HOLY SEE and others debated a reference to pornography.
Chair Mlacak suggested language on pornography/pornographic and
other obscene materials. The reference remains bracketed.
Delegates agreed on text referring to: bias against women
remaining in the media; and poverty, the lack of access and
opportunities, illiteracy, lack of computer literacy and language
Environment: In paragraph 24, on achievements, delegates
accepted a reference to the traditional ecological knowledge of
indigenous women. On text referring to the link between gender
equality, poverty eradication, environmental degradation and
sustainable development, EGYPT proposed text on differential
responsibilities between developed and developing countries. The
reference remains bracketed.
Girl child: In paragraph 26, on achievements, SLAC,
supported by TURKEY and NIGERIA, suggested text on support
mechanisms for pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers, which
was agreed in a contact group. SUDAN and EGYPT opposed. The
reference remains bracketed.
SECTION III: CURRENT CHALLENGES
Delegates agreed to paragraph 31, on science and technology as
fundamental components of development. In paragraph 32, on
changing migratory flows of labor, delegates agreed to delete a
sentence on the separation of families. References to forms of
migration and a list of negative consequences of migration remain
bracketed. Delegates agreed to a SLAC reformulation of paragraph
33, on collaboration with civil society.
WORKING GROUP II
SECTION IV: FURTHER ACTIONS AND INITIATIVES
International Actions: In a late-night session on 3 June,
delegates agreed on 138(a), on healthy active aging, and deleted
138 (b), on malnutrition.
National Actions: On 5 June, in 102(n), on
non-discriminatory legislation, IRAN proposed, and all supported,
replacing reference to incentive systems with text on taking
necessary measures to create an enabling environment. The
sub-paragraph was agreed. In 103(a), on protective legislation,
delegates discussed a CARICOM reformulation including language on,
inter alia, reviewing and revising existing legislation,
and where appropriate, introducing effective legislation to ensure
protection and provide recourse to justice. IRAN suggested placing
"where appropriate" after "review and revise."
The EU proposed deleting "existing." The text was
In 103(c), on strengthening mechanisms to handle domestic
violence, all agreed to delete a reference to family. PAKISTAN
suggested, and delegates supported, including reference to
"all forms of" domestic violence. PAKISTAN, with others,
called for deletion of a reference to marital rape and sexual
abuse of women and girls, while SLAC, with others, preferred
retention. No consensus was reached, and the reference remains
In 103(d), on eradicating harmful customary or traditional
practices, NIGERIA added reference to early marriage. The text was
agreed. In 103(g), delegates agreed on taking priority steps to
address violence against indigenous women. In 103(i), on a
holistic approach to address violence, no agreement was reached on
references to eliminating all forms of violence and abuse, service
and health providers, girls and women with disabilities,
vulnerable and marginalized women and images perpetuating
attitudes and negative stereotyped roles. In paragraph 104(a), on
trafficking, delegates disagreed on language elaborating forms of
In 106(b), on agricultural policies, delegates accepted
language on water quality and eco-friendly technology. ARGENTINA
opposed a reference to organic farming. The EU opposed, and SOUTH
AFRICA and others supported, text on women farmers. Both
references remain bracketed. Delegates agreed on SLAC’s proposal
for 109(b), on social sector investments, with a SLAC amendment
replacing "investments" with "financial and other
resources." Delegates also adopted 109(c) bis, on
women in poverty, with a JUSCANZ amendment to "reduce"
instead of "eliminate."
In 110(a), on social security, delegates worked from an EU/
JUSCANZ formulation. They accepted references to: "all"
instead of "poor women," flexible and emerging forms of
work, and striving to ensure these forms are adequately covered by
Delegates agreed to 112(b), on action for continued advancement
of women, 112(c), on providing national machineries with resources
for gender mainstreaming, 112(f), on ensuring gender sensitivity
of government information polices and strategies, and 113(a), on
Delegates adopted 114(a), on training and literacy programmes.
In 114(b), on collaboration, a reference to collaboration with
religious bodies and groups remains bracketed. Delegates adopted
116(a), on tools and indicators for gender mainstreaming.
Delegates adopted 117(a) bis, on the nomination of women
candidates, and agreed to delete 117(b), on women in senior
Delegates agreed to move 118(a) bis, on microcredit
institutions to 127(e) bis. Delegates adopted 118(c), on
career development and promotion of women, with minor amendments.
Delegates deleted 118(h), on incentives for the private sector,
and adopted 118(i), on the education of girls and 118(k), on job
creation and retrenchment.
International Actions: No consensus was reached on whether
to merge 120(b), on building NGO capacity for PFA implementation,
with 136(a). Delegates adopted 120(e), on the role of regional
commissions. In 120(e) bis, on measures to alleviate the
impacts of economic sanctions, the reference to
"negative" impacts remains bracketed.
Delegates adopted 121(a), on mainstreaming a gender perspective
in the UN, with minor amendments. Delegates retained the SLAC-proposed
121(b), on training of UN personnel on gender mainstreaming, and
inserted a reference to gender and human rights impact analysis.
Delegates deleted 121(d), on linkages between the PFA and UN
conferences, and adopted 121(e), on the role of the CSW in PFA
implementation and 121(g), on assistance to parties in CEDAW
implementation. Delegates could not agree whether to include
reference to environmental degradation in 122(a), on
gender-sensitive responses to humanitarian crisis.
Delegates in contact groups reported progress in removing
brackets in human rights paragraphs, with agreed language on
gender equality in international fora. In negotiations on armed
conflict, participants say that the atmosphere of negotiations has
become more "constructive." They also note a lack of
consensus on globalization language, with some delegations
preferring mention of positive as well as negative impacts.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Having arrived en masse this week, NGO representatives describe
a sense of frustration. Public protest could be in the works, with
vows that women will move forward if their governments hold back.
Some activists are undecided about a petition listing countries
they see as stalling the Beijing+5 process, even as the issue
starts attracting the curiosity of international media. Others
contend some countries are supportive in name only, given the
number of issues that have disappeared from the document.
Meanwhile, at least one observer thinks that NGOs have spent too
much time caucusing among themselves, and not enough time talking
to their governmentsï¿½