Press Release

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Third Committee

13th Meeting (PM)



HIV/AIDS, Role of Women in Peace-building

Also Discussed as Committee Begins Discussion of Women’s Issues

It was up to the international community to ensure that women played a significant role in deliberations and decisions affecting them, particularly when peace discussions began in Afghanistan, several speakers told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) this afternoon as it opened debate on the advancement of women.

Angela King, an Assistant Secretary-General and the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, said including women in decision-making processes, particularly in peace discussions, was important now more than ever because there needed to be a recognition of the gender-based violence affecting women as a result of armed conflict.  The situation of women in Afghanistan provided one of the most visible and tragic examples, and when peace negotiations began, Afghan women belonged at the table.  The current crisis there served as a powerful warning of the consequences when women were excluded from decision-making.

The representative of the Russian Federation called the Taliban regime a symbol of the grossest violation of women's dignity -- and one that endangered women in Afghanistan.  The delegate of China said military actions against terrorism should take care to avoid hurting innocent civilians, especially women and children.  In addition, he said, the cause of women could only be successfully advanced when armed conflicts and terrorism were completely eliminated.

Involving a women's perspective in devising strategies was important in myriad areas.  Ms. King said women could offer unique views, for example, in crafting prevention schemes for the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  She said a report released today indicated that women in their 20s in South Africa had a higher death rate than women in their 60s.

Other speakers also mentioned HIV/AIDS.  The representative of Chile, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said the disease was one of the greatest obstacles to the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted at the 1995 women's summit.  It had now become an urgent matter of foreign policy, with economic and development implications closely linked to human rights.  The nations most heavily affected did not have the resources or competencies to battle the disease, let alone implement the costly but needed provisions of the Beijing Platform.            

During an interactive dialogue featuring Ms. King and other gender promotion specialists -- Dorta Gierycz, Officer in Charge of the Division for the Advancement of Women, and Joanne Sandler, Deputy Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) -- several country representatives posed questions about the status of discussions on Security Council Resolution 1325, on women, peace and security.  Ms. King answered that a high-level brainstorming session would be convened in December, focusing on the role of women in peace-building, and in the post-conflict rebuilding of societies.  Those expected to be involved included Committee delegates, concerned members of the international community, and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Representatives of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Swaziland (on behalf of Southern African Development Community), and Iran (on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China) also spoke during the session.  In addition, a representative of the World Bank took the floor.

The Committee will reconvene 10 a.m. Thursday to continue its general debate on the advancement of women.


Following several days of discussion on issues related to international drug control and criminal justice, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today opened deliberations on the advancement of women.

The varied focus of the documents before the Committee reflect the diverse issues that will drive the discussion -- traditional practices, attempts at development, and violence against migrant workers, for example.  Other reports and documentation referred to undertakings within the United Nations system to further various causes affecting women.

The Committee had before it a Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (A/56/38, Part I), which describes the organizational and other matters of the Committee, lists the States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and details the reports the experts examined from Burundi, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Uzbekistan, Jamaica, Mongolia, Finland and Egypt.

The Committee also will examine the Secretary-General’s report on the Activities of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) (document A/56/174), which provides a review and update on the programme and activities of the Fund for the year 2000.  According to the report, last year UNIFEM had a unique opportunity to review progress towards gender equality through involvement in “Women 2000”, the General Assembly’s special session held in June.

The report notes that in 2000, UNIFEM’s work on peace gained momentum, particularly in light of efforts to introduce the issue of women, peace and security onto the agenda of the Security Council.  UNIFEM was active in providing support for the Council’s open debate on the issue, which culminated in the adoption of a relevant resolution.  The report also notes that building women’s capacity to access and shape markets was a key component of UNIFEM’s economic empowerment work.  Its support provided women with opportunities to hone technical and marketing skills, and it promoted market analysis that mapped opportunities in diverse sub-sectors. 

The Secretary-General's report on the improvement of the situation of women in rural areas (document A/56/268), which is also before the Committee, details information based on case studies undertaken by relevant international organizations, specialized agencies, funds, programmes and expert groups on rural women and the challenges faced by them.  According to the report, the expert group convened a meeting in June 2001 on the situation of rural women in the context of globalization, particularly the impact of major global economic trends, such as trade liberalization, the commercialization of architecture and changing consumption patterns.  The group proposed a research and policy agenda that would maximize the beneficial effects of globalization for women in the context of ongoing social and economic change in rural areas.

Also before the Committee is the Secretary-General's report on the Critical Situation of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) (document A/56/279), which details the implementation of INSTRAW's activities during 2001 and provides information on the financial flows and prospects for the institute beyond 31 December 2001.  The report concludes that despite persistent difficulties and uncertainties, INSTRAW has managed to secure minimal resources to respond to the mandates given by the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Throughout, the report emphasizes the importance the Institute places on efforts to develop collaborative research, training and information dissemination, including through the Gender Awareness Information and Networking System (GAINS). Given that the Institute has begun to achieve tangible results through GAINS, the report notes that the Assembly might wish to decide on the scope within which it could operate beyond 2001 in a productive and cost effective manner.

The Committee will also discuss the Secretary-General's report on the Status of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (document A/56/328), which states that as of 1 August 2001, 168 States parties had ratified, acceded or succeeded to the Convention.  In addition, 3 further States were signatories to the Convention.

The report also contains an update on the status of the Convention's Optional Protocol, which has, as of August 2001, been signed by 68 State parties, and ratified or acceded to by 24 States.  The most recent States parties to ratify the Optional Protocol are Spain and Uruguay.  The report highlights the work of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, noting that between August 2000 and August 2001 it had considered 22 reports submitted by 16 States parties.

     The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General's report on the follow-up to the progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (document A/56/319 and Add.1), which provides updated information on follow-up activities undertaken by intergovernmental bodies, the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). 

The report also includes the results of the 2000 substantive session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) with regard to the advancement of women. Ministers at the High-Level segment of that session, devoted to the discussion of the role of the United Nations system in supporting the efforts of African countries to achieve sustainable development, recognized the need to promote the role of women in social, economic and political development in African countries.

The Committee will also consider the Report of the Secretary-General on traditional or customary practices affecting the health of women and girls (document A/56/316), which provides information on the steps taken in several forums of the United Nations, and at the regional and national levels, to implement various recommendations.

It described the efforts of the General Assembly, Commission on the Status of Women, Commission on Human Rights, and the various human rights treaty bodies.  It also detailed the activities of a number of rapporteurs, among them the Special Rapporteur of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights; the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on violence against women, its causes and consequences; the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

In addition, the Committee had before it a Report of the Secretary-General on violence against women migrant workers (A/56/329), which described the efforts of Member States and the United Nations system to eradicate violence against women migrant workers.  They include illustrating the work of special sessions of the General Assembly, the Commission on Human Rights, various special rapporteurs, and the human rights treaty bodies.

The report also includes conclusions and recommendations, among them educational interventions and approaches targeted at potential women migrant workers in their country of origin, including the use of modern communication and information technologies.  It also suggested that comprehensive information is required on bilateral agreements between the countries of origin and of destination of women migrant workers.

The Committee was also expecting other documents on the subject of women, to be issued later.  Among them were the second and third parts of the supplement on the sessions of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

ANGELA KING, Assistant Secretary-General, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, said globalization was one of the world's dominant trends, and it remained a challenge.  Its negative effects had become even more apparent in recent days.  Indeed, without the right type of checks and balances, globalization could add to inequalities both between and within countries.  The international community had to unite to ensure that whatever benefits accrued, they were equitably spread between the haves and have-nots, between men and women, and that when downturns occurred, women were not disadvantaged.  Strategies such as gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting should be normalized.

Ms. King said one of the key achievements of the special session of the General Assembly on HIV/AIDS in June 2001 was its emphasis on a prevention strategy, which would challenge the prevailing gender stereotypes, attitudes and gender inequalities.  A report published today indicated that in South Africa, 40 per cent of adult deaths in 2000 were caused by AIDS-related illnesses.  The worst news was that the overall death rate of young women in their 20s was higher than that of women in their 60s.  The special session adopted important gender-sensitive targets on the need for education and the elimination of violence against women and girls through rape and other forms of sexual violence.

The scourge of trafficking, she continued, particularly concerning women in conflict situations, was growing.  The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance had recommended that the General Assembly declare a United Nations year or decade against trafficking in persons, especially women, youth and children.  The opening for signature and ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and its supplementary Protocols, which included one to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, was a significant breakthrough in controlling this scourge.

Ms. King said the women's role in peace processes was important because, now more than ever, there needed to be a recognition of the gender-based violence affecting women as a result of armed conflict.  The situation of women in Afghanistan provided one of the most visible and tragic examples of that.  United Nations humanitarian agencies anticipated that as many as 7.5 million refugees, most of them women and children, could cross borders in the coming weeks.  With winter approaching rapidly, bringing with it freezing temperatures, there had to be decisive action to ensure that in the overall humanitarian efforts the impact on women and children was not given second place.  When peace negotiations began, Afghan women belonged at the table.  The current crisis in Afghanistan served as a powerful warning of the consequences when women were excluded from decision-making.  Empowerment of women worldwide to participate effectively in decision-making, whether at peace tables or in the political arena, remained a major concern almost everywhere.

DORTA GIERYCZ, Officer in Charge of the Division for the Advancement of Women, and JOANNE SANDLER, Deputy Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), introduced the reports before the Committee.  For details, see “Backgrounds” section of this release.

Dialogue with Committee

Following the introduction of reports, Committee members posed questions to Ms. King and the other Secretariat specialists on women’s issues.  The representatives of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union, asked how entry into force of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and its optional protocol would affect the work being done by Ms. King’s Office.

She wondered if awareness-raising campaigns were underway to spread the word about the optional protocol.  She was also concerned about the status of Secretariat efforts to advance the discussions in the Security Council that had resulted in resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

The representative of India said his delegation was concerned at the mention in the Secretary-General’s report that a non-governmental organization (NGO), the Committee on Housing Rights and Evictions, a UNIFEM grantee, had introduced a resolution in the Commission on Human Rights last year.  As far as he knew, NGOs could not introduce resolutions to United Nations bodies.

The representative of Benin said least developed countries, and particularly the women living there, generally bore the brunt of international unrest.  That notion could be born out as the effects of the 11 September attacks on the host country continued to reverberate.  Were the relevant United Nations organizations prepared to ensure that women in the Central Asian region and beyond would not be adversely affected by the air strikes on Afghanistan?

Responding to the first round of questions, Ms. King said that attempts were underway to broadly publicize the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and its optional protocol.  NGOs throughout the world were also attempting to translate the protocol into other languages.  Of course, she added, relevant United Nations agencies and interested NGO’s would appreciate more funds in order to ensure that other awareness-raising strategies could be implemented.

As for the human resources available to her office to handle the entry into force of the Convention, Ms. King said that requests for expanding the staff had been recommended for approval by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) in the current budget.

On recent events and fallout for women, she said she was not in any position to give guarantees.  At the same time, it was important to realize that while United Nations agencies and funds had always worked to ensure the security of women, it was also the duty of the entire international community to ensure that women were not adversely affected by the current situation in the Central Asian region.

On information technology, Ms. GIERYCZ said the Commission on the Status of Women had among its priority themes the issue of women and new information technologies.  In addition, the Division for the Advancement of Women was examining issues related to women and science and communications technologies.

Ms. SANDLER said new information technologies were a priority for UNIFEM. The Fund was supporting the work of several women’s organizations in that regard. Efforts were mainly aimed at entrepreneurs to promote increased access to new technologies, building capacity to generate content, particularly in local languages and building capacity in policy-making environments.  On women, peace and security, she said that the Fund was studying the work of experts at all levels and was considering a number of field missions, the results of which would complement a broader Secretariat study already underway.

Addressing the concern of India’s representative, Ms. Sandler said she suspected that there had been a mistake in the report’s translation and that resolution he spoke about had been “advocated” at the Commission on Human Rights meeting rather than “introduced”.  She would, however, seek clarification.

In a second round of questions, the representative of Cuba asked if implementation efforts on Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security would reflect input from the Third Committee, General Assembly or the Commission on the Status of Women.

The representative of Algeria asked for clarification on efforts to implement the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women and “Women 2000”.

In response to those comments and questions, Ms. King said that consultations were underway within the Council.  Indeed it was her belief that in December, a team of consultants in collaboration with the Security Council and relevant United Nations agencies would hold a brainstorming session.  That meeting would be open to members of the Committee and other concerned members of the international community and NGOs.  It was set to discuss, among other things, the role of women in peace-building and in post conflict rebuilding of societies.

Clarifying India’s question on the proposal of a resolution to the Commission on Human Rights, Committee Secretary Kate Star Newell said that there had been a problem in the drafting of the Secretary-General’s report, and that the resolution in question had been proposed by Mexico, not an NGO.

BIRGIT STEVENS (Belgium), on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union called on Member States to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  The statute recognized rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization and any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity as crimes against humanity when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population with knowledge of the attack.  Any form of violence was unacceptable to the European Union, whether it be rape, domestic violence, trafficking in human beings, particularly women and girls, crimes committed in the name of honour or traditional or customary practices which affected the health of women and girls.  Tangible measures should be stepped up, such as adopting or tightening up legislation, developing integrated plans, and establishing guidelines, training programmes and public information campaigns.

She said violence against women was a major obstacle to achieving equality.  Sex-based violence was the result of women's subordinate status, both past and present.  Violence within the family was a particularly disturbing problem in that regard.  The European Union urged the States to implement national plans to combat all forms of violence against women and children with the aim of developing a mainstreaming approach designed to structure and coordinate the various aspects of a policy to combat violence.  The European Union condemned trafficking in human beings for the purposes of sexual or economic exploitation.  Given the many different causes underlying that scourge, social and economic included, mainstreaming was essential in combating that phenomenon.  It was important to adopt a strategy which was designed to convict traffickers and their accomplices, as well as to stop the trade and help the victims.

The Commission the Status of Women naturally played a special role in following up the mainstreaming of the gender perspectives in all the areas of work of the United Nations.  The European Union noted the adoption of the multi-annual programme which provided for a horizontal approach to the objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action, particularly regarding new technology, the role of men and boys and the participation of women in conflict prevention.  The European Union believed that one of the major challenges was to implement the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in all its policies.  Governments had to provide themselves with the means, particularly in terms of political will, structures and financing resources, to respect their commitments to make gender equality effective at all levels of society.

CLIFFORD MAMBA (Swaziland), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said it was significant that last year’s Millennium Declaration called for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women as effective ways to combat poverty, hunger and disease and to stimulate development that was truly sustainable.  The need to improve women’s access to resources, particularly financial resources was also necessary. 

He said reports before the Committee had shown that women entrepreneurs faced major obstacles, including lack of start up capital, due mainly to discriminatory laws, policies and cultural practices.  With that in mind, the SADC countries supported the call for governments to design gender-sensitive policies and programmes at micro-and macro-economic levels, including the introduction of gender-responsive budgeting and analysis.  SADC had also expressed its commitment to respond to challenges such as poverty and HIV/AIDS.  At the SADC Heads of State Summit this past August, it had been noted that 40 per cent of the region’s people lived in poverty.  The majority of them were women and children.  It had also been noted that AIDS and other related infectious diseases had devastated the Community’s population, women particularly so.

He encouraged the United Nations and the wider international community to intensify efforts and renew commitments toward implementation of the outcome of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcomes of the Assembly special sessions on “Women 2000” and on HIV/AIDS.  For its part, SADC would continue to address issues concerning the advancement of women.  Progress was being made toward reaching the target of 30 per cent participation by women in politics and decision-making by 2005.  Further, most SADC countries had adopted explicit gender policies. 

He said that national machinery to coordinate gender issues had been strengthened or upgraded.  Most countries had some mechanism consisting of gender specialists to improve monitoring of relevant issues.  In December 2000, as part of the Community’s ongoing review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, participants at a regional Conference in Lesotho had addressed the addendum to that Declaration on Violence against Women and Girls.  While noting that violence against women persisted, the conference also noted that a number of achievements had been made in the areas of legislature and awareness raising on the issue.

BAGHER ASADI (Iran), on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said among the crucial challenges facing the on-going process of women's issues was the collective effort to promote an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in the policies, programmes and decision-making processes at national, regional and international levels.  In the implementation of the outcomes of the major conferences and summits and their reviews, efforts should be made to ensure that follow-up activities keep the entire process abreast of the compelling demand for the mainstreaming of gender perspectives into all policies and programmes.  Moreover, the major processes underway, including the special session on children and the forthcoming follow-up activities on racism and racial discrimination, needed to incorporate a gender perspective into their substantive work programmes, as well as in their overall activities.

Poverty eradication, he said, constituted a fundamental building block in the empowerment of women.  Within that framework, particular attention should be paid to the situation of women in rural areas, as addressed in the report on that topic by the Secretary-General.  Many negative factors, both at the national and international levels, were responsible for the perpetuation of a situation in which women suffered inequalities, discrimination and a deprival of advancement.  Widening economic inequality between men and women, including income inequality, unemployment and deepening of poverty among the most vulnerable and marginalized groups, were among the obstacles that women faced, and which affected their empowerment and advancement worldwide.

Violence against women, he said, was an affront to their rights and dignity.  The abhorrent phenomenon was detrimental to the human spirit and physical and mental health of women and girls in many societies.  It was a fact that no society, nation or community could claim to be free and immune from that evil phenomenon.  Violence against women and girls took different forms in different societies and with different justifications, whose ultimate aims was identical -- subordination and exploitation of women.  Violence against women was manifest in many different forms, including harmful traditional and customary practices, and in more modern times, in the form of commercial exploitation, often of a sexual nature.  While recognizing the fact that governments had an obligation to do their best to prevent violence against women and girls, the Group of 77 and China expressed its full readiness to cooperate with the United Nations system and its mechanisms to strengthen the on-going campaign for the elimination of violence against women in all societies.

Achieving real, meaningful and substantive improvement in the situation and status of women in all fields of social life, on a global scale and in all societies, depended on the resolute will and determination of the entire human community, he said.  It called for forceful action at the national level and effective cooperation at the international level.  While it was certainly true that effective empowerment of women in all societies depended on the achievement of development and poverty eradication, particular importance should be given to genuine development and poverty eradication in developing countries in general.

JUAN GABRIEL VALDES (Chile), on behalf of the Rio Group, said the education and training of women, the achievement of their right to enjoy the highest possible physical and mental health and their equal participation in employment, all of which were necessary in efforts to eradicate poverty, had to be the basis of the work that would be done in the near future.  That was why the Santiago Declaration, signed by the Heads of State of the Rio Group last August, recognized the importance of mainstreaming the gender perspective in the elaboration and implementation of policies, in the strategic programmes for economic and social development, and in the strengthening of democracy.  They also agreed to strengthen the role of women in all spheres of the institutional modernization of the countries of the Rio Group.

Despite the progress made, the challenges were still numerous, he said.  Without doubt, one of the greatest obstacles recognized last year, and which was affecting the full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, was HIV/AIDS.  The Rio Group member States considered that this pandemic had now become an urgent matter of foreign policy with economic and development implications closely linked to human rights.  The pandemic threatened the decades of progress that had been achieved with great sacrifice.

ZHANG LEI (China) said that although there were unprecedented opportunities to promote women’s advancement today, numerous challenges and difficulties persisted.  Indeed, due to protracted conflict situations in certain regions and increasing marginalization, women, particularly those living in the developing world, had seen their rights seriously compromised, mainly in terms of political participation, employment, education and health.  In order to truly achieve the goal of gender equality, the United Nations and the wider international community should take concrete actions to genuinely safeguard the rights and interests of women.

He said women were more often than not the victims most severely affected by wars and terrorist activities.  All nations should strictly abide by the Charter and basic international norms to resolve disputes by peaceful means.  In the fight against terrorism, countries should cooperate effectively, while at the same time allowing the Security Council to carry out its important duties.  Moreover, military actions against terrorism should take care to avoid hurting innocent civilians, especially women and children.  In China’s view, the cause of women could only be successfully advanced when armed conflicts and terrorism were completely eliminated.

He said that in its joint efforts to safeguard the rights of women, the international community should never lose sight of the fact that conditions were different in different regions of the world.  That was particularly true for economic development, and cultural and historical background.  It was therefore important for countries to formulate strategies and policies and choose the

appropriate path for the development of their women based on domestic conditions and in accordance with relevant international human rights instruments.

As host of the Fourth World Conference on Women, China had made great efforts to implement the Beijing Platform for Action.  In May 2001, the Government had officially enacted the Programme of Development of Chinese Women from 2001 to 2010.  That programme set forth development plans and measures for the next decade in such areas as the formulation and improvement of laws and regulations and enhancing political participation for women.

GALINA KHVAN (Russian Federation) said the latest Commission on the Status of Women meeting had adopted a programme that focused on key issues relating to women’s advancement.  Combating violence against women was important, and the Russian Federation supported the programmes that had been established to combat it.  This past April, her Government had held a high-level meeting on the prevention of the sexual exploitation of women and minors.  It had focused on controlling tourism companies, overseas employment agencies and organizations that arranged marriages.

She said the Taliban regime was a symbol of the grossest violation of women's dignity, and it was obvious that that regime was endangering women in Afghanistan.  Russia had taken stands time after time against terrorism, and the time had come to combat that evil.  That was not a wish -- that was an imperative of the time.

CLARE FLEMING of the World Bank said after volunteering recently at “ground zero”, the recovery sight of the 11 September terrorist attacks on New York City, she began to think of the role women continued to play as “hidden heroes” in times of trouble.  She was certain that women in Afghanistan and elsewhere were doing the same today.  For those women, the international community had the duty to act urgently to achieve the goals set at Beijing and “Women 2000”.  The Bank strongly endorsed those goals and was committed to making gender equality central to its fight against poverty since sustainable development and protection of human rights could only be ensured by harnessing the talents of both women and men.

She went on to say that over the past several decades, the world had witnessed considerable progress toward gender equality.  Gender gaps in health and education were narrowing, though still at unacceptable levels, and women’s life expectancy had increased by 15 to 20 years in developing countries.  But many of those hard won gains remained fragile.  In some countries, rapid socio-economic changes had resulted in setbacks or even had created new challenges.  Moreover, as a result of the events of 11 September, it had been predicted that more than 10 million more people will be condemned to live below poverty in 2001 and 2002.

She said the associated economic downturn would be devastating for all, but particularly women in developing countries.  To meet those and other challenges, United Nations agencies and their partners must redouble efforts, particularly through ensuring both women and men became equal partners in development and had equal access to resources.