Press Release

Commission on Status of Women

Forty-sixth Session

14th Meeting* (PM)



Fails to Act on Afghanistan Resolution

The Commission on the Status of Women adjourned its forty-sixth session this evening following the consensus adoption of draft agreed conclusions on its themes for the session:  the eradication of poverty, including through women's empowerment; and incorporating the gender perspective in the mitigation of natural disasters.  It also adopted without vote a draft resolution on women and children hostages in armed conflicts.

The Commission was not, however, able to complete the remainder of its work –- the adoption of a draft resolution on women and girls in Afghanistan -– by the 6 p.m. meeting deadline recently set by the Secretariat.

Adopting its agreed conclusions on poverty eradication, including through the empowerment of women throughout their life cycle in a globalizaing world, the Commission recognized that globalization had left many women marginalized and deprived of basic social protections and that special attention must be given to women and children who often bore the greatest burden of extreme poverty.  It affirmed gender equality and women’s empowerment as important strategies to eradicate poverty.

Under that text, governments and, as appropriate, relevant United Nations funds and programmes, civil society, international financial institutions, and the private sector were urged to take action to accelerate implementation of strategic objectives to address the needs of all women.  Those actions included taking all appropriate measures to address obstacles to the empowerment of women and to the full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout their life cycle, with a view to eradicating poverty.  Global actors and other stakeholders were further urged to ensure that both women and men are involved in decision-making, political agenda-setting and in allocation of resources.

Further, the Commission urged governments and, as appropriate, relevant United Nations funds and programmes, civil society, international financial institutions, and the private sector to undertake socio-economic policies that


*     The 13th meeting was closed.

promote sustainable development and support and ensure poverty eradication programmes -- especially for women -- by providing, among other things, skill training, equal access to and control over resources, technologies, credit and finance.  Those actors were also urged to ensure that women, especially poor women in developing countries, benefit from the pursuit of effective, equitable, development-oriented and durable solutions to the external debt and debt-servicing problems of developing countries.

In its agreed conclusions on environmental management and the mitigation of natural disasters, the Commission recognized that women played a vital role in disaster reduction, response and recovery and in natural resources management, and that some women faced particular vulnerabilities during disaster situations.

Recalling that the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action recognized that environmental degradation and disasters often have a more direct impact on women, the Commission invited governments, the United Nations system, civil society and the private sector to take action on 22 issues to accelerate implementation of strategic objectives to address the needs of all women, such as:  To pursuegender equality and gender-sensitive environmental management and disaster reduction, response and recovery as an integral part of sustainable development.

Global actors were further urged to develop and implement gender sensitive laws, policies and programmes, including on land-use, environmental management and integrated water resources management, to provide opportunities to prevent and mitigate damage; and to include, at the design stage of all relevant development programmes and projects, gender analysis and methods of mapping hazards and vulnerabilities in order to improve the effectiveness of disaster risk management, involving women and men equally.

The Economic and Social Council is requested to endorse the agreed conclusions.

In a resolution approved this evening, ECOSOC would condemn violent acts in contravention of international humanitarian law against civilian populations and call for an effective response to such acts, in particular, the immediate release of women and children taken hostage or subsequently imprisoned.  The Council would also condemn the consequences of hostage-taking, in particular, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as rape, slavery and trafficking in women and children for the purpose of their sexual exploitation, forced labour or services.

In other matters, the Commission took note of other documents that had been before the Commission this year.  It also adopted the provisional agenda for its forty-seventh session, introduced by Carolyn Hannan, Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women.

The Commission further recommended that the ECOSOC adopt a decision on communications concerning the status of women, containing measures to make the communications procedures of the Commission more effective and efficient.  The draft decision, adopted without a vote, was introduced by the representative of Belgium.


The forty-sixth session of the Commission opened last Monday with a high-level segment.  Speakers included the Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Angela King, Deputy Executive Director of United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Joanne Sandler, and Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Charlotte Abaka (Ghana). 

Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Nitin Desai highlighted the remarkable progress achieved during the 1990s in policy development through the “great” Conferences and urged that the focus shift now to implementation and accountability. 

Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Mrs. King, said that the Commission had a historical opportunity to contribute to the capacity of Afghan women to reclaim their rightful place in their country’s reconstruction. 

Deputy Executive Director of United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Mrs. Sandler, urged proactive consideration of the poverty theme, warning that a failure to deliberately and proactively address women’s poverty would mean a failure to achieve the critical Millennium Development goals.

Representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), as well as several non-governmental organizations, also participated in the session. 

Commission Background

The Commission was established as a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council in 1946 to prepare recommendations and reports to the Council on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields.  The Commission also makes recommendations to the Council on urgent problems requiring immediate action in the field of women’s rights.

With the objective of promoting the implementation of equal rights for men and women, the Commission’s mandate was expanded following the Fourth World Conference on Women.  The Commission now integrates a follow-up process to the Conference into its work programme, playing a catalytic role and regularly reviewing critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action.  The Commission generally meets on an annual basis.


The newly elected Bureau for a two-year terms is as follows:  Othman Jerandi (Tunisia), Chairman; Kyung-wha Kang (Republic of Korea), Fernando Estellita Lins de Salvo Coimbra (Brazil), and Birgit Stevens (Belgium), as Vice-Chairpersons.

The following members were appointed to serve on the Working Group on Communications of the forty-sixth session:  Mostafa Alaei (Iran); Paul J.A.M.

Peters (Netherlands); Audra Plepyte (Lithuania); Connie Tarcena Secaira (Guatemala); and Seraphine Toe (Burkina Faso).

The Commission began with 15 members and now consists of 45 elected for four-year terms.  Members are appointed by governments and are elected on the following basis:  13 from African States; 11 from Asian States; four from Eastern European States; nine from Latin American and Caribbean States; and eight from Western European and Other States.

The 2002 membership of the Commission is as follows:  Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chile, China, Croatia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States. 

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