Reviewing Beijing documents on women’s rights, UN commission calls for more action

11 March 2005 – Delegates to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), ending a two-week review of the implementation of policies and plans produced by the last major UN conference on women 10 years ago in Beijing, today called on Governments to take action to meet the remaining gaps and challenges.

“Worldwide consensus has built around the idea that empowering women is the most effective tool for development and poverty reduction, and that remaining obstacles to gender equality can be overcome,” said Rachel Mayanja, Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women at the “Beijing+10” review.

Organizers from the UN Department for the Advancement of Women (DAW) said Governmental participants at the Commission’s 49th session included about 80 cabinet ministers, more than 1,800 delegates from 165 UN Member States and seven First Ladies. Representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) numbered 2,600 of the 6,000 registered.

“Ten years after Beijing, this review called attention to the many areas where women’s equality is still not a reality – continuing high rates of violence against women in all parts of the world including in armed conflict, increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS among women, gender inequality in employment, lack of sexual and reproductive health rights and a lack of equal access under the law to land and property, to name a few,” DAW Director Carolyn Hannan said.

Delegates exchanged experiences and ideas on the struggle for equality. They ranged from campaigning for greater participation in making public policy, to organizing pro-woman caucuses, to appointing high-level commissioners to spotlight inequities and to forming inter-departmental task forces. They also approved relevant resolutions.

Roundtables discussed making data collection and analysis more relevant, including in assessing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), recognizing the impact of socio-economic policies on women and implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), commonly thought of as a Bill of Rights for women.

At the end of the first week, delegates adopted a declaration re-affirming the commitments made in the Declaration and Plan of Action issued by the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and urged governments to facilitate the advancement of women.

“This concise and powerful declaration is an unqualified and unconditional reaffirmation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and a pledge of further action for full and accelerated implementation of Beijing,” said CSW Chair Kyung-wha Kang of the Republic of Korea.

Ms. Kang was charged with transmitting the declaration, through the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to the 60th session of the General Assembly, including the Assembly’s high-level review of the Millennium Declaration in September.

A high point of the CSW fortnight was a special 30th anniversary celebration of the First World Conference on Women in Mexico City, with messages from the UN Assistant Secretaries-General who served as secretaries-general of that and subsequent UN conferences on women.

The messages came from Helvi Sipila of Finland (Mexico City, 1975), Lucille Mair of Jamaica (Copenhagen, 1980), Leticia Shahani of the Philippines (Nairobi, 1985) and Gertrude Mongella of Tanzania (Beijing, 1995).

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