United Nations


Commission on the Status of Women


Fortieth Session
11-22 March 1996
Item 3 (b) of the provisional agenda

            Follow up to the Fourth World Conference on Women 

Proposed System-wide Medium-term Plan for the Advancement of Women 1996-2001

                      Report of the Secretary-General






1.   The Economic and Social Council, in its resolution 1993/16, endorsed the
system-wide medium-term plan for the advancement of women for the period 1996-
2001 as a general framework for the coordination of system-wide efforts.  In
the same resolution, it invited the Secretary General, in his capacity as
Chairman of the ACC, to arrange for a revision of the system-wide medium term
plan for the advancement of women for the period 1996-2001 in light of the
second review and appraisal of the Nairobi Forward looking Strategies for the
Advancement of Women and the adoption of the Platform for Action by the Fourth
World Conference on Women.  

2.   The revised plan is presented to the 40th session of the Commission on
the Status of Women for its comments.  The Secretary-General, as the Chairman
of the ACC, taking into consideration the comments made by the Commission at
its 40th session, will present the revised SWMTP to the CPC and the ECOSOC,
respectively, for their endorsement.

3.   At the 19th Ad Hoc Interagency Meeting on Women in 1995, the
organizations of the UN System agreed on a procedure and time table for
revising the plan.  The organizations of the UN system, at the 20th meeting of
the Ad Hoc Inter-agency Meeting on Women in November 1995, refined the plan,
agreed on its structure and the methodology for its preparation.  Written
input from the participating entities formed the basis for the preparation of
drafts which were circulated to the system for further inputs and comments. 
Each organization of the UN system was asked to indicate the approach it
intended to take to achieve the objectives set out in the Platform for Action
and to support actions at the national, regional and international levels,
including the main significant outputs to be produced during the period and
the methods to be used.  Emphasis was to be on joint and collaborative efforts
of the system.  
4.   Informal meetings took place in the preparatory phase at UN
Headquarters, and the presence of a large number of focal points at the Fourth
World Conference on Women in Beijing allowed for further consultations.  

5.   The Division for the Advancement of Women served as Secretariat and
coordinator in the preparation of the Plan.  It prepared a first outline on
the structure, approach, and time table for revising the Plan, compiled the
information, prepared and circulated the various drafts, and organized inter-
agency meetings to finalize the Plan.

6.   In the preparation of the Plan, the effort to produce a realistic
planning tool that takes into consideration regional plans of action, national
priorities and the follow up to other international Conferences, was
paramount.  The overall goal of the political, economic and social empowerment
of women and the inclusion of a gender perspective in system-wide activities
are essential to the implementation of the Plan.

7.   Accordingly, the plan adheres in its structure to the critical areas of
concern of the Platform for Action.  Actions to be carried out by the UN
system are clustered by type of action under each of the critical areas of
8.   The following two interlinked elements characterize the UN system
approach to the implementation of the Platform and to the actions that are put
forward in this Plan:  one, the vast majority of the organizations and
entities of the system approach the advancement of women increasingly through
mainstreaming gender concerns into the full range of their activities.  They
generally also support programmes specifically targeted to women.  Other
institutions have the advancement and empowerment of women and the achievement
of women's equality as their primary focus.  These entities may also serve as
advocates for mainstreaming by developing conceptual frameworks, methodologies
and prototypes.  An important component of the work of the system in this
field is support to the intergovernmental and treaty bodies that evolve
international norms and standards on women's equality and empowerment of
women.  The Division for the Advancement of Women, for example, supports the
work of CEDAW and of CSW.  Other entities of the system also support work on
standard setting including for example the ILO.  Another important aspect of
the work of the UN is to support the monitoring of implementation by
governments and other actors of legislation adopted by UN intergovernmental
bodies.  DAW and other entities of the UN Secretariat play a major role by
conducting surveys and collecting data and information from governments and
other key actors on implementation.

9.   While the revised system-wide medium-term plan uses as its basis the
Platform for Action, the organizations of the UN system recognize the
importance of an integrated approach to the implementation of the results of
all recent United Nations Conferences and Summits as elements of a continuum
in a process that is now shaping the international community's vision of a
global partnership for development.  Furthermore, implementation of the
outcomes of the five Regional Preparatory Conferences which preceded the
Fourth World Conference on Women will be essential to the implementation of
the Platform for Action. 

10.  The revised system-wide medium-term plan underlines the impact of
collaborative action, particularly in relation to assisting individual
countries translate the outcome of the Conferences and Summits into concrete
national policies and programmes.  By pooling resources and carefully
focussing on specific targets, it is expected that maximum results will be
leveraged for implementing the Platform for Action.  In order to highlight the
interconnectedness of the recent series of global events, the system-wide plan
indicates, to the extent possible, the relationship between each critical area
of concern of the Platform with other conferences, and especially with UNCED,
WCHR, ICPD, and the WSSD. 

11.  It will be recalled that the major share of the actions contained in the
Platform for Action are addressed to governments, and to other actors at the
national level.  In fact, the Platform stresses that implementation is first
and foremost the responsibility of Governments.  However, certain specific
actions are addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and to
the United Nations system as a whole.  With this in mind, the system-wide plan
is presented as a tool for collaborative and coordinated UN action to
facilitate, assist and support national action, and as a means for coordinated
and joint system-wide efforts at the international level.  

12.  Like the Platform for Action, the plan is addressed to all member
states, developed and developing, in all regions.  Nevertheless, because of
the nature of many United Nations activities in the economic, social and
related fields, and especially of its operational activities, the bulk of the
plan is geared towards developing countries, and towards countries in
transition.  This does not, however, diminish the importance of the activities
undertaken by the United Nations system that are inherently global in reach,
such as much of its development of standards and norms, research, analysis,
data collection, and methodological developments.
13.  In following the structure of the Platform for Action and its twelve
critical areas of concern, the Plan takes on board the strategic objectives of
the Platform under each of the twelve critical areas of concern.  Under each
critical area of concern, the Plan then presents, in a very succinct way, the
strategic orientation/focus of the UN system on which collaborative action is
based.  This perspective is intended to highlight the specific contribution
the UN as a system can make to the implementation of the Platform for Action. 
As such, this section clarifies what value added, unique contribution and
comparative advantage the system's participation in the Platform's
implementation will bring to each critical area of concern. 
14.  The Plan then presents the activities to be undertaken by the system to
support the achievement of the intergovernmental objectives.  Not all
activities planned to be undertaken by the various entities of the UN system
are listed, but a selection has been made in a fashion that highlights the
need for system-wide action in order to achieve success.  A major underlying
trend is the need for priority setting, and for synergy through collaboration,
and resource commitments.  As a consequence, most actions or tasks which fall
essentially within the responsibility of one entity only, have not been
included in the Plan.  Exceptions are made for actions which constitute
essential contributions for implementation of the Platform.  Furthermore, each
of the actions lists those entities that will contribute actively, and based
on a specific mandate or resource commitment, to its implementation.  At the
same time, it is understood that all other entities are invited to maintain an
active interest in such activities.  Therefore, a crucial element in the
execution of the plan will be an ongoing information exchange on joint and
collaborative activities, as well as on individual activities in order to
ensure as little overlap and duplication as possible. 

15.  Basically all entities of the UN system will, to varying degrees and in
specific areas of concern, participate in activities to implement the Platform
for Action.  In terms of public information and promotion activities regarding
the Platform in its entirety, the UN DPI will, together with its world-wide
network of information offices, as well as through its JUNIC coordinating role
for information activities on women with the information offices of UN system
agencies, funds and programmes, disseminate information about the Platform and
the UN system's work for the advancement of women.  
16.  The actions that will be undertaken are formulated by and large in terms
of outputs to be produced and of the means to be used.  They are, in general,
organized around three main areas of United Nations system activities, namely:
development of international standards and norms; policy formulation and
advice; and operational programmes.  Within these areas, emphasis is placed on
the actions and means employed in their support.  They include, inter alia,
information collection and data base development; research and analysis;
operational activities (advisory services, technical assistance, training);
and public information and outreach.

17.  Part I of the Plan focusses on the role of the system in support of
implementation of the Platform for Action vis-a-vis the Member States of the
UN and thus addresses those activities of the UN designed to assist Member
States.  Part II of the Plan focusses on the internal realities of UN system
entities that will determine the effectiveness of strategies and the
implementation of specific actions.  It addresses structural and functional
questions that have a bearing on the ability of the various entities to carry
out gender-specific planning and programming.  In discussing institutional and
financial arrangements for implementing the Platform for Action, major
emphasis is given to organizational policy, implementation mechanisms,
institutional strengthening, including training of staff, and resource
allocation and mobilization.

18.  The Plan, as revised, is an indicative plan - that is, in order to
implement it, the participating entities must endeavour to incorporate those
aspects of the Plan that fall within their competence into their own proposed
medium-term plans and work programmes for the years 1996-2001.  Consequently,
as all UN entities are expected to be held accountable for the components of
the Plan that fall within their areas of responsibility, reporting and
monitoring of specific components is expected to be done primarily within the
framework of each agency's legislative setting.  

19.  At the same time, since responsibility for monitoring progress on the
Plan is vested in the Commission on the Status of Women, together with the
Committee for Programme and Coordination (see ECOSOC resolution 1993/16), it
can be expected that the Commission on the Status of Women will implement this
responsibility on a yearly basis in the framework of its long-term work
programme to review implementation of the critical areas of concern of the
Platform for Action, to be elaborated at its 40th session in 1996.  The
Commission might also decide, in the context of its review of the Plan, to
request a mid-term report on implementation before the year 2000, and taking
into consideration that the Economic and Social Council is expected to devote
one coordination segment to the implementation of the Platform for Action
before the year 2000.   Furthermore, an appraisal of the Plan and its
execution in its entirety should be envisaged in the year 2000 by the
Commission on the Status of Women and the Committee for Programme and
Coordination as part of the overall review.  

20.  In carrying out its current and future tasks, all organizations and
entities of the UN system will actively contribute to efforts for integrated
follow up to the global UN Conferences as they pertain to gender and women's
advancement and empowerment.  The system-wide medium-term plan will serve as
an important baseline for coordinated follow up to the major UN Conferences
held in the past years.  Careful consideration has been given to relevant
recommendations of other conferences and to integrated follow up, as well as
to selected other mandates of the entities concerned. 


A.   Women and Poverty

     Critical area of concern: The persistent and increasing burden of
poverty on women

1.   Strategic orientation/focus of UN system action: 

21.  As a result of the Beijing Conference there will be a new emphasis on
women in poverty and on the "feminization of poverty" keeping in mind the
growing recognition that empowerment of women is often key to raising the
standard of living of the population as a whole and contributes to economic

22.  It should be noted that many of the activities called for in section A
of the Platform for Action to address poverty overlap with actions called for
in other sections of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action,
particularly section F on Women and the Economy and section B on Education and
Training of Women. This is because strategies to reduce poverty, as proposed
by the international community, largely call for increased gender equality in
access to employment, and productive resources as well as to basic education,
and the protection and promotion of women's human rights.  

23.  The United Nations system has gained considerable experience in the area
of poverty eradication.  Among the lessons learned are that the promotion of
productive employment constitutes a key strategy for sustainable poverty
alleviation; organization in groups allows poor women to mobilize human,
financial and material resources.  Issues such as access to credit and to
other productive resources are essential for breaking out of poverty; 
adequate social insurance and social security coverage of vulnerable groups -
such as workers in the urban informal and rural sectors - is necessary; the
links between the social, economic, legal and political spheres of action
should be recognized for effective action to eradicate poverty; there should
be complementarity between policy reform and direct intervention; effective
strategic alliances at the local, national and international level are
essential; efforts of preventing and alleviating the effects of natural
disasters are important. Through collaboration in this field the UN system has
had considerable impact particularly in developing countries in the
eradication of poverty. 

24.  Greater emphasis will be given in the ensuing period to research and
action on gender dimensions of poverty. The UN system will continue to explore
strategies which have already proven effective such as the use of savings and
credit systems and access to economic resources generally, community
development programmes, and training and skill formation to assist poor women
to find employment in the formal and non-formal sectors and to participate in
small-scale enterprises. It will undertake further research and data
collection to expand understanding of the optimum policies and strategies
needed for poverty alleviation among women. It will investigate the impact on
women of globalization, macro-economic policies and economic restructuring
with a special emphasis on trade policies and on increasing understanding of
how various bodies, including women's organizations, can intervene in the
process of policy making with positive effect.  Technical cooperation,
advisory services and training will be major components of UN system
activities in addressing this critical area of concern. Food aid will be used
as an incentive for giving women access to community-based employment and
other opportunities and to support women's self-help schemes.

25.  The importance of this critical area of concern was recognized as
essential in agreements reached at other United Nations Conferences and
Summits, and in particular: UNCED Chapter 4 (4.27), Chapter 5 (5.12), and 24
(24.2f); WCHR Section I (8, 10, 18, 21, 30, 33); ICPD Principles 4, 9 and 10;
WSSD Principle (j), Commitments 3, 5, 6, 8.

2.   Actions to be taken 

     a). Information collection and data base development

26.  Collect, analyze, and regularly publish gender-disaggregated data,
information and household surveys on women and poverty, including in land use,
forestry, fisheries, food, nutrition, etc, to strengthen empirical evidence on
women and poverty and enhance policy makers' ability to conduct the analysis
and develop responses; collect and analyze time-use data from developing
countries to measure and value women's contributions to poverty alleviation; 
collect and analyze information on the impact of trade policies on women;
develop indicators to facilitate monitoring trends in poverty and in economic
performance from a gender perspective; improve methodologies on gender-
sensitive data collection in rural areas (ILO, FAO, UNIFEM, UNDP, World Bank,
INSTRAW, UN STAT, Regional Commissions).

27.  Develop, field test and promote the socio-economic gender analysis
programme (FAO)

     b.  Research and analysis

28.  Conduct thematic studies to evaluate poverty alleviation strategies,
especially with reference to women workers in the informal sector; on poverty,
household food security and gender focusing on the feminization of poverty
expressed in food insecurity; on the feminization of poverty; to adapt
successful credit systems in different socio-cultural areas, with particular
emphasis on the needs of poor rural women, and to integrate information on
credit systems into non formal education; undertake case studies on the role
of female entrepreneurs in least developed countries; conduct time-use
analysis on women heads of households' paid and unpaid work; complete region-
specific surveys on women in extreme poverty; document gender sensitive
policies to improve the enabling environment for women's enterprise
development; conduct research on the situation of migrant women and their
integration into society. (UNDP, ILO, IFAD, FAO, UNFPA, Centre for Human
Bank, DAW)

29.  Develop an analytical framework for integrating the gender dimension in
the design of macro-policies and safety nets; document best practices of
policies and programmes for employment creation and poverty reduction amongst
women focusing on women in the rural and informal sectors; conduct policy-
oriented comparative research to evaluate the impact of Export Processing
Zones (EPZs) on women's development prospective (ILO, UNDP, UNV, INSTRAW).

30.  Prepare publications on the gender dimension of economic reforms, with
special reference to women's employment, equality and social bargaining power;
on credit, technologies, training, and marketing to influence and aid policy

     c.  Operational activities (Technical assistance, advisory
         services and training)

31.  Provide advice to governments to strengthen national capacity in
adopting and implementing poverty eradication policies and programmes; 
encourage national debate with the full participation of workers and
employers' organizations, women's groups and governments in the definition of
priorities and strategies for poverty eradication through employment;  assist
in the design and implementation of targetted interventions for improving
women's access to productive resources (land, credit, technology and markets),
skills profile (vocational and managerial) and bargaining power through
organizations including in the rural and urban informal sectors and coverage
by social protective measures, including unconventional schemes for
disadvantaged women workers; implement an inter-regional action programme on
poverty eradication with a focus on women (ILO, UNDP, UNCHS-Habitat, World
Bank, UN DDSMS).

32.  Provide advisory services for a comprehensive review of policies and
programmes aimed at employment promotion and poverty eradication for women,
including indigenous women; provide technical assistance to governments to
strengthen their institutional capacity on gender to formulate policy
strategies and national action plans to integrate rural women in development;
examine macro-economic policies, sectoral policies for rural development,
cottage and small enterprise development, self-employment and formal and
informal sector employment and also with a view to identifying areas for
reform and modalities for their implementation (UNDP, ILO, ECLAC, FAO, UN

33.  Promote women's employment and participation in social funds
accompanying structural adjustment, evaluate the gender dimension of social
funds and compensatory programmes and employment schemes that have been set up
to mitigate adverse costs of structural reforms; establish guidelines for more
effective strategies for employment promotion for women within these schemes; 
integrate gender concerns explicitely in policy reforms in adjustment
operations; protect or increase the share of public expenditures on social
sectors in adjustment operations;  (ILO, ECLAC, World Bank).

34.  Mobilize resources from various partners to support microfinance through
the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest; mobilize resources to prevent
and minimize the effects of natural disasters on women (UNDP, World Bank, DHA)

35.  Support catalytic projects focusing on credit, technology, training and
provision of marketing advice; support networking among UN agencies,
governments and NGOs in the areas of credit and technology (ILO, UNIDO, FAO,

36.  Undertake cost-effective approaches to improving rural women's access to
services and resources on a sustainable basis; illustrate how community
development programmes tailored to meet the specific needs of rural women can
contribute locally to combating poverty and marginalization; (IFAD, FAO, UNDP,
UNICEF, WFP, World Bank, regional development banks, UNESCO, UN DDSMS).

37.  In the context of population and development programmes, support income
generating activities, and integrate family life education with other
activities to create job opportunities for women (FAO, UNFPA, UNDP, UNIFEM).  

38.  Apply benchmarks to monitor the active participation of excluded groups,
in particular young people and women in carrying out projects to strengthen
endogenous capacities within civil society (UNDP, UNESCO, World Bank).

39.  In order to facilitate women's equal access to resources and employment,
make food aid assistance accessible to women for community-based, flexible and
less competitive employment programmes; dedicate a fixed percentage of
development food aid to self-help schemes to build assets in which women have
a long-term stake; provide food aid incentives to address gender constraints
and to ensure women's equal access to education and other skills development;
use food aid as leverage to obtain complementary national and international
technical and financial resources to benefit women in the education, health,
environment and economic sectors (WFP) 

40.  Assist women's organizations to mobilize and enable grassroots women to
intervene in the policy making process on their own behalf; assist women
entrepreneurs, farmers and traders to successfully diversify in the face of
changing circumstances; assist database development and strengthening regional
and national networks working on gender and trade issues;  include in field
projects a component on gender-disaggregated data collection, diffusion, and
use by planners, decision-makers and developers (UNIFEM, ITC, UNDP, INSTRAW,

41.  Implement a regional programme, "Jobs for Africa" focused on employment-
generation for poverty reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa with a special
component on integrating gender perspectives in macro-economic policies,
identification of specific regulatory and legal constraints and of gaps in
gender-disaggregated data on poverty and employment and addressing the issue
of women's employment in the fight against poverty in every policy analysis
component (UNDP, ILO).

42.  Undertake technical training for women entrepreneurs in non-traditional
skills, and train cratfswomen to upgrade their skills; convene gender
sensitization workshops for policy makers and staff of trade organizations
operating at the regional and international levels; (UNDP, UNCHS-Habitat,

43.  Based on policy guidelines on gender, poverty and employment, implement
a modular training package on policies and targeted action programmes for
employment promotion and poverty eradication and provide gender training to
selected actors involved in anti-poverty programmes (UNDP, ILO).

44.  Hold expert meetings on the growing feminization of poverty,  and on
human settlements, poverty and gender (UNDP, Habitat, World Bank, ESCAP).

     d)  Public information and outreach

45.  Develop and disseminate public information material on the gender
dimensions of poverty and public policy (UN DPI, DAW/DPCSD)

46.  Organize an international campaign for promoting women's access to
credit (INSTRAW)

B.   Education and training of women

     Critical area of concern: Inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal
access to education and training 

1.   Strategic orientation/focus of UN system action

47.  The system's strategies in basic education are predicated by the right
of every child to participate in and benefit from education.  The UN system is
in a unique position to advocate for the improvement of access to, and the
quality of girls' and women's education, including science and technology, and
technical and vocational education and training, and to monitor the situation,
in accordance with international norms and standards, including the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the
Convention on Technical and Vocational Education, the Convention against
Discrimination in Education. 

48.  Through its field offices, links and networks with governments, non-
governmental organizations and the educational communities around the world,
the system can play a decisive role in providing technical assistance, in data
collection, awareness building, information dissemination, and advocacy with
the goal of eliminating gender gaps in literacy and education, in
strengthening the role of training in women's participation in the labour
market, and in supporting national capacity building for relevant gender
sensitive education.  The system will facilitate the coordination of education
programmes intended to benefit girls and women and give priority to programmes
which can be sustained within the national context. 

49.  Special emphasis will be placed on the needs of vulnerable groups, girls
and women in LDCs, and to rural women and men in development programmes and

50.  Relationship of follow up activities to other Conferences: 
The importance of education and training for girls and women was recognized as
essential in agreements reached at other United Nations Conferences and
Summits.  Reference is made to: World Summit for Children, Decade on Education
for All, the Jomtien Conference on Education for All, the Delhi Summit on
education for all in the Nine High-Population Countries, the Ouagadougou
Declaration and Framework for Action, UNCED Chapters 5B (5.37, 5.62), 8 (8.10,
8.25), 24 (24.2e, 24.3c), 35 (35.25b), 36 (36.4a, 36.5c,m, 36.13a), ICPD
Chapters IVA (4.3c, 4.4b), XIA (11.5, 11.6, 11.8, 11.9), and WSSD (IVC74l). 

2.   Actions to be taken

     a)  Information collection and data base development Research and
51.  Compile new and existing data, develop research and indicators, design
guidelines on the social and economic benefits to families and societies of
investing in the education of girls, including in non-formal types of
education;  prepare analytic evaluation of successful experiences and design
replicable model approaches for achieving gender equality in education;

     b)  Operational activities (Advisory services, technical assistance,

52.  Disseminate to UN field offices the Guidelines on Basic Education with
Special Attention to Gender Disparities (ICPD) and encourage field offices to
work with governments to keep the education of girls and women high on
national agendas through advocacy, national dialogue, and creative use of
resources to increase demand for basic education; (UNFPA, UNESCO) 

53.  Continue to assist governments to improve the methodologies for
collection, processing, interpretation and utilization of gender statistics in
education and training; (ILO, UNESCO, INSTRAW, UNICEF)

54.  Disseminate policy guidelines, and assist governments in the formulation
of gender sensitive and economically sound educational and training policies,
and in the formulation of national educational policies and programmes that
maximize female enrolment and continuation at school, improve girls' and
women's opportunities for life-long learning, promote the value of girl
children to both their families and societies, mobilize community
participation in support of basic education, particularly the education of
girls;  (UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, World Bank, FAO)

55.  Continue to provide technical assistance to governments for monitoring
progress in the education of girls and women, and in support of capacity
building of governments, workers and employers' organizations to promote the
integration of gender concerns in educational planning, administration and
teacher training, and into national training policies; assist governments to
mobilize and direct resources towards improving educational opportunities for
women and girls (UNESCO, ILO, ECE, ECLAC, UNDP)

56.  Based on policy research and analysis on the link between girls'
education and efforts to eliminate poverty and improve the social welfare and
empowerment of girls and women, provide technical assistance to governments on
approaches to, and contents of, integrated information, communications,
advocacy and social mobilization strategies in support of basic education and
literacy programmes with girls' primary education as a major thrust, and
taking into consideration cross-sectoral constraints to girls' education such
as water supply and sanitation facilities in schools and health and nutrition
of young girls; provide guidelines for incorporation of gender into
agricultural and forestry education (UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNDP, World Bank,

57.  In the framework of country projects, assist governments in the review
and revision of educational programmes and school materials in an effort to
eliminate gender stereotypes and increase gender sensitivity, and to improve
the effectiveness of curricula to encompass emerging concerns and priority
issues resulting from the ICPD and the FWCW;  establish gender sensitivity
training for personnel working in literacy, formal and non-formal education
programmes;  provide advise to educational institutions on how to expand
teacher training to include gender sensitivity; (UNFPA, UNESCO, IFAD, FAO,

58.  Develop procedures, provide policy advice, and monitor efforts to
address and incorporate gender issues in UN system-supported education
activities and projects, including for rural women and men; (FAO, UNFPA,
59.  Establish training programmes in research centres and industrial
enterprises to facilitate the access by women to scientific and technological
education, training, re-training and careers, with an emphasis on the
interface between education and the labour market and support NGOs involved in
these areas;  provide relevant training materials on management training for
women, and introduce training schemes for women's self-employment; (UNESCO,

60.  Disseminate guidelines for the design of schoolfeeding interventions to
implementing partners at the country level, and continue to commit 60% of
country programme resources to target women and girls in countries which show
serious disadvantages for women compared to men as reflected in basic economic
and social indicators in order to solicit affirmative action by governments to
increase girls' school attendance to 50 per cent (WFP, UNESCO)

61.  Provide support to governments in Africa in the context of the
Ouagadougou Declaration and Framework for Action, and in LDCs, including
through training, the establishment of schools and of long-distance education,
and continue collaboration on an inter-agency initiative on "Basic Education
for All African Children", a key part of the UN Secretary-General's Initiative
on Africa; (UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank) 

62.  Target girls and women in the Nine High-Population countries (Delhi
Declaration) through distance education schemes, the provision of support for
scholarship and stipend programmes, the convening of panels (UNFPA, UNESCO,
UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank)

63.  In the framework of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education, provide
technical assistance to countries to conduct national campaigns for the
promotion of women's human rights; develop teaching materials aiming at
raising awareness of human rights of women and promote gender equality (Centre
for Human Rights, UNESCO). 

     c)  Public information and outreach

64.  Prepare and widely disseminate information, training and extension
materials to promote women's choices and opportunities in employment,
including in non-traditional occupations, in self-employment, management, in
agriculture, etc; (ILO, FAO, UNCHS-Habitat)

65.  Promote, through operational projects at the country level, information
dissemination, guidelines and workshops, women's entry into technical trades
and non-traditional occupations, skill diversification, skills for self
employment, entrepreneurship, on employment of women in extension services,
and for participation in small-scale enterprises, strengthening the
integration of gender issues into training policies, and into vocational
education and training (ILO, FAO, UNESCO)

66.  Organize workshops and encounters to promote education and information
through media, government programmes, street theatre and other forms of
communication, with a particular focus on girls; (UNESCO)

67.  Provide information and strengthen activities of universities and other
educational and research institutions in support of gender studies and
research, and the dissemination of information and research on gender issues;

68.  Support and strengthen cooperation with non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) including professional educational associations, as partners in
educational programmes through funding, training, information, and networking

C.   Women and health

     Critical area concern:  Inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal
access to health care and related services

1.   Strategic orientation/focus of UN system action 

69.  The UN system's strategy in this critical area of concern is determined
by its unique ability to promote a comprehensive approach to improving the
health of girls and women, preventing ill-health, and making health systems
more responsive to the needs of girls and women.  It will promote
international standards, norms and goals as basis for gender-specific national
health policies, taking into consideration extensive research and data on
gender-specific health concerns.  Major areas for policy, programme and
project intervention will include areas such as nutrition; the reduction of
maternal mortality and morbidity;  comprehensive reproductive health,
including fertility regulation and sexual health, maternal health and safe
motherhood, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS; violence against women
and girls as a public health issue; female genital mutilation; occupational
health; and increasing the use of gender-based indicators and of national
legislation to promote women's health.  Awareness of the extent to which a
human rights approach can facilitate progress in striving towards the goal of
"Health for All", particularly as it applies to women, will be advocated. 

70.  The system has developed extensive ties with health care providers and
health policy makers, NGOs, women's groups and academic and research
institutions, all of whom are essential partners in raising awareness about,
and ensuring a more gender-sensitive approach to, national health policies,
programmes, research and development on health.  It will encourage
partnerships between governments, non-governmental organizations and the
private sector to maximize both coverage and quality of services.

71.  Through the provision of technical assistance, training and policy
advice, the collection and dissemination of data and support and conduct of
research, the system can contribute substantially to capacity-building of all
partners, including in particular the users of health services, in the design
and delivery of preventive and curative health services, including
comprehensive reproductive health programmes through the primary health care
system.  Particular emphasis will be placed on improving the relationships
between women and health care providers, needs and services.  The system's
support for reproductive health will be based on a public health, pragmatic
and participatory approach with the goal of providing all individuals and
couples with access to information and services to prevent unwanted
pregnancies that are too early, too closely spaced, or too late.  The
availability, accessibility and affordability of health services and related
information for all women and girls, and their ability to use them, will be a
primary focus of attention.  

72.  The importance of this critical area of concern was recognized in other
recent international agreements, including the following: UNCED Chapter 5B, 6,
24; and ICPD Chapter IVA, VII, VIII.

2.   Actions to be taken

     a)  Information collection and data base development

73.  Review existing information and resources, set up new and expand
existing databases and information collections, document systematically
women's health issues in all regions, and monitor trends in fertility,
contraceptive use and gender differences in mortality, including demographic
effects of HIV/AIDS, environmental and occupational health hazards, the health
consequences of violence against women, and promote the collection and
dissemination of gender-disaggregated data at all levels (Pop.Div, UN
Stat.Div, WHO, UNICEF).

     b)  Research and analysis

74.  Undertake research that is specific to women in a number of health
areas, for example in reproductive health including contraceptive research and
development, substance abuse, occupational health, environmental health,
adolescent health, tuberculosis, tropical diseases, including on any gender-
specific determinants, disease patterns and consequences, with a view to
making recommendations on health policy and programme improvements designed to
ensure optimal health for men and women (WHO)   

75.  Undertake research and analysis and prepare studies designed to identify
gender-related issues in equality of access to health care, and equality in
utilization of health care services, and on the impact of issues such as
access to food and occupational environment on women's health, and propose
methodologies and develop strategies for strengthening services for women and
for improving their access, and for the control and prevention of health
hazards specific to women, in collaboration with NGOs and academic
institutions (WHO, ILO, UNICEF)  
76.  Undertake a review of the safety of all family planning methods to
improve the quality of family planning services and access to a variety of
methods of family planning, and evaluate different models of prevention and
management of reproductive tract infections and cancers; undertake, in
collaboration with NGOs, action research on the cost effectiveness of family
planning programmes in selected countries (WHO, UNFPA, World Bank) 

77.  Develop guidelines and procedures for the involvement of women, women's
organizations and other groups working for women's needs in the planning,
implementation and monitoring of UN supported reproductive health services and
programmes, and on the operationalization of women's rights in the health and
health-related sectors (UNFPA, UNIFEM, WHO, Centre for Human Rights, UNICEF)

78.  Develop practical and appropriate methodologies in the area of women's
reproductive health in support of governments' efforts to implement
reproductive health programmes reflecting the broader approach to reproductive
health, the empowerment of women, equitable gender relations, and the
involvement of women and young people in the identification of needs and the
development and evaluation of policies and programmes (WHO, UNICEF)

79.  Revise and update a WHO publication Women's Health and Human Rights: the
Promotion and Protection of Women's Health through International Human Rights
Law to reflect, inter alia, the outcomes of the Cairo, Copenhagen and Beijing
Conferences, as well as the work of the Global Commission on Women's Health;
develop a Healthy Women's Counselling Guide, targeted at policy-makers,
nongovernmental organizations and others; finalize and widely disseminate a
manual for health workers aiming to increase health workers' effectiveness in
meeting the needs of female clients (WHO) 

80.  Produce the World Population Monitoring Reports for 1996 and 1998
dealing, respectively, with women's reproductive rights and reproductive
health, and with health and mortality, with special emphasis on the linkages
between health and development, and with gender and age (PopDiv DESIPA with
collaboration of UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF and UNESCO) 

81.  Prepare system-wide study on women and substance abuse in the framework
of the project Promoting Womens Action in Substance Abuse Preventive
Education, in collaboration with NGOs; (UNESCO, UNDCP, WHO, UNICRI) 

     c)  Operational activities (Advisory Services, technical assistance,

82.  Produce and distribute to all UN field offices a user-friendly listing
of all the health and health-related provisions contained in the Platform for
Action, and provide policy and technical guidance to facilitate the
understanding and operationalization of these provisions, particularly at the
country level, and to ensure that all UN system-supported health programmes
adequately incorporate a gender perspective (WHO) 
83.  Widely distribute to field offices, government officials and NGO
representatives the UNFPA, WHO and UNICEF Joint Statement on Female Genital
Mutilation in supporting governments and communities to promote the health and
development of women and children; the UNFPA, WHO and UNICEF joint statement
on the reproductive health of adolescents; the UNFPA, WHO and UNICEF joint
statement of common goals for the health and development of women and
children; and the Guidelines on Reproductive Health  (UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF,

84.  Provide policy advise to governments, in particular health providers, on
a holistic approach to women's health over their life span, and especially in
the development of gender-sensitive national health plans and policies, and
related resource mobilization, including on such issues as reproductive and
sexual health including family planning, safe motherhood, STD and HIV/AIDS
prevention, the health of girls, nutrition, gender-based violence as a health

85.  Provide technical guidance to governments in the area of fertility
regulation, by producing, on a regular basis, technical guidelines on specific
methods of family planning, as well as on programmatic issues such as
community distribution of contraceptives (WHO, UNFPA) 

86.  Organize meetings, provide technical assistance and networking services
to NGOs and community groups to build stronger dialogue and partnerships
between health providers and users in the design and delivery of comprehensive
health services, and especially their capacity to expand users' access to a
full range of health care services;  build up a database of women's NGOs
active in women's health, including reproductive health, in the various
regions, develop and expand partnerships with academic and research
institutions, and strengthen networking and information exchange (WHO, UNFPA,

87.  Prepare training and counselling materials, develop methods and
guidelines and organise training activities for NGOs, women's groups and
health providers, with an emphasis on prevention, including in areas such as
domestic violence, substance abuse, drug addiction, STD and HIV/AIDS, hygiene
and sanitation, reproductive health issues, traditional practices affecting
the health of women and children; and provide special programmes for girls and
boys regarding responsible sexual behavior  (WHO, UNESCO, UNDP, UNV, UNICRI,
Centre for Human Rights, UN DDSMS, UNICEF, UNFPA) 

88.  Mainstream gender in the development and implementation of programmes to
improve access to and affordability of products used in HIV/AIDS prevention
programmes, therapeutic interventions and appropriate platforms for
communications technologies through local development of manufacturing
capability for these products (UNIDO, World Bank, WHO) 

89.  Provide technical support to the Joint United Nations Programme on

90.  Provide technical support to efforts, internationally, regionally, and
at the country level, to collect, analyze and disseminate sex-disaggregated
data on critical indicators in women's health (WHO)   

91.  Develop and implement gender and health awareness training for UN staff
and implementing partners at the country level on health issues covered by the
Beijing Platform for Action and the ICPD in order to support identification of
priority concerns and strategies for national action (WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF)

     d)  Public information and outreach

92.  Produce and disseminate information on international norms, standards
and policies, and on national legislation, relating to women's and girls'
health issues, including reproductive and sexual health, sexual exploitation,
and support the production and dissemination of reproductive health
information, including responsible sexual behaviour, and the provision of such
services to both girls and boys; disseminate the plan of action for the
elimination of traditional practices affecting the health of women and girls
to field offices, Governments, and NGOs; disseminate training marterials on
nutrition problems (UNFPA, UNIFEM, UNICEF, WHO, DAW, Centre for Human Rights,

93.  Compile and disseminate information to NGOs and women's groups, and
support networking, on reproductive health services, including family
planning, and on the needs of adolescent girls for information and services,
in keeping with the relevant international conventions, and with the goal of
providing all individuals and couples with access to information and services
to prevent pregnancies that are too early, too closely spaced, too late or too
prevalent (WHO, UNICEF)

94.  Integrate HIV/AIDS and STD concerns into all programmes, and launch a
special effort to develop gender specific and sensitive prevention messages
and STD services and case management that are tailored to meet women's needs,
develop training of health workers and other strategies to eliminate
discrimination against women infected and affected by HIV/AIDS (WHO, UNFPA,

95.  Provide information and implement media campaigns to decrease women's
vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, including through the establishment of a media
prize, the establishment of a network for the collection and dissemination of
information on effective initiatives or activities worldwide which have
contributed to reducing women's vulnerability; provide funding for the study
of behavioural approaches and medical research, specifically research into
women-controlled methods to prevent HIV and other STDs (WHO, UN DPI, UNICEF)

D.   Violence against Women

     Critical area of concern: Violence against women

1.   Strategic orientation/focus for UN system action

96.  The UN system is in a central position for the collection, analysis and
dissemination of data and information on all types of violence against women
based on the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against
Women and other international standards and norms.  It will draw from reports
generated under procedures for monitoring the implementation of international
human rights instruments, the work of Special Rapporteurs, United Nations
field operations, communications procedures, and other sources.  

97.  Given experience gained with publications such as The World's Women and
the Human Development Report, and extensive policy research on violence
against women, the UN system is uniquely placed to identify gaps in the
availability of information, data, methodologies and indicators, and to take
action to remedy this.  Through its field operations, including in
peacekeeping, refugee assistance and humanitarian interventions, the UN is
required to deal with situations of violence against women who are directly
under the UN's protection.  Global statistical surveys and methodologies for
data collection and the development of indicators, especially for use at the
national level, are crucial for comprehensive and uniform data collection from
which global trends can be identified and which in turn are the basis for
intergovernmental policy recommendations.  As violence against women is
recognized as a human rights issue and as an obstacle to development, it is
necessary to reflect the impact of violence against women throughout all the
UN system's operations and programmes.

98.  The UN's outreach and close link to grassroots organizations, to NGOs
and women's groups active in this field, have proven vital in the recognition,
and the importance of addressing, violence against women, with a special
emphasis on prevention and on addressing the root causes of violence against
women.  Support for, and cooperation with, such organizations, is an essential
component of the UN's work to promote and effect the changes needed to
eradicate violence against women. 

99.  The elimination of violence against women is recognized as essential in
agreements reached at other United Nations Conferences.  Reference to violence
is made in: UNCED (24 (24.2.h)), the Vienna Declaration and Platform for
Action (Section I (18), Section II(B.3), 38), the World Summit for Social
Development (Chapter IV.F.79(a,b)), the Cairo Programme of Action (Chapter
IV.A (4.4e, 4.9), V.A (5.5)), and the Ninth UN Congress on the Prevention of
Crime and the Treatment of Offenders. 

2.   Actions to be taken: 

     a)  Information collection and data base development

100. Based on the definition of violence against women contained in the
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, develop indicators
on violence against women and its health problems, and support governments and
other entities in data collection and dissemination at national level; 
exchange available data and establish a centralized database on violence
against women for use by all entities of UN system, governments, NGOs, etc,
and regularly include such data in statistical publications, as well as
publish them separately in hard copy and on CD-ROM;  establish and strengthen
links with NGOs active in this field; (DAW, UN Stat.Div, WHO, UNIFEM, UNICEF,
Centre for Human Rights, CPCJD, UNCHS-Habitat)

     b)  Research and analysis

101. Prepare policy research and analysis, through case studies, surveys and
data analysis, including at the regional level, of incidence and trends in
violence against women and its health consequences, with special emphasis on
vulnerable groups, document successful methods of its prevention and
elimination, and propose options for incorporating successful strategies at
the legislative, policy and operational levels; (DAW, UNESCO, WHO, CPCJD,
Centre for Human Rights, UNCHS-Habitat, ECLAC)

102. Drawing on existing information and additional research, and based on
the understanding of the causes and consequences of violence against women on
the development process, develop a set of guidelines, and possibly manuals,
for Resident Coordinators, project managers, and other development
practitioners to enable them to incorporate anti-violence measures into all
aspects of development planning and the project cycle; (DAW, UNIFEM, CPCJD,
ESCAP, Centre for Human Rights, UNCHS-Habitat, UNICEF)

103. Prepare a comprehensive report on existing international and regional
norms and standards and on ongoing normative and policy efforts at the
international level regarding trafficking in women and violence resulting
therefrom, and develop options for comprehensive international responses to
the issue, including strengthened preventive action against trafficking in
women and girls and child prostitution;  (DAW, UNESCO, CPCJD, Centre for Human

     c)  Operational activities (Advisory services, technical assistance,

104. Provide training and advisory services to government officials and
policy makers, including judicial and law enforcement personnel, medical and
social workers, for the implementation of the Declaration of Violence against
Women, including in the area of legal and policy reform, rehabilitation and
redress to victims of violence, and on improving the capacity of the health
sector in the prevention and management of the health consequences of violence
against women;  disseminate core training curriculum on violence against women
to practitioners in the criminal justice system; disseminate model legislation
on domestic violence (UNICRI, WHO, Centre for Human Rights, UNIFEM, CPCJB,

105. Provide funding and technical assistance, including to NGOs, women's and
community groups, in support of information, education and communication
activities to create awareness about the extent of, and legal remedies for,
violence against women;  provide information about national and international
norms, standards and remedies against violence against women;  provide
training to health providers, community and social workers to recognize the
symptoms of violence;  provide counseling and appropriate health services for
women and girls suffering from violence; provide training to address further
traumatization and stigmatization resulting from the consequences of female
genital mutilation on women's physical and sexual health; (UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO,
UNHCR, CPCJD, Centre for Human Rights) 

106. Support and strengthen NGOs, women's and community groups in their
efforts to prevent and eliminate violence against women through the
establishment of networks, funding for counselling and shelters, and outreach;
(UNIFEM, UNICEF, UNFPA, Centre for Human Rights, UNCHS-Habitat)

     d)  Public information and outreach

107. Assemble and disseminate comprehensive and accessible information on
international norms and standards on violence against women to governments,
NGOs, and other entities, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women including General Recommendation 19, the
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the UNHCR Guidelines
on the Protection of Refugee Women and on the Prevention and Response to
Sexual Violence against Refugees;  provide training to all UN field, mission
and other personnel, especially in peace-keeping operations, in humanitarian,
emergency assistance and in war affected projects, so that they are fully
familiar with these norms;  provide training to refugees on their rights and
responsibilities; (UNHCR, DAW, Centre for Human Rights, UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF,

108. Conduct training and workshops in, and disseminate information to, NGOs
and women's groups on legal literacy to strengthen their ability in advocating
for accountability in the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of
the Child, and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women;
(UNICEF, UNIFEM, DAW, Centre for Human Rights, WHO)

109. Strengthen cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on Violence against
Women and other international mechanisms aimed at the elimination of violence
against women through information exchange, participation in workshops,
seminars, and similar activities (UNICEF, Centre for Human Rights, UNIFEM,

E.   Women and armed conflict

     Critical area of concern:  The effects of armed or other kinds of
conflict on women, including those living under foreign occupation

1.   Strategic orientation/focus of UN system action

110. The UN system has a comparative advantage in two major aspects of this
critical area of concern, namely in strengthening women's contribution to a
culture of peace, peace building, and conflict resolution, through research,
data collection and information dissemination, and through the provision of
services to women in situations of armed conflict, including advocacy in
protecting and promoting the interests and rights of women during armed

111. Paramount to the system's strategy in this critical area of concern is
the recognition that women are active partners and participants in conflict
prevention and resolution - rather than victims of conflict - and in peace-
building processes.  All efforts will be made to increase this role of women
in the framework of standards of humanitarian law and international human
rights norms.  The system's cooperation and links with NGOs and community
organizations are essential in the operationalization of this approach.  Its
strong field operations capability for delivering refugee and emergency
assistance and provision of food aid to people affected by crisis situations,
is complemented by advocacy, institution building efforts and rehabilitation. 
The system is called upon to respond in conflict and emergency situations
where women and adolescent girls are at greater risk of sexual exploitation,
abuse and violence, and of discrimination in the delivery of assistance and
services, including health services.   The UN agencies with a longer term
commitment to the development of countries in crisis situations are well
placed to play a major role in the continuum from emergency relief to
development by supporting disaster prevention, preparedness and mitigation and
post-disaster rehabilitation activities. 

112. The importance of this critical area of concern is recognized also in
other international agreements, including in ICPD Chapter IV A, IXC, XD; and
WSSD Chapter IVE76.

2.   Actions to be taken:

     a)  Research and analysis

113. Collect and analyse information on women's visions, proposals and
solutions for conflict prevention and peace building in order to strengthen
women's role in this area;  document main differences between men's and
women's attitudes to peace, security, and conflict resolution and propose
action strategies for policy makers to create a more pluralistic, democratic
and peaceful environment; conduct research, and publizise findings, on women's
role in transforming the existing culture of violence into a culture of peace;
conduct research on women's habitat in conflict zones (UNESCO, DAW, INSTRAW,

114. Identify, through surveys, research and data collection, the specific
needs, vulnerabilities, capacities and resources of women in crisis
situations, and formulate methodologies and prepare guidelines, for use by
relief and other personnel, that reflect the impact of conflict and crisis on

115. Develop more accurate targeting and distribution methodologies, develop
guidelines for monitoring relief efforts to ensure that supplies reach
families and particularly female-headed households and to ensure that women's
equal entitlements to services, including health services, as well as their
gender-specific needs are protected during armed conflict; (DHA, UNHCR, WFP,

     b)  Operational activities(Advisory services, technical assistance,

116. Develop guidelines and training, and provide women in crisis situations
with legal assistance, literacy training, conflict resolution skills training,
income-generating skills, counselling, health care and other services;  ensure
that response to sexual and gender-based violence is provided adequately to
limit further traumatization of victims of violence; and promote gender
sensitive approaches in the reintegration of returnees, with particular
attention to strengthening the capacity of female headed households to rebuild

117. Provide training to police, military personnel, refugee/displaced person
camp managers, health workers, teachers, and other implementing partners in
gender awareness and sensitivity in accordance with standards of international
humanitarian law and international human rights norms;  and train relief
workers, humanitarian personnel and UN peacekeeping personnel involved in
facilitating emergency situations in gender issues so that the capacities and
contributions of women in crisis situations can be fully realized and their
human rights protected; (DHA, UNHCR, WFP, UNIFEM, UNITAR, UNESCO, DPKO, CPCJD,

118. Harmonize operational strategies of the UN system, through coordination
and consultation, in assessing and addressing physical and mental trauma
suffered by women during conflict situations, including through health
services, counselling, and rehabilitation; (DHA, UNHCR, WFP, UNIFEM, UNICEF,

119. Disseminate information to raise awareness regarding women's rights in
conflict situations;  disseminate and monitor the application of UNHCR
guidelines for the protection of refugee and displaced women and increase
services for the security and protection needs of women at the field level,
especially with regard to their vulnerability to sexual assault; (DHA, UNHCR,

120. Develop networks with research institutions and other entities working
on gender issues, identify women's organizations and experts at country level,
and develop modalities for training and capacity building for women in
conflict and crisis situations; field test health kits for women and include
them as part of health strategy in emergency (UNICEF, UNESCO, UNHCR, WHO)

121. Establish procedures to screen delivery capacity and include specific
contractual arrangements with its partners to increase the participation of
women in the formulation and delivery of assistance in relief operations,
including in food distribution, and in the provision of education, health care
and family planning services (DHA, UNHCR, WFP, UNDP, UNIFEM, UNFPA, WHO,

122. Put in place a programme for the protection and special needs of
unaccompanied children, child prisoners and combatants with special focus on
needs on girls in these situation;  (UNICEF, UNHCR, DPKO)

     c)  Public information and outreach

123. In co-operation with networks of women's NGOs and other community-based
organizations, organize workshops to increase women's role and participation
in conflict prevention and resolution, provide training to promote non violent
forms of conflict resolution among refugees;  emphasize new forms of
participation available to women in the context of ongoing processes of
democratization and the development of a culture of peace; disseminate
information on women's vision for conflict prevention and peace building;
provide information to the mass media on the crucial role of women in family
survival strategies, in rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts as well as
raise awareness of the support they need in facing serious disadvantages



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Date last updated: 06 December 1999 by DESA/DAW
Copyright 1999 United Nations