Aide-Memoire

                          EXPERT GROUP MEETING

             "Political Decision-Making and Conflict Resolution:
                   The Impact of Gender Difference"
                  (Santo Domingo, 7-11 October 1996)




Introduction

      The Division for the Advancement of Women/Department for Policy
Coordination and Sustainable Development (DAW/DPCSD) and the International
Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO) in cooperation with the United Nations
International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women
(INSTRAW) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) are preparing an Expert Group Meeting on "Political
Decision-Making and Conflict Resolution: The Impact of Gender Difference",
which will take place at INSTRAW, Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, from
7 to 11 October 1996.

      Gender difference and the participation of women in decision-making and
conflict resolution constitutes one of the major areas of activities of the
Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), mandated by the 1995 Beijing
Platform for Action, in particular its provisions under Chapter IV G and 
E.  The meeting will contribute toward the further discussion of the topic
in the context of the follow up to the Fourth World Conference on Women in
Beijing.  It will also provide substantive input to the report on the subject
which will be submitted to the forty-first session of the Commission on the
Status of Women in 1997.


I.    Background

      The Platform for Action notes that "Despite the widespread movement
towards democratization in most countries, women are largely under represented
at most levels of government, especially in ministerial and other executive
bodies, and have made little progress in attaining political power in
legislative bodies or in achieving the target endorsed by the Economic and
Social Council of having 30% women in positions at the decision-making levels
by 1995".

      The data indicate that in the areas of political decision-making related
to peace, security and conflict resolution, at both national and international
levels, the situation is even worse than in some other fields, and amounts to
almost complete absence of women.  This exclusion has consequences for women
and for society in general.  From the human rights perspective, it contradicts
international standards of equality and prevents women from enjoying their
rights to be full citizens of their countries and full participants in world
governance.  It also deprives the world community of women's distinct
perspective and contribution to the resolution of key global problems, and as
the Platform for Action states  "............Without the active participation
of women and the incorporation of women's perspective at all levels of
decision-making, the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be 
achieved" (para. 182).


      In order to redress this situation the Platform calls for action to
"...........promote equal participation of women and equal opportunities for
women to participate in all forums and peace activities at all levels,
particularly at the decision-making level......" (para. 142, a), to
"Strengthen the role of women and ensure equal representation of women at all
decision-making levels in national and international institutions which may
make or influence policy with regard to matters related to peace-keeping,
preventive diplomacy and related activities and in all stages of peace
mediation and negotiations ........" (para. 144, c) and to "......Integrate a
gender perspective in the resolution of armed or other conflicts....." (Para.
142, b).

      The issue is a part of the broader problem of equal participation of
women in decision-making process which has been analyzed by the DAW since 1989
and discussed by the CSW in 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1995, as well as by
expert group meetings in 1989, 1991, 1994 and 1995.  The EGM will constitute
another stage of discussion on this topic focused on the qualitative aspects
of the women's participation highlighted by the Platform for Action with the
objective of contributing to the prompt implementation of its provisions.


II.   Objectives

      Drawing from previous expert group meetings and reports, and on the
basis of the existing literature and the state of theoretical knowledge in the
relevant academic disciplines and inter disciplinary fields the meeting will
examine gender differences in men's and women's participation in
decision-making, in particular in the areas of  peace, security  and conflict
resolution in terms of setting political agendas and priorities; influencing
the content of decisions, and outcome of negotiations; as well as 
managerial/leadership style and working climate.  

      In this context and in view of women's gross under-representation at the
decision-making levels in all these areas the meeting will also examine case-
studies of examples where women as individuals or in formal or informal
organizations and associations, have brought different priorities, experience
and perspectives to influence and affect the political process, security
issues, and peace.

      The meeting will also consider the policy implications of those gender
differences and elaborate a set of recommendations aimed at:  

-     Increasing the participation of women in decision-making in those areas,
at least to achieve a 'critical mass', inter alia through identifying
the issues that mobilize and motivate women's actions;

-     Achieving more balanced gender participation at all levels of peace
related activities and conflict resolution, including the decision-making;

-     Bringing the results of the meeting into mainstream discussions within
the UN system, research community and for practical application by policy
makers, academic institutions and NGOs.

III.  Background documentation and profile of participants

      The basic documentation for the meeting will comprise background studies
prepared by the organisers and papers prepared by experts.  The organisers'
studies will reflect on the current state of knowledge and practice on the
role of gender in peace and conflict decision-making, and will address the
political and philosophical problem of essentialism.  The experts' papers will
identify and analyze what impact gender difference has on the choice of
political issues and priorities, on political style and process, on attitudes
to violence and on conflict negotiation and resolution.  In this context,
expert papers will examine the concepts and experience of 'critical mass' and
'critical actions' to assess if and how women's participation makes a
difference.  These problems will be examined in general and comparative terms
and through case studies.

      Experts will be chosen on the basis of their professional standing from
among academics, researchers, practitioners and other experts in the relevant
areas of peace/security/conflict resolution.  In selecting the participants,
the criteria of geographical and  gender balance will be respected.

IV.   Organization

      The meeting will be organized by the Division for the Advancement of
Women of the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development
and the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo.  It will be attended by
invited consultants and experts, as well as observers from the United Nations
system and non-governmental organizations, research and academic institutions,
and interested Governments.


V.    Administrative arrangements

      The meeting will be conducted in English.  The costs of the
participation of experts invited by the Secretariat will be covered by the
United Nations (travel cost in economy class and daily subsistence allowance
in Santo Domingo in accordance with the United Nations standards).  Details of
these arrangements will be provided later.




      All correspondence should be addressed to:

      Ms. Angela E.V. King
      Director
      Division for the Advancement of Women
      Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development
      United Nations , Room DC2-1220
      New York, N.Y. 10017, USA
      Tel: (212) 963-5086
      Fax: (212) 963-3463      
      	

 


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