United Nations

E/CN.6/1997/2


Commission on the Status of Women

 Distr. GENERAL
7 February 1997
ORIGINAL: ENGLISH


COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
Forty-first session
10-21 March 1997
Item 3 (d) of the provisional
agenda


          FOLLOW-UP TO THE FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN:
            REVIEW OF MAINSTREAMING IN THE ORGANIZATIONS OF
                     THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM

         Progress achieved in the follow-up to the Fourth
                    World Conference on Women
                   and in mainstreaming a gender
             perspective within the United Nations system 

                  Report of the Secretary-General


                             CONTENTS

                                                   
                                                Paragraphs  Page

INTRODUCTION..................................... 1 - 7        3

 I. PROGRESS IN THE FOLLOW-UP TO
    THE FOURTH WORLD 
    CONFERENCE ON WOMEN AND IN
    MAINSTREAMING A GENDER
    PERSPECTIVE WITHIN THE UNITED
    NATIONS SYSTEM ...............................   8 - 61     4

        A. General Assembly and
           Economic and Social Council ...........   8 - 154 

           1. Results of the fifty-first session of the
              General Assembly ..................     8 - 94

           2. Substantive session of 1997 of
              the Economic and Social Council: 
              coordination segment .........         10 - 155

        B. Activities in support of
           mainstreaming a gender
           perspective into the work
           of the United Nations system........... 16 - 24      6

        C. ACC Inter-Agency
           Committee on Women and Gender
           Equality...............................25 - 30       8

        D. Joint work plan of the
           Division for the Advancement
           of Women and the Centre for
           Human Rights of the
           United Nations Secretariat...........  31 - 47       9

           1. Assessment of the implementation
              of the current work plan ....       32 - 39       9

           2. Joint work plan for 1997........... 40 - 47      11

        E. Follow-up by Governments: 
           national strategies or
           action plans........................    48 - 59     13

        F. Reported follow-up by non-governmental 
           organizations.......................... 60 - 61     15

II.   REPORTS PREPARED IN
      ACCORDANCE WITH SPECIFIC MANDATES........    62 - 94     15

        A. Situation of Palestinian
           women and assistance
           provided by the
           organizations of the United
           Nations system......................... 62 -88     15

           1.Situation of Palestinian women........65 -72      16

           2.United Nations assistance to Palestinian
             women..............................  73 - 86      18

           3.Conclusions ......................      72 - 88   22

        B. Release of women and children taken hostage in 
           armed conflicts and
           imprisoned ....................           89 - 94   22



                           INTRODUCTION


1.      The Economic and Social Council, in its resolution 1996/6
on follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women, established
the work programme of the Commission on the Status of
Women, in particular the items to be included on the agenda of
the Commission.  As regards documentation for the sessions of
the Commission, the Council decided, inter alia, that under
item 3 (a) of the Commission's agenda a report of the Secretary-
General on the measures taken and progress achieved in
mainstreaming a gender perspective within the United
Nations system should be prepared on an annual basis.

2.      Reporting requirements contained in General Assembly
resolutions 50/203 and 51/69 request the Secretary-General to
report annually to the Assembly, through the Commission on the
Status of Women and the Economic and Social Council, on ways to
enhance the capacity of the Organization and of the United
Nations system to support the ongoing follow-up to the
Conference in the most integrated and effective way, including
human and financial requirements.

3.      The present report has been prepared in response to those
two mandates.  Given the need for integrated reporting, mandates
contained in Commission resolution 39/5 on the preparation of a
joint work plan between the Division for the Advancement of Women
and the Centre for Human Rights of the United Nations Secretariat
are reflected in section I of the present report.  Section II of
the report fulfils the reporting requirements of Economic and
Social Council resolution 1996/5 on Palestinian women and
Commission resolution 40/1 on the release of women and children
taken hostage in armed conflicts and imprisoned.

4.      The Secretary-General, in his report on the
implementation  of the outcome of the Conference (A/51/322),
noted the understanding of the Secretariat that the report
requested in General Assembly resolution 50/203 would be provided
on a rolling basis.  While briefly summarizing results from
previous intergovernmental meetings, new material would be added
to each report.  Therefore, the three separate reports to be
submitted in the course of a year to the three-tiered
intergovernmental mechanism under the broader heading of
follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and
mainstreaming of a gender
perspective would be self-
standing.  The complete picture
of relevant intergovernmental,
national-level and United Nations
system activities taking place
over a year, however, can be
obtained only by consulting all
three reports.

5.      A particular effort was to be made in those reports to
provide information that was most pertinent to the respective
intergovernmental body in order to facilitate intergovernmental
decision-making.  Thus, the reports to the Commission on the
Status of Women would emphasize efforts undertaken by the
secretariat of the Commission in support of mainstreaming a
gender perspective and other follow-up activities.  They would
also cover inter-agency activities and provide an overview of
national action and action by civil society.  Bearing in mind the
need for integrated reporting, information requested under
long-standing mandates or particular resolutions would be
incorporated into those reports.

6.      The emphasis of the reports to the Economic and Social
Council would be on facilitating the coordination function of the
Council.  Thus, they would focus on activities in the area of the
advancement of women and gender mainstreaming by other bodies
reporting to the Council, as well as at the inter-agency level,
with a view to supporting the Council's responsibilities in
system-wide coordination in mainstreaming of a gender
perspective, a task requiring the Council's ongoing and long-term
attention.  The Commission secretariat is assessing opportunities
for including an annual thematic focus as well into the reports
to the Council in order to increase their overall usefulness for
intergovernmental decision- making.

7.      It is intended that the reports to the Assembly should
contain information from all intergovernmental bodies and
United Nations system entities not reporting to the Council,
including information from specialized agencies and
international financial institutions.  An analysis of
activities undertaken at the national level by
non-governmental organizations and civil society would also be
provided.  The reports would contain a section on means of
implementation at all levels, including human and resource
needs.  To the extent possible and practical, reports required
under specific resolutions would also be included.


           I.  PROGRESS IN THE
               FOLLOW-UP TO THE FOURTH WORLD
               CONFERENCE
               ON WOMEN AND IN
               MAINSTREAMING A GENDER
               PERSPECTIVE WITHIN
               THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM

                 A.  General Assembly and Economic
                     and Social Council

                  1.  Results of the fifty-first
                      session of the General Assembly

8.      The report of the Secretary-General on the implementation
of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women (A/51/322)
contained a section on mainstreaming a gender perspective.  The
report outlined the implications of gender factors for research,
analysis, programme and policy development, and decision-making,
and proposed a series of steps to mainstream a gender
perspective.  Noting that considerable experience already
existed in certain areas of United Nations system activities,
the report concluded that further steps were necessary to
strengthen the conceptual basis for the system-wide mainstreaming
of a gender perspective and its practical implications and
requirements.

9.      The report was in general favourably received, and the
Secretary-General was invited to focus on the practical
implications of mainstreaming a gender perspective.  Accordingly,
in its resolution 51/69 of 12 December 1996, the General
Assembly made a number of references to mainstreaming by
different actors, including by States and the United Nations
system, and in different areas, including the human rights of
women.  In particular, the Assembly welcomed the
contribution of the report of the Secretary-General to
translating the concept of mainstreaming into
practical action, including the ongoing work to develop
methodologies to facilitate the application of a gender
perspective into all policies and programmes throughout the
United Nations system.


                2.  Substantive session of 1997 of the Economic
                    and Social Council:  coordination segment

10.     In General Assembly resolution 50/203, the Economic
and Social Council was invited to devote one high-level segment,
one coordination segment and one operational activities segment
to the advancement of women and the implementation of the Beijing
Declaration and Platform for Action.  Accordingly, in its
decision 1996/310, the Council decided to consider, at its
coordination segment in 1997, the cross-sectoral theme
"Mainstreaming of gender perspectives into all policies
and programmes in the United Nations system".

11.     In anticipation of that decision, the first steps for
preparing the report of the Secretary-General on the issue
were taken at the first session of the Inter-Agency Committee on
Women and Gender Equality (New York, 22 and 23 October 1996).  A
background paper on mainstreaming and coordination, prepared by
the Division for the Advancement of Women of the United Nations
Secretariat, in collaboration with the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund
(UNFPA), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the
United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), served as the
basis for discussion.  The Committee agreed on the need to
further clarify the system-wide implications for mainstreaming.  

12.     The preliminary outline of the report of the Secretary-
General for the coordination segment of the Council's
substantive session of 1997 covers:

    (a)     Clarification of the concept of mainstreaming a
            gender perspective:  qualitative change
            from Nairobi to Beijing;

    (b)     Concise overview of intergovernmental actions taken
            since the Fourth World Conference
            on Women to mainstream a system-
            wide gender perspective:  towards
            a comprehensive approach to
            mainstreaming a gender
            perspective at the intergovernmental level;

    (c)     Institutional requirements for mainstreaming a gender
            perspective, including policies, institutional
            cultures, incentive systems, operating procedures and
            gender training:

           (i)  At the intra-institutional
                level:  administrative
                instructions, programme budgets,
                gender training etc.;

          (ii)  At the ad hoc inter-institutional level: 
                parameters for lessons learned;

         (iii)  In the integrated follow-up to all United Nations
                conferences;

          (iv)  At the formal inter-agency level, in particular
                through the ACC Inter-Agency Committee on Women
                and Gender Equality;

    (e)     Resource allocation for mainstreaming:  the need for
            a common base for the quantification of financial
            allocations;

    (f)     Assessment and proposals for further action.

13.     The Joint Consultative Group on Policy (JCGP) Women in
Development (WID) Subgroup is preparing three discussion papers
for the second session of the Inter-Agency Committee on Women
and Gender Equality, covering three aspects of mainstreaming: 
indicators, parameters for evaluating best practices, and
policy enforcement and accountability.  All entities of
the United Nations system were invited to contribute to the
preparation of those papers; together with a background paper
on mainstreaming and coordination and additional information on
specific questions that is being gathered in accordance with the
preliminary outline given above, those papers will form the
analytical core of the above-mentioned report.

14.     A preliminary draft of the report will be reviewed at the
second session of the Committee, in March 1997, and guidance is
expected for the finalization of the report.

15.     Any comments that the Commission as a whole or
individual members in their statements may make on the issue
of mainstreaming would provide valuable input into the
preparations of the report for the Economic and Social Council.


          B.  Activities in support of mainstreaming a gender
              perspective into the work of
              the United Nations system

16.     Since the fortieth session of the Commission on the
Status of Women, steps taken in support of
implementation of the Platform for Action included a number of
initiatives undertaken by the Division for the Advancement of
Women of the United Nations Secretariat in support of
mainstreaming a gender perspective.

17.     Following the endorsement by the Economic and Social
Council,in its resolution 1996/34 of 25 July 1996, of the
system-wide medium-term plan for the advancement of women,
1996-2001, the Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination
and Sustainable Development and the Director of the Division for
the Advancement of Women of the United Nations Secretariat
informed United Nations entities of the endorsement, in
particular the comments made on the plan by the Commission on the
Status of Women in its resolution 40/10 and
the annex thereto, and the conclusions and recommendations
of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC).  It will
be recalled that the Commission had commented, inter alia, that
the United Nations Secretariat as a whole should undertake
activities in the critical areas of concern, and it identified a
number of Secretariat entities not included in the activities
reflected in the plan. 1/   CPC agreed to ensure, in its
examination of the plan for the period 1998-2001, that the
mainstreaming of a gender perspective was reflected in its
individual programmes.
 
18.     The above-mentioned communication by the 
Department/Division to the United Nations entities noted that the
comments of the Commission required careful consideration, and 
would need to be clearly accounted for in the comprehensive 
mid-term review of  the plan in 1998.  It was noted  that the
Secretary-General had  been requested to ensure the 
mainstreaming of a system-wide gender perspective in all United
Nations activities, including in decision-making as part of the
accountability of senior managers.  The need for ongoing support
and commitment to that task was emphasized. 

19.     In order to support efforts by a number of entities to
mainstream a gender perspective, 
the Division for the Advancement of Women initiated a series of
meetings with the Office of Legal Affairs, the Department of
Political Affairs and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations
of the United Nations Secretariat.  During those meetings, the
concept and practical implications of mainstreaming were
discussed.  Possible areas were identified within the work
programmes of those departments that would seem to lend
themselves most readily to mainstreaming efforts, including in
their proposed programme budget for 1998-1999. 
 
20.     The Department of Political Affairs subsequently
identified a number of steps that could be taken to ensure
participation in the implementation of the Platform for Action,
and to promote mainstreaming within the Department's areas of
responsibilities, including the organization, in collaboration
with the Division for the Advancement of Women, of workshops and
seminars for its staff members.  Existing collaboration between
the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Electoral
Assistance Division of the Department of Political Affairs on
compilation of data disaggregated by sex and gender impact
assessments is being strengthened. 
 
21.     At the invitation of the Department of Peacekeeping
Operations, senior staff of that Department were briefed by the
Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women on the
requirements for mainstreaming.  Although difficulties were
acknowledged in achieving certain goals, in particular the
numerical goals of gender balance in peacekeeping missions, the
importance of pursuing mainstreaming in the programmatic and
policy orientations of the Department and its operations was
emphasized.  In a preliminary manner, ideas for conducting an
analysis of one or several existing peacekeeping operations from
a gender perspective were discussed with a view to developing a
framework for mainstreaming in the operations of that Department.

 
22.     There has been a noticeable increase in the number of
requests to provide input and comments from a gender perspective
to reports from different departments of the United Nations
Secretariat, including the Department for Policy Coordination and
Sustainable Development.  Notably, the Division contributed to
the Department's work in the area of poverty eradication, and is
supporting preparations for the fifth session of the Commission
on Sustainable Development and the special session of the General
Assembly to review and appraise the implementation of Agenda 21
in order to integrate a gender perspective into those processes. 
 
23.     Similarly, in preparation for the United Nations
Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), a paper on gender
aspects of Habitat II was prepared by the Division, which was
made available at the Conference; the paper addressed the
incorporation of the results of the Fourth World Conference on
Women into the Habitat Agenda.  The Division remains actively
involved in the follow-up to Habitat II, with a special focus on
mainstreaming.  A paper was prepared for the World Food Summit,
focusing on the gender aspects of land ownership. 
 
24.     Among activities jointly executed by several entities,
cooperation continued among the Division for the Advancement of
Women, UNIFEM and the International Research and Training
Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) in the
development of WomenWatch, a United Nations Internet site on the
advancement and empowerment of women.  The site will facilitate
global information exchange for monitoring the implementation of
the Platform for Action through the use of computer networking
technology.  It is expected to be launched in March 1997, and
will be accessible via the World Wide Web, a gopher site and
electronic mail.  Although partial funding from extrabudgetary
resources has been allocated, additional resources will be needed
to implement the project.  Phase one of the project will ink the
Web pages of the Division for the Advancement of Women, UNIFEM
and INSTRAW.  It will contain archival information on the Fourth
World Conference on Women and other recent global United Nations
conferences, providing a single on-line source for key
information and data on global women's issues, and will be linked
with other relevant sites on the Internet.  In a later phase, it
is hoped that non-governmental organizations and other United
Nations entities will become active partners in the expansion of
WomenWatch.  A training component is included in the project.  In
that regard, a seminar on information technology was held in
January 1997 in Peru.  Training on the use of electronic
networking technology, which was provided by the Division at that
seminar on a pilot basis, will be developed for use elsewhere. 
 
 
                 C.  ACC Inter-Agency Committee on 
Women and Gender Equality 
 
25.     Following the decision of ACC, at its first regular
session 
of 1996 (Nairobi, 28 and 29 April 
1996), to establish the ACC 
Inter-Agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality, the first
session of the Committee was held on 22 and 23 October 1996 at
United Nations Headquarters, New York.  It was chaired by the
Senior Adviser to the Secretary- General on Gender Issues on
behalf of the United Nations.  The Division for the Advancement
of Women serves as the secretariat of the Committee. 
 
26.     The Committee's terms of reference, as adopted by ACC,
entrust the Committee with cooperation and coordination of United
nations system-wide efforts to implement the Platform for Action
adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women, as well as
gender-related recommendations emanating from recent United
Nations conferences within the purview of the system.  The
Committee is also entrusted with supporting the mainstreaming of
a gender perspective in the work of the United Nations system. 
 
27.     The Committee is expected to draft an advocacy or mission
statement for the United Nations system on the advancement and
empowerment of women and gender mainstreaming, for adoption by
ACC.  The statement will identify performance indicators,
mechanisms for accountability and best practices, and will
develop practical tools and approaches for mainstreaming and for
monitoring and implementing the Platform for Action and the
system-wide medium-term plan for the advancement of women, 1996-
2001. 
 
28.     Following its initial discussion, the Committee noted
that mainstreaming was a responsibility of the United Nations
system as a whole and of all staff in all policy and programme
areas and in decision- making, and that responsibility for
mainstreaming started at the highest level.  The Committee agreed
that it would follow carefully and would monitor regularly
progress made throughout the United Nations system in
incorporating a gender perspective in institutional structures,
and in policies and programming.  It also emphasized the need for
the inter-agency task forces set up by ACC for integrated
Conference follow-up to fully reflect a gender perspective in
their work, including at the country level.  It called on ACC to
underline the importance of integrating a gender perspective in
the work of the task forces and in subsequent activities on
integrated follow- up to global conferences.  Mainstreaming will
be an ongoing concern of the Committee. 
 
29.     The Committee put in place a short-term and a long-term
programme of work.  Among the short-term areas of work are the
following:  interaction with ACC inter-agency task forces on
conference follow-up; indicators, evaluation of best practices,
and accountability; and gender balance in the United Nations
system.  Among the long-term areas of work are:  indicators;
interaction with ACC machinery; and issue-specific concerns.  For
example, the Committee decided to review the issues of women in
the peace process, women in conflict resolution and violence
against women in March 1997.  At subsequent sessions, it will
discuss gender training and the implementation of the system-wide
medium-term plan for the advancement of women, 1996-2001, among
other issues. 
 
30.     The second session of the Inter-Agency Committee on Women
and Gender Equality will take place on 5 and 6 March 1997 in New
York.  An oral report on the results of that session will be
before the Commission. 
 
 
         D.  Joint work plan of the Division for the Advancement 
             of Women and the Centre for 
             Human Rights of the United  Nations  
             Secretariat 
 
31.     In its resolution 39/5, the Commission on the Status of
Women requested the Secretary-General to prepare annually a joint
work plan for the Centre for Human Rights and the Division for
the Advancement of Women, which would help to facilitate the
mainstreaming of women's human rights, and to inform the
Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission on Human
Rights of the plan at their annual sessions. 
 
 
                       1.  Assessment of the 
                           implementation of the current 
                           work plan  
 
32.     In implementing the joint work plan (see E/CN.6/1996/13),
the systematic exchange of information between the Division and
the Centre, including in meetings between the Assistant
Secretary-General for Human Rights and the Director of the
Division for the Advancement of Women, continued and was expanded
in the course of 1996. 
 
33.     The Division for the Advancement of Women and the Centre
for Human Rights cooperated closely during the first session of
the open-ended working group on the elaboration of a draft
optional protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women, held during the fortieth
session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March 1996. 
The Centre also provided comments and information for the report
of the Secretary- General on a comparative summary of existing
communications and inquiry procedures and practices under
international human rights instruments and under the Charter of
the United Nations (E/CN.6/1997/4).  The Division provided
written information on the work undertaken at the first session
of the open-ended working group of the Commission to the
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its
elaboration of a proposal for an optional protocol to the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 
The Division was represented at the fifteenth session of the
Committee during discussion of the draft protocol to the
Covenant. 
 
34.     In order to strengthen the cooperation and links between
the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
and other human rights treaty bodies, the exchange of information
between the Division and the Centre regarding the work of the
human rights treaty bodies serviced by them occurred on a regular
basis, and included the provision of information to the experts
on the work of other treaty bodies.  Regular exchange of
calendars of events took place to facilitate that coordination. 
The Division participated in the seventh meeting of persons
chairing human rights treaty bodies in September 1996.  It also
participated in a meeting convened by the American Association
for the Advancement of Science in October 1996, which prepared a
background paper concerning the revision of reporting guidelines
to ensure greater gender sensitivity in reporting under the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 
That paper was submitted to the Committee on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights at its fifteenth session in November.  The
Division provided support to the Chairperson and members of the
Committee in attending the joint meeting with the Committee on
the Rights of the Child at Cairo in November 1996, and it joined
with UNICEF and the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights in sponsoring a dialogue between
the chairpersons of the two Committees on 12 December 1996 at
United Nations Headquarters. 
 
35.     The Centre made significant inputs into the preparation
of a report for the Committee on ways and means, which examines
the working methods of various treaty bodies with a view to
enhancing the work of the Committee (CEDAW/C/1997/5). 
 
36.     The Division provided input into the work of the Special
Rapporteur on violence against women and the Special Rapporteur
on the sale of children.  The Special Rapporteur on violence
against women contributed a paper to an expert group meeting on
violence against women migrant workers, which was held at Manila
from 27 to 31 May 1996. 
 
37.     The Division for the Advancement of Women has endeavoured
to support the integration of a gender perspective into the work
of the United Nations system with regard to the human rights
dimension of the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS).  That work will continue,
especially through the Division's participation in the
development of human rights guidelines and by encouraging
contributions by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
to the work of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women. 
 
38.     The Division, together with the Office of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNFPA, convened
the first meeting ever of members of all human rights treaty
bodies to discuss an issue of common concern.  The round table,
comprising members of treaty bodies and representatives of United
Nations entities and non- governmental organizations and held at
Glen Cove, New York, from 9 to 11 December 1996, allowed for an
exchange of views on human rights approaches to women's health in
the work of all human rights treaty bodies, with a focus on
reproductive and sexual rights. 
 
39.     The Division and the Centre were both represented at a
meeting on women's health and reproductive rights (Toronto, 26-
29 September 1996), convened by the Commonwealth Medical
Association as follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women
and the International Conference on Population and Development. 
The meeting provided an opportunity to highlight the work of the
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
under article 12 of the Convention. 
 
 
                   2.  Joint work plan for 1997 
 
40.     During 1997, the cooperation between the Division and the
Centre on the work of and cooperation among the treaty bodies,
the elaboration of optional protocols and special rapporteurs
will be further consolidated.  The Office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights/Centre for Human Rights and
the Division for the Advancement of Women will continue to
systematically exchange information about the work of each human
rights mechanism for which they provide substantive servicing. 
Briefing notes will be exchanged, in particular on the outcome of
the sessions of treaty bodies.  There will also be a number of
targeted activities that are expected to support the
mainstreaming of a gender perspective in all human rights
activities implemented by the Centre for Human Rights.  Most
notably, a joint project on the integration of a gender
perspective into technical cooperation practices and procedures
will become operational in 1997. 
 
41.     The Division will prepare a background paper on the
relevance of gender in the enjoyment of rights covered by the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as an input
to the elaboration of a new general comment on article 3 by the
Human Rights Committee for its forthcoming session, in March
1997.  It will also provide input to the work on a general
comment on the right to health by the Committee on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights, and will continue to contribute to
the Committee's revision of its reporting guidelines so that they
reflect a gender perspective.  The Division will provide a
selected number of briefs on the status of women in countries
whose reports are considered by treaty bodies. 
 
42.     The Division will provide information relevant to the
elaboration of concluding observations/comments of the other
treaty bodies, ensuring that the concluding comments of CEDAW are
immediately available to the other treaty bodies, and also that
relevant concluding comments are available to thematic and
country-specific rapporteurs. 
 
43.     The Division will provide the Centre with targeted inputs
to the work of the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination
and Protection of Minorities, which will include the
establishment of direct contact with the experts entrusted with
the preparation of studies on systematic rape and sexual slavery
during periods of armed conflict, and on human rights and income
distribution.  The Division will also provide information on the
status of women to country-specific rapporteurs.  In addition,
the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights and the Division
for the Advancement of Women will coordinate their activities and
exchange information in connection with the following mandates
for which they are respectively responsible:  (a) the Special
Representative of the Secretary-General on armed conflict and
children, and (b) reports on the release of women and children
taken hostage in armed conflicts and imprisoned. 
 
44.     Cooperation between the Division and the Centre will be
expanded and strengthened as they develop and maintain their
respective Internet sites.  The Centre's Web site already
incorporates a number of the reports of the Committee on the
Elimination of Discrimination against Women.  A link will be
established from the Centre's site to the Division's CEDAW site,
and vice versa, to provide for fast electronic cross-referencing.

 
45.     The Division will contribute to the implementation of the
recommendations of the above- mentioned round table of human
rights treaty bodies on human rights approaches to women's
health, which was held at Glen Cove in December 1996.  One of the
priority actions emerging from the round table is the preparation
of a resource book on human rights to be used for training staff
members of bodies of the United Nations in the field of human
rights.  It will be prepared jointly by the Division, the Centre
for Human Rights and UNFPA. 
 
46.     Based on preparatory work that commenced in late 1996, a
global project was elaborated and subsequently endorsed by the
Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation
in the Field of Human Rights, in November 1996.  The project,
implementation of which is expected to commence in the first
quarter of 1997, aims to facilitate the integration of a gender
perspective into all aspects of technical cooperation practices
and procedures, from the needs assessment and project formulation
phases to monitoring and evaluation.  The project will be
implemented and funded by the Centre for Human Rights, with the
Division contributing gender expertise and advice in the various
stages of the project's implementation. 
 
47.     In the meantime, the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights/Centre for Human Rights will
continue to seek the assistance and expertise of the Division for
the Advancement of Women for specific technical cooperation
initiatives, including, as appropriate, needs assessment and
project formulation missions.  The Division will also continue to
participate in training courses on reporting under human rights
treaties organized by the Centre, as well as other ad hoc
activities, such as national workshops on the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  The
Centre and the Division will also work together to mobilize
extrabudgetary resources to permit the organization of similar
initiatives, including training courses that seek to sensitize
women and men to the rights to which women are entitled under
international law. 
 
 
                E.  Follow-up by 
                    Governments:  national strategies 
                    or action plans 
 
48.     In the Platform for Action, Governments have made a
commitment with regard to institutional arrangements for the
implementation of the Platform at the national level.  The
importance of effective national machinery is stressed in
paragraph 296.  Paragraph 297 calls for the preparation of
implementation strategies or plans of action by the end of 1996. 
Particular emphasis is placed on their comprehensiveness, the
provision of time-bound targets and benchmarks for monitoring,
and resource allocation or reallocation for implementation.  The
role of non-governmental organizations in such processes is noted
in paragraph 298.  The Platform also suggests improving the role
of the United Nations resident coordinator system to take full
account of the Platform for Action (para. 341).  
 
49.     The General Assembly, in its resolution 51/69 of 12
December 1996, welcomed the progress made by Governments in
developing comprehensive implementation strategies or plans of
action, including time-bound targets and benchmarks for
monitoring.  It also urged all Governments that have not yet done
so to undertake efforts in that regard in order to fully
implement the Platform.  
 
 50.     In a note verbale of 13 May 1996, the Secretary-General
invited all Member States to provide the Secretariat with copies
of their national implementation strategies or plans of action as
soon as they are completed.  As recommended in Economic and
Social Council resolution 1996/6, those national action plans
will serve as a basis for the preparation of a synthesized report
on implementation plans of Governments and the United Nations
system, which will be submitted to the Commission on the Status
of Women at its forty- second session, in 1998. 
  
51.     As of 15 January 1997, 25 member States have complied
with this request.  Several others have informed the Commission
secretariat that such information will be forthcoming.  Although
a limited number of national plans of action have been made
available to the secretariat, the discussion at the fifty-first
session of the General Assembly emphasized that a significant
number of Member States have undertaken steps in implementing the
Platform, and that many Governments are either in the process of
preparing their national strategies or action plans or have
already done so.   
 
52.     Based on a preliminary analysis of the national plans 
received to date, the following general trends can be identified.

In addition to completed plans, a few of the replies received in
response to the note verbale either provided a draft of a
national plan or preview of a plan under preparation, or
indicated that the preparatory process would be concluded within
a certain period of time.  The status at the national level of a
few plans received was unclear (i.e., whether the plan had been
adopted or endorsed by the Government, whether it had been
brought to the attention of Parliament, whether it had been
promulgated by decree, or a similar action).  In such instances,
it was not fully apparent how the process of implementation of
the plan would proceed.  In some cases, a plan had been prepared
by the national machinery for the advancement of women without
any indication of its subsequent adoption by the Government.  In
some cases, the implementation of the Platform is subsumed under
existing action plans for the advancement of women, or will be
incorporated into the next medium-term development plan. 
Information was also provided on activities already implemented. 

 
53.     Many of the plans indicated that the Platform for Action
had been given wide publicity in the country, had been translated
or summarized into the national language, or had been
disseminated by the Government or by non-governmental
organizations.   
 
54.     In a number of countries, a special body or coordinating
committee has been set up to guide follow-up.  Several plans
indicated that there would be a strengthening of institutional
mechanisms, in particular of national machinery.  Many of the
plans have been prepared in a cooperative effort between the
national machinery, Government ministries and other governmental
entities at the national/local level, non-governmental
organizations and actors of civil society.  Many of the plans
state that, although the national machinery will assume a
coordinating and monitoring role, individual ministries are
responsible for incorporating relevant follow-up to the Platform
into their sectoral programmes.  Some state specifically that
mainstreaming of a gender perspective into all policies and
programmes is to receive priority attention.   
 
55.     Few plans cover all critical areas of concern; instead,
most focus on a selected number of areas or issues, sometimes
choosing priorities among those.  Areas most often covered are
poverty, participation in decision-making, education, economy,
health, violence and human rights.  Few plans provide specific
benchmarks or targets, or time-frames for implementation.  Most
commonly, benchmarks are given in the area of education and
health, such as the reduction of female illiteracy by a certain
percentage by a certain date.  Several plans indicate that
resources for follow-up to the Platform will be increased, or
that such resources will be sought in future national budgets.  
 
56.     Most plans provide for a combination of legislative
actions, including the  reform of discriminatory legislation,
with policy and programme measures, as well as targeted projects
in specific sectors for particular groups of women or in
particular geographic areas.  Plans include the ratification of
the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women or the withdrawal of reservations to the
Convention.    
  
57.     The importance of integrated follow-up to all United
Nations conferences was mentioned.  It was also stated that a
particular emphasis would be placed on follow-up to the Fourth
World Conference on Women in bilateral and multilateral
development cooperation.  As most of the plans received had been
prepared before the Subregional Conference of Senior Governmental
Experts held at Bucharest developed a model national action plan,
the influence of that meeting remains somewhat limited to date.
2/ 
 
58.     Accordingly, the Commission secretariat reiterates its
invitation to all Governments to provide it with their completed
national action plans.  Similarly, the secretariat would welcome
receiving brief progress reports on the status of plans, their
implementation or any other additional information that might be
available in conjunction with the national implementation
process.  Any completed national plans should be made available
to the secretariat no later than 30 May 1997 in order to serve as
input for the preparation of the synthesized report for 1998.   
 
59.     The Commission secretariat also wishes to recall that the
Directory of National Machinery for the Advancement of Women is
being updated.  To that end, a questionnaire has been sent to all
Governments inviting them to return the completed questionnaires
by 15 October 1996; the deadline was subsequently extended to 2
December 1996.  To date, the secretariat has received more than
70 replies.  In order to ensure that comprehensive information
will be included in the Directory, all Governments are urged to
return the completed questionnaires no later than 21 March 1997. 

 
 
                     F.  Reported follow-up by 
non-governmental organizations 
 
60.     Since the most recent report of the Secretary-General on
the implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference
on Women (A/51/322), a number of events under the auspices of
non- governmental organizations have occurred.  For example, in
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, an
international conference on violence, abuse and women's
citizenship was convened at Brighton by a consortium of non-
governmental organizations from 10 to 15 November 1996.  A
national conference for young girls was organized at UNICEF
headquarters, New York, by the United States National Young Girls
Coalition on 3 and 4 January 1997.  An international conference
on eliminating poverty in old age was organized from 12 to 14
December 1996 in Malta by the International Institute on Ageing. 
An international conference on the Asia Pacific Economic Council
was held on 15 and 16 November at Manila as a parallel forum
during the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. 
 
61.     The Inter-Parliamentary Union will hold an international
symposium at New Delhi from 14 to 18 February 1997 on the theme
"Towards partnership between men and women in politics".  In
cooperation with Women's World Banking and the Grameen Bank, the
World Bank, Citibank and UNDP will hold a microcredit summit at
Washington, D.C., from 2 to 4 February 1997, with a major focus
on credit for women.  The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, in
cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization, will hold an international seminar on
promoting the empowerment of women through adult learning at
Bangkok from 24 to 28 February 1997. 
 
 
                     II.  REPORTS PREPARED IN 
                          ACCORDANCE WITH SPECIFIC MANDATES 
 
            A.  Situation of Palestinian women and assistance 
                provided 
                by the organizations of the United Nations system
 
 
62.     The Economic and Social Council, in its resolution 1996/5
on Palestinian women, requested the Secretary-General to continue
to review the situation and to assist Palestinian women by all 
available means, and to submit to the Commission, at its forty- 
first session, a report on the progress made in the 
implementation of the resolution.  

63.     The Commission on the Status of Women, in accordance with
paragraph 260 of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the
Advancement of Women, 3/ has continued to monitor the situation
of Palestinian women and children.  The Fourth World Conference
on Women added a new dimension to that reporting when it endorsed
the importance of integrating a gender perspective in all
policies and programmes of the agencies and bodies of the United
Nations system.  With regard to the situation of and assistance
to Palestinian women, the mainstreaming of a gender perspective
would ensure that all actors involved in the monitoring of
respect for human rights or in providing assistance to the
Palestinian people will take a gender dimension into account when
fulfilling their mandates or designing and implementing their
programmes.    
 
64.     Recent social and economic developments that occurred in
1996 and that had a particular gender impact are described below.

Emphasis is placed on selected new developments and trends that
have not been reported previously (see E/CN.6/1995/8 and
E/CN.6/1996/8). 
 
 
 
                   1.  Situation of Palestinian 
women 
 
65.     When reviewing the economic and social situation of
Palestinian women and respect for human rights throughout 1996,
the conditions of Palestinian women living in the Palestinian
self- rule areas and in the occupied territories remain of
particular concern.  Life in the self-rule areas has continued to
be affected by measures undertaken by the Israeli authorities,
including various military and economic measures, that have had
an impact on social and economic development.  The West Bank and
Gaza Strip were entirely sealed on several occasions in the wake
of suicide bomb attacks in Israel, thus preventing workers with
valid permits from entering Israel and East Jerusalem.  The
economy remains dominated by the detrimental impact of the
occupation, in particular the labour market imbalance (see
UNCTAD/ECDC/SEV/12).  As a result of the loss of employment in
Israel and a decline in the trade flow caused by frequent and
long-term closures, the real gross national product in the West
Bank and Gaza Strip declined 22.7 per cent between 1992 and 1996.

The unemployment rate increased and income levels dropped.  By
mid-1996, the average unemployment rate was 29.2 per cent in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip, nearly 60 per cent higher than at the
end of 1995.  The unemployment rate has been magnified by the
effect of high population growth rates and the large number of
young people entering the labour market every year.  Since 1995,
real wages have fallen about 20 per cent. 4/  The drop in
household income was partly compensated by remittances from
Palestinians abroad and by drawing on resources, such as savings.

 
 
66.     The economic situation in the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip has exacerbated the hardship of many families, in
particular households with low incomes or those headed by
females.  It is accepted that economic distortions tend to affect
the poorest groups in society most.  Owing to their economic and
legal status, women are affected more severely than men. 5/  It
was estimated that 40 to 42 per cent of the Arab residents of
Jerusalem, for example, live below the poverty line (see
A/51/99/Add.1).  Women and children, especially female- headed
households, are particularly exposed to poverty.   
 
 
67.     The economic pressure caused by the inability of the male
income-earner to provide adequately for the household and the
high unemployment rates among men have caused women and children
to start looking for work to maintain family living levels. 
There is a reported increase of 8.5 per cent in the number of
women in the paid labour force in 1996, whereas the male labour
force grew by only 5.1 per cent over the same period.  A survey
also found a participation rate as high as 11.5 per cent for
children, mainly boys, in the labour force, a rate that is even
higher than that of women.  The highest concentration of female
labour is in the agriculture sector, in which 35 per cent of
women work for low wages and with unfavourable working
conditions.  However, there is also a high concentration of
female workers (32.5 per cent of all workers) in relatively
well-paid professional, technical and clerical positions.  It is
possible that women's increased participation in the formal
labour market will become a new trend in Palestinian economic and
social development that therefore needs to be taken into account.
6/  
 
68.     During the period under review, fundamental freedoms,
including the freedom of movement, education, religion and
expression, have been affected by various measures linked to
occupation.  Forms of collective punishment, such as the
demolition or sealing of houses and rooms, imposition of curfews
and the sealing off or closing of areas have been frequently
reported, mostly in retaliation for attacks by suicide bombers
(see A/51/99 and Add.1, 2 and 3).  All population groups are
affected by such measures, but some target women in particular. 
For example, since many Palestinian women work in the
agricultural sector they are particularly affected by the land
seizure, loss of water utilization and other economic and social
repercussions of Israeli settlement (see A/51/135). 
 
69.     Another punishment that affects women was the
confiscation of the identity cards of wives of Jerusalem
residents who live abroad, and who under Israeli law lose their
identity card if they leave the city for more than seven years
(see A/51/99/Add.1, para. 215).  Civilians have been exposed to
harassment and physical ill-treatment.  Palestinians, including
women in labour, have been reported to be denied access to
medical treatment in specialized hospitals (see A/51/99/Add.1,
para. 167).  It has also been noted that Palestinian women have
been humiliated and harassed during raids on their homes.  There
have been continuing problems regarding Palestinian women
detainees in Israeli prisons who have not yet been released in
accordance with Israeli- Palestinian agreements (see
A/51/99/Add.1, paras. 322 and 327). 
 
70.     The field of education continues to represent a major
challenge to the Palestinian Authority and the donor community. 
With population growth for 1996 expected to be close to 6 per
cent, the continuing provision of quality education for all boys
and girls is of concern.  It has been projected that 858
elementary schools and the same number of secondary schools would
need to be built by the year 2000 to cater for the school-age
population (see UNCTAD/ECDC/SEV/12, table IV-4).  Frequent
closures of the self-rule areas in 1996 have again prevented
students and teachers from reaching their schools.  As a result
of those and similar measures during the Intifadah, which have
been aggravated by conditions of overcrowding and lack of
teaching materials, the  educational achievements of Palestinians
are jeopardized.  Women and girls are being particularly
affected, which has contributed to the fact that the illiteracy
rate of Palestinian women remains higher than that of Palestinian
men.  In February 1996, the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics
published the findings of a demographic survey conducted among
14,854 households in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (not
including East Jerusalem).  According to the findings, 16 per
cent of all residents aged over 15 were illiterate, with female
illiteracy standing at 24 per cent (see A/51/99/Add.1, para.
224). 
 
71.     According to UNICEF, health conditions and provision of
health services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip remain poor.  The
impact on the reproductive health of Palestinian women is of
particular concern.  Total fertility rates remain very high.  For
example, the average estimated total fertility rate for the
period 1990-1995 in the Gaza Strip was 8.8 children per woman. 7/

Low age at marriage, short birth intervals and lack of education
are factors responsible for the poor health of many Palestinian
women, in particular refugee women, of whom many are anaemic.  
  
72.     It should be noted that Palestinian women maintain a high
level of participation in non-governmental organizations and
women's committees.  Progress can be reported on the
establishment of national machinery for the advancement of women
in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  The Palestinian Authority has
set up an intergovernmental committee under the Gender
Development and Planning Directorate of the Ministry of Planning
and International Cooperation.  A non-governmental organizations
committee has been formed under the General Union of Palestinian
Women. 
 
 
                 2.  United Nations assistance to Palestinian
women 
 
73.     In Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/5, the
Council urged organizations of the United Nations system, among
others, to provide financial and technical assistance to
Palestinian women.  During 1995- 1996, a number of projects for
Palestinian women were initiated and carried out by the United
Nations system and bilateral donors, in close cooperation with
the Palestinian Authority and non-governmental organizations.  In
accordance with General Assembly resolution 50/58 H, entitled
"Assistance to the Palestinian people", a coordinated, integrated
and targeted programme was elaborated and is being implemented
under the leadership of the United Nations Special Coordinator in
the Occupied Territories (see A/51/171).  Activities for women
have focused mainly on health and family planning, relief and
social services, education and training, collection of statistics
disaggregated by sex, and support for the national machinery for
the advancement of women, including training on legal literacy
and the enhancement of women's role in public life.     
 
74.     The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) continued to emphasize the
improvement of socio-economic conditions within the Palestine
refugee community in its operations.  Some 3.31 million
Palestinian refugees were registered with UNRWA in Jordan,
Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip as of 30 June 1996, of whom women of reproductive age and
children below the age of five comprised two thirds.  UNRWA
placed special emphasis on maternal and child-health care as an
integral part of its regular programme.  UNRWA increased its
family-planning services in the Gaza Strip, offering services in
120 UNRWA health centres in 1996, up from 49 in 1992.  A
tripartite mission of UNRWA, UNFPA and the Palestinian Authority
developed in October 1995 a strategic plan and operational
framework for a women's health programme, covering reproductive
health and family planning (see A/51/13).  
 
75.     Education and vocational training remain a field of major
activities for UNRWA.  Some 49.5 per cent of the total school
population and half of the 12,000 teaching staff are female,
making UNRWA schools one of the first in the Middle East to
achieve gender equality.  Eight vocational and technical training
centres offer a wide range of courses at the post-preparatory and
post-secondary level, and have enrolled 1,273 women in the total
of 4,624 training places.  Vocational training for women has been
provided in typical female jobs, such as clothing production,
hairdressing and beauty care.  UNRWA seeks to raise the
proportion of women trainees by expanding courses more likely to
attract women, such as nursing, computer science and business and
office practice.  Out of 943 scholarships granted to refugee
pupils, 437 or 46.3 per cent were awarded to women. 
 
76.     The UNRWA programme for women in development seeks to
involve Palestinian refugee women in remunerative economic
activity.  Some 11,000 women received training in the production
of goods or management of services, together with basic business
skills.  Some 1,089 women supporting 8,200 dependants
participated in a solidarity-group lending programme that
provided credit ranging from US$ 330 to US$ 8,000 for refugee
women in microenterprises or working as street vendors.  In
UNRWA's small-scale enterprise programme, offering loans for
capital investment to new and expanding enterprises and working
capital to established enterprises ranging in value from US$
1,000 to US$ 75,000, 10 per cent of the credits were given to
women.  Through its special hardship programme, UNRWA provided
material and financial aid to refugee families who met the UNRWA
criteria of being without a male adult medically fit to earn an
income and without other financial support sufficient to cover
basic needs, which represented 5.4 per cent of the registered
refugee population.  
 
77.     The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (FAO) gives assistance to Palestinian women within the
framework of a UNDP-assisted project on capacity-building in
agricultural policy analysis and planning, which was formulated
in 1995.  Gender issues are mainstreamed into the major
components of the projects:  policy advice, including the
preparation of a gender-sensitive agricultural development
strategy; training in policy analysis and planning; institutional
support; and agricultural statistics and establishing a database.

Of particular significance is the establishment of the Rural
Development/ Advancement of Women Unit within the Department of
Agricultural Policies and Planning of the Ministry of
Agriculture.  
 
78.     The programme of technical assistance to the Palestinian
Authority provided by the International Labour Organization (ILO)
is the third largest in the United Nations system, following
UNRWA and UNDP.  The ILO activities for women have been carried
out mainly as components of major ILO programmes.  The Training
Centre of the International Labour Organization at Turin has
developed a three-year programme for the socio-economic promotion
of Palestinian women, focusing on the training of women for
entrepreneurship.  The ILO also carried out a study on gender and
critical analysis of Palestinian law and practice regarding women
workers, and organized a training course on the promotion of
women worker's rights and equality in employment.   
 
79.     The World Health Organization (WHO) has conducted a
situation analysis of women's health and development.  It
assisted the Ministry of Health and the coordination of various
providers of women's health services within and outside the
Ministry in preparing a strategic national plan on the role of
women in health and development.  Further areas of priority are
primary health care, leadership training for nurses and nursing
management, training on nutrition and provision of immunization. 
 
80.     UNICEF supports strategies that promote basic education
for all, health promotion and empowerment of women in the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip.  Priority was given to children in
underprivileged communities, especially in the rural poor
communities in the West Bank and in refugee camps, while building
on the capacity of local institutions to address the needs of
those children and focusing on the girl child.  Gender issues
were integrated into programming and training programmes.  The
Palestinian Authority received technical assistance in
prioritizing issues in women's health.  In cooperation with the
Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, UNICEF finalized a
multiple indicator cluster survey to provide reliable data on the
situation of Palestinian women and men.  UNICEF provided support
for capacity-building to institutions of the Palestinian
Authority, and considered the formulation of a national programme
of action as an immediate goal so as to ensure political and
social mobilization as well as long-term planning for children,
in particular the girl child.    

81.     The UNDP Programme of 
Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNDP/PAPP) has implemented
projects to foster and promote the full participation of
Palestinian women in public life and in all aspects of
Palestinian social and economic development.  It has supported
Palestinian women's initiatives through an extensive network of
institutions, including the work of the Women's Center for Legal
Aid and Counselling on gender sensitive amendments to
legislation, the Palestinian Center for Democracy and Elections
awareness-raising campaign for rural women, and the work of the
Palestinian Coalition for Women's Health.  It has also encouraged
activities that promote a positive representation of women in
audio, visual and written media.  Technical assistance and staff
training was provided to several women's units within the
ministries of the Palestinian Authority.  In addition, UNDP/PAPP
has enabled Palestinian women to participate in the Woman's
Observer Mission to the Election in Nicaragua.  
 
82.     UNIFEM, through partnership with non-governmental and
governmental organizations, works towards strengthening the role
of Palestinian women in the economy, governance, conflict
resolution and peace-building.  In the follow-up to the Fourth
World Conference on Women, a project entitled "Post-Beijing
follow-up operation" has been launched in April 1996, also
involving four other countries of the Western Asia region
(Jordan, Lebanon, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen).  UNIFEM's goal is
to promote the implementation of the Platform for Action and to
assist in defining national strategies for the advancement of
women.  It also intends to strengthen working relations between
non-governmental organizations and Governments, and to
consolidate coordination and networking among non-governmental
organizations at the national, regional and international levels.
UNIFEM also carries out a project for the economic empowerment of
women in Gaza, training women on how to start their own business
and providing assistance for access to credit and business
counselling services.  
 
83.     The World Food Programme (WFP) currently targets 6,600
households in the Gaza Strip registered by the Ministry of Social
Affairs as hardship cases.  The majority of those households are
headed by women with a large number of dependants.  WFP provides
food assistance, pays special attention to primary health care,
and supports two projects for pregnant women, nursing mothers and
pre-school children.  The programme distributes food aid as
take-home family rations to encourage poor women to visit clinics
and health centres operated by local non-governmental
organizations.   
 
84.     UNFPA activities for Palestinian women have increased
consistently since 1987, when small-scale maternal and child-
health training and research was started.  In 1995, UNFPA helped
to establish a women's centre for reproductive health services,
social assistance, legal counselling and community education in
the Gaza Strip.  As part of the reproductive health activities of
the UNFPA Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People
(1996-1999) and in collaboration with WHO, support is provided to
the establishment of the Women's Health and Development
Department of the Ministry of Health.  The projects involve,
inter alia, training of the Department's staff on the management
of reproductive health programmes, conducting research on
policies, service delivery and socio-cultural aspects of
reproductive health.  
 
85.     The World Bank, in its initial activities in the occupied
territories, focused on emergency reconstruction and
rehabilitation, and only incidentally on gender.  In response to
the deteriorating economic conditions, the World Bank's programme
has concentrated primarily on short-term emergency assistance,
with an emphasis on the rehabilitation of public works.  As the
Bank reports, future Bank-supported activities on strengthening
civil society, education and health, will address gender issues. 
The Education and Health Rehabilitation Project (1995-1997) is of
particular interest to women since it is rehabilitating and
constructing schools for girls in Gaza.  Women will also benefit
from the rehabilitation of hospitals in Gaza.  The Palestinian
non- governmental organization project, proposed for early 1997,
will seek to mobilize official and private donor funds to support
the activities of non- governmental organizations in the West
Bank and Gaza.  Although many non-governmental organization
subprojects will be demand-driven, it is expected that many
projects will target women's income-generating projects and
mother and child- health services.  
 
86.     Within the United Nations Secretariat, the Economic and
Social Commission for Western Asia, in its 1996-1997 work
programme, initiated a multidisciplinary activity assessing the
role of non-governmental organizations in the occupied
territories and the Palestinian self-rule areas.  The project
focuses on income- generation, agriculture, industry and other
areas, and considers prospects for networking among
non-governmental organizations.  The Division for Palestinian
Rights within the Department of Political Affairs and the
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the
Palestinian People, in executing their programme of work, make
efforts to highlight the situation of Palestinian women and
children and to involve women in various aspects of their
programmes, such as inviting Palestinian women to participate as
panelists in non-governmental organization symposia and seminars,
and in new training activities.  In a follow-up activity to the
Fourth World Conference on Women, the Division for the
Advancement of Women of the Department for Policy Coordination
and Sustainable Development facilitated the participation of a
Palestinian expert to its workshop on global information through
computer networking technology, organized in New York in June
1996. 
 
 
                          3.  Conclusions 
 
87.     As regards United Nations assistance to Palestinian
women, it is recommended that the organizations and bodies of the
United Nations system continue to incorporate a gender
perspective in their activities.  A gender perspective should
also be integrated into the monitoring of possible violations of
women's human rights, notably the monitoring carried out by the
Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the
Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the
Occupied Territories, and the Special Rapporteur on the
Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967.  In the case of the
Special Committee, for example, it would be desirable to achieve
a better perspective on the violations of the human rights of
women and their needs and concerns by inviting more women to give
oral testimonials before 
the Committee.  
 
88.     Women's status and potential roles in socio-economic
development, their needs and interests need to be systematically
considered in the preparations of overall economic and social
development plans for Palestine and the Occupied Territories. 
While the international donor community has made a commitment to
empower Palestinian women and enhance their role in society,
including in public life, in leadership positions and through
income-generating projects and vocational training, when it comes
to programmes for macroeconomic development and market economy,
gender needs are not as fully addressed.  Women's increasing role
in the labour market must be taken into account on a more
consistent basis.   
 
             B.  Release of women and children taken hostage in
armed                  conflicts and imprisoned  
 
89.     A report on the implementation of Commission resolution
40/1 on the release of women and children taken hostage in armed
conflicts and imprisoned was requested by the Commission for its
forty-first session.  Consequently, the Commission secretariat
requested information from relevant United Nations entities on
the implementation of that resolution.  
 
90.     From the four responses received by the secretariat, it
was clear that there was no systematic collection of data and
information on the release of women and children taken hostage in
various situations of conflict around the world. 
 
91.     UNHCR pointed out that the question fell within the
competence of the International Committee of the Red Cross.  It
also noted the difficulties in obtaining global figures since the
circumstances of the detention and release of women and children
hostages vary from situation to situation. 
 
92.     The Department of Political Affairs of the United Nations
Secretariat focused its response on the situation in Angola,
Guatemala, Lebanon and Bosnia and Herzegovina.  With regard to
the situation in Angola, the United Nations Angola Verification
Mission reported that women and children were still being taken
hostage and that it was currently examining petitions relating to
11 such cases arising from the first extraordinary session of the
Joint Commission devoted to Human Rights, held on 8 May 1996, and
from resolution 40/1 of the Commission on the Status of Women. 
Information on several United Nations peacekeeping missions
indicated either that there was no knowledge of such cases (as in
the case of the United Nations Mission for the Verification of
Human Rights in Guatemala) or that such cases were not formally
registered (as in the case of the United Nations Interim Force in
Lebanon and the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In cases of kidnapping in Bosnia and Herzegovina, immediate
investigations are carried out by the United Nations
International Police Task Force.  No figures were submitted,
however.  It was noted that the kidnapping of women and children
in Guatemala was related to profit rather than to the political
situation. 
 
93.     In its response, UNICEF referred to the report prepared
by the expert of the Secretary-General, Ms. Grac'a Michel, on the
impact of armed conflict on children, submitted pursuant to
General Assembly resolution 48/157 (see A/51/306 and Add.1). 
Although the report gives extensive information on violations of
the rights of women and children, it does not provide specific
information pertinent to the release of women and children taken
hostage in armed conflict and imprisoned. 
 
94.     With respect to the release of women and children taken
hostage during armed conflicts and imprisoned, an important step
for improving the situation would be for the Governments
concerned to ratify without delay and to implement all relevant
international instruments and Conventions, and for practical and
cost-effective measures to be taken to collect information on
women and children hostages on a systematic basis.  Non-
governmental organizations working in the field might also
contribute to that effort. 
 
 
 
                               Notes 
 
1/ Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1996,
Supplement No. 6 (E/1996/26), chap. IC, resolution 40/10, annex,
para. 6. 
 
2/ Subregional Conference of Senior Governmental Experts on the
Implementation of the Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth
World Conference on Women in Central and Eastern Europe
(Bucharest, 12-14 September 1996). 
 
3/ Report of the World Conference to Review and Appraise the
Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women:  Equality,
Development and Peace, Nairobi, 15-26 July 1985 (United Nations
publication, Sales No. E.85.IV.10), chap. I, sect. A. 
 
4/ See "Economic and social conditions in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip", Quarterly Report (Office of the United Nations Special
Coordinator in the Occupied Territories), Autumn 1996. 
 
5/ See World Bank, Toward Gender Equality:  The Role of Public
Policy (Washington, D.C., 1995). 
 
6/ See "Economic and social conditions in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip", loc. cit. 
 
7/ See World Population Prospects, 1996 Revision, forthcoming
United Nations publication. 
 
 
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