AIDE-ME'MOIRE EXPERT GROUP MEETING ON WOMEN, POPULATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: THE ROAD FROM RIO, CAIRO AND BEIJING 18-22 NOVEMBER 1996 SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC An expert group meeting, "Women, Population and Sustainable Development: the Road from Rio, Cairo and Beijing", is being organized jointly by the Division for the Advancement of Women, the Division for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Population Fund, in cooperation with INSTRAW, on 18-22 November 1996. The meeting will take place at the headquarters of INSTRAW in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The meeting will focus on the crucial links between population and sustainable development from a gender perspective. It should provide the basis for elaborating an integrated approach for the implementation of recommendations made at Rio, Cairo and Beijing and for discussion of the ways and means towards sustainable development planning, policy formulation and implementation. The meeting will seek to elaborate recommendations for coordinating efforts and resources in the implementation process and the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in UN activities related to population and sustainable development. BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION Progress achieved in implementing Agenda 21 adopted at the UNCED will be reviewed by a special session of the General Assembly in 1997. The need to ensure the empowerment of women and their equal participation in decision-making, both with regard to sustainable development and to reproductive health, has been recognized in all the major United Nations conferences of the 1990's, including UNCED. Agenda 21 placed the issue of women and the environment on the global agenda, dealt with reproductive health, and highlighted the linkages between environment and population. The ICPD Programme of Action took major steps forward by declaring that sustainable development cannot be achieved without full participation of women, continuing to focus attention on the environment-population linkages, advancing the empowerment of women and gender equality and establishing a new framework for family planning, in the context of reproductive health and primary health care. The Beijing Platform for Action included women and the environment as one of its twelve critical areas of concern and provided in-depth analysis and a set of recommendations on women and sustainable development. It reaffirmed the progress made in Cairo on reproductive health including family planning and agreed on a comprehensive set of actions for the empowerment and advancement of women. At its forty-first session in 1997 the Commission on the Status of Women will consider progress achieved in implementing actions related to the critical area of concern on women and environment. The findings of the expert group meeting will serve as an input into the Commission's deliberations. OBJECTIVES The main objective of the meeting is to examine the interrelationship between population and sustainable development from a gender perspective that can be used as a basis for planning, policy formulation and implementation, and make recommendations thereon. The recommendations should focus on those interventions which can best ensure that the achievement of the goals of sustainable development will also guarantee the advancement of women. Specific objectives of the meeting are: ~ to outline the critical linkages between population and sustainable development from a gender perspective, emphasizing the role of women in decision-making; ~ to elaborate a framework of sustainable development planning as an integrated approach for the implementation of recommendations from Rio, Cairo and Beijing in terms of concepts, level of interventions, priorities; ~ to agree on recommendations on how to mainstream a gender perspective in all UN activities related to population and sustainable development. The identification of a framework for the integrated approach to sustainable development planning within the context of the implementation of Rio, Cairo and Beijing is expected to be a main outcome of the expert group meeting and will form the basis for policy recommendations. To achieve this, the meeting will examine cases where improvements were made in an integrated way, in the areas of women, population and sustainable development. As international norms and standards are derived from national and local experience, the meeting should provide an opportunity to explore successful ways and means of addressing issues related to women, population and sustainable development in specific environments in which people live and work, such as in agricultural areas, urban poor neighborhoods, forests and arid areas. Success stories presented by the experts will provide useful case studies from which discussions can proceed. In addressing the above issues, recognition will be given to the importance of the full and equal participation of women in all aspects of decision-making and in all levels of population and sustainable development planning, policy formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In addition, the discussion on the interlinkage of sustainable development, population and gender will include such cross-cutting issues as economic and political empowerment of women, the feminization of poverty and the exercise of women's basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. The meeting will identify means for facilitating coordination and cooperative approaches among relevant government agencies responsible for programmes dealing with women, population and sustainable development issues. OUTCOMES The report of the meeting will serve as an input to the Commission on the Status of Women at its forty-first session, the Commission on Sustainable Development and to the Commission on Population and Development. Recommendations of the meeting will also be an important contribution to the review of the implementation of Agenda 21, to be discussed by a special session of the General Assembly in 1997. PROFILE OF THE PARTICIPANTS The expert group meeting will be attended by 8-9 experts appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as well as observers from Governments, organizations of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations. The United Nations will provide travel and daily subsistence allowance for the experts. In selecting experts, the criteria of geographical balance will be respected. The participants will be drawn from a variety of fields in the area of gender, population and sustainable development and will include experts from research and training institutions, practitioners, policy-makers and non-governmental organizations. ORGANIZATION OF WORK The expert group meeting will be organized as follows: - presentation of the background papers prepared by consultants who will identify the conceptual framework for the discussion and raise the most important issues to be considered. Background papers will be prepared in consultation with the Division for the Advancement of Women, the Division for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Population Fund, and will reflect their views on and approaches to the issues under consideration; - presentations by the experts, including success stories; - preparation and adoption of the report of the meeting. The topics for discussion will be : I. Conceptual and methodological aspects of the main links between population and sustainable development from a gender perspective; emphasis on the full and equal participation of women in decision-making at all levels. - Health - Fragile ecosystems - Migration patterns (These three themes are suggested as examples. It is expected that the experts will provide success stories within these themes to identify the crucial linkages between population and sustainable development and demonstrate the importance of taking into account the gender factor.) II. A framework of a gender-sensitive integrated approach to the implementation of the follow-up to Rio, Cairo and Beijing. - Conceptual approaches - Level of interventions - Priorities It is expected that the exchange of ideas and information and the sharing of experiences will assist in identifying regional and national priorities, thereby facilitating the implementation process. It will specify the ways and means of regional and national coordination and collaboration in mainstreaming gender and population issues into sustainable development planning, policy formulation and implementation. The Expert Group meeting will be conducted in English. The documentation will also be in English. For further information please contact: Ms. Natalia Zakharova Division for the Advancement of Women Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development United Nations Two United Nations Plaza Room DC2-1246 New York, NY 10017 Tel: (212) 963-8134 Fax: (212) 963-3463 e-mail: Zakharova@un.org
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