United Nations

E/CN.6/1998/2


Commission on the Status of Women

 Distr. GENERAL
20 January 1998
ORIGINAL: ENGLISH


Commission on the Status of Women
Forty-second session
2-13 March 1998
Item 3 of the provisional agenda*
Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women:
review of mainstreaming in the organizations of the
United Nations system



         Follow-up to and implementation of the Beijing Declaration
         and Platform for Action


         Report of the Secretary-General



Contents                                               Paragraphs   Page

I.   Introduction                                          1-5       2

II.  Progress in the follow-up to the Fourth World
     Conference on Women and in mainstreaming a gender
     perspective within the United Nations system          6-42      2

     A.   General Assembly and Economic and Social
          Council                                          7-16      2

     B.   Activities in support of mainstreaming a
          gender perspective into the work of the
          United Nations system                           17-25      4

     C.   ACC Inter-Agency Committee on Women and
          Gender Equality                                 26-36      5

     D.   Reported follow-up by non-governmental
          organizations                                   37-42      7

     E.   Joint work plan on the Division for the 
          Advancement of Women and the Office of the
          United Nations High Commissioner for 
          Human Rights**

III. Reports prepared in accordance with specific         43-48      8
          mandates

     A.   Situation of Palestinian women and assistance   43-44      8

     B.   Release of women and children taken hostage
          in armed conflicts and imprisoned               45-48      8

*    E/CN.6/1998/1.
**   See E/CN.6/1998/2/Add.1.
***  See also E/CN.6/1998/2/Add.2.



                 I.     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.              In its resolution 52/100 of 12 December 1997, the General
Assembly requested the Secretary-General to report annually to it, the
Commission on the Status of Women and the Economic and Social Council on
follow-up to and implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for
Action. Similar mandates were contained in General Assembly resolutions
51/69 and 50/203.

3.              In each of the three reports submitted in the course of a
year, the information that is most pertinent to the respective
intergovernmental body is provided, in order to facilitate its
decision-making. Thus the reports to the Commission on the Status of Women
emphasize efforts undertaken by the Secretariat in support of mainstreaming a
gender perspective and other follow-up activities. The report to the Economic
and Social Council focus is on facilitating the coordination function of the
Council. The report to the General Assembly contains information from all
entities in the United Nations system, including specialized agencies and
international financial institutions and an analysis of activities undertaken
at the national level and by non-governmental organizations and civil society.

4.              Section II of the present report has been prepared in
compliance with General Assembly resolution 52/100. It also fulfils the
requirements of Commission on the Status of Women resolution 41/6 on gender
mainstreaming. Section III responds to Economic and Social Council resolution
1997/16 on Palestinian women and Commission on the Status of Women resolution
41/1 on the release of women and children taken hostage in armed conflict and
imprisoned. Details on the situation of Palestinian Women are contained in
document E/CN.6/1998/2/Add.2.

5.              In addition, the present report has an addendum
(E/CN.6/1998/2/Add.1), containing a joint work plan for the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Division for the
Advancement of Women, as called for in Commission on the Status of Women
resolution 39/5.



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


6.              At its forty-second session, the Commission on the Status
of
Women will have an opportunity to make a more comprehensive assessment of
progress achieved at different levels since the adoption of the Beijing
Declaration and Platform for Action. Although short updates on follow-up by
Governments were included in previous reports under the item,1 at the current
session a synthesized report on national action plans and strategies has been
prepared (E/CN.6/1998/6). Likewise, activities of the United Nations system in
follow-up to the Platform for Action are assessed in detail in the mid-term
report on the system-wide medium-term plan for the advancement of women
(E/CN.6/1998/3). The Commission will also consider options for a high-level
plenary review to be conducted in the year 2000 (E/CN.6/1998/10). The present
report is intended to complement those reports. 



        A.     General Assembly and Economic and
               Social Council


        1.     General Assembly at its fifty-second session

7.              The report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of
the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women (A/52/281) focused on
system-wide gender mainstreaming and on agreed conclusions 1997/2, on gender
mainstreaming, adopted by the Economic and Social Council at the coordination
segment of its 1997 substantive session. It also emphasized targeted,
women-specific activities undertaken at the national and international levels
to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Noting that the
report of the Secretary-General (E/1997/66) and the Council's agreed
conclusions 1997/2 were primarily concerned with gender mainstreaming at the
intergovernmental and institutional levels, it suggested that, in addition,
increased attention should be paid to supporting and monitoring the
implementation of gender mainstreaming policies at the national level.2

8.              The General Assembly, in its resolution 52/100 of 12
December 1997, welcomed the adoption by the Council of agreed conclusions
1997/2 and endorsed the definition, set of principles and specific
recommendations for gender mainstreaming which they contained. It directed its
committees and other bodies to mainstream the gender perspective
systematically into all areas of their work and requested the Secretariat to
present issues and approaches in a gender-sensitive manner when preparing
reports so as to provide the intergovernmental machinery with an analytical
basis for gender-responsive policy formulation. It requested the Council to
ensure that gender mainstreaming would be an integral part of all its
activities concerning integrated follow-up to recent United Nations
conferences, building upon its agreed conclusions 1997/2. 

9.              The Assembly also initiated a process for conducting in the
year 2000 a review and appraisal of the implementation of the Nairobi
Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women and of the Platform
for Action. In that regard, it decided that the Commission on the Status of
Women would serve as the preparatory committee for a high-level plenary
review. Based on a report of the Secretary-General (E/CN.6/1998/10), it
requested the Commission to consider, at its forty-second session, options for
conducting such a review and to take appropriate action for its preparations. 


        2.     Economic and Social Council, substantive session
               of 1998, operational activities segment

10.                 Building upon the Platform for Action and General Assembly
resolutions 50/203 and 51/69, the Council decided at its resumed substantive
session on 18 December 1997 to consider at its 1998 operational activities
segment the topic of "Advancement of women: implementation of the Platform for
Action and the role of operational activities in promoting in particular
capacity-building and resource mobilization for enhancing the participation of
women in development". Consideration of the topic coincides with the Council's
and the Assembly's regular triennial policy review of operational activities.

11.                 The Council's consideration of the topic is expected to
benefit from recent developments. For example, since the adoption of the
Platform for Action, a number of operational entities have strengthened a
two-pronged approach in support of governmental activities to achieve gender
equality at the national level. This includes increased support for targeted,
women-specific activities and explicit attention to the impact of all
development activities on women and men, separately, so as to strengthen the
gender mainstreaming approach. Recent reports to the three-tiered
intergovernmental machinery3 have provided ongoing updates about these
efforts. 

12.                 The consideration by the Second Committee of the General
Assembly of a biannual item on women in development has for a number of years
provided a framework for highlighting the relevance of gender issues in
mainstream economic and development discussions.4 The Assembly's resolution
52/195, on women in development, adopted on 18 December 1997, emphasized the
need for a higher proportion of development resources to reach women, in
particular women in rural and remote areas. Moreover, the Council's own agreed
conclusions on gender mainstreaming also provide guidance on the
implementation of operational activities to benefit women fully.

13.                 In addition, the system-wide medium-term plans for the
advancement of women 1990-1995 (E/1987/52) and 1996-2001 (E/1996/16) provided
a framework for the system-wide implementation of the Nairobi Forward-Looking
Strategies for the Advancement of Women5 and the Platform for Action,
including operational activities. The Commission at its forty-second session
and the Council at its 1998 substantive session will conduct a comprehensive
mid-term review of the current plan, based on a report of the
Secretary-General (E/CN.6/1998/3).6 

14.                 Other developments that are expected to feed into the
Council's 1998 operational activities segment include the work of the
Inter-agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality, including a workshop on
gender mainstreaming.7 The capacity of national machinery for the advancement
of women to act as a catalyst for gender mainstreaming and an advocate for
operational activities benefiting women may be further explored and assessed.
The operational activities segment, together with the critical area of concern
on institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women to be considered by
the Commission on the Status of Women in 1999, could make substantial progress
in this regard.8 The mid-term review of the System-wide Medium-term plan for
the Advancement of Women includes a summary of operational activities being
undertaken by the United Nations system, also contribute to this effort.

15.                 The Economic and Social Council's consideration of the
topic of the advancement of women in its operational activities segment in
1998, while focusing on capacity building and resource mobilization, will
provide an opportunity for synthesizing a wealth of knowledge on best
practices for enhancing women's participation in development. It should enable
the Council, and subsequently the Assembly, to provide clear policy guidance
on how operational activities as a whole could more effectively contribute to
the realization of gender equality. In this regard, all efforts should be made
to ensure that the United Nations Development Assistance Framework which is
currently under preparation fully reflects a gender perspective and provides
an appropriate basis for enhancing women's participation in development. 

16.                 Any comments that the Commission as a whole or individual
members in their statements may make on the plan or on the Council's
operational activities segment would provide valuable input into the
preparations of the documentation for the item. 



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


17.                 The Secretary-General conveyed agreed conclusions 1997/2
on gender mainstreaming, adopted by the Economic and Social Council, to all
heads of departments, funds, programmes and regional commissions and to the
heads of specialized agencies and international trade and financial
institutions, stressing that gender mainstreaming was the responsibility of
all staff and emphasizing the accountability of senior managers for
implementation of the agreed conclusions. Senior managers were invited to take
a number of steps, including the formulation of specific strategies for
ensuring that gender issues were brought into the mainstream of activities of
each senior manager's area of responsibility; the systematic use of gender
analysis in the preparation of reports or in operational activities; and the
preparation of medium-term plans and programme budgets in such a manner that a
gender perspective was apparent. Furthermore, the Secretary-General invited
the convenors of four executive committees to give due consideration to gender
issues as part of their responsibilities.

18.                 The Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement
of Women briefed the Policy Coordination Group on 6 August 1997 on gender
mainstreaming. She emphasized the practical implications of the agreed
conclusions for the work of the Secretariat and is cooperating with senior
managers as they take steps to implement them. She held follow-up meetings
with two entities, the Department of Political Affairs and the Office of
Internal Oversight Services, to discuss practical steps that could be taken
within their areas of responsibility. An additional 14 entities (the United
Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations
Environment Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization, the United Nations Populations Fund, the United Nations
Children's Fund, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the
World Meteorological Organization, the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights, the World Intellectual Property Organization,
the World Trade organization (WTO), the United Nations Centre for Human
Settlements, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, the
International Trade Centre of UNCTAD/WTO, the World Bank and the Office of
Legal Affairs, United Nations Secretariat) have notified the Secretary-General
or his Special Adviser of their commitment to gender mainstreaming. Two of
them, UNFPA and UNCHS (Habitat), provided detailed accounts on how gender
considerations are reflected throughout their work. Certain organizations that
in the past had not actively participated in system-wide activities on women
and gender issues (such as, for example, WIPO and WMO) have expressed their
support for gender mainstreaming and their intention to make gender issues a
priority concern in their work. 

19.                 The Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs
held a discussion on gender mainstreaming on 15 January 1998 and is
endeavouring to address gender aspects systematically in all of its areas of
responsibility. The Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs has devoted
considerable time and attention to gender issues in Afghanistan, with a view
to developing a consistent basis for United Nations activities in that
country. It may be anticipated that the experience gained in that particular
case will provide important lessons in shaping other current and future
humanitarian assistance activities to explicitly incorporate gender
considerations. 

20.                 The President of the Economic and Social Council has
undertaken a number of efforts to draw the attention of intergovernmental
bodies to the Council's agreed conclusions on gender mainstreaming. He
conveyed the agreed conclusions to the President of the General Assembly at
its fifty-second session so that they might be drawn to the attention of the
chairpersons of the Main Committees and bodies of the Assembly. He also
transmitted the agreed conclusions to the chairpersons of the functional
commissions of the Council, seeking their active cooperation and support in
their implementation and inviting them to provide information either to the
President of the Council or to the Chairperson of the Commission on the Status
of Women on steps taken to implement the agreed conclusions and of any
obstacle or difficulty encountered in that process. 

21.                 Noting that the agreed conclusions entrust the Council's
Bureau with establishing a dialogue with and among the Bureaus of the
subsidiary bodies, he initiated consultations with the Chairperson of the
Commission on the Status of Women, to facilitate such a dialogue. He also
invited all chairpersons of functional commissions, including the Chairperson
of the Commission on the Status of Women, to give consideration to having a
standing agenda item on follow-up to the agreed conclusions of the Council's
high-level and coordination segments and to its resolutions as part of the
agenda of the Commission. He referred in particular to the Council's agreed
conclusions and guidance to functional commissions in such areas as poverty
eradication and gender mainstreaming. The Commission may wish to consider this
suggestion. 

22.                 A number of recent intergovernmental decisions9 emphasized
that system-wide gender mainstreaming must form an integral part of all
conference follow-up. In that regard, it will be recalled that the Council
decided to convene a session on integrated follow-up to United Nations
conferences from 13 to 15 May (tentative) 1998. The Secretariat of the
Commission is making efforts to ensure that in the framework of ACC
preparations for the event, follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women
and the mainstreaming of a gender perspective are fully reflected. Similarly,
it is anticipated that participation by, and contributions of, the Commission
on the Status of Women will be fully reflected in the arrangements for the
session.

23.                 As of 1 January 1998, the Department of Economic and
Social Affairs, of which the Division for the Advancement of Women is a part,
has become the new organizational structure of the Secretariat covering
economic and social issues. The Secretary-General's bulletin establishing the
organizational structure of the Department emphasizes, among other functions,
the Department "monitors, analyses and assesses, from a global as well as a
gender perspective, economic and social policies and trends, including
population trends ...".10 The responsibility of the Department as a whole for
gender mainstreaming has thus been clearly established. The internal
reorganization of the new Department has included the reassignment to the
Division of staff from the former Department for Development Support and
Management Services, with responsibilities for technical cooperation
activities. While continuing to implement existing intergovernmental mandates,
this reorganization will allow for a more focused provision of policy advisory
services to Governments, at their request, on gender issues and the
advancement of women, including the human rights of women. 

24.                 The Division for the Advancement of Women has continued to
provide comments and inputs to reports prepared by other parts of the United
Nations Secretariat in an effort to strengthen attention to gender issues. In
this regard, emphasis is placed on providing input at an early stage of the
research and drafting process so that gender consideration might influence the
approach taken in a report, rather than being retroactively incorporated at a
final stage. Considerably more effort is, however, required to support other
departments and entities as they start to put in place steps and mechanisms
that will, over time, lead to  systematic attention to gender issues in all
areas. Since the recognition of the relevance of gender in areas as diverse as
macroeconomics, international trade, humanitarian affairs and poverty
eradication has increased at an unexpected pace over the past several months,
the level of expectation for support, backstopping and advice from the Special
Adviser and the Division cannot be absorbed within the resources available to
the Division. The Special Adviser has thus initiated an effort to seek
extrabudgetary resources to complement the resources available to her.  
25.                 Cooperation continued between the Division, UNIFEM and
INSTRAW on the joint project WomenWatch, a United Nations Internet site on the
advancement and empowerment of women. The usefulness of the site is confirmed
by the above-average number of queries it registers when compared to other
United Nations sites. Plans are now under way to expand participation on the
site to other United Nations entities so as to realize the goal of
establishing a gateway for all gender-related information and activities
available in the United Nations system. While a limited amount of resources
from the regular budget are allocated for this project, additional resources
from extrabudgetary sources are needed to maintain and expand the site and to
provide a limited amount of training to various user groups on electronic
networking technology. 



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


26.                 The ACC Inter-Agency Committee on Women and Gender
Equality held its second session in New York on 5-6 March 1997. An oral report
on the meeting was made to the Commission on the Status of Women at its
forty-first session by the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, who chairs the
Committee. The Committee submitted five principles to the ACC for endorsement
and invited ACC to request the issuance of administrative instructions or
similar action by all members of ACC to ensure that gender mainstreaming is
consistently implemented by all departments and organizations of the system
and by all staff in all areas, in keeping with the Beijing Platform for
Action. The Committee also invited the ACC, in its consideration of
peacekeeping, rehabilitation and development at its first regular session of
1997, to recognize the need to mainstream a gender perspective in those areas.
It also noted that particular efforts were needed to ensure that women were
not disproportionately affected by any reorganization/ retrenchment within the
United Nations system and emphasized the crucial role of gender units/gender
focal points. 

27.                 ACC, in its discussion of peace-building at its first
regular session of 1997, recognized the need for mainstreaming a gender
perspective in all activities undertaken by the United Nations system in the
areas of peacekeeping, peace-building, reconciliation, reconstruction,
rehabilitation and development (ACC/1997/4, para. 36). As to the use of
strategic frameworks for responding to and recovering from crisis, ACC
underlined that a gender perspective needed to be taken into account.
Subsequently, particular attention was devoted to gender issues in the case of
Afghanistan. 

28.                 In reviewing progress in coordinated follow-up to
international conferences, ACC also focused on the work of the Inter-Agency
Committee, requesting it to complete the preparation of an advocacy statement
on the mainstreaming of a gender perspective throughout the United Nations
system. At its second session in 1997, ACC requested its subsidiary machinery,
particularly the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable development, the
Consultative Committee on Programme and Operational Questions, and the
Inter-Agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality, to further develop and
strengthen dialogue and interaction in integrated conference follow-up. 

29.                 Following its discussions, the Committee established an
intersessional group on gender mainstreaming, to be convened by its
chairperson; supported the proposal for a workshop on gender mainstreaming
with the OECD/DAC Expert Group on Women in Development; and decided to assess
the gender dimension of activities in the United Nations system to develop
statistics and indicators and qualitative data for monitoring follow-up to
recent global United Nations conferences. The Committee also decided to
elaborate guidelines for budgeting processes and the coding of budgets in
order to monitor the use of resources for gender equality. It was further
agreed to monitor the inclusion of gender considerations by the three ACC Task
Forces for integrated conference follow-up and to prepare proposals on ways of
strengthening coordination between the Committee and the Gender Advisory Board
to the Commission on Science and Technology for Development.

30.                 A workshop on gender mainstreaming was held at the
International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva from 15 to 17 September
1997. It was organized by the Division for the Advancement of Women, using
extrabudgetary resources provided for the purpose. The workshop was attended
by 61 members of the OECD/DAC Expert Group on Women in Development and by
focal points on gender in the United Nations system. 

31.                 The workshop considered that the Platform for Action and
agreed conclusions 1997/2 on gender mainstreaming had set a high standard. It
was stressed that gender equality was not only a goal in itself but also a
means to make poverty reduction, the promotion of human rights, and
democratization more effective by addressing the needs of both men and women.
There was need to commit greater human, technical and financial resources to
the task of ensuring that a gender equality perspective is fully
institutionalized. Three primary conditions were identified as having special
significance for that effort: commitment, competence and compliance. There was
also agreement to continue the professional exchange and flow of information
through e-mail and the Internet, inter alia. The Inter-Agency Committee and
the OECD/DAC Expert Group would develop partnerships to prioritize future
joint activities such as meetings on selected topics, exchange of information
on best practices, documentation of sectoral approaches to be used for
training and policy dialogue, and consideration of further multilateral or
bilateral field-level collaboration on gender mainstreaming involving civil
society and partner Governments. With regard to capacity-building, the
workshop suggested a review of the role and terms of reference of gender focal
points in all agencies and organizations. 

32.                 The Chairperson held several informal meetings of the
Committee during the year, in Addis Ababa, Geneva and in New York. The various
working groups prepared reports for presentation to the Committee at its third
session, to be held in New York on 25-27 February 1998. The Commission on the
Status of Women at its forty-second session will be briefed orally by the
Chairperson on the outcome of the third session of the Committee.
 33.                 UNIFEM, as liaison between the Committee and the ACC Task
Force on Conference Follow-up, represented the Committee at the Inter-Agency
Workshop on Field-level Follow-up to Global Conferences, held in Turin from 10
to 12 December 1997. Six resident representatives and other field-level staff
attended the Workshop, inter alia, to provide field-based experience on
conference follow-up. The objective was to develop a coherent, integrated
message to the resident coordinator system on operationalization of a
coordinated follow-up process at the country level. 



34.                 Issues discussed at Turin included gender mainstreaming;
human rights; development of indicators; incorporation of regional and
subregional perspectives in conference follow-up; training; participation by
the Bretton Woods institutions, civil society and bilaterals in conference
follow-up; and streamlining of reporting. With regard to gender mainstreaming,
the following recommendations were made:

               (a)     Women's empowerment and gender equality strategies
should be incorporated into the United Nations Development Assistance
Framework and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country strategy
notes; 
               (b)     Data disaggregated by sex should be gathered and
packaged; 

               (c)     Full use should be made of the expertise of gender
focal points and of UNIFEM, the Division for the Advancement of Women and
INSTRAW;

               (d)     Inter-agency thematic groups on gender should be
convened at the field level;

               (e)     Competence and capacity in gender-responsive
programming should be built among United Nations staff and partners;

               (f)     Non-governmental organizations and national machineries
for women working on post-conference strategies should be consulted and
provided with financial support; 

               (g)     Ways in which United Nations agencies support women's
human rights and work for the elimination of violence against women should be
improved and better coordinated.

35.                 The Inter-Agency Workshop also recommended that:

               (a)     The Inter-Agency Committee produce a brochure of
practical measures to mainstream gender and circulate it widely to the
resident coordinators;

               (b)     Best practices on women's empowerment, gender
mainstreaming and achieving gender equality be featured on the WomenWatch
Internet site;

               (c)     Consideration be given to undertaking pilot projects
that look at cross-cutting approaches to gender mainstreaming and women's
empowerment;

               (d)     Resident coordinators be invited to attend meetings of
the Committee in order to engage in dialogue on the implementation of the
Beijing Platform for Action, as seen from the field level.

36.                 At an informal meeting of the Inter-Agency Committee in
December 1997 to prepare for the third session, the Chairperson briefed the
Committee on the Inter-Agency Gender Mission to Afghanistan which she had led
from 12  to 24 November 1997. The Mission, which was composed of
representatives of WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, WFP and ESCWA, reported on the
gender situation in Afghanistan and proposed practical field-oriented
guidelines and indicators for use by agency field staff working in Afghanistan
to address gender concerns in assistance programmes within the framework of
the principle-centred approach adopted by the Executive Committee on
Humanitarian Affairs in June 1997.



        D.     Reported follow-up by non-governmental
               organizations


37.                 Since the issuance of the report of the Secretary-General
on the implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women
(A/52/281), a number of events have occurred at the international, regional
and national levels under the auspices of non-governmental organizations. 

38.                 Among the events at the international level was a one-day
workshop held on 18 July 1997 in Zambia. The workshop was organized by the
Non-Governmental Organizations' Coordinating Committee and funded by the UNFPA
to discuss United Nations conferences held between 1992 and July 1997 and
their follow-up strategies, with particular attention to equality between
women and men. Another meeting, entitled "Strategic Planning Meeting on
Women's Human Rights", was held from 29 September to 5 October 1997 in Harare,
Zimbabwe. It was organized by Women in Law and Development in Africa, which
sponsored it jointly with the Centre for Women's Global Leadership, Comite
Interamericano de Mujeres Activistas, International Women's Rights Action
Watch Asia and Pacific, Women's Rights Project-Human Rights Watch and the
United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Women's human rights
advocates from all over the world participated and discussed development of
forward-looking collaborative actions. 

39.                 At the regional level, the Regional Conference on Gender
and Communication Policy took place in the Philippines from 30 July to 2
August 1997. The Conference was coordinated by the World Association for
Christian Communication (WACC) and ISIS International Manila to discuss policy
recommendations on media issues. The participants included media practitioners
and activists from Australia, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Japan,
Malaysia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The
Inter-American Development Bank organized a two-day meeting in October 1997 in
Washington, D.C., on domestic violence against women in Latin America and the
Caribbean at which various North and South American non-governmental
organizations examined the latest approaches to measuring the cost of domestic
violence. The Commonwealth Medical Association organized a meeting in London
from 14 to 16 November 1997 to discuss indicators for measuring women's health
status in a human rights context. Non-governmental organizations active at the
country level participated in a West African subregional meeting organized by
ECA on 27-28 November 1997 to discuss with government officials strategies to
develop women's caucuses as a tool for influencing political decision-making
processes. 

40.                 Non-governmental organizations have also been active in
advocacy work to promote equality between women and men at the national level.
The South Africa National NGO Coalition organized a National Men's March
against Violence against Women and Children and a rally of women and children
in Pretoria on 22 November 1997 in connection with the International Day to
Stop Violence Against Women. The National Association of University Women from
Romania and the World Trade Centre Bucharest were reported to have held
jointly a national forum of women and other non-governmental organizations
from 28 to 30 November 1997. Issues discussed at the forum
included strategies to achieve equal opportunities for men and women.

41.                 Non-governmental organizations and women's groups have
been following activities since the Fourth World Conference and sharing their
information. Various publications and regular newsletters carry relevant
articles. For example, the International Women's Tribune Centre recently
issued its 100th Global Faxnet (a.k.a. "Globalnet" via Internet), an
information sheet on follow-up activities which reaches a large number of
non-governmental organizations worldwide. The Women's Environment and
Development Organization (WEDO) continued to monitor the progress made by
countries in developing national action plans and updated its own publication
on the subject in September 1997. WEDO plans to publish its second annual
report on progress in implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in
March 1998. 

42.                 Several other events were scheduled to take place between
November 1997 and March 1998. The Women's Caucus for Gender Justice with
respect to the International Criminal Court (ICC) was set up as a result of a
meeting of non-governmental organizations in 1995 to advocate for an effective
ICC. It met several times in 1997. Certain international child rights and
human rights activists with particular concern for the exploitation of young
girls are coordinating their efforts to organize a global march against child
labour, in order to raise public awareness. The march will combine local and
global walks and caravans taking place all over the world beginning in January
1998 and ending in June in Geneva.



      III.     Reports prepared in accordance
               with specific mandates


        A.     Situation of Palestinian women and
               assistance provided by organizations of
               the United Nations system


43.                 The Economic and Social Council, in its resolution 1997/16
on Palestinian women, expressed its concern about the continuing difficult
situation of Palestinian women in the occupied Palestinian territory,
including Jerusalem, and 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-second session, a report on the
progress made in the implementation of the resolution. 

44.                 The Commission on the Status of Women has monitored
regularly the situation of Palestinian women and children as stipulated in
paragraph 260 of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies. Following the signing
of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-government Arrangements by
the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (1993)
and the Fourth World Conference on Women (1995), the United Nations system has
provided increased support to Palestinian women. The status of the human
rights of Palestinian women and recent social, economic and legal developments
which have occurred in the period under review (1997) and their gender impact
are detailed in document E/CN.6/1998/2/Add.2.



        B.     Release of women and children taken
               hostage in armed conflicts and imprisoned


45.                 The Commission on the Status of Women, at its forty-first
session, adopted resolution 41/1, on the release of women and children taken
hostage in armed conflicts, including those subsequently imprisoned. The
Commission requested the Secretary-General "to prepare, taking into account
the information provided by States and relevant international organizations, a
report on the implementation of the present resolution, for submission to the
Commission on the Status at its forty-second session". A note verbale was sent
to 184 Member States on 11 September 1997; as of 15 December, the Secretariat
had received six replies.

46.                 The Governments of Nicaragua and Panama reported that the
situation described in resolution 41/1 did not exist in their respective
countries. The Government of Panama noted, however, that children and women
must be given special treatment and be protected from any kind of detention,
arrest or imprisonment and that, in cases of armed conflict, the parties must
take the steps necessary to ensure that children are housed separately from
adults, except in the case of families whose members are housed together. The
Government of El Salvador indicated that it supported any initiative that
would promote the values of international humanitarian law and paid tribute to
the Secretariat for following up on resolutions such as resolution 41/1. The
Government of the Philippines indicated that it strongly supported and
endorsed the resolution. The Sultanate of Oman reported that there was no
available information in Oman with regard to the matter.

47.                 The State Commission of the Azerbaijani Republic for
Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons reported that during the recent
war, the Armenian armed forces had taken hostage approximately 100 children,
442 women and 370 elderly people. Efforts of the State Commission resulted in
the release from Armenian captivity of 40 children, 126 women and 115 elderly
people. The majority had been in captivity for more than two years. At the
current time, 4,858 citizens of Azerbaijan were counted as missing, including
60 children, 316 women and 254 elderly people. According to information
available, 92 of that number were still in Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh.

48.                 The Secretariat also requested information from relevant
entities of the United Nations system; as of 15 December, it had received four
replies. Three respondents, including the World Food Programme (WFP), the
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Economic and Social
Commission for Western Asia (ECSWA), indicated that there was no available
information on the issue. The Department of Peace-keeping Operations provided
information from the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT)
which reported that since its inception one relevant case had been registered.
During a hostage crisis in February of 1997, three women (one staff member of
the International Committee of the Red Cross and two Russian journalists) had
been taken hostage, in addition to the United Nations staff. All hostages were
subsequently released. The Mission had not registered any other cases of women
or children taken hostage in Tajikistan, which did not preclude that such
incidents might have occurred without the knowledge of UNMOT or other
international agencies. UNMOT also reported that 20 people were currently
being held in Tajikistan by different uncontrolled armed groups. Allegedly,
two women were among those kept in captivity, the mother and sister of local
warlords, but UNMOT was not in a position to confirm the information.


Notes


          1    See, for example, E/CN.6/1997/2, paras. 48-59.

          2    A/52/281, paras. 13 and 14.

          3    See, for example, E/1997/64, and A/52/281.

          4    The Secretary-General's report to the Assembly at its
               fifty-second session under item 97 (g) focused on
               mainstreaming a gender perspective into economic policies 
               and proposed a
               preliminary framework for action (A/52/345).

          5    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.

          6    Council resolutions 1996/6 and 1996/34.

          7    The Workshop on Gender Mainstreaming was held from 15
               to 17 September 1997 at Geneva. It brought together
               members of the Inter-agency Committee on Women and
               Gender Equality and the Expert Group on Women and
               Development of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation
               and Development (OECD) Development Assistance
               Committee (DAC). The meeting was organized by the
               Division for the Advancement of Women.

          8    See also the recommendation contained in the report of the
               Secretary-General (A/52/281, para. 14) that progress in
               gender mainstreaming at the national level should be at the
               core of the Commission's discussion area IV.H in 1999.

          9    For example, the Council's agreed conclusions 1997/2, its
               resolution 1997/61, and General Assembly resolution
               52/100.

         10    ST/SGB/1997/9, para. 2.1 (e).

    	

 


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