United Nations

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL
                                                      Distr.: General
                                                      22 December 1997

                                                      Original: English


Commission on the Status of Women
Forty-second session
2-13 March 1998
Item 3 (c) of the provisional agenda*
Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women:
implementation of strategic objectives and action in
the critical areas of concern


          Synthesized report on national action plans and strategies for
          implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action

         Report of the Secretary-General


Contents                                              Paragraphs  Page

I.   Introduction                                          1-3     3
II.  Conclusions                                          4-13     3
III. Analysis of action plans and implementation 
     strategies                                          14-43     6   
     A.   National level                                 15-17     6
     B.   Regional, subregional and interregional levels 18-26     6
     C.   Preparatory process of establishing national 
          action plans                                   27-36     7
          1.   National level                            27-29     7
          2.   Support from the international community  30-36     8
     D.   Institutional and financial arrangements       37-43     9
IV.  Critical areas of concern in the plans and 
     strategies                                          44-158   10
     A.   Women and poverty                              46-54    10
     B.   Education and training of women                55-63    11
     C.   Women and health                               64-75    13
     D.   Violence against women                         76-90    15
     E.   Women and armed conflict                       91-96    16
     F.   Women and the economy                          97-106   17
     G.   Women in power and decision-making            107-114   19
     H.   Institutional mechanisms for the advancement
          of women                                      115-122   21
     I.   Human rights of women                         123-132   23
     J.   Women and the media                           133-140   24
     K.   Women and the environment                     141-148   26
     L.   The girl child                                149-156   27
     M.   Other priorities                              157-158   28

Annex     Respondents that submitted national action 
          plans and strategies                                    29

Figures*

     I.   Levels of overall response to individual 
          critical areas of concern                                4
     II.  Levels of regional response to individual critical 
          areas of concern, by region                              4
          Levels of regional response to individual critical areas 
          of concern, by critical area of concern                  4

*Contact the Division for the Advancement of Women for a copy of figures. 


Introduction

1.                  The Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World
Conference on Women (Beijing, 4-15 September 1995) recommended the
preparation of implementation strategies or plans of action as one way to
encourage and ensure follow-up, implementation and monitoring at the
national level.1 It requested Governments to start developing their
strategies or plans of action, as soon as possible, preferably by the end
of 1995, in consultation with relevant institutions and non-governmental
organizations, and to have them ready by the end of 1996.2 The General
Assembly in its resolution 50/203, recognized that the implementation of
the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action rests primarily at the
national level. The Assembly emphasized that Governments should develop
comprehensive implementation strategies or national plans of action no
later than 1996 in order to implement the Platform for Action in full. The
Economic and Social Council, in its resolution 1996/6, requested the
preparation of a synthesized report on implementation plans of Governments
and the United Nations based, inter alia, on national action plans and any
other sources of information already available in the United Nations
system, to be considered by the Commission on the Status of Women in 1998.

2.                  Member States were invited, in a note verbale of 13 May
1996, to provide copies of their national implementation strategies or
plans of action as soon as they were completed. The Subregional Conference
of Senior Governmental Experts, which considered the theme "Implementation
of the Platform for Action adopted by the 1995 World Conference on Women in
Beijing, in Central and Eastern Europe" and was held at Bucharest from 12
to 14 September 1996, elaborated a model action plan that was translated
into all official languages and disseminated to all United Nations Member
States, the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations. In
its resolution 51/69, the General Assembly welcomed the elaboration of
guidelines for national strategies or plans of action by regional and
subregional conferences on the implementation of the Platform for Action.
By 31 December 1996, 24 Member States had sent in replies to the United
Nations. Subsequently, a second note verbale of 16 June 1997 was sent to
all Member States requesting them to send in their national action plans as
soon as completed.

3.                  The present report contains an analysis of national
action plans submitted officially to the Secretariat in response to the
note verbale by a total of 85 Member States and one observer (see annex).
The report examines whether plans followed the recommendations of the
Platform for Action concerning preparation, content, action defined and
resources allocated.2 Each set of national objectives was compared to the
strategic objectives in the Platform for Action to determine trends and
priorities, including regional trends and mainstreaming initiatives. The
report evaluates whether Member States made policy declarations of a
general nature or defined specific action, including legal action.
Particular attention was given to the targets and benchmarks established
under critical areas of concern in the Platform for Action and how Member
States reflected them in their action plans or translated them into
national targets. Attention was also paid to commitments made by Member
States at the Fourth World Conference on Women, and whether those
commitments are referred to in the national action plan. Although
voluntary, the implementation of those commitments has been closely
monitored, in particular by non-governmental organizations. In line with
the mandate for the report, the focus of analysis is on actions that are
either planned or in progress. Reference was made to innovative or uncommon
approaches if they resulted from the plan or ongoing initiatives. Although
preliminary achievements in implementation are assessed based on the
information supplied, overall achievements in implementation will be the
subject of review and appraisal by the Commission on the Status of Women in
the year 2000.


            II.     Conclusions


4.                  The scope of analysis contained in the present report
has been limited to 86 national action plans and information on their
establishment submitted officially by 85 Member States and one observer to
the United Nations. Although the reports reflect the considerable efforts
that have been made in many countries from all regions, only 46 per cent of
the 185 Member States of the United Nations have sent in a national action
plan. A regional breakdown of national action plans received shows that 29
per cent of Member States from Africa submitted a plan, 41 per cent from
Asia and the Pacific, 38 per cent from Eastern Europe, 41 per cent from
Latin America and the Caribbean and 66 per cent from Western Europe and
Others. 

5.                  Although all critical areas of concern are covered (see
fig. I), action plans tend to reflect national priorities. Many are limited
to some critical areas of concern, reflecting regional differences and
preferences (see figs. II and III). The total of 86 national action plans
reflect the critical areas of concern of the Platform for Action as
follows: women and poverty (56), education and training (77), women and
health(70), violence against women (61), women and armed conflict (28),
women and the economy (71), women in power and decision-making (75),
institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women (77), human rights of
women (70), women and the media (46), women and the environment (42) and
the girl child (27). In some cases, the national action plans complement
sectoral plans in development, education or health, and therefore do not
include the details of action proposed in those plans.

6.                  The analysis indicates that the momentum created by the
Fourth World Conference on Women has been sustained at the national level
in many countries. The preparatory process was an important event, and
represented a milestone towards greater cooperation between various
government ministries and civil society. Many national action plans contain
information on the preparation process, and followed the recommendations of
the Platform for Action that the planning process draw upon persons at the
highest level of authority in Government and relevant actors in civil
society.2 The drafting of a national plan was a process that mobilized
efforts and commitments at many levels. National action plans were often
elaborated in a nationwide dialogue and reflect the national context. In
order to further sustain the momentum, special efforts should be made to
empower all actors involved in the drafting process so that they become
full participants in the process of implementation. 

7.                  Most national machineries were created or strengthened
after the Fourth World Conference on Women and played a key role in
preparing national action plans. Many Member States refer to the
establishment or improvement of national machinery for the advancement of
women and its leading role in the overall implementation of the national
action plans and achieving the mainstreaming of a gender perspective. They
also emphasize the need for strengthening national machinery for the
advancement of women by creating coordination mechanisms at ministerial or
other levels and by integrating national action plans into larger national
development or economic plans. A number of Member States are making
specific institutional arrangements to implement the actions proposed under
critical areas of concern, including coordination, gender training and
regular monitoring by the ministries concerned and national machinery. The
efforts of those Member States that have not yet made such arrangements
should be supported, and the establishment of appropriate institutional
mechanisms should be speeded up through assistance by the United Nations
system, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and donors.

8.                  The international community, in particular the United
Nations system, has played a central role in supporting the drafting
process in many developing countries and in co-organizing regional or
subregional follow-up meetings. In particular, the regional commissions and
the national and regional offices of the United Nations Development Fund
for Women (UNIFEM), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), have provided assistance for the
establishment of national machineries and the preparation of national
action plans. They have also supported the efforts of non-governmental
organizations. Such efforts must be sustained in the implementation
process. 

9.                  The majority of plans contain both general policy
recommendations and concrete action proposals. Only a few establish
comprehensive time-bound targets and benchmarks or indicators for
monitoring. More attention should be given to specific, time-bound national
actions and targets in the monitoring process, which would facilitate the
implementation of the Platform for Action and make the appraisal by the
year 2000 more tangible and transparent.

10.                 Most countries made no reference to sources of
financing for the actions indicated in their plans. In view of the critical
importance of budgetary provisions for successful implementation of the
Platform for Action, this issue should be given more attention in the
implementation of national plans and strategies. 

11.                 Completion and monitoring of national action plans
constitutes the basis for the review and appraisal of the implementation of
the Platform for Action in the year 2000. National action plans should,
therefore, serve as a reference point for preparing future reports on the
implementation of the Platform for Action at the national level. This
should facilitate the assessment of which policies and projects have been
successfully implemented and which have failed, which policy declarations
have been converted into concrete policies followed by actions and which
remain on paper, which participatory processes have been more effective,
which benchmarks have been met and which indicators are accurate for
measurement purposes.

12.                 Many national action plans contain innovative and
uncommon ideas and approaches, best practices and lessons learned. The
process of collecting such information should continue until the year 2000,
which would enable the Secretariat to include that information in its
database and to make it available to interested Governments and
non-governmental organizations. 

13.                 Since a majority of Member States have not yet
submitted their national action plans and many of them are still in the
process of elaborating them, all efforts should be made by the United
Nations system, intergovernmental organizations and donor countries to
provide those States with any assistance required to complete their plans
and focus on their implementation.


           III.     Analysis of action plans and implementation strategies


14.                 The present section contains information on action
plans or implementation strategies, and analyses the different categories
of action plans received, at the national as well as at the regional,
subregional and interregional levels. 



             A.     National level


15.                 As of 9 December 1997, a total of 85 Member States and
one observer (see annex) had submitted national action plans or information
on the process of their preparation. Additional information gathered from
the United Nations system indicates that national action plans had been
adopted or were being drafted by other Member States, but since no official
response had been received from the Governments concerned and their plans
had not reached the Secretariat, they could not be included in the
analysis. 

16.                 In addition, Member States provided information in
statements to the General Assembly at its fifty-second session on progress
in preparing national action plans. Four Member States reported that
national action plans or various programmes and strategies for the
advancement of women had been developed.3 Two Member States informed that a
national plan of action was being elaborated or would soon be adopted by
the Government.4 One Member State indicated that it did not consider itself
able to implement the commitments under the Beijing Platform for Action
because it lacked the institutional capacity, including the financial and
technical resources.5

17.                 The 86 national action plans and strategies submitted
to the United Nations in response to the note verbale could be
characterized as follows:

                    (a)     Fifty-six national action plans or strategies
for action contain commitments to multiple actions in most or all of the
critical areas of concern, including institutional and financial
arrangements. According to the information provided, 15 of those plans have
been approved or adopted by a legislative body. Four plans were drafted and
adopted before the Fourth World Conference on Women, in Chile (1994-1999),
China (1995-2000, adopted 27 July 1995), Jordan (adopted 1993) and the
Russian Federation (approved December 1994). Three Member States submitted
sectoral plans related to one or several critical areas of concern. Eight
Member States submitted in addition one or more separate reports or
information on progress in implementation and statistics; 

                    (b)     Fourteen national action plans contain a
progress report on actions carried out and selected priorities of ongoing
or planned actions;

                    (c)     Eight Member States submitted drafts of
national action plans which have not yet been finalized or adopted;

                    (d)     Eight Member States provided information on the
status of preparation of the national action plan or national action taken,
including priority areas.



             B.     Regional, subregional and interregional levels


18.                 The Platform underlines the importance of regional
coordination under institutional arrangements.6 In their national action
plans, several Member States plan on greater coordination within
international forums of which they are members. Coordination and
cooperation within the European Union, the Commonwealth, the Caribbean
Community (CARICOM), the Arab League, the Organization of American States
(OAS) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) are mentioned in
particular. Some Member States make it their goal to set up or strengthen
regional groupings. Turkey, for instance, refers to the establishment of a
regional Eurasian women's group to work towards the implementation of the
Platform for Action. 

19.                 Regional action plans provide guidelines for action for
their members. Six action plans on the implementation of the Platform for
Action established by intergovernmental mechanisms have been submitted to
the United Nations. Those plans contain detailed proposals on a number of
critical areas of concern, and have been formally adopted by their
respective policy-making organs.  

20.                 In the Fourth Medium-Term Community Action Programme on
Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (1996-2000) of the European Union
(EU), the promotion of partnership between the players involved at the
national and community levels is one of five goals. Finland indicates in
its national action plans that it intends to play a leadership role within
EU when it assumes the presidency, and will insist on the promotion of
equality between women and men. The Czech Republic mentions in its
information note on the national action plan that it is considering
participating in the Medium-Term Programme. Programmes of the Council of
Europe are mentioned by a few Members States. Reference is also made to
specific Funds of the European Union, such as the Social Fund. 

21.                 The Commonwealth Plan of Action on Gender and
Development, which urges members to establish national plans of action, was
endorsed by the meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government in November
1995. The Plan aims to strengthen institutional arrangements and processes,
and identifies a set of interrelated issues of special concern to the
Commonwealth, such as political and human rights and social and economic
development. 

22.                 A combined action plan for CARICOM, entitled "Towards
regional policy on gender equality and social justice" was endorsed by a
special meeting of ministers responsible for the integration of women in
development in November 1996. The plan outlines actions in 11 strategic
objectives and implementation strategies. Members of CARICOM consider the
plan to be their strategy for implementation. A regional seminar held in
Guyana in August 1997, at which many members of CARICOM presented national
follow-up plans, served as an opportunity to exchange views on progress
achieved at the subregional level. CARICOM, the Inter-American Development
Bank and various international donors are also providing assistance to the
implementation process. 

23.                 A Unified Arab Programme for Action, which focuses on
the alleviation of poverty, participation in decision-making and
partnership in the family, was adopted by the ministerial segment of the
Arab Conference for Formulating a Programme for Action and Follow-up
Mechanism to the Fourth World Conference (Amman, 25-29 September 1996),
which was convened by the League of Arab States and co-organized by the
Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

24.                 A plan of action for promoting women's equal
participation in economic development in Indochina was adopted by the
Governments of Viet Nam, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Cambodia
at the Indochina Seminar on Promoting Women's Participation in Economic
Development, organized at Hanoi in January 1996, by the Economic and Social
Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in collaboration with the Viet
Nam Women's Union. The plan laid the foundation for drafting the national
action plans of the three countries.

25.                 The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) reported the
development of a draft subregional plan of action by the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) and an eastern African subregional support
initiative for the implementation of the African and global Platforms for
Action. 

26.                 The Seventh Regional Conference on the Integration of
Women into the Economic and Social Development of Latin America and the
Caribbean (Santiago, 19-21 November 1997), evaluated the obstacles and
progress achieved with regard to the Regional Programme of Action
1995-2001, which was adopted at Mar de Plata in 1994. The Conference
adopted the Santiago Consensus, which called for measures to achieve full
implementation.



             C.     Preparatory process of establishing national action
                    plans


             1.     National level

27.                 In many countries, the first initiative after the
Fourth World Conference on Women was the translation of the Platform for
Action into local languages or the publication of a summary of the Platform
for Action in accessible language. The United Arab Emirates, for example,
held several seminars on the Platform for Action. In many Member States,
the planning process included a series of meetings at the national level,
primarily initiated by the national machinery for the advancement of women.
Those meetings were held in consultation with government institutions and
non-governmental organizations. In the Congo, for example, the national
plan emerged from a series of meetings at the national level involving the
National Forum of Women. In other countries, the draft was made available
to all relevant organizations and representatives from civil society for
comments, as was the case in El Salvador. In Canada, universities,
non-governmental organizations and community groups supported the planning
process. It is not yet known what effect the consultative process will have
on the implementation of the plan.

28.                 In many Member States, the planning process was mainly
conducted at the ministerial level, involving many or all ministries
concerned early in the preparatory process. In Bangladesh, 13 ministries
were involved in the drafting and were assigned lead roles in
implementation. Venezuela, which is in the process of drafting its national
plan, intends to involve the Central Office of Statistics and Information,
and the Office for the Coordination and Planning of the Republic in the
drafting of the final national action plan. In Germany, federal states and
non-governmental organizations formulated individual demands that were
incorporated into the plan. In Trinidad and Tobago, the Friends of the
Ministry and the Male Support Group serve in advisory capacities.

29.                 In some cases, the national action plan for the
advancement of women was integrated into a national development plan. The
Philippines used a dual approach by developing a separate, long-term
30-year Philippine Plan for Gender Responsive Development (1995-2025) in
parallel to the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan, expecting that
gender issues would become mainstream issues in a 30-year time-frame.


             2.     Support from the international community

30.                 Although the main support for the planning process was
provided at the national level and mostly through the Government and the
national machinery for the advancement of women, reference is made in some
plans from Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia and the
Pacific to international or bilateral assistance. In Panama, for example,
the European Union, UNICEF and non-governmental organizations supported the
planning process. The national action plan of Lebanon was drafted in
cooperation with UNIFEM.

31.                 The United Nations system played a central role in
supporting the drafting process. In particular, regional commissions have
assisted many Member States and non-governmental organizations in the
preparation of their national action plans. The Economic Commission for
Africa, for example, provided guidelines for the elaboration of national
action plans to all its Member States and advisory services to a number of
non-governmental organizations, such as the African Women's Development
Network (FEMNET). 

32.                 UNIFEM provided assistance and organized meetings in
all regions. It convened a colloquium at Harare in 1996 to devise regional
strategies for the Platform for Action that focus on women's economic
empowerment. A key recommendation was that UNIFEM and its partners
cooperate closely in developing strategies for mainstreaming gender into
the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), SADC and other
regional organizations. UNIFEM also supported an African regional workshop
on post-Beijing strategies and priorities at Dakar in 1997. It sponsored
jointly with other donors a post-Beijing political summit in Nigeria, which
culminated in the drafting of a political agenda for Nigerian women. In
Thailand, UNIFEM supported an initiative on mainstreaming gender, and
supported governmental and non-governmental implementation of the Platform
for Action through a gender and development working group. In Western Asia,
UNIFEM, together with the European Union, supported the establishment of
national machineries and non-governmental committees in Jordan, the Syrian
Arab Republic, Lebanon, Yemen and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In
Latin America, UNIFEM assisted the national machineries in Brazil, Chile,
Paraguay and Uruguay in developing their national action plans. UNIFEM and
UNICEF held a regional meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean in Cuba
to define strategies for promoting dialogue and collaboration between
Governments and non-governmental organizations. 


33.                 UNICEF reported that it had been actively involved in
the preparation of national action plans. Its country programmes included
specific activities for collaboration and support in the collection of data
disaggregated by sex, capacity-building, innovative programme strategies,
public awareness, women's rights and the empowerment of women. The regional
UNICEF office for Eastern and Southern Africa, for instance, joined the
Government of Uganda and OAU in organizing a regional conference for
ministers of education and senior administrators from 35 African countries
on women's education and literacy at Kampala in September 1996, which
adopted the Kampala Declaration and made a commitment to reduce gender
disparities in education.

34.                 UNFPA noted that it provided support to the Governments
of Bangladesh, China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Senegal,
the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda in formulating their national
plans of action. Jointly with the United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UNFPA assisted Mauritania, inter alia,
in the training of senior government officials in planning and design of
action plans and for the elaboration of a national policy on family issues.
UNESCO reported that it provided support to Burundi, Cuba, Ecuador, Jordan,
Mauritania and Oman in the establishment and implementation of national
action plans. The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) assisted in the
Conference follow-up and in the implementation of specific projects in
Botswana, the Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea and the Philippines. 

35.                 Some Governments received assistance in translating the
Platform for Action into local languages. UNFPA provided support to
Mongolia for the printing of the Platform for Action in English and
Mongolian. In Nigeria, UNIFEM and the local United Nations information
centre supported the translation and publication of the Platform for Action
into Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo. 
36.                 In addition, the United Nations system has made efforts
to implement the Platform for Action in line with recommendations contained
under institutional arrangements, when it established the system-wide
medium-term plan for the advancement of women which is to be reviewed in
1998 (see E/CN.6/1998/3).



             D.     Institutional and financial arrangements


37.                 One prerequisite for successful implementation is the
establishment of institutional arrangements that will guarantee the
implementation of plans and strategies and monitor achievements (for
detailed analysis, see sect. IV.H below).

38.                 Another prerequisite is to establish financial
arrangements. However, most countries do not indicate how the actions to
implement the Beijing Platform for Action are to be funded. Among those
plans (20) which do mention the allocation of resources, several countries
(16) address funding in general or at existing levels. Few national action
plans refer to additional levels of funding and resources. None refers to a
reduction in excessive military expenditures and investment for arms
production and acquisition, as suggested in the Platform for Action.7

39.                 Member States who make reference to national sources
for financing proposed activities often refer to specific projects or pilot
projects. A limited number of Member States provide detailed information on
resources, often for projects being already implemented. The national
action plan of Germany, for instance, contains information on the amount
allocated to various initiatives and programmes, including for homeless
women, disabled women, the promotion of women in universities and pilot
projects in voluntary political commitment. 

40.                 Most countries (52) did not link the actions indicated
in their national action plans to specific time-bound targets. However,
Mali's national plan explicitly addresses the mobilization of resources for
nationally selected critical areas of concern, and indicates the annual
budgeted amounts and the funding source for each sector over a five-year
period from 1996-2000. With regard to the recommendations of the Platform
for Action on setting benchmarks for the achievement of certain levels of
budget allocations,8 the Congo is one of few that targets 20 per cent of
its national budget for social concerns, with a portion specifically
reserved for activities related to women.

41.                 Some Member States provide information on financial
mechanisms that would assist women's projects or the creation of an
enabling environment for the mobilization of resources by non-governmental
organizations.9 For instance, Luxembourg reports that projects by
non-governmental organizations that promote women's activities may receive
300 per cent co-financing by the Ministry for the Advancement of Women.  

42.                 In the framework of development cooperation, frequent
reference is made to bilateral assistance, either in the context of
North-South or South-South cooperation, as mentioned by Tunisia. Many plans
include existing support or provide detailed descriptions of assistance
requested and received. Many developing countries report on assistance from
multilateral or bilateral donors. Several countries in Latin America and in
Asia and the Pacific address the issue of resource allocation and
mobilization. Panama has established a budget for the implementation of
proposals contained in its national action plan, of which major portions
are to be financed externally. In particular, the draft action plans of
Bangladesh and Pakistan identify international development cooperation and
external donors as potential funding sources. The national action plan of
Mali specifies projects in the field of advancement of women to be financed
by the United Nations system or by bilateral donors. 

43.                 Some donor countries provide information in their
national action plans on the type of projects to be supported. In line with
commitments made at the Fourth World Conference on Women, Denmark reports
continuing its international development cooperation with over 1 per cent
of gross national product (GNP) funding; Germany plans to spend $10 million
per annum over the next four years for legal and sociopolitical counselling
in developing countries, with special emphasis on women; and Luxembourg
will increase international development assistance to 0.7 per cent of GNP
by the year 2000. 



            IV.     Critical areas of concern in the plans and strategies


44.                 The analysis of the strategic objectives and actions
contained in the national action plans and strategies within each critical
area of concern include common criteria for classification and evaluation,
such as the number of Member States reporting on a particular issue;
commitments made by Member States at the Fourth World Conference on Women
in the particular critical area; reference to and use of benchmarks and/or
targets; the mainstreaming of a gender perspective; legislative and
administrative actions; institutional arrangements; and the allocation of
resources. Other categories applied according to the information provided
include ongoing action before the Conference; innovative or uncommon
approaches not contained in the Platform for Action; public information
campaigns, outreach activities and partnerships; monitoring and evaluation;
and attention to special groups. 


45.                 Within each critical area of concern, the following
structure was adopted in order to ensure a consistent presentation
throughout the report: an initial summary, providing an overview and
analysis of the issues related to the strategic objectives and actions
contained in the critical area of concern; a series of main issues
addressed by the national action plans; and finally, any issues not covered
by the Platform for Action, including innovative or uncommon approaches. 


             A.     Women and poverty


46.                 Fifty-six national action plans and strategies (65 per
cent) establish policies and programmes for the eradication of poverty
among women. At the Fourth World Conference on Women, some Member States
had made a commitment towards poverty eradication in their public
statements. An analysis of national action plans indicates that they follow
closely the conclusions and recommendations under this critical area. One
third of the plans underline the importance of reviewing, adopting and
maintaining macroeconomic policies that address the needs and efforts of
women in poverty (strategic objective A.1). That trend reflects a growing
consensus to encourage sustained economic growth and address the structural
causes of poverty. Most plans focus on the absence of economic
opportunities, lack of access to productive resources and capital, lack of
access to education and training and inadequate provision of social safety
nets (strategic objective A.2). The economic empowerment of women is
considered by Governments as a crucial element in breaking the cycle of
poverty. Accordingly, most national action plans in this area focus on a
two-pronged strategy: promoting employment and income-generating activities
for women both in rural and urban areas, and providing basic social
services and improving social security systems for women in poverty. The
elimination of unemployment among women is the focus of attention of
Governments in all regions. This critical area is closely related to areas
F (Women and the economy) and B (Education and training of women). 

47.                 Twenty-seven plans propose policies and programmes
aimed at creating various types of employment schemes in both the formal
and informal sectors. Some national action plans from the Latin American
and Caribbean region emphasize the economic empowerment of women through
expanding their opportunities in employment and training. Ecuador, for
example, is considering a proposal to restructure the allocation of public
expenditures to promote women's economic opportunities. Mexico is providing
grants or scholarships to poor girls and young women, while Venezuela is
implementing educational programmes for indigenous women. 

48.                 Sixteen plans from the African region focus on
encouraging women's income-generation activities and improving their access
to economic resources, credit and technology (strategic objective A.2).
Swaziland, for instance, plans to review existing legislation in order to
remove barriers to economic participation of women, especially those
related to land and property rights. The Congo has created financial funds
to promote women's productive activities. The United Republic of Tanzania
and Zimbabwe plan to establish women's banks. A few national action plans
from Latin America and the Caribbean are also considering the revision of
laws, especially agricultural codes and regulations, in order to facilitate
women's access to economic resources, including land. Eighteen countries
indicate that they intend to improve women's access to credit for obtaining
housing. 

49.                 Measures aimed at improving or reorganizing social
security systems in order to provide allowances and benefits to women,
particularly to single parents and children, are proposed in 24 plans. In
1997, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland began a
three-year pilot programme entitled "Parent plus", which provides income
support to single parents as an incentive to return to work.

50.                 Many plans target specific groups of women. The
Government of Bulgaria will provide a universal allowance to cover expenses
for transportation and rehabilitation services for more than 100,000
physically disabled women. Brazil is developing community programmes for
sheltering older women. A few countries focus on the needs and concerns of
women migrants. Thirty-two plans contain measures aimed at the improvement
of the socio-economic status of females who head households, recognizing
that they are among the poorest section of the population. Argentina, for
example, is planning to introduce positive action programmes for
female-headed households. 

51.                 The issue of mainstreaming a gender perspective into
social and economic policies is a concern for 24 countries from all
regions. Brazil, for instance, plans to organize gender training for
employees in the Ministries of Labour and Agriculture. Mongolia intends to
mainstream a gender perspective in its poverty alleviation programme, and
to introduce mechanisms for the elimination of poverty among women. In
addition, eight plans include measures aimed at mainstreaming the gender
perspective into international development cooperation policies and
programmes, with special focus on gender-specified poverty reduction. The
United States Agency for International Development is adopting a gender
plan for action to improve the situation of women and girls globally.
France has established a committee on gender and development, and is
organizing regular seminars on that issue. Sweden is providing economic
support for development in the Republics of the former USSR, with special
emphasis on gender equality.

52.                 Twenty-five national action plans from all regions have
proposed concrete actions to promote research on gender aspects of poverty,
develop conceptual tools and practical methodologies to conduct gender
impact analysis of all policies and programmes, and improve data
collection. Norway, for example, has conducted a research project on
poverty in Nordic countries. A poverty forum was established in Zimbabwe
under the auspices of the Institute for Development Studies to carry out
poverty assessment studies for policy-making. In addition, many Governments
are focusing on the improvement of primary health care, nutrition and
primary education as a means of reducing poverty. 

53.                 A few national action plans identify targets for
poverty alleviation among women. China will provide professional training
to 10 million women in poverty-stricken areas, alleviate 200,000 households
out of poverty and provide jobs for 800,000 poor women. Mongolia's goal is
to reduce the poverty rate among women to 50 per cent of its 1994 level, or
10 per cent of women, by the year 2000, and to eliminate extreme poverty.
Viet Nam is planning to reduce the number of poor households to 10 per cent
and eliminate hunger by the year 2000. 

54.                 In terms of innovative and uncommon approaches, Brazil
and Ecuador intend to map female poverty and to monitor the impact of
macroeconomic and social policies on women, taking racial concerns into
account. In the Western Europe and Others region, there is an emphasis on
reviewing pension benefits for women. Proposed changes in pension laws
include the consideration of child-raising periods and an increase of
maternity allowances and widows' pensions. Denmark, for example, organized
a conference on women and pensions in 1996. 



             B.     Education and training of women


55.                 Seventy-seven Member States (89 per cent) consider
education and training of women a priority concern in their national action
plans. Fifteen of those Member States made a commitment on education at the
Fourth World Conference on Women and include it as a critical area in their
plans, although only two make a direct reference to the earlier commitment.
Although Member States refer equally to all strategic objectives in the
Platform for Action under this area, few refer to the specific benchmarks
with regard to providing universal access to basic education, closing the
gender gap in primary and secondary education10 and reducing the female
illiteracy rate to at least half of its 1990 level.11 Member States propose
a variety of actions, often very specific and tailored to national
educational needs. 

56.                 Some national action plans (12) establish national
benchmarks in education. Eight national action plans from the African
region address girls' access to primary and basic schooling. Mali sets a
specific target to achieve a 20 per cent increase in girls' schooling by
the year 2000. In half of the plans from Asia and the Pacific, a national
goal for the improvement of basic and primary education is established. By
the year 2000, Mongolia aims to enrol 95 per cent of girls and boys in
primary schools and 90 per cent of boys and girls in secondary schools. In
Western Asia, Palestine plans to have a basic school in every village. In
Latin America and the Caribbean, El Salvador intends to extend schooling in
rural areas up to sixth grade, while all other plans from the region have
not established goals with regard to basic and primary education.

57.                 Eradication of illiteracy among women is recognized as
a priority by many Member States (23) but few have set national targets. In
Africa, few plans set specific benchmarks for the eradication of
illiteracy. Mali intends to achieve a 20 per cent increase in literacy
among women by the year 2000. In Asia and the Pacific, few plans set
benchmarks that could be used as indicators for monitoring progress. Most
national action plans from all regions identify special target groups in
need of literacy training, such as rural women, migrants, refugees, women
with disabilities and indigenous women, a trend most visible in Latin
America and the Caribbean.

58.                 To achieve equal opportunities for women and girls in
education, Member States intend to undertake a variety of measures,
including research on the causes of gender differences in schooling, such
as drop-out rates and low performance of girls; information campaigns and
counselling to raise public awareness on the importance of girls'
education; parents' education; and scholarships and affirmative action
programmes and quota systems, in particular at the tertiary level. The
University of Zimbabwe has introduced affirmative action to increase the
number of women at the university level. Denmark plans to increase the
number of female doctoral students and university professors. Finland's
project "Finns' skills in mathematics and natural science in 2002" is
intended to attain a 40 per cent participation of girls in mathematics and
science courses in secondary schools and 30 per cent women in technical
fields by the year 2000. Several Member States in Latin America and the
Caribbean target young mothers and pregnant teenage students and drop-outs.
Other countries design measures to reach out to disadvantaged groups, such
as the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia, women with
disabilities and women in poverty in Canada, single parents in the United
Kingdom, immigrants in Norway, women with special needs in Ecuador, and
rural women in Swaziland and Mongolia.

59.                 Women's access to vocational training, science and
technology and continuing education (strategic objective B.3) is a priority
in many plans (25). To attract more women and girls to science, countries
in Western Europe and in Latin America aim to increase vocational training
opportunities and recruit women and girls in non-traditional fields of
study. There are similar efforts in other regions. The Islamic Republic of
Iran, for example, continues to maintain a 50 per cent quota for women in
the medical fields. Syria will train women in modern technology. China's
goal is to have one female agro-technician or technician in animal
husbandry in every village on average. National reports from Latin America
and Eastern Europe specify target groups to be addressed in vocational
training, including women prisoners in Venezuela and Brazil and unemployed
women in Romania and Belarus. Lifelong education (strategic objective B.6)
is addressed in general terms in some national action plans (17). They
often target specific groups, such as unemployed or illiterate women. 

60.                 Non-discriminatory education and training (strategic
objective B.4) is a priority for Western Europe and Others and Latin
America and the Caribbean. Many action plans from Western Europe and Others
(18) plan to remove bias from teaching material and curricula, to promote
gender training for teachers and counsellors, and to support women studies
and gender research. Israel reconfirms the position of a Supervisor of
Gender Equality in the Ministry of Education as an ombudsman for
monitoring. Few plans from Latin America and the Caribbean refer to the
involvement of the national machinery for the advancement of women or
non-governmental organizations in efforts to make the educational system
more gender sensitive.  

61.                 Little information is provided on action related to
both financial resources and monitoring of educational reforms. A few plans
discuss the mobilization of additional funds from private and public-sector
institutions, foundations and others, as suggested in the Platform for
Action.12 For instance, the Philippines intends to allocate funds for the
development of women's studies in the educational curriculum and teacher
training. Mali includes a detailed financial plan in its national action
plan. Some Member States from Western Europe and Others provide information
on financial resources, although more address specific projects or progress
achieved. Others refer to the allocation of resources for specific
programmes or pilot projects, such as funding for research on gender
equality in sports and culture in Finland, support for women scientists in
France, or funding for cultural projects and research by Aboriginal women's
organizations in Canada.

62.                 With regard to institutional mechanisms in the
educational system, El Salvador, for instance, plans to create an
inter-institutional system to follow up and evaluate the implementation of
agreements, programmes and policies for equal opportunities in education.
Luxembourg plans to support, coordinate and monitor the policy of equal
opportunities by creating the necessary institutional structures. Specific
monitoring mechanisms are proposed by Argentina, Iraq and Belarus.

63.                 With regard to the content of education and training,
including extracurricular activities, reference is made to education on
human rights and legal literacy, leadership training and civic education,
including voter education and new technologies. Some countries in Latin
America and the Caribbean refer to sexual education, reproductive health
education and pre-marriage education. Some national action plans, in
particular from six countries from the Arab region, underline the
importance of early childhood development and education, including the
provision of facilities and adequate teacher training, an area not
addressed in the Platform for Action. The Syrian Arab Republic, for
example, wants to open kindergartens in various regions. The importance of
sports and physical activity for girls and women is stressed in a number of
action plans from all regions except Africa. Overall plans focus on helping
girls and women to develop higher self-esteem.  


             C.     Women and health


64.                 Women and health is a priority issue in 70 national
action plans (81 per cent). Fifteen of these made a public commitment to
women's health at the Fourth World Conference on Women. Only one country
mentioned the specific Beijing commitment. In general, Member States
propose several types of action, while giving particular attention to
reproductive health. A minority of Member States addressed the Platform for
Action's specific targets under women and health with regard to the
reduction of maternal mortality,13 of infant and child mortality in line
with internationally approved goals,14 and of worldwide malnutrition among
children under the age of five and in iron deficiency anaemia in girls and
women.15

65.                 The targets mostly referred to are reduction of
maternal and infant mortality (15). In Latin America, Brazil and Ecuador
aim to reduce the maternal mortality rate to 50 per cent of its current
level by the year 2000. In Africa, Morocco targets a 25 per cent reduction
in maternal mortality, a 50 per cent reduction of maternal mortality in
hospitals and a reduction by one third of neonatal mortality by the year
2000. Few plans mention iron deficiency anaemia in girls and women. China,
however, is planning to make iodine available to 95 per cent of newly wed
or pregnant women who need it by the year 2000. 

66.                 A majority of Member States from all regions make
policy declarations of a general nature to increase women's access
throughout the life cycle to appropriate, affordable and quality health
care, information and related services (strategic objective C.1). A few
make specific reference to the right to health. For instance, Panama states
that its national strategic objective is to promote women's access to
health information and services as a human right. Swaziland intends to
promote women's rights to the attainment of the highest level of mental,
physical and reproductive health. Some national action plans, mainly from
Latin America, refer to codes of ethics for health professionals related to
prevention, research and health-care delivery. A few mention the creation
of conditions that ensure the dignity of persons who seek health treatment
or receive sexual and reproductive health services, in particular the right
to privacy and confidentiality. Venezuela, for instance, intends to
establish ethical committees to monitor the respect of human rights in
mental health. In Canada's plan, ethical questions are raised concerning
reproductive technologies. Women's equal access to social security systems
throughout the whole life cycle16 is referred to in a few plans, mostly in
conjunction with specific target groups, such as elderly women in the case
of Mexico or working mothers in the Republic of Korea. 

67.                 With regard to women's sexual and reproductive health,
many national action plans (34) address the provision of access to family
planning, contraceptives and family planning techniques. The establishment
of family planning services, their availability in rural areas and possible
integration into primary health-care centres, and the services of trained
midwives are addressed in several plans. Quality obstetric care and
prenatal care is a priority. For example, El Salvador sets clear targets
for an increase in professional assistance in deliveries and prenatal care.
Morocco establishes specific targets for safe delivery, perinatal and
postnatal care in rural and urban areas. Some plans from all regions
highlight the importance of breastfeeding. Abortion in mentioned in some
plans, in particular from Latin America and the Caribbean. For instance,
Brazil is considering changes in legislation which contains punitive
measures against women who have undergone illegal abortions.17 A few plans
refer to a desired increase in birth rates and the treatment of
infertility. Campaigns, educational programmes and the integration of
family planning and sex education into curricula are mentioned in many
plans (15). Many also emphasize the importance of reaching out to men in
family planning.

68.                 Many Member States from almost all regions (21)
consider action against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and the human
immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) as a
priority concern. The Congo's goal, for instance, is to inform all adults
about modes of HIV/AIDS infection and means of protection against the
virus. Counselling and information campaigns are favoured activities in
Western Europe and Latin America. Many recognize the need for more
research. With regard to HIV/AIDS treatment, Luxembourg, for example, will
encourage the participation of infected women in the elaboration of
policies and programmes. Specific target groups, such as drug users, sex
workers, pregnant women and indigenous women, are mentioned in few plans
(5). The involvement of non-governmental organizations in combatting the
HIV/AIDS virus and STDs is mentioned in a few others. 

69.                 All national action plans address specific health
conditions of women, particularly ageing, drug use and abuse, including
smoking and mental health. Japan, for instance, develops a number of
actions related, inter alia, to health and welfare measures and nursing
systems for the elderly. Other areas specifically mentioned in national
action plans are violence, environmental health, occupational health,
disability and traditional practices, including female genital mutilation. 

70.                 The achievement of food security is mentioned as a
priority in few plans, for example by Haiti. The Niger wants to conduct
research on food taboos and interdictions. Information campaigns and
educational programmes in schools and targeted to special groups are
considered by some an important tool in achieving public awareness on
nutrition, hygiene and a healthy lifestyle, and in combating eating
disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia and obesity. Many place emphasis on
the importance of regular physical activity and sports. 

 
71.                 National action plans from all regions emphasize the
importance of more research on a variety of health issues, including family
planning, teenage pregnancies, fertility and reproductive health and
traditional knowledge. Cambodia will undertake a holistic health sector
survey, with a focus on medical, water/sanitation and education, as well as
regional development. Some highlight the need to have more women in
leadership positions in medical professions, including in research and
science. Bahrain will provide education and overseas scholarships to women.
The collection and dissemination of health data disaggregated by sex is
referred to in many plans. Actions aimed at health-care workers are
intended to increase the number of women in health-care delivery, as
indicated by China and the Islamic Republic of Iran; improve training for
health workers, as suggested in the draft plan of Pakistan; and provide
gender training to all health-care professionals in the private or public
sectors. This is emphasized in as many as 17 plans, in particular from
Western Europe and Others and Latin America and the Caribbean. 

72.                 With regard to resources and monitoring (strategic
objective C.5), few plans provide details on increases in budgetary
allocations. Romania intends to increase budgetary subsidies, while also
trying to find new alternative resources for medical services. Development
cooperation is mentioned in three plans from Western Europe. For instance,
in Norway the provision of high-quality health care, including reproductive
health, is an international priority.

73.                 The mainstreaming of a gender perspective into health
coordination mechanisms is a goal in 12 national action plans, in
particular from Latin America. Some Member States are taking steps to
introduce institutional arrangements to ensure the implementation of their
action plan in the area of women and health, either through the
establishment of women's health bureaus or integrated health services or by
means of decentralization. Indonesia's plan of action in the field of
health is to be carried out through integrated cooperation among various
departments and offices related to health, population and family planning,
home affairs, information and women studies centres, under the coordination
of the Office of the State Minister for the Role of Women.

74.                 Prevention (strategic objective C.2) is on the agenda
of all plans focusing on health, in particular with regard to early
detection and treatment of breast, cervical and other cancers of the
reproductive system, but also of sexually transmitted diseases. Slovakia
encourages women to take regular oncological and cardiological controls. 

75.                 One innovative or uncommon approach in the United
States of America is that the Public Health Services Office on Women's
Health has forged a unique partnership with the Central Intelligence Agency
and the Department of Defense in a programme entitled "From missiles to
mammograms", which is designed to improve the early detection of breast
cancer by transferring imaging technologies from the intelligence
communities used for target recognition and missile guidance to medical
prevention and detection.  


             D.     Violence against women


76.                 Sixty-one national action plans from all regions (71
per cent), including those from States who had made commitments at the
Fourth World Conference on Women (11), incorporate a section relating to
measures to prevent and eliminate violence against women, including
trafficking in women. However, most plans do not indicate how projected
actions with regard to violence against women are to be funded, and a
minority identify the amount of resources allocated for implementation.
Some plans indicate that they provide overseas development assistance to
developing countries for actions relating to violence against women. 
77.                 A majority of plans (42) report on initiatives to adopt
or review legislation with a view to creating a legal framework to address
violence against women. Many plans (36) promise the review of sanctions to
discourage violence against women and girls and to redress the harm
experienced by victims. For example, the United Kingdom proposes that on
conviction of a second violent offence, including rape or attempted rape, a
mandatory sentence of life imprisonment should apply. 

78.                 Many plans (28) report on the introduction of
mechanisms to provide women with improved access to the legal system and to
inform women of their rights. For example, Ecuador will raise awareness,
especially within the Quechua community, of the Law Against Violence
against Women and the Family. Indonesia plans to strengthen the role of its
Legal Consultancy Agency where women and children are concerned, and to
increase services and legal assistance, particularly to low-income groups. 

79.                 A significant number of plans (34) describe shelters
and other services available to women and girls subjected to violence, and
indicate intentions to strengthen such services. For example, Germany
intends to integrate pre-existing shelters into a national network.
Bulgaria notes that it has sought financing from UNDP to establish a
network of shelters.

80.                 Some plans, the majority from the Western European and
Others region, describe measures to modify the social and cultural patterns
of conduct of men and women.18 In early 1997, Sweden convened a conference
on men and violence that focused on men's responsibility in relation to
violence against women. Norway plans to continue to provide financial
support for treatment centres that offer therapy and counselling to violent
men.

81.                 Many plans (30) from all regions refer to campaigns
designed to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of violence
against women, with several suggesting that the best way to counteract
violence is through such campaigns. For example, Finland stressed that
although the topic of violence is taboo in Finnish society, anti-violence
campaigns have had a significant impact, and it will continue such
campaigns in partnership with non-governmental organizations. Sixteen plans
from most regions specifically propose educational and training programmes
to promote gender equality and non-violent forms of conflict resolution
directed at children and adolescents. 

82.                 Many plans (19), particularly from Latin America and
the Caribbean, focus on the importance of the media in combating violence
against women by eliminating presentations that encourage such violence. El
Salvador noted that it has already established a national award for media
that promote non-violence and gender equality. Bangladesh aims to use the
media to disseminate information and research findings on the issue of
trafficking in women and girls. The Philippines plans to draft and adopt
guidelines on the coverage and treatment of rape and other violent crimes
in order to ensure greater respect for the privacy of women victims and to
stop the sensational coverage of crimes against women.  

83.                 Plans from many regions (36) address the provision of
training for relevant personnel, including those who are involved in the
promotion of women's rights or the provision of assistance for victims.
Some plans explicitly address the training of the judicial and legal
community, while others focus on the training of law enforcement personnel
or police. For example, the plans of Japan and Swaziland both note that
relevant personnel must be trained to respond to victims to avoid the
infliction of further psychological harm during the judicial process.
Austria is in addition providing training to teachers, social workers and
medical doctors. 

84.                 Several plans describe initiatives to improve community
relations with law enforcement agencies. Bangladesh, for example, has
introduced cultural programmes to highlight the role of the police as a
friend of the community. Bolivia plans to establish 10 women's police
stations, while the Philippines will establish, in strategically placed
police stations, a national police women's desk that will deal with cases
of violence against women.  

85.                 Many national action plans (34) from all regions report
on the development of initiatives to study the causes and consequences of
violence against women and the effectiveness of measures introduced to
address such violence. For example, Israel notes that a parliamentary
inquiry was appointed in 1995 to investigate cases of women murdered by
their spouses or partners. Venezuela will compile statistics relating to
the legal process, in particular the effect of the judicial process on
women. Canada aims to support social policy research focusing on means to
reduce violence against women migrants and women who are members of
ethno-cultural and visible minorities. Brazil intends to encourage
universities and non-governmental organizations to undertake research on
violence in rural areas.

86.                 A few plans describe policies that allow women who have
suffered or fear they will suffer gender-based persecution, including
violence, to apply for refugee status or residence permits. Measures to
address trafficking in women, violence against victims of traffic and
violence related to prostitution are referred to in many plans (21) from
all regions except Africa. Several plans report on schemes to provide legal
assistance to victims of trafficking who seek legal redress. According to
Poland's plan, diplomatic and consular representations should cooperate
with local police, jurisdiction and organizations providing assistance to
Polish victims of violence abroad. Spain is examining the possibility of
introducing temporary residence permits for victims of trafficking who wish
to testify in court proceedings. A number of plans describe bilateral
cooperation to address trafficking in women. The United States plan reports
that the United States Agency for International Development intends to
initiate a project in South Asia relating to trafficking in women.
Increased attention to trafficking and tourism is also being paid by the
Czech Republic and Japan, while Cuba seeks to combat sex tourism by
including positive images of women in tourist literature. 

87.                 The approach of national action plans to prostitution
varies; some condemn forced prostitution only, others condemn all forms of
prostitution and related activities. Thus, for example, Lithuania reports
that it is investigating ways of legalizing prostitution and will canvass
public opinion in that regard. The Russian Federation is developing
legislation aimed at reducing the scale of prostitution, while China
describes its intention of banning prostitution.

88.                 The links between migration and the sex industry are
identified in several plans from the Western European region. A number of
plans make explicit mention of the phenomenon of "mail-order brides".
Germany reports on measures of international outreach and education,
including the production of brochures in various languages, for potential
brides from countries abroad. Australia has funded the development of two
videos designed to assist women in understanding their legal rights and in
making informed decisions about marriage and migration.

89.                 Cross-sectoral approaches to the elimination of
violence against women are described in several plans. For example, the
Finnish plan describes the Plan for Social Welfare and Health Care,
coordinating the activities of the Ministries of the Interior, Justice,
Education and Social Affairs, and Health, which is designed to prevent
violence against women and introduce new modalities, including with regard
to treatment. 
90.                 In terms of innovative and uncommon approaches, Bolivia
plans to establish integrated legal services country-wide, emphasizing
rural areas, which will promote women's rights through the promotion of
intersectoral coordination and the provision of legal assistance. Israel
plans to establish a facility to receive violent men. The United Kingdom
plans to introduce a new civil claim (tort) which would allow victims of
harassment or stalking to apply for an injunction, the breach of which
would be punishable by up to five years imprisonment.



             E.     Women and armed conflict


91.                 Twenty-eight Member States (32 per cent), among them 13
from the Western European and Other region, elaborated specific actions to
be taken in pursuit of the strategic objectives under this critical area,
all of which were addressed by Member States. Of the 28 national action
plans, three made commitments in this area at Beijing, two of which were
mentioned in the plans.

92.                 In order to increase the participation of women in
conflict resolution at decision-making levels and protect women living in
situations of armed and other conflicts or under foreign occupation
(strategic objective E.1) some Member States, notably Chile, Luxembourg and
Liechtenstein, specifically make reference to mainstreaming a gender
perspective in security and conflict resolution policies. Some Member
States focus more on the inclusion of women in the armed forces, official
delegations and peace missions. Others have proposed material and
humanitarian support for women in armed conflict situations. For example,
Luxembourg proposes a gender-balanced composition of members of
international organizations and sensitivity training for them in matters of
sexual harassment, which many women in conflict situations face. In its
national action plan, the Palestinian Authority stresses the need for the
implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973),
and calls upon United Nations Member States to abide by the commitments to
finance the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
in the Near East (UNRWA). For Liechtenstein, the appointment of women as
special representatives of the Secretary-General is highly desirable.

93.                 Few Member States refer to the reduction of excessive
military expenditures and control of the availability of armaments
(strategic objective E.2). Norway indicates that the anti-personnel
landmines stockpile of its army has been destroyed. The United Kingdom
seeks to do likewise within the context of a total international ban. The
call for a comprehensive nuclear testing ban, as well as for redoubled
efforts in disarmament, is almost unanimous. Denmark and Luxembourg propose
the involvement of women at the level of decision-making in the national
and multilateral peacemaking processes, such as in the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

94.                 In order to promote non-violent forms of conflict
resolution, reduce the incidence of human rights abuse in conflict
situations (strategic objective E.3) and promote women's contribution to
fostering a culture of peace (strategic objective E.4) a number of Member
States take the same approach: all focus on education and training as a
means of effecting a culture change and promoting non-violent conflict
resolution. The Congo, Nigeria and Bulgaria, for instance, propose to
introduce peace and human rights studies and research in the educational
curriculum. Germany plans to establish study centres for learning
non-violent conflict resolution. The Congo is also proposing the
involvement and strengthening of non-governmental organizations in this
area. Nigeria plans to establish a peace research unit in the African First
Ladies Peace Mission Secretariat. Other concerns under this strategic
objective, such as rape in the conduct of armed conflict and ethnic
cleansing, are
not addressed in national action plans. 

95.                 As to strategic objective E.5, the prevalent approaches
are women-specific asylum policies and support measures, as reflected in
Canada's Women at Risk Programme, or Denmark and Liechtenstein's proposed
asylum regulations. In protecting women in its internal conflict in Uruba,
Colombia and the provincial government of Antioquia have adopted
cooperative measures to support women victims. Further, Australia's
Programme of Assistance for the Survivors of Torture and Trauma, although
not women specific, provides an avenue of support for women similar to the
above programmes. The Niger is proposing to develop legal rules to punish
violence against women and provide for reparation for women and girls.
Lebanon plans to enact laws that regulate issues related to handicapped and
political prisoners, women and men, war widows and displaced
women.

96.                 In terms of innovative and uncommon approaches, Germany
proposes not only a ban but a redirection of research funds for a new
generation of mines into new minesweeping technologies and methods, as well
as the training of women in this area and education of the civilian
population on the dangers of landmines. Germany also proposes the support
of mine victims and mine-clearance efforts through an international fund.  

             F.     Women and the economy


97.                 Seventy-one plans (82 per cent) include a specific
section on women and the economy or make an explicit reference to this
critical area of concern. In a few cases, similar actions are planned for
poverty eradication and women's economic empowerment. Although Member
States adopt different approaches to improve women's economic situation,
all strategic objectives included in the critical area of concern are
addressed. Most countries plan to take actions on the elimination of
occupational segregation and all forms of employment discrimination
(strategic objective F.5), as well as on the promotion of entrepreneurship
among women (strategic objectives F.2, F.3 and F.4). A fewer number of
countries plan to take actions towards the promotion of women's economic
rights (strategic objective F.1) and the harmonization of work and family
responsibilities (strategic objective F.6). Of the 71 Member States
reporting, 16 made commitments at Beijing to improve women's economic
situation. However, only 12 plans and strategies reflected those
commitments. 

98.                 The majority of countries (65) plan actions to
eliminate discrimination in the labour market, specifically to promote and
improve women's access to employment; increase women's access to managerial
positions and to non-traditional fields of employment; reduce the wage gap
between women and men; and improve women's working conditions. Few
countries plan to take action to address the issues of sexual harassment in
the workplace; women's access to employment and social security benefits;
and migrant women workers. Of the instruments chosen to reach those
objectives, many countries (38) focus on women's rights as workers,
particularly to enforce existing labour legislation through training and
the creation of mechanisms, including monitoring. Algeria plans to enhance
the health of women in the workplace by monitoring implementation of and
respect for labour legislation, especially with regard to women. The
Russian Federation plans to bring its legislation into line with
international legal agreements on equality of opportunities and treatment
in the employment sphere.

99.                 To eliminate discrimination in the labour market, many
Governments (33) also plan to strengthen women's skills and capacities by
ensuring that women have access to training, including in technical and
job-seeking skills, and to information on their rights. Italy plans to
draft and submit to Parliament new comprehensive legislation on educational
leave to enable women and men to take leave from work for a given period of
time to continue their education and upgrade their skills. Some Governments
plan to create a supportive environment for unemployed and employed women
by introducing changes in existing administrative rules and procedures in
hiring, training and promotion; training public officers; and raising
awareness among private sector employers and trade unions. For instance, El
Salvador plans to design a national plan for gender training for all
personnel involved in implementing labour codes, laws and regulations.

100.           Many Governments (45) plan actions for the harmonization
of work and family responsibilities. A dual approach can, however, be
observed: some countries still consider family responsibilities to be the
exclusive domain of women, while others consider them to be the
responsibility of both parents. Regardless of the approach, 25 countries
plan to ensure that support services, such as child-care and after-school
facilities, are available for working women or parents. For example, the
Republic of Korea stresses that a primary objective of the plan is to
reduce the burden of domestic labour through child-care facilities,
after-school care and school meals. To that end, mention is made of the
role of various actors, including the church and parents, and the
mobilization of private-sector resources. The Ministry of Labour and Social
Affairs of the United Arab Emirates is building modern day-care centres for
the children of mothers who participate in the activities of the social
development centres. Governments are planning other actions, such as the
promotion of flexible forms of employment, particularly by reducing the
gender gap prevalent in existing flexible forms of employment. 

101.           To reduce the burden of family responsibilities on
working women or on working parents, other means will be used, such as the
introduction or enforcement of leave policies (either for maternity,
paternity or other family needs), the adjustment and flexibilization of
working hours, and changing current legislation in relation to family,
taxation and social security. Only three countries plan to improve
technologies available to women in order to reduce the burden of
reproductive activities (supply of water and energy, and food processing).
The United Arab Emirates plans to amend some articles of the Civil Service
Law to give women one hour a day off to feed and care for their children.
In Greece, a pilot project offers companies competent advice during the
development and organization of flexible part-time models. Many plans (32)
make reference to the role of the private sector, non-governmental
organizations and trade unions, in particular concerning awareness-raising
and providing incentives for employers. Chile plans to study a
tax-exemption scheme for employers. Twenty countries make reference to
affirmative and positive actions. In Spain, a co-financed programme is to
give an identifying logo to enterprises that have adopted positive actions
for equality of opportunity. The enterprise can then use that logo in the
marketing and promotion of products. Few plans include time-bound targets,
monitoring mechanisms, and/or allocated funds for implementation and
monitoring (8). Malaysia, however, plans to reduce unemployment among women
to 5.8 per cent of the economically active population by the year 2000.

102.           The majority of countries (56) plan to promote
entrepreneurship among women, especially in small and medium enterprises.
Most countries will provide women with two types of services: credit and
finance through mainstream and/or specific financial institutions, and
training in business and technical skills. Some plans stress the need to
create and strengthen networks among women entrepreneurs. Few countries
mention the informal sector. The Ministry of Agriculture of Oman will
design a special system, in cooperation with the Oman Bank, to provide
facilities for women working in farming and to ensure the marketing of
their products. Mexico will promote the availability of capital for
institutions and organizations that support the development of the
productive capabilities of women. Peru will provide access to credit for
women and women's organizations. In Sweden, private industry created a
business leadership academy in 1995 to support and promote women
entrepreneurs.

103.           Twenty-seven countries have adopted a gender perspective
approach, often in conjunction with a targeted approach. Chile, for
instance, will mainstream women's needs and concerns into its existing
national employment information and guidance system. The Government of
Sweden appointed a commission on the distribution of economic power and
financial resources between women and men. The aim of the commission is to
acquire further knowledge on how economic policy affects the situation of
women and men so as to make differences in their economic and financial
conditions visible, and to propose measures in this field. Luxembourg will
ensure that women's needs and priorities are taken into account in
investments to develop infrastructure. Issues related to structural
adjustment programmes, globalization, subregional and regional integration
and trade negotiations received the attention of few countries. Argentina
will integrate equality between women and men in regional integration
agreements. Ecuador will ensure that a gender perspective is adopted in
economic restructuring and structural adjustment programmes. Some countries
make reference to the need to ensure women's access to economic
decision-making. The generation of statistics and research to increase the
knowledge bases on which policies and actions should be designed and
implemented, including on women's unremunerated work, is also mentioned. 

104.           Many plans made reference to target groups in need of
specific attention. Thirty-eight countries from all regions address the
needs of rural women for access to economic resources, training,
information and credit. Panama will give preferential treatment to women
farmers and indigenous women in the allocation of land titles. Jamaica
plans to empower women household workers. Disabled women were addressed by
10 countries. Other categories of women to whom reference was made include
women migrant workers, young women, married women, female heads of
households, elderly women and indigenous women. 

105.           Actions to promote women's economic development through
international cooperation are also being planned. Norway will promote
gender-sensitive policies and measures in multilateral trade negotiations,
and will support women's access to credit and loans, small businesses
established by women, including in rural areas, and an increase in the
female employment rate. The Government of Germany plans to promote small
and medium enterprises among women through programmes that will provide
support and finance. 

106.           Some countries have taken new initiatives and uncommon
approaches. In Denmark, the Ministry of Labour is going to establish a
database containing the many legal decisions that have been rendered as a
result of the enactment of the Equal Treatment Act and the Equal Pay Act so
that users may become conversant with legal practice in those areas. Greece
had the first Total Equal-Quality Commendations to be awarded by an
independent body in 1997. The award is intended to promote the initiative
of companies in promoting equal opportunities in personnel policies. In
Sweden, private industry created a business leadership academy in 1995 with
the aim of supporting and promoting women entrepreneurs. The Philippines
hosted a conference of the Women Senior Leaders' Network from Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries, which made recommendations to
integrate gender concerns in the APEC agenda. The Philippines also plans to
ensure women's equal access to land and other agricultural resources
through administrative orders that will entitle farm workers who are
husband and wife to 3 hectares each of land, and will award a separate
certificate of land ownership agreement to each spouse. In January 1997,
Australia adopted a family tax initiative as another step to improve the
choices available to families on how to balance work and family
responsibilities. 



             G.     Women in power and decision-making


107.           Seventy-five plans and strategies from all regions (87
per cent) refer to women in power and decision-making, and focus on
ensuring women's equal access to and full participation in power structures
and decision-making (strategic objective G.1). They also refer to
increasing women's capacity to participate in decision-making and
leadership (strategic objective G.2). Seven Member States made commitments
at Beijing in this area, and five countries made commitments related to
international development cooperation. Issues addressed in the plans
include general and specific mechanisms for increasing women's voice and
representation in power structures; mainstreaming; institutional
arrangements; enabling environment; training; linkages; public information
campaigns; and monitoring and statistics. A few plans indicate actions at
the international level to increase women's representation in senior
policy-making positions. Few plans focus on increasing the number of women
managers in transnational corporations, the private sector or parastatals,
although it is addressed by 19 plans under the critical areas of poverty or
women and the economy.

108.           Most plans (59) from all regions indicate actions related
to general and/or specific mechanisms for increasing women's voice and
representation of women in power and decision-making. General measures
include establishing gender balance and the compilation of lists of
qualified women for senior policy-making positions in national, provincial,
and local government; the public sector; governmental bodies and
committees; political parties; and international organizations. For
example, plans of Liechtenstein and Lithuania propose that all public
committees and commissions formed by government representatives should not
exceed two thirds of either sex. Mexico's plan focuses on the promotion of
women's participation in executive and decision-making positions in the
executive and judicial branches of three levels of government, in
legislative bodies, the private sector, trade unions, political parties and
civic organizations. Specific mechanisms (24) include quotas for increasing
the number of women elected and appointed to public office, in public
administration and in political parties at the highest levels. Thirteen
countries link their quotas to time-bound targets. Mozambique's plan refers
to a number of specific time-bound targets, including 50 per cent women
parliamentarians by the year 2000; 30 per cent female representation in
local government bodies by 1998; and 40 per cent women in leadership
positions in government executive bodies by the year 2000.  

109.           Many plans from all regions address the mainstreaming of
a gender perspective in the area of power and decision-making, and a few
countries include mainstreaming in their international development
cooperation policies. For example, Venezuela's plan calls for the training
of all presidential candidates from the various political parties to
include a gender perspective in their respective party's platforms and
programmes.  

110.           Several plans from all regions seek to create the
necessary institutional arrangements to ensure women's equal access to and
full participation in power structures and decision-making. The United
Kingdom indicates that public appointments will be a standing item on the
agenda for the regular bilateral meetings between the Sex and Race Equality
Division and other government departments. The Philippines indicates that
the National Commission on the Role of Philippine Women has initiated the
creation of gender and development focal points in government departments
and agencies, which serve as catalysts in mainstreaming gender concerns in
their respective agencies' plans, policies and programmes. Several national
action plans, with fewer in Latin America and the Caribbean and in Western
Asia, mention the allocation of resources generally, including at existing
levels, but very few plans refer to increasing the amount of funding
available. A few plans also indicate that Governments should assist in
financing activities of non-governmental organizations. A few others focus
on external sources of funding from a variety of bilateral and multilateral
donors, regional and international organizations, including the European
Union, the Organization of American States and the United Nations
Development Programme.

111.           Few plans mention legislative actions in the area of
women in power and political decision-making. Among these, Argentina
indicates that if its quota of 30 per cent women is not met at the
provincial level, the national Government is to take legal action to ensure
its implementation. Ecuador proposes legal reform of the electoral code to
establish mechanisms and procedures in political parties to guarantee the
equal participation of women and men.

112.           In terms of capacity-building, the plans address several
issues, including the enabling environment, training, building linkages and
partnerships, and public information campaigns. Many countries,
particularly in the Western Europe and Others region, focus on a supportive
enabling environment, including sharing family responsibilities between
women and men, child care, better balance between personal and professional
life, parental leave, flexible working hours, part-time work, meeting times
and working procedures for political parties and legislatures, and
transportation. Most national action plans (50) from all regions address
training, including voter registration, civic education, leadership,
management, financial management and political campaign training, all with
technical assistance from non-governmental organizations, political
parties, international organizations and donors. In Zimbabwe, UNDP is
funding and providing technical support to the Ministry of National
Affairs, Employment Creation and Cooperatives for a project on women in
politics and decision-making to encourage women to stand as candidates in
elections, build the capacity of women already in power positions and
sensitize women on the need to vote for other women. Most plans (61) in all
regions refer to building linkages with various internal and external
partners, including non-governmental organizations, women's organizations,
community-based organizations, professional associations, political
parties, trade unions, academic and research institutions, the private
sector and the media. A few countries identify linkages with subregional
and regional organizations and donors. Many plans from all regions focus on
media campaigns to increase public awareness on issues related to women in
power and decision-making. Japan addresses the need to collect and
disseminate information related to best practices, while Norway's plan
refers to providing information concerning electoral issues to developing
countries.

113.           While many plans (39), with fewer in Africa, refer to
monitoring and evaluation, the lack of tools, methodology and criteria are
often cited. A few plans mention the need to develop indicators. Many plans
(37), indicate the need to collect, use and disaggregate statistics by sex.
Bangladesh and Finland, among others, indicate the use and availability of
criteria for monitoring and evaluation. Research on electoral systems is
mentioned as a priority by very few countries. Brazil's plan indicates that
the Electoral Supreme Court is to ensure that election results are
disaggregated by sex and made available to the public. Mongolia's plan
refers to the collection and dissemination of information regarding women
in decision-making.

114.           In terms of innovative approaches, the Kyrgyzstan plans
to establish a political leadership school for women. Portugal's plan
indicates that if both spouses are employed in the public sector,
consideration should be given to "spousal proximity", that is, their places
of work should not be too distant from each other. In particular, Finland
indicates that it is developing a new tool, an "equality barometer", to
provide information on the experience of women and men related to personal
relationships, family life, organizations, working life and society, which
will be available in 1997 and thereafter will be published biennially.



             H.     Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women


115.           Seventy-seven national action plans (90 per cent) include
a specific section related to institutional mechanisms, or make explicit
reference to the creation and strengthening of national machineries and
other governmental bodies (strategic objective H.1); the integration of
gender perspectives in legislation, public policy, programmes and projects
(strategic objective H.2); and/or the generation and dissemination of sex
disaggregated data and information for planning and evaluation (strategic
objective H.3). Although several Member States made commitments at the
Fourth World Conference on Women concerning institutional mechanisms that
are reflected in their national action plans, most countries did not do so,
with the Asia and the Pacific region having the most commitments concerning
national machineries, and Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean having
the least. Issues addressed in the plans include the creation and/or
strengthening of national machineries, before or after the Conference;
gender mainstreaming; legislative actions; capacity-building; monitoring
and evaluation; and innovative approaches. Relatively few plans (13)
established benchmarks and/or time-bound targets related to institutional
mechanisms.

116.           Many national action plans (34) indicate the
establishment of institutional mechanisms before the Conference, while most
(52) were established afterwards. Almost all national machineries in
Central and Eastern Europe and Western Asia have been established since the
Fourth World Conference on Women. Two examples of the creation and/or
strengthening of institutional mechanisms are the establishment of a system
of women/gender focal points in various sectoral ministries, and the
establishment of an inter-ministerial council to follow-up the
implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. As the draft national
plan of Bangladesh indicates, inter-ministerial coordination is being
strengthened by the appointment of women in development focal points in
various sectoral government agencies, departments and directorates, such as
the Ministry of Agriculture and local government divisions. In order to
strengthen the institutional capacity and effectiveness of the national
machinery in Lithuania, the post of Counsellor on Women's Issues was
upgraded and expanded into an office with higher status, which includes an
adviser to the Government on women and family issues, with additional posts
of a consultant and secretary. The Women's Affairs Department in Malta was
transferred from the Ministry of Social Development to the Office of the
Prime Minister. Although many plans from all regions address the allocation
of resources, only nine refer to the need for or the availability of
increased funding. For example, the Congo's plan targets 20 per cent of its
national budget for social concerns, with a portion specifically reserved
for activities related to women. Viet Nam's plan specifically refers to the
resource constraints of the Viet Nam Women's Union.

117.           Most national action plans (44) mention actions related
to the integration of a gender perspective into legislation, public policy,
programmes and projects (strategic objective H.2). More countries (17) in
the Europe and Others region address gender mainstreaming than in any other
region. The Swedish plan indicates that experts for equality are based in
each of Sweden's 24 counties, located at the County Administration Board,
who are responsible for the promotion of gender mainstreaming at the
regional level. The Swedish Government regularly consults with
non-governmental organizations via the Equal Opportunities Commission,
which is chaired by the Minister for Equality Affairs, in which 30 or more
non-governmental organizations are represented. The Venezuelan plan refers
to the National Council of Women, which has promoted the creation of
regional and municipal organizations in order to mainstream a gender
perspective.

118.           Many plans (25) focus on legislative actions to
facilitate the implementation of the Platform for Action. More national
action plans from Asia and the Pacific and the Europe and Others region
mention legal actions, while fewer plans from Africa and Latin America and
the Caribbean do so. The Australian plan indicates that the Office on the
Status of Women has been involved in a cooperative legal reform project
between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to develop
uniform national criminal codes. Turkey indicates that a draft bill
amending the Civil Code has been prepared by women parliamentarians and
submitted to Parliament which, if enacted, would automatically remove many
reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women.

119.           In terms of capacity-building, most plans (55) focus on
actions related to training in general, including leadership, management
and financial management training. However, only a few national action
plans refer to specific actions to train policy makers to strengthen their
capacities to more effectively mainstream a gender perspective into
legislation, public policy and governmental programmes and projects
(strategic objective H.2). Argentina's plan indicates that there is an
exchange of training and technical assistance staff between government
offices and States in the ECLAC and ECE regions. Most national action plans
(64) from all regions address actions pertaining to building linkages and
partnerships with non-governmental organizations and other actors in civil
society. Other non-governmental organizations identified as outreach
partners include women's organizations, professional associations, trade
unions, academic and research institutions, women's centres, political
parties, human rights groups, churches, the media and the private sector.
India's national action plan specifically refers to the need to establish
linkages with the banking sector, corporations and the private sector in
general. However, relatively few plans (20) indicate actions related to
outreach and linkages with the private sector, despite its potentially
important role, particularly in terms of resource mobilization. Many plans
(41) from all regions refer to public information campaigns on issues
related to the advancement of women, gender mainstreaming, and
consciousness-raising concerning women's rights.

120.           Although most national action plans (44) in all regions
refer to monitoring and evaluation, only a few countries mention the
availability of specific indicators, while several refer to the need to
develop tools, methodologies and indicators. More countries in the Europe
and Others region and in Asia and the Pacific focus on actions related to
monitoring and evaluation than in Africa and Latin America and the
Caribbean. Canada's is one of a few plans which indicate the availability
of evaluation criteria, tools or a methodology for monitoring. The plan
refers to its 10 years of accumulated knowledge and experience using the
gender-based approach to women in development of the Canadian International
Development Association, including the experience of other Governments and
its collection of extensive resource materials developed worldwide.
Zimbabwe's national action plan indicates that it has developed indicators
for monitoring in all 12 critical areas of concern and in agriculture in
order to monitor and evaluate progress achieved, identify bottlenecks and
take appropriate corrective action.   

121.           Most national action plans (50) from all regions refer to
actions concerning the collection and dissemination of statistics,
information and research. Many plans focus on specific actions, including
the establishment of information centres to collect, analyse and
disseminate all types of information related to gender, conduct
gender-based research, gather sex-disaggregated statistics and create data
banks. Some plans do not refer to the general need for improved
quantitative and qualitative indicators. Australia's national action plan
includes a comprehensive section on how to strengthen the collection and
use of statistics. Its plan also indicates that technical advice is
available on how to measure remunerated and unremunerated work in national
and satellite accounts utilizing criteria developed by the Australian
Agency for International Development. Kyrgyzstan's plan mentions that 50
women's centres will be established. The Mongolian plan focuses on actions
to develop a national database on gender issues, including data on the
employment of women and men in the formal and informal sectors, wages, time
allocation between productive and household work, access to loans and
poverty, which are to be reflected in national statistics. Belarus
indicates that the establishment of a database on women in the public
sector will be initiated by the Ministries of Defence and Statistics and
other central administrative bodies during 1996-1997. 

122.           In terms of innovative or uncommon approaches, Ecuador
has exchange programmes between officials in sectoral ministries and the
Ecuadorean Women's Institute in order to facilitate and strengthen the
mainstreaming of a gender perspective in the substantive work of those
institutions. Australia is also developing an international classification
system of activities for time-use statistics that are sensitive to gender
differences in both remunerated and unremunerated work. Mali's plan
explicitly addresses the mobilization of resources for nationally selected
critical areas of concern, and indicates the annual budgeted amounts and
the funding source(s) for each sector over a five-year period from
1996-2000. The plan of China refers to the establishment of a national
women's data bank and a classified women's statistical index in the state
statistical system. Zimbabwe's plan mentions that gender focal points were
established in all Government Ministries at the deputy and under-secretary
levels. 



             I.     Human rights of women


123.           Seventy national action plans from all regions (81 per
cent) prioritize the human rights of women, with 15 reflecting commitments
relating to human rights made at the Beijing Conference. The overriding
response in most plans, however, is to improve the availability of
information and education in respect of human rights through public
information, education campaigns and cooperation with non-governmental
organizations.  

124.           Some plans emphasize the importance of international
human rights treaties, as well as the promotion of gender equality and
mainstreaming in international bodies, including human rights bodies.
Finland plans to work for the integration of a women's perspective in all
human rights activities, including the work of human rights rapporteurs.
Several States register their intention to incorporate a gender-sensitive
approach in reporting under human rights treaties generally. Some Member
States plan to strengthen cooperation and coordination in all
human rights forums with a view to strengthening the human rights of women.

125.           The focus of many plans is on the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and its promotion
through ratification, withdrawal of reservations and encouragement of its
implementation. Brunei Darussalam and the United States identified the
ratification of the Convention as a priority, while other plans stress its
promotion, with Canada and Finland emphasizing the importance of its
effective implementation. Several plans address planned withdrawal of
reservations to the Convention. Sweden plans to continue its practice of
objecting to reservations incompatible with the Convention. Some plans,
predominantly from Europe, express support for the elaboration of an
optional protocol to the Convention, with a number committing themselves to
active participation in the open-ended working group of the Commission on
the Status of Women on this issue.

126.           A number of plans address national action to promote and
protect human rights of women generally. For example, Brazil plans to
establish a national programme for human rights that will emphasize the
defence of women's rights. Some promise either the creation of specific
national institutions for the promotion and protection of women's human
rights or the strengthening of existing institutions. For example, Bulgaria
proposes the creation of an institution of the National Assembly directed
at gender equality, while Colombia plans an institution to inform women of
their rights. Finland's plan describes the Division on the Human Rights of
Women established under the Advisory Body for International Human Rights
Affairs in 1997 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

127.           Forty-five plans from all regions describe initiatives to
review national laws in line with the Platform for Action objective to
ensure equality and non-discrimination under the law and in practice
(strategic objective I.2). The majority of plans indicate general
intentions to review, while several put forward detailed programmes. Many
plans (18), several from the European region, promise to embody the
principle of equality between women and men in national legislation. A few
plan to entrench explicit constitutional guarantees of equality for women
and/or enact legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex.
Chile plans to include the principle of equality between women and men in
Articles 1 and 9 of its Constitution, while Ecuador intends to amend its
Constitution in accordance with its international human rights obligations.
Zimbabwe has identified statutes, such as the Communal Land Act and the
Guardianship of Minors Act, which require amendment to conform with the
Convention. Other plans, including that of Cambodia, promise the
enforcement of specific constitutional provisions, such as those ensuring
equal access to essential services, such as health and education. Trinidad
and Tobago plans to legalize the status of common-law wives. 

128.           The provision of gender-sensitive human rights education
and training to public officials features in a number of plans. For
example, Chile proposes workshops for lawyers and judicial personnel, and
the United Republic of Tanzania focuses on training female public
officials. Many plans, among them several from Latin America and the
Caribbean, plan to submit details of specific programmes in due course. 

129.           Many plans (18), including several from Latin America and
the Caribbean, outline intentions to review and amend criminal law and
procedures. Several address the elimination of violence against women. For
example, Belarus proposes the introduction of penalties to ensure the
payment of child support and the revision of legislation in relation to
sexual violence. China plans the introduction of procedural improvements
where complaints by women are concerned, while procedural improvements with
respect to prosecution of women, especially indigenous women, are planned
by Mexico. India intends to introduce procedural reforms to facilitate
legal proceedings relating to violence against women, including allowing
local voluntary organizations to lodge complaints in that context. Prison
and penitentiary law reforms are proposed by El Salvador and Venezuela, and
the review of laws on sexual abuse and domestic violence by Panama,
Cambodia and Liechtenstein. Efforts to address violence against women, the
abduction and trafficking of women and illegal activities in the context of
prostitution are proposed by China. A number of plans make reference to
female genital mutilation, violence against women with disabilities,
indigenous women, war widows and women in prison. Several plans propose the
appointment of an ombudsperson on this subject.19

130.           Legal literacy is addressed in 43 plans from all regions.
The majority of plans promise the translation and dissemination of
information relating to the equal status and human rights of women. Many
plans, several from Latin America and the Caribbean, propose the
dissemination of information on national legislation and its impact on
women, while some make reference to the elaboration of guidelines on the
use of the justice system or the exercise of women's rights.

131.           A number of plans (21) from all regions emphasize
cooperation with women's groups, non-governmental organizations and the
media. For example, Indonesia plans to organize seminars and workshops in
cooperation with non-governmental organizations, and will use the results
to formulate government policy. Lebanon plans to establish, in cooperation
with non-governmental organizations, offices to provide free counselling
for women. France plans to support educational programmes for migrant
women's groups.

132.The promotion of human rights education, including the legal rights of
women in school curricula and public campaigns relating to the equality of
women and men in both public and private life, features as an aim in some
plans from all regions. Nineteen plans propose the inclusion of information
with regard to international and regional human rights standards in public
information, human rights activities and adult education. 



             J.     Women and the media

133.           Forty-six plans from all regions (53 per cent) focus on
"Women and the media" as a priority. Most countries follow the dual
approach suggested by the Platform of Action in its two strategic
objectives, but greater attention is devoted to promoting a balanced and
non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media (strategic objective J.2)
than to increasing women's participation in the media, including in
positions of decision-making and their access to new technologies
(strategic objective J.1). An additional focus of the majority of plans is
on how to use the media as a tool to eliminate gender inequalities, in
particular through campaigns on such topics as sharing of responsibilities
or political participation. Only one Member State made a voluntary
commitment at the Fourth World Conference on Women on women and media
regarding new information technologies for women, an area also mentioned in
its national action plan.

134.           With regard to the elimination of the stereotyped
portrayal of women, few plans mention the continuation of existing
programmes, such as the monitoring of advertisement and the establishment
of media watch committees. Sixteen Governments refer to the introduction of
regulatory mechanisms or codes of conduct, proposing that TV, radio,
advertisement agencies and written media be encouraged not to use
discriminatory, violent messages, to apply self-regulation or to introduce
necessary guidelines into the media professional's ethical codes so as to
avoid stereotyped and degrading portrayals of women. Some Governments
express their intent to draft and adopt appropriate legislation against
pornography and for the protection of children and adolescents. Programmes
of public broadcasting seem to be subject to more regulation concerning the
portrayal of women and elimination of images of violence, as is the case in
France, while other plans reach also out to independent production
companies working for public corporations or the private communication
sector. Some plans mention specific measures to prevent the exploitation of
women and girls in the mass media. Indonesia, for instance, plans to
strengthen the status of censorship institutions to alleviate stereotyped
images.

135.           A few Governments encourage the production of educational
materials on gender-related issues and their dissemination, either through
governmental or private channels. For example, Finland seeks to educate
consumers and make the public aware of men's and women's behavioural models
and norms represented in advertisements. Reference is also made to the
encouragement of new information technologies and women's communications
networks, including electronic networks. The importance of radio as a means
of communication is highlighted in a few plans from Latin America. Chile
refers to agreements between women's networks and regional and local radio
stations to broadcast information useful to women. Cuba focuses on the
promotion of women's participation in community radio programmes.   

136.           To increase the overall number of women working in the
media and to create an enabling environment is a goal set by some Member
States, while others, in particular in Latin America, plan to increase the
number of women in positions of decision-making. Two Member States set
benchmarks for women in the media and thus specify the action suggested in
the Platform.20  The United Kingdom's goal is to reach 40 per cent women in
middle and senior management and 30 per cent for top executives by the year
2000 in public broadcasting. The Republic of Korea wants to increase the
number of women in the various committees overseeing the broadcasting field
to 30 per cent by the year 2005. Networking among women media
professionals, including electronic networking, is suggested in some
national action plans from Latin America. Several Member States from
Western Europe and Others and Latin America and the Caribbean plan to
collect data on women in the media or to evaluate women's contribution to
the media. A few action plans from Asia and the Pacific and Latin America
propose training for women communication professionals. Some Member States
propose gender sensitivity training for all media professionals, men and
women.  

137.           Allocation of resources is mainly mentioned in the
context of funds for the development of cultural programmes and
radio-TV-broadcasting networks dedicated to women and produced by women, as
mentioned in Romania's plan. A few countries from Latin America refer to
the creation of national awards and prizes and the allocation of portions
of funds for culture and the arts to women projects but do not provide
details on the level of funding. A few refer to international assistance.
Oman urges international organizations to provide financial assistance to
the Government and to non-governmental organizations to train women and men
working in the media.  

138.           Several Member States mention the importance of gender
mainstreaming in communication policies at the municipal, state and federal
levels. A few Member States specify institutional arrangements that would
assist in such implementation. For instance, Brazil plans to establish a
communications council within the Ministry of Communications, with the
involvement of the National Council for Women's Rights.   

139.           Some national action plans extend actions beyond the
media into arts and culture, including the creation of specialized
collections on gender issues in libraries, or by showing the historical
contribution of women, as mentioned by Ecuador. In its draft plan, Pakistan
promotes street theatre and local forms of entertainment. Some plans give
attention to the artistic expression of special groups, such as indigenous
and rural women, urban women, disabled women and women prisoners.

140.           In terms of innovative approaches, Spain, for instance,
will empower its monitoring mechanisms, the Observatorio de la Publicidad
and the Consejo Asesor de Imagen, while the United Kingdom suggests the
appointment of a "portrayal adviser" who would work on individual projects
studying portrayal issues. 


             K.     Women and the environment


141.           Forty-two plans (49 per cent) consider the implementation
of the critical area on women and the environment. In comparison, only two
countries made a voluntary commitment at the Beijing Conference on this
issue. An analysis of the plans shows that they follow the conclusions and
recommendations of the Platform for Action. Many plans consider this
critical area in the broader context of achieving the goals of sustainable
development, underlining the importance of mainstreaming a gender
perspective into policies and programmes, and recognizing the importance of
increasing women's participation in decision-making on environmental
matters. 

142.           More than half of those responding under this area
propose policies and measures to ensure that women have access to and are
adequately represented in decision-making bodies, and have access to
environmental information and education (strategic objective K.1). Pakistan
is the only country which identified in its draft plan concrete quotas for
women's participation in decision-making to be filled by the year 2000,
targeting 10 per cent of women in key environmental ministries and
departments, and 15 per cent in key positions in autonomous bodies and
advisory boards in this field. The Government is also planning to double
that quota progressively in the future.

143.           The most widely used approach taken to increase the
participation of women in environmental decision-making is to provide the
necessary education and training. The United States of America, for
instance, will reinstate the Greater Leadership Opportunities Programme, in
which minorities and women are provided with training to enhance their
skills and promote the professional growth. Other programmes encouraging
women to establish careers in the environmental sciences and management are
mentioned. In Eastern Europe, Romania identifies this issue among its
priorities, with a special focus on the increase of women's participation
in the protection of the national ecosystem. One of the long-term tasks of
Bulgaria is the elaboration of a national strategy for ecological training
and education, with a special focus on women and promotion of their role in
environmental protection. Similarly, the Islamic Republic of Iran is
organizing a campaign to publicize the role of women in protecting the
environment. Germany has launched a specific programme entitled "Who is who
in the women's environmental sector" in order to improve the exchange of
information on women and the environment. 

144.           There is also an understanding of the need to strengthen
cooperation between women's non-governmental organizations and national
institutions dealing with environmental issues. Lebanon, for example,
intends to strengthen the role of women in the management of natural
resources and involve women's non-governmental organizations in the design
of environmental protection laws. Ecuador plans to establish closer
coordination between all concerned actors in order to increase women's
participation in environmental decision-making, including indigenous and
black women. In addition, scholarships for the training of women in the
area of science and technology are being provided. 

145.           Thirteen Member States commit themselves to promoting
mainstreaming of the gender perspective in policies and programmes for
sustainable development (strategic objective K.2). Proposed actions
encompass the revision of legislation, establishing special institutional
mechanisms, awareness-raising campaigns and gender training. Several plans
intend to introduce gender-impact assessment of environmental policies.
Panama will promote gender training for public officials. Pakistan will
establish, by the year 2000, mechanisms at the national and local levels to
assess the impact of development and environmental policies on women and
men, with the collaboration of non-governmental organizations. Tunisia
includes the establishment of a number of institutional mechanisms for
integrating women's concerns into sustainable development planning.
Bulgaria identifies among its long-term goals the preparation of regulation
for public participation in the environmental decision-making, with a
special focus on women. 

146.           Several Governments emphasize the need to incorporate
gender approach and gender analysis in environmental assistance programmes
and activities. Denmark, for example, is drafting a common strategy for
environmental assistance in the developing countries. Norway has already
adopted a gender-sensitive strategy for its environmental assistance
programmes. 

147.           The national action plans reviewed recognize the
fundamental link between environmental hazards and potential risks to human
health, especially women's health. Some plans propose measures, including
the revision of laws, public information campaigns and advanced research,
to protect women against environmental hazards, while others target women
in connection with access to and usage of environmentally sound technology,
including training. A few countries emphasize the importance of promoting
the production of environmentally safe products and using adequate
eco-labels. 

148.           In terms of innovative approaches, the United Kingdom
will promote a campaign involving women's non-governmental organizations in
the preparation and drafting of a national air quality strategy. Ecuador is
considering introducing a gender perspective into its national plan on
environment.



            L.      The girl child


149.           Twenty-seven Governments from all regions except Eastern
and Central Europe (31 per cent) focus on the girl child as a priority
issue in the implementation of the Beijing Platform of Action. Most plans
that address the issue do so in the context of all 12 critical areas of
concern. The emphasis on the girl child is strongest in the Western Europe
and Other region, where 8 national action plans refer to it. In Africa,
only 6 out of 16 plans submitted consider the girl child a priority,
focusing mainly on education. In addition to the 27 plans, five others
focus on the specific health status of the girl child under the critical
area of concern "Women and health". At the Fourth World Conference on
Women, three Member States made a commitment to undertake actions to
improve the status of the girl child in education and health. The same
Member States do not address the girl child as a specific strategic
objective in their national action plans but indicate actions in favour of
girls under the strategic objectives education and health. 

150.           Among those Governments who plan action related to the
girl child, top priority is given to education (strategic objective L.4).
Many plans focus on girl's school enrolment, drop-out rates due to
pregnancy or early marriage, gender-sensitive teaching materials and
curriculum, and gender-training for teachers. For instance, Egypt intends
to provide additional funding for girls' schools.  

151.           Health and nutrition (strategic objective L.5) are other
areas of high priority. Most plans elaborate on the reproductive health and
nutritional needs of girls. According to its draft plan, Botswana intends
to raise awareness on girls' special vulnerability to sexually transmitted
diseases and to abolish harmful traditional practices. A few Member States
refer to female genital mutilations under the heading girl child, while a
larger number, including States from Africa, do so under health and human
rights. Australia, for example, proposes to train health practitioners on
the treatment of girls who have undergone female genital mutilation. France
is considering raising the maximum penalty for carrying out female genital
mutilations and increasing awareness among the African population and
health-care professionals. 

152.           The elimination of negative cultural attitudes and
practices (strategic objective L.2) is high on the agenda of national
action plans, in particular those from Asia and the Pacific, where
Governments want to create awareness on discrimination faced by girls,
including early marriage, sexual abuse and violence. Some plans indicate
that legal action will be taken. Palestine indicates that it will raise the
minimum age for marriage. Botswana will enforce laws on full consent to
marriage and ensure girls' equal access to inheritance. Recognizing the
importance of awareness- raising campaigns, the Philippines will declare
the fourth week of March each year as the week for the protection and
gender-fair treatment of the girl child. The Government is also developing
a Philippine Plan of Action for the girl child. The United Arab Emirates
have established girls clubs in various locations to give girls an
opportunity to practice sports and engage in cultural and social
activities. The Government of Myanmar has conducted advocacy meetings aimed
at eradication of negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls
in five states and divisions. The remaining 11 states and divisions will be
covered by the year 2000.  

153.           Another priority is the eradication of violence against
girls (strategic objective L.7), with a clear focus on sexual exploitation,
prostitution, child pornography and trafficking. Australia and the United
Kingdom have enacted laws which make it a criminal offence for their
citizens to engage in sexual conduct with children abroad. Norway is
developing new strategies to fight against child pornography and
paedophilia networks on the Internet. In Asia and the Pacific, Indonesia
will increase the penalty for acts of violence against the girl child and
sexual abuse.

154.           Most plans do not contain concrete strategies and
benchmarks. Some Governments report in a detailed way on actions that they
have already taken. In terms of future strategies, all plans remain at the
level of proposals and general policy recommendations. In its draft plans,
Pakistan is an exception: it sets clear time-bound goals with regard to
legal action and data collection.

155.           There is little reference to gender-mainstreaming
efforts. Most plans mention the need to disaggregate data by age and sex,
and to eliminate gender stereotyping. However, no mention is made of the
differential needs and interests of girls and boys and how to take them
into account in policies and programmes targeted at children, except in the
plan of Ecuador, which proposes to analyse its existing national plan for
children from a gender perspective and to include special measures for the
advancement of girls. 

156.           In terms of innovative approaches, Norway addresses
eating disorders, a problem common among many adolescent girls that is not
raised in the Platform for Action. The Government of Norway has initiated
comprehensive courses and the training of school and health professionals,
and will open a resource centre on anorexia and bulimia. Spain and
Argentina also refer to eating disorders under the health section.



             M.     Other priorities


157.           Some national action plans set additional priorities to
the 12 critical areas of the Platform for Action. Women and the family is
mentioned as a separate strategic objective in 15 national plans from all
regions except Eastern Europe, especially in Western Europe and Latin
America. Although Member States reiterate respect for the equal rights of
all family members under this strategic objective, they largely advocate
the equal sharing of household responsibilities. A few national action
plans from Western Europe focus exclusively on measures to accommodate
professional and family life, and emphasize the role of the father within
the family. In Denmark, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health plans to
set up a special committee to find ways to reinforce men's roles as fathers
and grandfathers, and to make child care more attractive to men by
introducing leave schemes. 

158.           Although many national action plans target specific
groups of women under a number of critical areas of concern, some stress
the importance of those groups by giving them priority. The majority
propose actions in favour of rural women. For example, Mongolia intends to
create a favourable environment for the advancement of rural women through
the development of rural centres with social, educational and cultural
facilities. Panama will develop programmes to promote the integration of
rural women in the labour market, property laws, access to credit and new
productive technologies. Other plans target migrant women, indigenous women
or women with disabilities. 



Notes


              1     See Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women,
Beijing, 4-15 September 1995 (United Nations publication, Sales No.
96.IV.13), chap. I, resolution 1, annex II.

              2     Ibid., para. 297.

              3     Costa Rica, Ghana, Kenya, Malaysia.

              4     Croatia, Kazakhstan.

              5     Fiji.

              6     See Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women ...,
paras. 301-305.

              7     Ibid., para. 349.

              8     Ibid., paras. 353 and 358.

              9     Ibid., para. 350.

             10     Ibid., paras. 80 (b) and 81 (a).

             11     Ibid., para. 81 (b).

             12     Ibid., para. 85 (a).

             13     Ibid., para. 106 (i).

             14     Ibid., para. 106 (l).

             15     Ibid., para. 106 (w).

             16     Ibid., para. 106 (d).

             17     Ibid., para. 106 (k).

             18     Ibid., para. 124 (k).

             19     Ibid., para 232 (e).

             20     Ibid., para 244 (d).
          




Annex


Respondents that submitted national action plans and strategies


               Algeria
               Argentina
               Australia
               Austria
               Bahrain
               Bangladesh
               Belarus
               Bolivia
               Botswana
.              Brazil
               Brunei Darussalam
               Bulgaria
               Burkina Faso
               Cambodia
               Canada
               Chile
               China
               Colombia
               Congo
               Cuba
               Czech Republic
               Democratic People's Republic of Korea
               Denmark
               Ecuador
               Egypt
               El Salvador
               Finland
               France
               Germany
               Guinea
               Haiti
               India
               Indonesia
               Iran (Islamic Republic of)
               Iraq
               Israel
               Italy
               Jamaica
               Japan
               Jordan
               Kyrgyzstan
               Lebanon
               Liechtenstein
               Lithuania
               Luxembourg
               Mali
               Mozambique
               Myanmar
               New Zealand
               Malta
               Mexico
               Mongolia
               Morocco
               Niger
               Nigeria
               Norway
               Oman
               Pakistan
               Panama
               Paraguay
               Peru
               Philippines
               Poland
               Portugal
               Republic of Korea
               Romania
               Russian Federation
               Slovakia
               Spain
               Swaziland
               Sweden
               Syrian Arab Republic
               Thailand
               Trinidad and Tobago
               Tunisia
               Turkey
               Uganda
               United Arab Emirates
               United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
               United Republic of Tanzania
               United States of America
               Vanuatu
               Venezuela
               Viet Nam
               Zimbabwe

Observer

               Palestine

                      --------------------------------

 


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