Volume 14, No.3 - March 2010

Global dialogue on development

Beijing’s Unfinished Agenda: The Way Forward

15-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (2000) will be undertaken at this year’s Commission on the Status of Women from 1-12 March in New York

Government officials, representatives of civil society and the media, as well as the private sector will assess what has been achieved since the historic Fourth World Conference on Women, held in 1995 in Beijing, share experiences and good practices, with a view to overcoming remaining obstacles and new challenges, and contribute to shaping a gender perspective towards the full realization of the MDGs.

Since the Beijing Conference, progress has been made in a number of areas, most significantly in education. For example, over the last decade, access to education has increased globally for girls at all levels, particularly in primary education. In 2007, there were 96 girls for each 100 boys enrolled in first grade, compared with 92 girls in 1999.

On the other hand, illiteracy remains a serious constraint for women, who, for the last 20 years, have accounted for nearly two thirds of the currently 776 million illiterate adults in the world. It is particularly prevalent among women who are older, poor, disabled, from ethnic minorities or from rural areas.

Little progress has been made on reducing maternal mortality rates. Every year, 536,000 women and girls die as a result of complications during pregnancy, childbirth or following delivery, the overwhelming majority in developing countries. Most of these deaths are preventable.

While gender-sensitive legislation and policies have addressed inequalities and discrimination against women, overall progress in implementation remains uneven. Disparities exist between regions and within countries. Global averages also hide differences among women based on location, economic status, ethnicity, age, disability and other factors.

It is not enough to adopt laws and policies; they have to be effectively implemented. Measures that help ensure successful implementation of laws and policies include training public officials and raising women’s awareness of their legal rights, as well as allocating adequate resources for implementation. The share of budgets and of development assistance specifically dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment, through both gender mainstreaming and women-targeted activities, should be increased.

To accelerate progress in implementation, strengthened efforts are needed to address persistent gaps and challenges and emerging obstacles, as well as to build on achievements, lessons learned and good practices in implementation in relation to all critical areas of concern in the Platform for Action.

Furthermore, across all critical areas, the importance of increasing the participation of women in decision-making processes is emphasized, both as a right in itself and as a means to ensure the incorporation of gender perspectives and to facilitate positive outcomes in decision-making processes at all levels.

Political will and leadership are critical for generating determined action for gender equality and empowerment of women and for progress in development, peace, security and human rights. Only then will States be able to finish the agenda to which they committed 15 years ago in Beijing, achieve the Millennium Development Goals and respond effectively to global crises.

More information on the Beijing Agenda

Promoting social integration

48th session of the Commission for Social Development was held in New York from 3-12 February, adopting the first time a resolution on social integration

This year was the policy session in the two-year cycle of the Commission’s work on the priority theme of “Social Integration”, with ten ministers in attendance. The Commission held a high-level panel discussion on the theme in addition to its general debate. It also reviewed relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups.

Under the agenda item “emerging issues”, the Commission considered policy responses on employment and the social consequences of the financial and economic crisis, including its gender dimension. It also held a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development.

The Commission adopted four resolutions by consensus: methods of work; ageing; social integration and; mainstreaming disability in the development agenda by 12 February and resumed on 19 February to conclude its work, including the adoption of a resolution on the social dimensions of NEPAD.

It is the first time since the World Summit for Social Development that a resolution on social integration, one of the three pillars of social development, was adopted, setting the course to further advance social integration. The Commission also decided that the priority theme of its next two-year cycle will be “poverty eradication”, and that the officers elected to the bureau of the Commission will serve for a term of office of two years to enhance the effectiveness of the work of the Commission.

More information on 48th session of the Commission for Social Development

Launching consultations on system-wide coherence

General Assembly held its first informal session of its 64th session on 4 February, providing an opportunity for Member States to express their expectations about the priorities and outcomes of the consultative process

Prior to the session, H.E. Mrs. Tiina Intelmann, Permanent Representative of Estonia and H.E. Mr. Ghazi Jomaa Permanent Representative of Egypt have been appointed to facilitate the informal consultations.

In opening the consultations, the President of the General Assembly highlighted the importance of system-wide coherence and invited all Member States to engage in an open, transparent and constructive manner in the consultations towards concrete outcomes. The Secretary-General presented his two recent reports with actionable proposals to improve the governance and funding of UN operational activities for development as well as modalities to establish the composite gender entity.

Member States thanked the Secretary-General for the substantive work of the Secretariat in support of the consultative process, while expressing the expectation to see progress on all areas of work within the current legislative session. A number of Member States encouraged the Secretary-General to start consultations on the candidate for the Under-Secretary-General leading the composite gender entity.

In follow-up to the first informal consultations, Member States met on 12 February to discuss the workplan as well as the linkages between governance and funding. The Co-Chairs informed that further informal consultations will be conducted in five clusters, namely governance, funding, gender, independent evaluation of “Delivering as One” and system-wide evaluation. There was a strong sense of urgency to move forward on the issue of funding, based on updated and disaggregated analysis of the financing of UN operational activities for development.

In the upcoming 3 months, the Assembly plans to hold a series of plenary informal consultations, drawing on the outcome of the substantive work undertaken by smaller inter-governmental working groups, with a view to achieving significant consensus on most of the areas by May 2010.

More information on the General Assembly