High demand for consultative status of NGOs

2010 Resumed Session of NGO Committee will be held in New York from 26 May to 4 June to examine applications for consultative status and consider reclassifications and quadrennial reports

The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) is a standing committee of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), established by the Council in 1946. The main tasks of the Committee are the consideration of applications for consultative status and requests for reclassification submitted by NGOs, the review of quadrennial reports submitted by NGOs in General and Special categories and the implementation of the provisions of Council resolution 1996/31 and the monitoring of the consultative relationship.

The Committee reports directly to ECOSOC, and the two reports of its annual regular session (usually at the end of January) and resumed session (in May) include draft resolutions or decisions on matters calling for action by the Council.

At the 2010 resumed session, the Committee will have before it 104 new applications from NGOs seeking consultative status with ECOSOC and 145 deferred applications, as well three reclassifications. The Committee will also consider 214 quadrennial reports from NGOs in Special and General consultative status.

For more information: http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/ngo/

Rural women are critical to poverty reduction

On 22 April, the Economic and Social Council convened a Global Preparatory Meeting for both its Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) and Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) to be held during the Council’s 2010 substantive session

Chaired by the President of the Council, H.E. Mr. Hamidon Ali (Malaysia), the morning session focused on the theme of the AMR: “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to gender equality and the empowerment of women”, and featured a panel discussion on the issue of “Who feeds the world in 2010 and beyond?–Rural women as agents of change and champions of global food security”.

The meeting was co-organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, with support from the World Food Programme and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, as well as a number of other United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations. Panelists included H.E. Ms. Florence Chenoweth, Minister of Agriculture of Liberia, Ms. Carol Kramer-LeBlanc, Director for Sustainable Development, Office of the Chief Economist, United States Department of Agriculture, Ms. Myrna Cunningham, Director, Center for Indigenous People’s Autonomy and Development and Ms. Carmen Griffiths, Coordinator, GROOTS, Jamaica, and was moderated by Ms. Marcela Villarreal, Director, Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The meeting highlighted the critical contribution of rural women to poverty reduction, food security and economic and social development. Panelists stressed that, on a global scale, women make up a substantial proportion of the agricultural workforce and produce more then half of all the food being grown. It was noted, however, that they face tremendous challenges; women farmers often suffer from ill health, have less access to land and financial resources, experience limitations on their mobility outside of their homes, and are often not included in community-level decision making or in decision making within producers’ organizations.

Panelists underlined the fact that gender equality and women’s empowerment is no longer purely a moral issue. Their increased access to resources such as land, credit, technology, training and marketing can lead to improved agricultural productivity and production. Women’s education was underscored as a critical prerequisite. Increases in incomes and overall improvements in women’s lives in turn have an immediate positive impact on the well-being of household members, particularly on the nutritional status and education of children.

The panel called the Council’s attention to the need for concrete, priority actions to support the role of rural women as major stakeholders and agents of change. In particular, it urged the development of appropriate legal frameworks and a policy environment that allows tapping into the agricultural productivity potential of this critical 50% of the overall population.

Other highlighted recommendations included the adoption of a comprehensive approach to rural women’s empowerment that addresses access to resources, safety nets, health education and the issue of violence against women in an holistic fashion; to promote country-led investment plans in agriculture that prioritize women, including their specific technological needs; to adopt cross-cultural planning tools that can help address and integrate women’s needs and their ethnical diversity into policy-decision; to make visible the contribution of rural women’s to the economy by ensuring gender-sensitive collection and desegregation of data; to ensure rural women’s participation and representation in all policy decisions regarding agriculture and food security; and to develop a strategic agenda and adequate government institutions that can effectively promote gender equality and empowerment of women. The adoption of these recommendations were pivotal for strengthening the role of women in agricultural development.

For more information: http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/newfunct/gpm2010.shtml

Towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment

54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women was held in New York from 1-12 March

Thousands of government officials and representatives from civil society and the media converged at UN Headquarters in New York to assess what progress has been achieved, since the historic Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, in the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the comprehensive global policy framework to achieve the goals of gender equality and empowerment of women – covers twelve critical areas of concern: women and poverty, education and training of women, women and health, violence against women, women and armed conflict, women and the economy, women in power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women, human rights of women, women and the media, women and the environment, and the girl-child.

The contributions of senior UN Officials, including the Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary-General, the Under-Secretary-General of DESA, the President of ECOSOC and the Assistant Secretary-General, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, placed strong emphasis on implementing commitments and ensuring that all opportunities would be seized in 2010 to give new impetus to the promotion of gender equality and women’s enjoyment of their human rights. The Commission was also introduced to the new Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict by the Secretary-General.

The event allowed Member States, along with representatives of non-governmental organizations and many UN entities, to share experiences, good practices and lessons learned in the implementation of the Platform for Action in a series of high-level round tables and interactive panel discussions, and in many parallel events organized by Member States, entities of the UN system, and civil society. The participation of civil society was impressive, with 3440 representatives from 463 NGOs from all regions of the world attending.

On 2 March 2010, the Commission adopted a Declaration on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, in which Governments reaffirmed the Platform for Action and pledged to undertake further actions towards its full implementation. The Declaration represents a strong political message to achieve the goals of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The Commission also adopted seven resolutions. They cover the following areas: women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS; the release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts; the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women; women’s economic empowerment; eliminating maternal mortality and morbidity through the empowerment of women; ending female genital mutilation; and strengthening the institutional arrangements of the UN for support of gender equality and the empowerment of women by consolidating the four existing offices into a composite entity.

Moderator’s summaries for all panel discussions highlight main issues and recommendation, and four of these will be transmitted to the ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review. This outcome will also contribute to the High-Level Plenary on the MDGs that will be held in September 2010 in the context of the 65th session of the General Assembly.

For more information: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing15/index.html

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