Volume 8, No. 2, March-April 2004 - Addendum



Summary of the forty-eighth session of the
Commission on the Status of Women,1-12 March 2004

      On 1 March, the Commission held a High-level Round Table on the theme: "Gaps and challenges in measuring progress in implementation, in the context of the review and appraisal of implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly by the Commission on the Status of Women at its forty-ninth session in 2005." The round table was organized in collaboration with the Statistical Commission (which held its thirty-fifth session from 2-5 March 2004.) This was the first such practical collaboration between functional commissions.

      The round table was co-chaired by the Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women, and the Vice-Chair and Chair-Designate of the Statistical Commission. Thirty- two high-level representatives to the Commission on the Status of Women from capitals (Ministers, Vice-Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and heads of national machineries) participated, as well as three Ambassadors, four delegates to the Statistical Commission and invited representatives from six United Nations entities and three non-governmental organizations. The round table provided a unique opportunity for interactive dialogue between users and producers of statistics. Participants shared practical experiences, lessons learned, good practices and gaps and challenges in measuring progress towards the achievement of gender equality. A Chairpersons' summary will be included in the report of the Commission on the Status of Women.

      Expert panels were held on the two thematic issues before the Commission: "The role of men and boys in achieving gender equality" and "Women's equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building". The very good expert presentations were followed by interactive dialogue where participants shared experiences, lessons learned and good practice examples and raised questions and areas requiring further attention. Chairpersons' summaries from the two panels will be included in the report of the Commission.

      A total of 110 speakers participated in the General Debate. These included representatives of 82 Member States, 2 Observer States, 12 entities of the United Nations, 3 intergovernmental organizations and 11 non-governmental organizations. The speakers included 14 Ministers, 3 Vice-Ministers and 18 Ambassadors, as well as Permanent Secretaries and heads of national machineries.

      The Commission adopted agreed conclusions on the two thematic issues. The agreed conclusions on "The role of men and boys in achieving gender equality" focused on the need to raise awareness of men and boys through education and upbringing, encouraging the sharing of domestic responsibilities including caring roles, and promoting an increased role for men and boys in eliminating violence against women and preventing HIV/AIDS. The agreed conclusions draw significantly from the report of the Secretary-General (E/CN.6/2004/9) and contain essentially new text.

      The agreed conclusions on "Women's equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building" focus on conflict prevention, peace processes and elections and reconstruction and rehabilitation in post-conflict situations. The agreed conclusions draw significantly from the report of the Secretary-General (E/CN.6/2004/10) and, to a more limited extent, from the reports of the expert group meetings organized by the Division and OSAGI on peace agreements and post-conflict electoral processes, respectively. The agreed conclusions are essentially new text.

      The Commission adopted five resolutions by consensus: on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan; women, the girl-child and HIV/AIDS; mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes in the United Nations system; revitalization and strengthening of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW); and preparations for the forty-ninth session of the Commission. Two resolutions were adopted by vote: on the situation and assistance to Palestinian women (39 to 1,with one abstention); and the release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts (41 to 1). A decision was adopted on the working methods of the Commission on the Status of Women.

      The resolution on the preparations for the review and appraisal, mandated in the multi-year programme of work of the Commission at its forty-ninth session in 2005, called for a focus on implementation, including through the expanded use of interactive dialogue and with broad-based participation of governmental delegations at the highest levels and of civil society and organizations in the United Nations system. The Commission recommended that ECOSOC recommend to the General Assembly to convene a high-level plenary during the Commission's session in March, to which the Commission could transfer its general debate. The bureau was requested to continue the practice of periodically convening open-ended sessions to consult with interested Member States on the preparation for the review and appraisal.

      Following the presentation of the report of the Working Group on Communications on the Status of Women, the Commission decided to take note of the report of the Working Group and to include it in the report of the Commission. The Commission also considered the future functioning of its communications procedure on the basis of a report of the Secretary-General (E/CN.6/2004/11 and Addenda). While there was agreement that the procedure needed to be made more effective, there was no consensus on how this should be achieved. The Commission decided, on the basis of an oral proposal by the Chairperson, to postpone consideration of " the future work of the Working Group on Communications on the Status of Women, the report of the Secretary-General and the different views and proposals put forward by Member States" until its fiftieth session in 2006.

      Over 1.000 non-governmental organizations, representing the five regions, attended the Commission. A total of 176 side events were organized. The DAW website received over 200,000 page views during the session.

      A panel of international experts to commemorate International Women's Day, 8 March, was organized by the Inter-agency Network on Women and Gender Equality during the Commission. The theme of the panel, which was opened by the Secretary-General, was "Women and HIV/AIDS".