DESA News Vol. 13, No. 03 March 2009

Global dialogue on development

Equality for women

Commission on the Status of Women aims to recognize the full contribution of women to the economy and society at its 53rd session on 2-13 March in New York

Women have historically assumed a major role in the household. Their activities at home include cooking, cleaning and doing the laundry to caring for the children, elderly, sick and disabled as well as helping in the family business like farming and raising livestock. While women have enabled societies to grow, their work in the household has never been compensated nor recognized for its value.

A disproportionate amount of responsibility certainly rests on women, and with persons afflicted with HIV/AIDS on the rise, the burden of caregiving once again falls on women. In its 53rd session, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW-53) will address the priority theme of “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS” to relieve women of this unequal distribution of responsibility.

In preparation for the upcoming session, two roundtable discussions were organized by the NGO Committee on the Status of Women. The first discussion, held on 3 February, focused on the priority theme. The second one, held on 17 February, centered on the equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels.

CSW-53 will discuss the causes and consequences of the unequal sharing of responsibilities between women and men in the public and private spheres in view of recommending policies to address the inequality and to empower the women of today.

The session commences on 2 March with a high-level roundtable on experiences, lessons learned and good practices according to the priority issue. On the following day, there are scheduled two interactive expert panels on key policy initiatives and on capacity-building for mainstreaming a gender perspective into national policies and programmes on the priority theme.

On 5 March, a panel of experts will consider the gender perspectives of the financial crisis, and on 6 March, the session will review the status of implementation of the agreed conclusion on “Equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels”, which the Commission adopted in 2006.

To provide input to the upcoming Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) Annual Ministerial Review, an expert panel on “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health: a gender perspective” will be held on 12 March.

CSW-53 takes place over a span of two weeks. United Nations agencies, funds and programs, as well as Permanent Missions and non-governmental organizations have organized many important side-events to supplement the session.

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Emphasizing human rights in development

42nd session of the Commission on Population and Development discusses development goals from 30 March to 3 April in New York

The year 2015 is fast approaching – the year by which 189 United Nations Member States pledged, during the 2000 Millennium Summit, to have significantly helped the world’s poorest countries. It is in this setting that the Commission on Population and Development gathers for its 42nd session.

Carrying on the task of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), where a Programme of Action for development was adopted, the Commission will work on this year’s theme on “The contribution of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development to the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals”.

The Commission considers the interrelationships between population, sustained economic growth and sustainable development, advances in education, economic status and empowerment of women. While the past two decades saw advances in areas concerning increased use of contraception, decreased maternal mortality, implemented sustainable development plans and projects and enhanced educational programmes, much remains to be accomplished. Intensified efforts in population and development activities are thus needed in the coming years, as early stabilization of the world population would make the achievement of sustainable development possible.

It is critical to ensure the success of the ICPD Programme of Action in this regard. The Programme of Action offers a set of objective which focuses on the needs of individual women and men, rather than on achieving demographic targets. Because it recognizes that respect for human rights and development goes hand in hand, the recommendations it provides would have positive impacts on people’s well-being, and ultimately lead to development.

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ECOSOC reaches for international health goals

Global Preparatory Meeting for the substantive session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in July will be held on 31 March in New York

Global public health is the main theme of the 2009 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR), and in line with this, the Global Preparatory Meeting kick starts preparations for the AMR with a keynote presentation on where we stand on achieving the international health goals.

Two panels will also be held during the meeting: “Impact of the world financial crisis on the achievements of the health goals” and “Health challenges in post-crisis situations”.

The conclusions reached in the Global Preparatory Meeting will serve as a key input in the Report of the Secretary-General on achievements in the area of health as well as the AMR Ministerial Declaration.

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Continuing the task of social development

47th session of the Commission for Social Development concluded with the adoption of resolutions on the most pressing issues in society today

The Commission for Social Development held its 47th session from 4-13 February under the chairmanship of H.E. Ambassador Kirsti Lintonen of Finland. In view of its 2009-2010 priority theme, “Social integration”, taking into account the relationship with poverty eradication and full employment and decent work, this year’s review session aimed at building a consensus on social integration and laying the ground for concrete policies to be recommended to Governments at its policy session in 2010.

The Commission discussed “The current global crises and their impact on social development”, which was under its emerging issues agenda item, and also reviewed the implementation of the United Nations plans and programmes of action as well as programmes questions pertaining to the situation of older persons, persons with disabilities and youth.

Two panel discussions were held – the first was on the priority theme while the second was in relation to the emerging issues. The Commission also featured an interactive dialogue with the Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers Programme. Last but certainly not least, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on disability reported on her work in that field over the past six years.

DESA, in cooperation with the International Labour Organization and the Permanent Mission of Kyrgyzstan, launched the first World Day of Social Justice to coincide with the Commission for Social Development. A panel discussion was organized as part of the commemoration of the event.

Several Minsters, Vice-Ministers and other high level personalities participated in the Commission. Among the delegates present were Ms. Paula Risikko, Minister of Health and Social Services of Finland; Mr. Wim Kik, Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands and representative of the Club of Madrid; Ms. Biance Gawanas, African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs; and Mr. Xavier Prats-Monné, Director for Employment Policy of the European Commission.

Three resolutions were adopted in the 47th Commission for Social Development. These were the resolutions on promoting full employment and decent work for all, on the first review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002, and on policies and programmes involving youth. The Commission also recommended to ECOSOC the adoption of a draft resolution on the “Social Dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development”.

The Chair’s summary of the Commission’s discussion on social integration as well as on the emerging issues of the current global crises will be included in the Report of the session.

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Teaming up for global health

ECOSOC’s Special Event on Philanthropy and the Global Public Health Agenda on 23 February in New York stressed the need to improve health networks in developing countries

The special event of ECOSOC on Philanthropy and the Global Public Health Agenda paved the way for progress in maternal and girl’s health and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). More than 700 participants of the corporate, philanthropic, academic and global health partnerships communities as well as Member States and United Nations representatives worked together to identify gaps and explore opportunities in these areas of concern .

The event featured addresses by the Secretary General of the United Nations, as well as Prof. Klaus Leisinger, President and CEO of the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development and former President Bill Clinton of the United States.

Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General of DESA, introduced the two leadership dialogues. He underlined that the causes of maternal mortality and infant death, as well as the consequences of neglected tropical diseases, are mostly preventable and treatable.

Participants of the panel on “Improving health outcomes of women and girls” and panelists Ann Starrs, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Gary Cohen, Becton Dickinson, Julian Lob-Levyt, GAVI Alliance, and Jane Nelson, Harvard University, as well as the representatives from UNFPA and UNICEF particularly highlighted that a global initiative, modeled after the HIV/AIDS and malaria collaborations, is needed to raise awareness for maternal and child health.

The panel on “Raising the profile of neglected tropical diseases” with lead discussants from WHO and the Worldbank, and panelists Bernard Pecoul, DNDi, Richard Bagger, Pfizer, Jeffrey Sturchio, US Corporate Council on Africa, and Anne Mills, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, also pointed out the need to create a broader network with its central focus on NTDs.

More dialogue platforms and forums such as the ECOSOC special event are essential in facilitating information and knowledge sharing. Such initiatives should be led by governments and involve all key actors, including the private sector that could contribute its expertise of private management to the public arena.

In addition to the current focus on specific health problems, there is also a need to improve the capacities of health systems. With the backdrop of the global financial crisis, panelists and the audience called for innovative funding mechanisms for development.

Former President Bill Clinton stressed in his closing remarks the need to improve health networks in developing countries, particularly in rural areas, with the collaboration of local NGOs. He also encouraged private sector companies to sell technologies in developing countries that help advance public health, and emphasized the importance for “corporate partners and philanthropists to apply their expertise to maximize the impact of every dollar spent”.

In a press conference leading up to the event, IKEA announced a $48 million donation to the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) in India. The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), which were also present at the press conference, spoke about their collaborative efforts to fight neglected diseases. MSF has committed about $22.5 million over the next six years to DNDi in the operational and clinical research to drug-development portfolio.

The global network of the Sabin Institute also conveyed its work in the fight against NTDs in the conference. Finally, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a $34 million grant to the Global Network to scale up control of several of the most neglected tropical diseases: intestinal parasites; schistosomiasis, the second most problematic disease among the poor in Africa next to malaria; lymphatic filariasis; onchocerciasis or “river blindness”, which affected 37 million people mainly in Africa; and trachoma.

The Special Event on Philanthropy and the Global Public Health Agenda was jointly organized by DESA and UNOP in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP).

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