WOMEN’S COMMISSION ADOPTS AGREED CONCLUSIONS ON MEN’S ROLE IN ACHIEVING GENDER EQUALITY, WOMEN’S EQUAL PARTICIPATION IN CONFLICT PREVENTION

12 March 2004
WOM/1447

WOMEN’S COMMISSION ADOPTS AGREED CONCLUSIONS ON MEN’S ROLE IN ACHIEVING GENDER EQUALITY, WOMEN’S EQUAL PARTICIPATION IN CONFLICT PREVENTION

12/03/2004
Press ReleaseWOM/1447

Commission on the Status of Women                          

Forty-eighth Session                                       

16th Meeting (PM)

WOMEN’S COMMISSION ADOPTS AGREED CONCLUSIONS ON MEN’S ROLE IN ACHIEVING

GENDER EQUALITY, WOMEN’S EQUAL PARTICIPATION IN CONFLICT PREVENTION

Concludes 48th Session

The Commission on the Status of Women concluded its forty-eighth session this afternoon with the adoption of agreed conclusions on the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality for women –- one of the main themes of the session. 

Also adopted, as orally revised, were agreed conclusions on the other main theme of the session –- women’s equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building.  The Commission also requested the Economic and Social Council to endorse those agreed conclusions, which were contained in informal papers.

Addressing the Commission for the last time as Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Angela E.V. King said the Commission had accomplished a great deal, examined particular themes, broadened its interactive debates with other commissions and charted the way forward for next year’s review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome of the General Assembly’s twenty-third special session.

In other action today, the Commission adopted an oral decision, proposed by its Chairperson, by which it decided to postpone further consideration of the 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.

Among the other texts adopted this afternoon was a resolution on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS, by which the Commission urged governments to take all necessary measures to empower women and strengthen their economic independence and to protect and promote their full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms to enable them to protect themselves from HIV infection.

The Commission also urged governments to expand access to treatment, in a progressive and sustainable manner, including the prevention and treatment of opportunistic diseases and effective use of antiretroviral medication and to promote access to low-cost effective drugs and related pharmaceutical products.

By a text on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system, adopted as orally revised, the Commission expressed its concern at the remaining constraints on the full implementation of gender mainstreaming into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system, including inadequate support for and follow-up of gender equality policies and strategies, poor utilization of gender analysis, inadequate monitoring mechanisms, and a number of ongoing critical institutional constraints.  A number of suggestions were made in that regard in the text.

Adopting a text on preparations for the forty-ninth session of the Commission, as orally revised, the Commission decided to focus on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly through the expanded use of interactive dialogue, and with broad-based participation of governmental delegations at the highest level of responsibility and expertise, and of civil society and organizations within the United Nations system, bearing in mind the need to integrate a gender perspective in the implementation and review of the Millennium Declaration.

The Commission further recommend that a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly be convened during the Commission’s forty-ninth session to which the Commission will transfer its general debate on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the Assembly.

The Commission also adopted a text concerning its working methods and took note of a number of documents before the session.

In other matters, the Commission was informed that the following delegates had been endorsed by their respective regional groups to serve on the Working Group on Communications for the forty-ninth session of the Commission:  Xiao Mei Li (China), Farah Adjalova (Azerbaijan), Connie Taracena (Guatemala) and Richard Wood (United Kingdom).  A delegate from the African Group remained to be appointed.

Also, the Commission adopted its draft report of the current session, which was introduced by the Commission’s Rapporteur.

Statements were made by the various vice-chairpersons of the Commission, as well as the representatives of India, Bangladesh, Tunisia (on behalf of the African Group), Ireland (on behalf of the European Union), Argentina, Qatar (on behalf of the “Group of 77” and China), Sudan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, El Salvador (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group), United States and Japan (on behalf of the Asian Group and JUSCANZ -– Japan, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand).

Background

The Commission on the Status of Women met this afternoon to take action on several draft resolutions and conclude its forty-eighth session.

By the draft resolution on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS (document E/CN.6/2004/L.4/Rev.1), the Commission would urge governments to take all necessary measures to empower women and strengthen their economic independence and to protect and promote their full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms to enable them to protect themselves from HIV infection.  It would also urge governments to expand access to treatment, in a progressive and sustainable manner, including the prevention and treatment of opportunistic diseases and effective use of antiretroviral medication and to promote access to low-cost effective drugs and related pharmaceutical products.

Further by the text, the Commission would urge governments to strengthen initiatives that would increase the capacities of women and adolescent girls to protect themselves from the risk of HIV infection, principally through the provision of health care and health services, including for sexual and reproductive health and through prevention education that promotes gender equality within a culturally and gender sensitive framework.  It would also call on governments to intensify efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls in relation to HIV/AIDS, including through challenging stereotypes, stigmatization, discriminatory attitudes and gender inequalities and to encourage the active involvement of men and boys in this regard.

By the terms of a draft resolution on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system (document E/CN.6/2004/L.6), the Commission would express its concern at the remaining constraints on the full implementation of gender mainstreaming into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system, including inadequate support for and follow-up of gender equality policies and strategies, poor utilization of gender analysis, inadequate monitoring mechanisms, and a number of ongoing critical institutional constraints.

Also, the Commission would invite all entities of the United Nations system to, among other things:  increase the exchange of experiences, good practices, tools and methods in respect of gender mainstreaming; link existing gender equality policies to organizational goals; integrate gender perspectives into organizational policies and sectoral policies and strategies; increase the capacity for and better utilize gender analysis at both policy and programme levels; and require sex-disaggregation of all relevant data and the collection of gender-specific information as the basis for all policy analysis.

A draft resolution on preparations for the forty-ninth session of the Commission (document E/CN.6/2004/L.12) would have the Commission decide to focus on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly through the expanded use of interactive dialogue, and with broad-based participation of governmental delegations at the highest level of responsibility and expertise, and of civil society and organizations within the United Nations system, bearing in mind the need to integrate a gender perspective in the implementation and review of the Millennium Declaration.

The Commission would further decide to recommend to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that it recommend to the Assembly the convening of a high-level plenary meeting of the Assembly, to which the Commission at its forty-ninth session will transfer its general debate on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the Assembly.

By the terms of a draft decision on the working methods of the Commission (document E/CN.6/2004/L.13), the Commission would decide to enhance the use at its annual sessions of interactive events that will increase the emphasis of the Commission on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the Assembly and the sharing of experiences and good practices.  It would also decide to:  further explore options for the multi-year programme of work; explore ways to make better use of its standing agenda item on emerging issues, trends and new approaches to issues affecting the situation of women or equality between women and men; and to continue discussion of these issues at its next session.

Regarding the item on communications concerning the status of women, the Commission had before it a draft decision (document E/CN.6/2004/L.7) by which the Economic and Social Council would decide, in order to make the communications procedure of the Commission more effective and efficient, to request the Secretary-General to renew his efforts to actively seek information and communications on the status of women received by the specialized agencies, regional commissions and other United Nations bodies, including human rights treaty bodies and special procedures of the Commission on Human Rights, together with information on action that may have been taken following the receipt of such communications, for the purpose of submitting it in his annual report on confidential and non-confidential communications to the Commission on the Status of Women.

The Commission would also decide to request him to include the relevant parts of the reports of treaty bodies and special procedures of the Commission on Human Rights in his annual report on confidential and non-confidential communications to the Commission on the Status of Women.

According to amendments to draft resolution L.7, contained in document E/CN.6/2004/L.10, the ECOSOC would decide to request the Secretary-General to renew his efforts to seek communications on the status of women received under Economic and Social Council resolution 1983/27 for the purpose of submitting them in his report on confidential and non-confidential communications to the Commission on the Status of Women; further publicize the communications procedure of the Commission; and renew efforts to make the existing procedure for receiving and considering communications, including the standard of admissibility, more transparent and efficient and avoid duplication with work undertaken by other organs of the ECOSOC.

By a draft decision on the same issue (document E/CN.6/2004/L.11), the ECOSOC would decide that the Commission on the Status of Women postpone consideration of the future work of the Working Group on Communications on the Status of Women to its forty-ninth session.

The draft report of the Commission on its forty-eighth session is contained in document E/CN.6/2004/L.9.

Action on Texts

The representative of Angola, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), introduced new elements in the revised draft resolution “Women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS” (E/CN.6/2004/L.4/Rev.1).

It was announced that Azerbaijan, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Morocco, Bolivia, Liechtenstein, Japan, Switzerland, Ethiopia, Mexico, Slovakia, Mali, Ecuador, China, Croatia, Burkina Faso, Republic of Korea, Nigeria and Nicaragua had joined as co-sponsors.

The draft resolution was then approved without a vote.

After adoption, the representative of India said during negotiations, her country had put forward proposals to the use of the terminology “HIV/AIDS” to “HIV and/or AIDS” to express the reality on the ground in India.  It had not insisted on the proposal due to time constraints, but reserved the right to address the issue in the future.

Regarding the draft resolution on “Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system” (document E.CN.6/2004/L.6) the representative of Bangladesh, also on behalf of the United Kingdom as main sponsors, said Bangladesh had joined the United Kingdom as main sponsor to show that mainstreaming was as much an issue in developing as in developed countries.  The focus of the resolution was on the process of mainstreaming a gender perspective in the policies and programmes of the United Nations.  It must be supported to achieve the goal of gender balance on all levels, with full respect to the principles of equitable geographical distribution.  It must also take into account the underrepresentation of women from southern countries.

It was announced that Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Cyprus, Egypt, Guinea, Jamaica, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Serbia and Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, San Marino, South Africa, Ukraine, Venezuela, Turkey, Viet Nam, Suriname, Namibia, Malawi, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Congo, Romania and Ecuador had joined as co-sponsors.

In a general statement before approval, the representative of Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said he was gratified the resolution welcomed ongoing activities made by United Nations entities to promote gender mainstreaming.  That policy should include ensuring that more women were in decision-making positions.  It was regrettable that the reference to equitable geographical distribution had not been taken on board.

The draft resolution, as revised, was approved without a vote.

CARMEN-ROSA ARIAS (Peru), Vice-Chairperson of the Commission, introduced a draft resolution on “Preparations for the forty-ninth session of the Commission” (document E/CN.6/2004/L.12), which was approved without a vote as orally revised.

Next, the Commission, without a vote, approved a draft text on “Working methods of the Commission on the Status of Women” (document E.CN.6/2004/L.13), also introduced by Ms. ARIAS (Peru).

BEATRICE MAILLE (Canada), Vice-Chairperson of the Commission and facilitator of the draft agreed conclusions on the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality, thanked all delegations for their efforts to understand each other’s differences to reach consensus.  The Commission heard last week about the need to work in partnership to achieve gender equality.  She hoped the agreed conclusions could serve as a guide for everyone.

The Commission adopted the agreed conclusions as contained in the informal paper.

The representative of Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, thanked the facilitator for her hard work over the last two weeks to reach a positive conclusion.

TEBATSO BALESENG (Botswana), Vice-Chairperson and facilitator for the draft agreed conclusions on women’s equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building, introduced that text, which was also contained in an informal paper.  She thanked all delegations for their cooperation and noted that sub-paragraph h of paragraph 6 should be deleted and the last sentence of paragraph 6 amended. 

The Commission adopted the draft agreed conclusions.

The representative of Argentina said that she was pleased that the Commission had reached agreement on the two priority themes of the session.  She headed an organization of women, who, as mothers and grandmothers, set out to look for the victims of the period of the military government, and called for peace and justice.  With the current Government, there were signs that justice would be achieved.  Today, the State declared that the unjust external debt would not be paid at the expense of people starving.  She paid tribute to Argentine women for their efforts to strengthen democracy.  In the discussions on women and conflict, the Commission had looked at the crucial relationship of the participation of women and the attainment of sustainable peace.

The representative of Qatar, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, thanked the facilitator and other delegations for their efforts to arrive at a successful conclusion.

The representative of Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, congratulated all those who took part in the negotiations, particularly the facilitator.  She welcomed the adoption of the agreed conclusions, which would serve as an important tool to accelerate the achievement of the commitments made in Beijing and the Assembly’s twenty-third special session.  The Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session were the cornerstones for the achievement of the advancement of women.  She deeply regretted that the Commission could not reaffirm the importance of those two documents, especially in light of the upcoming review next year.

The Commission also requested the Economic and Social Council to endorse the agreed conclusions just adopted.

The Commission decided to include in its report the Co-Chairpersons’ (Kyung-wha Kang, Republic of Korea, and Katherine K. Wallman, United States) summary of the high-level round table, as contained in document E/CN.6/2004/CRP.11.

The Commission then took note of the reports of the Secretary-General on the review of the methods of work of the Commission in the context of integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic and social fields; on the release of women taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts; on the joint work plan of the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; and on the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality.

It also took note of a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) on the elimination of violence against women, as well as a note by the Secretary-General on proposals for the strategic framework for the biennium 2006-2007.

The representative of the Sudan said that it was her understanding that taking note of a report did not mean any approval.

The representatives of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia associated themselves with the Sudan’s position.

The Commission then adopted by consensus an oral decision proposed by the chair to the effect that the Commission on the Status of Women decides to postpone further consideration of the future work of the Working Group on Communications on the Status of Women, the report of the Secretary-General and different views and proposals put forth by delegations until its fiftieth session.

The representative of the Netherlands said he would have preferred to see a decision this year.  The item had been on the agenda since 1993.  He called on all delegations to finally take a decision at the Commission’s fiftieth session and not postpone a decision again.

The representative of Tunisia, said the countries of the African Group and others were strengthened in their belief and assessment of the situation regarding the future work of the Working Group.  He reiterated that the initial request for postponement was justified by the need for more time to better grasp the question at the regional and national levels and to reduce the differences of opinion.

The Rapporteur of the Commission, LALA IBRAHIMOVA (Azerbaijan), introduced the Report of the Commission on the Status of the Women as contained in document E/CN.6/2004/L.9, which was adopted without a vote.  The Commission agreed to entrust the Bureau with finalizing the report by reflecting the proceedings of today’s meeting.

Closing Remarks

The Commission Chairperson, KYUNG-WHA KANG (Republic of Korea) thanked members of the Bureau for their hard work, the many “wonderful people” of the Secretariat and all Member States who had been strong and articulate in expressing their views.  She was appreciative of the fact that in the end delegates were able to rise above the differences and mobilize maximum flexibility, so that the Commission could conclude its business successfully.  In particular, she thanked Angela King and expressed sadness she would not be present for the forty-ninth session.

In her closing statement, the Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, ANGELA E.V. KING, said, unfortunately, the Commission’s achievements today had been overshadowed by the tragedy in Spain.  Delegates had managed to overcome many complexities in order to adopt the conclusions and the report.  The session had accomplished a great deal regarding gender mainstreaming in the United Nations system.  It had also broadened interactive debates with members of other commissions and had chartered the way forward, particularly on the role of women in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  Gender issues must not be forgotten in the review of the goals next year.  Other goals must not be seen as competition, but as an opportunity to ensure that gender perspectives were totally included in all discussions and decisions.

As there was no longer a report on gender balance in the United Nations system, she appealed to delegations not to lessen their efforts in that regard, noting that in 1997 the Commission had also called for equal representation in delegations.  She announced that the Secretary-General had assured her that the post of Special Adviser for gender-equality would be continued.  In conclusion, she said a lot remained to be done, but the Commission had a strong vision for the future.

The representatives of El Salvador, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, Ireland, on behalf of the European Union, United States, Qatar on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Japan on behalf of the Asian Group and JUSCANZ, made congratulatory remarks.

Highlights of Session

During its forty-eighth session, the Commission convened a high-level dialogue round table, which provided an opportunity for the users and producers of statistics to share national experiences, good practices and lessons learned in measuring progress in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, and for identifying gaps and challenges and possible solutions.

Speakers stressed that statistics were a vital tool in achieving the gender goals laid down in the Beijing Platform for Action, and in monitoring the effectiveness of gender-based policies and programmes.  They also underscored the value of statistics in improving the socio-economic situation of women, enhancing their participation in politics, and highlighting unequal resources between the sexes.

The role of men and boys in achieving gender equality, as well as women’s equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building were the focus of two panel discussions held by the Commission.  It was agreed that the involvement of men and boys in promoting gender equality was critical to reaching gender balance in a number of areas.  Real change would come only when stereotypical attitudes, which inhibited women’s advancement and impeded efforts for gender equality, were once and for all removed.

Regarding women and conflict, speakers stressed how essential focusing on the gender dimension by all actors was to ensure that full advantage was taken of the window of opportunity presented by a peace process, the resulting peace agreement and its implementation.  They also highlighted the need to institutionalize women’s participation in peace processes, and train women in peace-building, negotiation and prevention.

Background on Commission

The Commission was established as a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council in 1946 to prepare recommendations and reports to the Council on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields.  The Commission also makes recommendations to the Council on urgent problems requiring immediate action in the field of women’s rights.

With the objective of promoting the implementation of equal rights for men and women, the Commission’s mandate was expanded in 1987.  Following the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, the Commission began integrating a follow-up process to the Conference into its work programme, playing a catalytic role and regularly reviewing critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action.

Membership

The Commission began with 15 members and now consists of 45, elected by the Council for four-year terms.  Members are appointed by governments and are elected on the following basis:  13 from African States, 11 from Asian States, four from Eastern European States, nine from Latin American and Caribbean States, and eight from Western European and other States.  The Commission meets annually for a period of 10 working days.

The 2004 membership of the Commission is as follows:  Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, China, Congo, Croatia, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Malaysia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania and United States.

The Bureau of the Commission for the current session consists of Kyung-wha Khang (Republic of Korea), Chairperson; Lala Ibrahimova (Azerbaijan), Vice-Chairperson and Rapporteur; Tebatso Future Baleseng (Botswana), Vice-Chairperson; Beatrice Maille (Canada), Vice-Chairperson; and Carmen-Rosa Arias (Peru), Vice-Chairperson.

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For information media. Not an official record.