|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Commission on the Status of Women
17th Meeting (AM)
Commission on Status of Women Concludes 2011 Session with Adoption of Conclusions
Aimed at Boosting Women’s Access to Education in Science, Technology Fields
Vice-Chair Says Agreement Required ‘Extensive, Intense Negotiations’; UN Women,
As First-time Secretariat, Deems Outcome Initial Step Requiring National Follow-Up
Noting that quality education and women’s full access to and participation in science and technology were imperative for achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, the Commission on the Status of Women today urged Governments and relevant United Nations agencies to take appropriate actions to bolster women’s access to education and to specifically strengthen capacities to ensure that science education policies and curricula were relevant to their needs.
Those were among the key observations and recommendations at the core of the Commission’s agreed conclusions (document E/CN.6/2011/L.6), reflecting the overall theme of the 45-member body’s fifty-fifth session, “access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work”. The Commission’s 2011 session, which opened at Headquarters on 22 February, had been originally scheduled to close on 4 March, but protracted negotiations on the agreed conclusions forced it to suspend its work until its closing today.
Among a host of vital priorities identified in the agreed conclusions, the Commission stressed that access to and participation in quality education, including in the science and technology fields, by women and girls of all ages, was an economic necessity and provided them with the skills, knowledge and aptitude necessary for life-long learning, employment, better physical and mental health, and full participation in social, economic and political development.
The agreed conclusions called for action on behalf of women and girls by Governments, United Nations agencies, and human rights and civil society groups, among others, in six key areas, including strengthening national legislation, policies and programmes; expanding access and participation in education; strengthening gender-sensitive education and training, including in the field of science and technology; supporting the transition from education to full employment and decent work; increasing retention and progression of women in science and technology employment; and making science and technology responsive to women.
Before the Commission adopted the text, Commission Vice-Chair Filippo Cinti (Italy) said it had been the result of “extensive and intense negotiations”. Unfortunately, those talks had not been concluded by the deadline for the session’s final scheduled meeting, but agreement late that Friday night was a testament to the willingness of delegations to reach consensus.
In closing remarks, Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for General Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), said that while the agreed conclusions indeed reflected the commitment of Member States, they were only a “first step” and must be implemented and followed up at the national level. She called on all Member States to spare no effort to ensure that their aims and objectives were fully addressed, especially in the six key areas of ongoing concern, such as violence against women and the situation of rural women and girls.
Giving a brief overview of the session, she said that the Commission had convened to share innovations, best practices and successful experiences in the global effort to ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment. Delegations had also used the opportunity to discuss traditional obstacles and new and emerging ones that were hampering gains. She congratulated the Commission on the interesting discussions, pleased to note that access to quality education, with emphasis on science and technology, had been the overall theme.
Several overriding concerns had emerged during the two-week session, she said, including the negative impact of the ongoing global crises, lingering barriers that prevented women’s equal access to quality education and the fact that women’s transition from education to full employment and decent work “remained fraught with challenges”. She also recalled that ending violence against women was a priority area for action and that the Commission had held an important panel discussion on the relevant theme: “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child”. Another important discussion had focused on “gender equality and sustainable development,” she added.
In his remarks, Commission Chair Garen Nazarian ( Armenia) thanked all participants, noting that this was the first session in which UN Women had served as Secretariat of the Commission. He said that the agreed conclusions provided a solid basis for accelerated and focused action in priority areas.
Noting the attention to the welfare of girls, he said that “Girls are the women of tomorrow, but we need to hear their voices today.” Ending discrimination against them must become a priority for all stakeholders, he said, adding his hope that all were leaving the session ready to act for gender equality and the empowerment of women at all levels.
In other action, the Commission adopted the draft report of its session (document/E.N.6/2011/L.4), which was presented by Rapporteur Leysa Sow (Senegal). Also, Noa Furman (Israel) and Li Xiaomei (China) were appointed to the Working Group on Communications for the Commission’s fifty-sixth and fifty-seventh sessions.
The Commission also briefly opened its fifty-sixth session to elect its Presidents and two Vice-Presidents. Marjon V. Kamara ( Liberia) was elected by acclamation to Chair the Commission for the next two years. Also elected by acclamation were Vice-Presidents Irina Velichko (Belarus), and Carlos Enrique García González (El Salvador).
Making statements following the adoption of the agreed conclusions were the representatives of Hungary (on behalf of the European Union) and Venezuela. The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations also made a statement.
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