H.E. Dr. Suad El Fatih El Badawi,
to the President on Women and Child Affairs
Before the 24th Special Session of the General
Summit for Social Development
and Beyond : Achieving Social Development
for al l
in a globalizing World"
Geneva, 25 - 30 June 2000
Friday , 30 June 2000
have elapsed since the World Summit for Social Development adopted the Copenhagen
Declaration and Plan of Action, that placed THE human being at the centre of
development. The leaders of our countries committed themselves to provide the
highly-needed political support for the eradication of poverty, promotion of
full and productive employment and fostering of social integration through the
implementation of the ten Copenhagen Commitments. Those five years failed to
bring about what we had expected in fulfilling the commitments and the implementation
of the recommendations contained in the two Copenhagen documents. The social
conditions in the developing countries, particularly in Africa, continued to
be stagnant if not deteriorating, and the gap between the rich and poor countries
widened. The degree of poverty has escalated in the least developed countries.
A sharp decline in employment opportunities is clearly manifested and led to
crippling the process of social integration. All this was coupled with the negative
impact of structural adjustment programmes. The unprecedented heavy burden of
external debt and debt servicing represented the major obstacle to the attainment
of development in the indebted countries. It has become evident that the process
of globalization and liberalization of trade is exacerbating the already precarious
economic situation in the developing countries particularly in Africa.
If appropriate preventive measures are not taken, the negative impact of globalization will result in further deterioration of the conditions in developing countries. It will also lead to increase in poverty levels and considerable job losses, thus negatively affecting social development. The globalization of information and its monopoly will lead to marginalization of cultures and disintegration of identity of communities.
Although we recognize that social development is a national responsibility, it can not be successfully achieved without the collective commitments and efforts of the international community. In this connection we believe in the necessity of fulfilling the yet-to-be-attained internationally-agreed target of 0.07 % of the GNP of developed countries for overall ODA. We reiterate the importance of finding an effective, equitable, development-oriented solution to the external debt and debt servicing burdens of developing countries which curtailed their social development. The highly indebted poor countries Initiative (HIPC) must be financed and implemented. Restructuring of the international economic system is imperative in order to bring about transparency and stability in the international monetary system and to make the Bretton - Woods Institutions more transparent, accountable and democratic to be readily responsive to challenges of development within the framework of the international monetary integration.
We emphasize the importance of enhancing the capacities of developing countries to overcome the obstacles to development within the framework of the economic globalization by augmenting the trend of industrialization, strengthening of the infrastructure, transfers of technology and access opportunities to knowledge and information through international assistance. Another important aspect is, increasing and improving access of products of developing countries to the international market through the reduction of tariff barriers and other projectionist measures. We call upon our development partners to show more political resolve and genuine willingness to assist developing countries improve their competitiveness in the international market. This could only be attained through generous financial assistance from the industrialized world directed towards improving and enhancing the weak infrastructure and augmenting their institutional capacity.
It is imperative to put an end to the practice of levying economic sanctions and unilateral economic coercive measures in contravention to the international law and the Charter of the United Nations, if we are to create a conducive international environmental for social development for all. We should ensure the Right to Development as an indivisible component of internationally recognized Human Rights and attain the right to food and right to medical care for all, in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions. It is a matter of utmost concern to my delegation that the international community should exert more efforts with a view to achieving cooperation in combating endemic diseases, especially malaria, which is among the major killer diseases in a considerable number of developing countries, in particular in Africa. In this regard, African heads of state have recently held a special summit to address this scourge.
According to a recent World Bank report entitled Can Africa Claim 21St Century? "poor infrastructure is one of the main causes of Africa's incompetitiveness. Transport costs are higher trade barrier than tariffs in Africa. The volume of trade is very sensitive to transport costs. 10 cent drop in transport costs increases trade by 25 %". The report further says that Africa pays a high price for its inadequate infrastructure in lost opportunities for growth, for poverty reduction and for access to services such as schools, electricity that could improve people's lives.
Notwithstanding the unfavorable international atmosphere as I stated earlier, my country has scored remarkable progress in the area of social development. I will briefly highlight some of those aspects:
1./ In the field of economic development, Sudan has adopted the market economy since 1992. The country's rate of growth of GDP averaged 5.6% during the period 1995 - 1999, while the inflation rate was reduced to 16 by the year 1999 compared to 69.1 % in 1995. That rate continued to decrease during the first half of 2000. Due to the liberal economic policies the country was able to attract flows of foreign direct investment in the areas of oil, mining, energy, agriculture and livestock.
2./ In the area of popular political participation and in order to achieve a balanced development, Sudan has adopted a federal system of government. This decentralized form of government has augmented the local levels of administration and proved to be the ideal way of ensuring the political participation from grass-roots to top-most levels. To ensure the bridging of developmental gaps between states, the Federal Government has allocated financial resources in the States Development Fund to cater for development activities in the least developed ones.
3./ Towards the achievement of poverty eradication the Government had formulated an effective strategy and strived for its implementation to incorporate the poor and disadvantaged in the production cycle. Two and a half million poor families were provided with suitable production means; the social security umbrella was extended to cover wider sectors, and specialized social funds were established for the protection of the financially vulnerable groups against the negative effects of the structural adjustment programmes, by the end of the National Comprehensive strategy 2002. The Sudanese Savings Bank for Social Development was established to help the poor and the provision of production tools to the small scale producers and the disadvantaged. The Zakat resources are also directed towards the poor.
4./ For fostering productive employment and widening its scope ,Sudan has articulated and implemented a national economic recovery strategy between 1989 - 1993 with a view to achieving a comprehensive sustainable development. This strategy aimed at producing a skilled labour force for enhancing productivity and empowering women through their active involvement in the national economy circles and the reduction of unemployment rates by the end of the National Comprehensive Strategy in the year 2002. The expansion of work opportunities in the country-side was also targeted with a view to improving the living standards there and the reduction of migration from the countryside to major towns. Preferential privileges were granted to labour-intensive projects with the objective of creating labor opportunities for one million people, and the eradication of child labor during the last three-year-programme of the National Comprehensive Strategy. The continuos endeavor for women empowerment and child welfare reached its climax after it was made a direct responsibility of the Presidency. The President of the Republic has appointed a lady advisor for women and child affairs. This advisory body is now engaged in formulating a new strategy to specify programmes for enabling women and protecting the welfare of childhood, and articulating ways and means for the effective implementation of that strategy.
The establishment of this unique advisory body is considered as added value and efficient in working with women and for child welfare. The strategies of the advisory body are manifested in the recent Presidential decrees related to women and children: It has been decided to establish the children Parliament to enrich the values of dialogue and democracy in the minds of our children. With respect to women, and upon recommendation for the advisory body, The President of the Republic has decreed the release of all women charged with minor crimes and their rehabilitation to lead a decent and honorable life. The decree went further to prohibit imprisonment of pregnant women until they give birth and care for them for two years. The advisory body has recommended that besides the already approved pregnancy leave, women be given maternal leave for two years with full payment during the first six months. Financial subsides will be given to women during the remaining 18 months of the leave from the maternal and childhood fund which gets its resources from the zakat (Alms), endowment, voluntary contributions and investment revenues.
Women in the Sudan have achieved remarkable progress due to their continued struggle and wisdom. Women are active partners in all walks to life in the community, they occupy, now, high ranking positions, memebrs in the Parliament since 1965, advisors to the President, ministers, undersecretaries, executive directors in private and public sectors, high ranking officers in the army and the police forces, and in the supreme court we have four lady judges. The number of women in the university and postgraduate institutions, is by far greater than men, they average 62 % of the intake. The Constitution and laws of Sudan do not discriminate between men and women. With all this progress our society does not have conflicts between men and women, our families are intact, they provide good care for our children and community cohesion.
As a result of the aforementioned, the employment rate has risen by 33 during the last decade. The percentage of women in the labour market has exceeded that of men both in towns and countryside. Child labour was reduced, thanks to the expansion of pre-school education through the establishment of kindergarten and khalwas in urban and rural areas.
It is evident that the ability of the Sudanese society for social integration and mutual support has been greatly augmented. The Sudanese society has proved its ability to positively manage its cultural, religious, geographic and ethnic diversities. These abilities were enhanced by being enshrined in the 1998 National Constitution of the Sudan, which stipulated the adoption of the democratic multi-party system and the respect of internationally recognized human rights and freedoms and established for the equality before the law and for the fact that citizenship is the basis of constitutional rights and duties. The Constitution has guaranteed that all groups have their inherent rights in preserving their culture, language and religion and raise-up their children voluntarily within their framework.
Our common goal of placing social development high in the agenda of the international community should inspire us to think collectively and workout appropriate means to safeguard the noble humanistic objectives against the vagaries of politics. We should not give our narrow national interests precedence over the overall progress of humanity and paving the way for safety and stability. We must strive to ensure that prosperity is enjoyed by all mankind.