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United Nations
Division for the Advancement of Women

Press release

An international Workshop on "Beijing +5 – Future Actions and Initiatives" was convened by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) and assisted and hosted by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) at the United Nations House in Beirut, Lebanon, from 8 to 10 November 1999.

The Workshop was attended by 10 international experts from all regions, and observers from the United Nations system. Mr. Hazem El-Beblawi, the Executive Secretary of ESCWA opened the meeting in the presence of Ms. Andrée Lahoud, the First Lady of Lebanon and the President of the National Council for Lebanese Women. In the opening statement to the workshop, Ms. Yakin Ertürk, Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, noted that the General Assembly special session, "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century" to be held from 5-9 June 2000, in New York, would be an opportunity to take stock of achievements in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and identify new challenges to its full implementation around the world.

The workshop elaborated action-oriented recommendations which will be forwarded for discussion to the UN Commission on the Status of Women acting as the preparatory committee for the special session of the General Assembly.

The experts discussed the progress and constraints of implementation under the broad themes of the world conferences on women: Equality, Development and Peace. They noted that the context in which these themes had been chosen two decades ago had changed, thus, resulting in substantive shifts in their meaning. Over the years, women’s rights as human rights emerged as an overarching framework embracing each theme.

In view of the trends in the implementation of the Platform for Action and the changing global context since the Beijing Conference, the experts formulated their recommendations under five categories: attitudes and practices; governance; alliances and coalitions; social and economic justice, and peace-building.

Attitudes and practices: Continuous public debate and campaigns aimed at changing attitudes, perceptions, and stereotypes regarding gender roles and identities were recommended. These should draw on the new discussions on the role of men and their responsibilities, and the potential for more equal male-female relationships.

Governance: It was pointed out that the actors responsible for governance at the national and international levels should take on their responsibilities to respect, promote, and implement norms, commitments and legislation regarding gender equality. Governments, international organizations, civil society organizations and multi-national corporations should set specific time-bound targets within their area of activity for the achievement of gender equality and meet these targets. Women’s participation in decision making and leadership position should be supported through research and training programmes.

Alliances and coalitions: New alliances and coalitions need to be established among relevant actors to promote human rights, code of conduct, and socially responsible investments which would include the promotion of gender equality especially at local and regional levels. Such alliances can be forged with the private sector, trade unions, consumer associations, the media, foundations and others.

Social and economic justice: In the global context of increasing precariousness, and vulnerability, Governments should take measures to ensure that the role of national states in providing social protection and social security and eradication of poverty are upheld. They should also undertake all necessary means to move the issue of all forms of violence against women, including honour crimes, rape and female genital mutilation, from the private domain to the public one where it would be subject to public prosecution.

Peace-building: It was recommended that the UN should act as a role model by achieving gender parity in all areas related to peace processes – from preventative diplomacy to peace building – by 2010 and ensure that access by women to these processes would lead to effective participation and transformation. Women should also be involved in all stages of the design, planning and implementation of post conflict transformation as opposed to simply reconstruction.