Commission on the Status of Women
3-14 March 2003
Division for the Advancement of Women
Representatives of the NGO community and the UN system,
Friends and colleagues,
It is an honour to address the 47th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. I would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to representatives from Governments and from non-governmental organizations who have travelled to New York for the Commissionís annual session.† Your participation at global level is critical for guiding the work on gender equality, and for strengthening the links between the global policy making level and national level where implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome document of the 23rd special session has to take place.†
In accordance with its multi-year programme of work, the Commission will consider two thematic issues at its present session, in addition to a number of recurrent matters. Consideration of the thematic issues is the core of the Commissionís annual work, and a critical contribution to the systematic follow-up to the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome document of the 23rd special session. †Focusing on selected topics allows the Commission to strengthen and accelerate implementation of the recommendations in these documents, to further refine the global policy framework for gender equality as it pertains to the themes, and to ensure practical action at all levels.† It is also an opportunity to reinforce links between implementation of these gender-specific instruments and other global policy instruments, such as the Millennium Declaration.†
The first topic addresses the participation and access of women to the media, and information and communication technologies, and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women. This provides the Commission with an opportunity to contribute to the preparations for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), to be held in Geneva in December 2003 and in Tunis in 2005.
The Division for the Advancement of Women convened two expert group meetings to support preparations on this topic. In collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Secretariat of the UN ICT Task Force, we held an expert group meeting in November, generously hosted by the Government of the Republic of Korea.† A second expert group meeting, in collaboration with DPI, UNESCO and ESCWA, took place at ESCWA Headquarters in Beirut, also in November.†† Both meetings provided essential input for the Secretary-Generalís report, which is before you (E/CN.6/2003/6).† The reports of both meetings have been widely disseminated through our website, and copies are available in the room.†
The Secretary-Generalís report notes that womenís participation and access to the media, after many years on national and international agendas, remains an issue that requires our continuing attention.† The role of ICT in the promotion of gender equality is, on the other hand, a much newer concern, as the question of ICT for development itself has only recently moved onto the UNís agenda.† The prominent role of new information and communications technologies in the media raises a series of questions of access and participation that need to be addressed from a gender perspective.† Similarly, the increasing prominence of ICT as a tool for development calls for clear guidance to ensure that all aspects of this sector, from policy development to regulatory aspects, are informed by an understanding of gender differences and inequalities in access and use, and requires that relevant responses are developed.†
The second theme before the Commission addresses womenís human rights and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, which are inextricably linked. The expert group meeting, organized by the Division in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (ODC), in Glen Cove, New York, in November last year, examined one form of violence which has reached world wide proportions and has required a strengthened focus by the international community in recent years, namely trafficking in women and girls.† The results of that meeting constituted an important input to the report of the Secretary-General, which is before the Commission in document E/CN.6/2003/7. The Secretary-Generalís report covers a broad range of issues and activities undertaken in the United Nations Ė particularly since the adoption of the outcome document of the General Assemblyís twenty-third special session Ė in respect of womenís human rights and violence against women. The report notes that all forms of violence against women are violations of most or all basic human rights, and highlights important regional and international developments, such as the adoption by the General Assembly in 2000 of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which supplements the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. We hope that this Protocol will enter into force in the very near future.†
The Commission may wish to bring the output of its consideration under this topic to the attention of the twelfth session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, to be held in May 2003, which will address, among other issues, trafficking in persons, particularly women and children.
Consideration of the two thematic issues should be further enriched by the panel discussions that are scheduled to take place this afternoon and tomorrow morning,††
Last year, the Commission decided to introduce the option of convening high-level round tables as part of its annual session to enhance implementation of the Platform for Action and the outcome document.† The Bureau of the Commission has consulted extensively with members, and prepared a discussion guide for the first of these round tables to be held tomorrow afternoon (E/CN.6/2003/CRP.3).† The round table, which will follow the two panel discussions, should provide an opportunity for senior representatives of national machineries for the advancement of women, who attend the Commission from Capitals, to have a dialogue on national experiences in institutional capacity-building especially in relation to the two themes before the Commission.† In deciding to hold such a round-table, the Commission has taken yet another step forward in ensuring that its working methods are conducive to interactive dialogue, exchange of national experiences and lessons learned among those who travel to New York to attend its annual sessions.††
A report before you in document E/CN.6/2002/2 shows progress in mainstreaming a gender perspective within the UN system.† The report complements the report submitted to the General Assembly at its 57th session (A/57/286) which reviewed the attention given to gender perspectives by the Assembly itself and by international events of the last year, such as the Second World Assembly on Ageing and the International Conference on Financing for Development; and the report submitted to the Economic and Social Council (E/2002/66), which reviewed the Councilís work and that of its functional commissions from a gender perspective.† Based on the analysis, the report before you recommends that next yearís report to the Commission focus on the remaining gaps in policy frameworks and strategies for gender equality in place in the entities of the United Nations system, and on assessing the impact of such strategies.† The report, together with those submitted to the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, are building blocks towards the review of progress made in the implementation of ECOSOC agreed conclusions 1997/2 on gender mainstreaming, which the Council has agreed to undertake before 2005.† The Commissionís guidance in this regard will be critical in ensuring a timely and comprehensive review.
As in previous years, the Commission has before it a report on the situation of, and assistance to, Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2002/3).† The report reviews in particular the differences in the ways in which women and men respectively are affected by the socio-economic and political situation, and suggests that further opportunities should be sought to highlight such differences, so that targeted action can be taken to mitigate negative gender-specific impacts.†
Also before you is the joint work plan of the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (E/CN.6/2003/5). Since the inception of this exercise some five years ago, staff exchanges, consultations on topics of relevance to both entities and mutual attendance at meetings of policy organs and treaty-related bodies have been pursued by both sides in a more regular and systematic manner. Efforts are being made during 2003 to focus on practical and substantive issues of cooperation at the national and regional levels, and on increased coordination in respect of treaty-related procedures, including in light of the reform proposals of the Secretary-General.
The Commission also has before it document E/CN.6/2003/CRP.1, a summary of the outcome of the twenty-eighth session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and E/CN.6/2003/CRP.2, containing the programmatic aspects of the programme budget 2004-2005 for subprogramme 2, gender issues and advancement of women, for its review, comments and any recommendations it may wish to make.
I should also like to note that, compared to last year, we have seen an increase in the number of statements submitted by the NGO community.† This may be seen as a reflection of the intensified commitment and interest on the part of NGOs to advance gender equality issues through the global forum the Commission provides.†
†The Divisionís small technical cooperation programme is an important part of our work and is directly linked to our responsibilities for normative, analytical and policy development on gender equality.† As part of this effort, we work with national machineries for the advancement of women to enhance their capacity to implement the commitments of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the outcome document of its 2000 review session, and to act as catalysts for gender mainstreaming within their Governments.† We also undertake activities in support of States partiesí capacity to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, including their reporting obligations.† Over the last year, we have refocused our work to strengthen the links between our work on policy issues and that in technical cooperation.† We have implemented several workshops, usually in cooperation with other entities of the United Nations, in particular the Regional Commissions and UNDP, including training workshops on CEDAW in Bangkok, a Forum for Parliamentarians in Bangkok, and just a week ago, a workshop on gender-sensitive planning and budgeting in Mali.† I would like to extend the Divisionís sincere appreciation to all Governments that have contributed extra-budgetary resources to these activities, or have hosted such events.† We will continue to sharpen our approach and enhance collaborative ties with other UN entities, and we will also continue to seek resources for particular events.†
During the last several months, we have sent a number of publications, such as the Secretary-Generalís study on Women, Peace and Security, and the CD ROM ďWomen Go GlobalĒ, on the United Nations and the International Womenís Movement 1945-2000, to national machineries.† We were heartened by the very positive response we received and hope, in the future, to enhance the direct contact with national machineries.† An updated Directory of National Machineries has been distributed and extra copies are available in the room.† I should like to note that we have received about a dozen updates and additions to the Directory over the last few days, but too late to include them in the version before you.† I want to assure you that these additions will be reflected in the next update, which will be prepared for the General Assembly in the fall of 2003.†
Together with all the staff of the Division for the Advancement of Women, I stand ready to support you, and this Commission, in any way possible, and look forward to meeting many of you in more informal meetings. I wish you success in your deliberations.