Commission on the Status of Women
1-12 March 2004
Statement by Carolyn Hannan, Director
Division for the Advancement of Women
Representatives of United Nations entities and of Non-governmental organizations,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is an honour to address the forty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women. I extend a warm welcome to Ministers and Heads of National Machineries as well as other representatives from Governments who have traveled to New York for the Commission’s annual session. Your presence is an indication of the importance of the work of this Commission at national level.
I also extend a warm welcome to the many representatives of non-governmental organizations and civil society groups and networks attending the Commission. Your role at national, regional and international levels, in partnerships with Governments and the United Nations system, is pivotal for enhancing implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly.
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 other topics and items that are regularly on its agenda. Consideration of the thematic issues is the core of the Commission’s annual work, and makes a critical contribution to the systematic follow-up to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly. Focusing on selected themes allows the Commission to strengthen and accelerate implementation at national level and further refine the global policy framework for gender equality to ensure practical action at all levels. It also provides an opportunity to reinforce links with global policy instruments, such as the Millennium Declaration, and Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.
The first theme before the Commission addresses the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality. The Division for the Advancement of Women convened an online discussion to support the preparations on this topic. In collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Division held an expert group meeting in October 2003, generously hosted by the Government of Brazil. [The reports of the on-line discussion and the expert group meeting have been widely disseminated through the website of the Division for the Advancement of Women, and copies are available in the room.]
The report of the Secretary-General on the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality, which is before the Commission in document E/CN.6/2004/9, focuses on the importance of socialization and education; and discusses the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality in the labour market and the workplace; in sharing of family responsibilities, including caring roles; and in preventing HIV/AIDS. It emphasizes the potential role of men in bringing about changes in attitudes, roles, relationships and access to resources and decision-making which are critical for achieving equality between women and men.
The second theme before the Commission addresses women’s equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building. The Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Division for the Advancement of Women organized two expert group meetings to support preparations on this topic. In collaboration with the Department of Political Affairs, an expert group meeting was held in November 2003, generously hosted by the Government of Canada. The meeting focused specifically on peace agreements as a means for promoting gender equality and ensuring participation of women.
A second expert group meeting, jointly organized with the Department of Political Affairs, in collaboration with UNDP and UNIFEM, as well as several intergovernmental organizations supporting electoral processes, was held in Glenn Cove in January this year. This meeting focused specifically on women's enhanced participation in electoral processes in post-conflict countries. [Both reports from the expert group meetings are available on the website and copies are also available in the room.]
The Secretary-General’s report on women’s equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building is before the Commission in document E/CN.6/2004/10. The report focuses specifically on peace processes and in particular the role of peace agreements as important tools for the promotion of gender equality and the participation of women in peace processes. It highlights that while the understanding of and attention to women's contributions to peace processes have increased significantly in recent years, women continue to be largely excluded from peace processes, particularly at the formal level.
Consideration of the two thematic issues will be further enriched by the panel discussions that are scheduled to take place tomorrow morning [women’s equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building] and tomorrow afternoon [the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality].
Two years ago the Commission decided to introduce the convening of high-level round tables as part of its annual session, to enhance sharing of national experience among high-level representatives from Capitals, including on lessons learned, good practice and remaining gaps and challenges in implementation. The theme of the high-level round table, which will be held this afternoon in the ECOSOC Chamber, is “Gaps and challenges in measuring progress in implementation, in the context of the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty third special session of the General Assembly by the Commission on the Status of Women at its forty-ninth session in 2005”. The consideration of this theme is expected to support the preparations for the review and appraisal of implementation, mandated for the forty-ninth session of the Commission in 2005.
The round table is organized in collaboration with the Statistical Commission. It will be jointly chaired by the Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women and the Vice-Chair of the Statistical Commission and Members of the Statistical Commission will also participate in the interactive dialogue. Invited representatives of United Nations entities and non-governmental organizations will also contribute to the discussion. The round table provides an opportunity for exchange between the users and producers of statistics to enhance measurement of progress in implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly. A discussion guide on the high-level round table is before the Commission (E/CN.6/2004/CRP.1).
Under agenda item 3 on Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and to the special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”, the Commission has before it a number of reports and conference room papers.
The Commission on the Status of Women has been called upon to play a catalytic role in support of gender mainstreaming. The system-wide implementation of the ECOSOC agreed conclusions 1997/2 will be reviewed in the Coordination Segment of the Economic and Social Council in July this year. The Commission has before it a report (E/CN.6/2004/3) which assesses progress in implementation of gender mainstreaming. In response to Commission resolution 47/2, the report addresses some of the remaining gaps in policy frameworks, in incorporating gender perspectives into programme activities, in availability and use of gender-specific information and sex-disaggregated statistics and in institutional mechanisms to support gender mainstreaming. The Commission may wish to consider how to contribute to the review of implementation of agreed conclusions 1997/2 in the Economic and Social Council.
The joint work plan for 2004 of the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Office of the United National High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as an assessment of the implementation of the plan for 2003, is before the Commission in document E/CN.6/2004/7.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women met in its thirtieth session in January. The Committee’s decisions are before the Commission for its information (E/CN.6/2004/CRP.3). The Committee’s Chairperson. Ms. Feride Acar, will brief you on the Committee’s work.
As in previous years, the Commission has before it reports on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2004/4); on release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflict (E/CN.6/2004/6); and on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan (E/CN.6/2004/5). These reports have been prepared in accordance with the terms of the respective resolutions adopted at the last session of the Commission.
The Division for the Advancement of Women is preparing the World Survey on the Role of Women in Development, to be presented to the Second Committee of the General Assembly at its fifty-ninth session. The World Survey will take up the topic of women and international migration, including the situation of refugee women and trafficking in women and girls. An expert group meeting to develop the outline for the World Survey was organized by the Division in Malmö, Sweden, in December 2003, generously hosted by the Government of Sweden. The note by the Secretary-General on the preparation of the survey highlights the major issues that will be addressed in the World Survey (E/CN.6/2004/CRP.4).
A note by the Secretariat on the preparation of the comprehensive review and appraisal of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”, mandated in the multi-year programme of work of the Commission for 2005, is before the Commission for its consideration (E/CN.6/2004/CRP.2). The note contains specific suggestions on the convening of the 49th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
In this context I would like to remind Member States that a questionnaire has been developed by the Division for the Advancement of Women, in collaboration with the United Nations regional commissions, to support compilation of information on national-level implementation for the review and appraisal. The questionnaire has been sent to all Member States and the deadline for submission of responses is 30 April 2004. Timely responses to this questionnaire will be crucial for an accurate and up-to-date assessment of achievements, obstacles and challenges encountered, and identification of opportunities for enhancing implementation at the global, regional and national levesl.
The report before the Commission in document E/CN.6/2004/2 has been prepared in response to General Assembly resolution 57/270 in which the Assembly requested each functional commission to examine its methods of work in order to better pursue the implementation of the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic and social fields. This provides an opportunity for the Commission to increase its focus on national-level implementation of policy recommendations, to be more effective in incorporating emerging issues, and to further develop approaches for collaboration with other functional commissions, regional commissions, and entities of the United Nations system.
I would also like to draw your attention to the note by the Secretary-General containing the proposed biennial programme plan (strategic framework) for the biennium 2006-2007 for the United Nations subprogramme on gender issues and advancement of women (E/CN.6/2004/CRP.5). Commission Members are invited to review the programme plan and provide comments to the Secretary-General. The proposed biennial programme plan, modified as appropriate, will be submitted to the Committee for Programme and Coordination at its forty-fourth session. Its recommendations thereon will be transmitted to the General Assembly at its 59th session when it considers the Secretary-General’s proposed strategic framework for the biennium 2006-2007.
Under agenda item 4, the Commission will, as usual, be called upon to consider a list of confidential communications, in accordance with relevant resolutions of the Economic and Social Council. I would like to note that this year no list of non-confidential communications has been prepared as no such communications were received.
I will revert to introduction of the reports before the Commission under agenda items 4 and 5 later in the session when the Commission will consider these items.
Since the Commission’s last session, the Division for the Advancement of Women has continued to provide technical assistance, on request, to Member States, to strengthen implementation of the Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly and implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women as well as contribute to capacity building for national machineries. A training workshop on reporting under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), as well as a colloquium for judicial officers on the Convention, was, for example, held in September 2003 in Arusha, generously hosted by the Government of Tanzania. A capacity-building workshop for women leaders on conflict management, generously hosted by the Government of Rwanda, was also held in Kigali, Rwanda, in September 2003.
Finally, I would like to inform you that, in accordance with past practice, the Division for the Advancement of Women has updated the Directory of national machineries for the advancement of women, and copies are provided to all delegations.
Madame Chairperson, Distinguished Delegates,
Together with the staff of the Division for the Advancement of Women, I stand ready to support you and the Commission in any way possible. I wish the Commission a successful forty-eighth session.