Division for the Advancement of Women
Beijing + 5 - Future actions and initiatives
Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia(ESCWA)
United Nations House
8 to 10 November 1999
The Division for the Advancement of Women is organizing a workshop on "Beijing +5 Future actions and initiatives" in the context of emerging global trends, which will take place at the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in Beirut (Lebanon) from 8 to 10 November 1999. The meeting will elaborate action-oriented recommendations to be forwarded for discussion to the Commission on the Status of Women acting as the preparatory committee for the special session of the General Assembly "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century" (5-9 June 2000).
The Beijing Platform for Action contains strategic objectives and actions for achieving gender equality in 12 critical areas of concern. It builds on commitments made during the United Nations Decade for Women, 1976-1985, including at the Nairobi Conference, and on related commitments made in the series of United Nations global conferences held in the 1990s.
The Platform for Action highlighted the gains to be realized by society as a whole from increased gender equality, including the importance of improving the social and economic well-being of women for their households and communities. The Platform has brought about renewed attention to women's human rights and to a rights-based approach to gender equality. The Platform also takes a major step beyond the 1985 Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies in its approach to reproductive rights and sexual and reproductive health, reflecting, inter alia, agreements reached at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. The Platform raises womens role in peace and conflict resolution as an area deserving particular attention. Underlying the Platform for Action is a life-cycle approach that calls for actions to address the needs of women from infancy to old age. Special attention is given in this context to the girl child, which is one of the critical areas of concern. The Platform places the primary responsibility for implementation on Governments, but also contains recommendations for the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations, political parties, the private sector, international development organizations, and other institutions.
One of the most notable advances of the Platform for Action is the establishment of the "gender mainstreaming approach" as a globally accepted strategy promoting gender equality. This represents a commitment to using gender analysis in the development of all policies and programmes before decisions are taken and a reaffirmation of the importance of incorporating issues of equality between women and men in all areas of activity. The Platform also contains specific recommendations for bridging the gap between men and women through targeted support to women including building skills and promoting access to a range of social and economic goods and services previously denied to them. It calls for action to ensure the eradication of gender-based discrimination, and for measures to achieve gender equality through institutional reform, commitment of resources and fundamental changes in behaviour and attitudes.
As a result of the focus on the gender equality dimension, the Platform pays attention to the role of men and their contribution to achieving gender equality, an approach already taken at the International Conference on Population and Development. The Platform calls for increased partnership between women and men for promoting gender equality.
Since 1995, the Commission on the Status of Women has reviewed each of the 12 critical areas of concern. Considerable progress has been achieved in some critical areas of concern whereas existing and additional obstacles to gender equality have been persisting in others. In its Agreed Conclusions on each critical area of concern, the Commission has made recommendations on concrete measures and effective instruments of public policy and planning to implement the Platform for Action. It has also focused to some extent on more fundamental changes in institutions and in behaviour and attitudes of individuals and groups. Moreover, there has been an emphasis on overcoming persistent obstacles and on intensifying efforts to use a more integrated, holistic approach to the achievement of gender equality given the importance of the interrelationship between different critical areas of concern, such as the human rights of women, the critical role of women in decision-making, eradication of poverty and the importance of education and health.
Five years after the Fourth World Conference in Beijing, a special session of the General Assembly entitled "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century" (5-9 June 2000) will examine progress achieved in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. It will provide an opportunity for Governments, the UN system and civil society to share and compare experiences, to renew old commitments and make new ones and to examine obstacles encountered as well as good practices.
In preparation for the special session of the General Assembly, the workshop will focus on emerging issues and new challenges to the full implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. In the context of trends of global change since 1995, the workshop will also assess the impact of these trends on gender equality, development and peace in terms of the implementation of the Platform, and recommend measures to address the emerging challenges.
The Workshop will start with a brief assessment of major achievements and obstacles related to the implementation of the Platform for Action in the areas of equality, development and peace, including the impact of cross-cutting approaches such as the human rights, mainstreaming and partnership between women and men.
The Workshop will then proceed with working groups organized around the main themes of equality, development and peace:
- Identification of emerging issues and trends: which new issues in the context of globalization (for example: governance, trafficking, conflict, post-conflict reconstruction and transformation, transnational networks, knowledge and communication) have gained importance in the last five years? What is their impact on gender equality and on the implementation of the Platform for Action? What are opportunities and how can they be used in a sustainable fashion to achieve gender equality? What are the challenges and constraints?
- Future actions and initiatives:Which measures need to be taken for the full implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action?
The meeting will draft recommendations to be forwarded to the Commission on the Status of Women acting as the preparatory committee for the Special Session of the General Assembly.
III. Methods of Work
Experts will be invited to prepare inputs on specific issues in line with their expertise. The workshop will work in plenary session and in smaller working groups.
IV. Profile of Participants
The workshop will be attended by 10-12 experts appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as well as observers from entities of the United Nations system, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The United Nations will provide travel and daily subsistence allowance for the experts. In selecting the experts, the criteria of geographical and gender balance will be respected. The experts will be drawn from a variety of fields and backgrounds relevant to the objectives of the workshop.
The documentation for the meeting will include background papers prepared by the Division for the Advancement of Women outlining the major issues to be discussed and concise inputs prepared by the experts on the various topics identified. Observers will be invited to contribute inputs from their own perspectives. The Workshop will be conducted in English only. The documentation will also be in English.
All relevant correspondence should be addressed to Ms. Dorota Gierycz, Chief, or Maria Hartl, Social Affairs Officer, Gender Analysis Section, Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, DC2-1244, New York, NY 10017, U.S.A., Tel: (212) 963-5913/963-3140, Fax: (212) 963-3463, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. or email@example.com.
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