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Preliminary Analysis of the Beijing+5 Outcome Document

June 2000

The year 2000 constituted a critically important point for the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the adoption by consensus by the special session of the General Assembly, "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century" of a Political Declaration and an outcome document on future actions and initiatives. The Political Declaration strongly reaffirms that governments have the responsibility to implement the Beijing Platform for Action. The Platform, therefore, remains the reference point for governmental commitment to women’s rights in the 12 critical areas of concern. The outcome document, not only reaffirmed the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, but also strengthened the Platform in some areas through making the actions more focused, and encompassing the additional new issues which emerged or gained on importance in the last five years.

The provisions related to women and health are the case in point. They go beyond Beijing in putting strong emphasis on the gender aspects of HIV/AIDS pandemic and STIs, malaria and tuberculosis pointing out to their disproportionate impact on women’s and girls health and calling for proper policies and measures to address these challenges. The document also explicitly addresses the situation of the girl child affected by the HIV/AIDS – as an infected person, care provider, and orphan. It also recommends the promotion of women’s and girls mental health, its integration into health care services and programmes and – in this context - gender sensitive training of health workers to recognize and properly address gender-based violence. The document also contains some specific provisions on ageing, stressing the need for programmes for healthy, active ageing, aimed at ensuring the independence, equality, participation and security of older women.

Remarkable progress can also be noted with regard to the human rights of women and the issue of violence against women. The outcome document further expands the framework of the discussion. It focuses on the need for promoting an environment that does not tolerate violations of the rights of women and girls, and requests changes in legislation with the view to remove discriminatory provisions by 2005, and eliminate legislative gaps which leave women and girls without effective legal protection and recourse against gender based discrimination. In this context, more specific provisions are introduced to address the issues which are not directly mentioned in the Platform for Action, such as marital rape, crimes committed in the name of honour and passion, racism and racially motivated violence against women and girls. The outcome document also formulates a sets of concrete, new measures to combat the violations of human rights of women which include: the call for zero tolerance campaigns against violence against women; the requirement for laws and other measures to address negative traditional practices, including honour crimes; mainstreaming gender into national immigration policies in order to recognize gender-related persecution and violence in assessing grounds for granting refugee status and asylum. The outcome document also puts on the agenda the signing and ratifying of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, adopted in 1999 – one of the greatest legislative achievements in the area of human rights of women since the Conference in Beijing and of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which provides that rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization and other forms of sexual violence are war crimes when committed in the context of armed conflict and also under defined circumstances, crimes against humanity.

The outcome document also constitutes a step forward with regard to the issues of trafficking in women and girls and the associated forms of violence by addressing them in a holistic manner. The suggested measures to combat trafficking in women and girls range from addressing the root factors of the phenomenon, to a comprehensive anti-trafficking strategy which includes legislative and preventive measures, exchange of information, assistance, protection and reintegration of victims, and prosecution of offenders. The outcome document further suggests to set up a national rapporteur or an interagency body with the participation of civil society, including NGOs, to collect and exchange information and to report on data, root causes, factors and trends in violence against women, in particular trafficking. The document also introduces the idea of not prosecuting women and girl victims of trafficking for illegal entry or residence in the country.

While outlining the changes which have taken place during the last five years under the conditions of globalization, structural transformation and economic transition, the outcome document emphasizes the gender dimension of the challenges presented by globalization. It stresses the gender effects of changing patterns of production, work, and accelerated technological advances in information and communication, pointing out to their uneven impacts on women. While globalization brought greater opportunities to some women, many others have been marginalized due to deepening inequalities among and within countries. Consequently, the outcome document calls for measures to address those new challenges. They include: analysis of and policy responses to major reasons why women and men are differently affected by job creation and retrenchment; ensuring equal access to social protection systems to provide safeguards against the uncertainties and changes in conditions of work; facilitating employment for women, through inter alia removal of fiscal obstacles, simplification of administrative procedures, promotion of adequate social protection, and access to risk capital.

The outcome document has strongly reaffirmed the commitment made to mainstreaming as the key strategy for promoting gender equality in the Beijing Platform for Action, and further elaborated in the ECOSOC Agreed Conclusions 1997/2 and in other General Assembly and ECOSOC resolutions. Throughout the United Nations system consistent efforts are being made to incorporate gender perspective into the substantive work of the United Nations. The Interagency Committee on Women and Gender Equality continues to collaborate effectively to develop methodologies for gender mainstreaming. Increased recognition of the importance of incorporating gender perspective in programme budgets has led to the establishment of innovative initiatives to encourage greater attention to gender in budget processes. Many departments and regional commissions have increased attention to gender perspective in Medium Term Plans. The President of the Security Council, on behalf of the Council, issued a statement on the occasion of the International Women’s Day pointing out that peace is inextricably linked with equality between women and men. The study on "Mainstreaming a gender perspective in multidimensional peace-keeping operations" carried out by DPKO and the on-going development of fact-sheets on gender and disarmament by DDA are examples of gender mainstreaming in the United Nations. The development of competence on gender perspective among staff continues, with a comprehensive programme under preparation for DESA.

The efforts also include, but are not limited to, working to ensure that there is more equal participation of women in all bodies and processes in the work of the United Nations. Efforts are being made to encourage the nomination of women as well as men on committees, tribunals, expert group meetings, training programmes and fellowship programmes.