United Nations General Assembly Special Session
"Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-first Century"
New York, 5-9 June 2000
made by governments in Beijing reflect the understanding that women's
equality must be a central component of any attempt to solve the world's
social, economic and political problems. Thus, where once women fought
to put gender equality on the international agenda, gender equality is
now one of the primary factors shaping that agenda."
The Beijing Platform for Action defines a set of strategic objectives and spells out actions to be taken by the year 2000 by Governments, the international community, non-governmental organizations and the private sector for the removal of the existing obstacles to women's advancement. The twelve critical areas of concern identified in the document, considered to represent the main obstacles to women's advancement, are:
Great efforts have been made
by Governments, the United Nations system and civil society in the follow-up
to the Fourth World Conference on Women. Governments have enacted and
revised legislation in line with the UN Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, other international and
regional human rights instruments, and the demands of the Beijing Platform
for Action. Women's access to justice at the national and international
level has improved, with courts in various countries having rendering
judgements that reflect commitment to gender equality.
Attention to gender equality concerns has also continued in intergovenmental processes, particularly through the follow-up to global conferences and summits. For example, the link between the persistence of poverty and women's inequality are being highlighted at various international fora, such as the UN General Assembly and in the preparatory process for the five-year review of the World Summit for Social Development in June 2000. Attention is being drawn to women's empowerment and gender equality as both a means and an end in the fight against the ancient enemy of poverty.
As a follow-up to that Conference, the United Nations General Assembly will convene a special session for the five-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action, adopted by the 1995 Conference. This special session will take place in New York, from 5-9 June 2000, under the theme of "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century". Also called Beijing + 5, the special session will focus on examples of good practices, positive actions, lessons learned, obstacles and key challenges remaining. It will consider further actions and initiatives for achieving gender equality in the new millennium. At the end of the special session, Governments will issue a political declaration calling for recommitment to the Beijing Platform for Action.
The call for a high-level review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action was made by the UN General Assembly in January 1998, when it reaffirmed that the implementation of the Platform for Action would require immediate and concerted action by all to create a peaceful, just and humane world based on all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the principle of equality for all people of all ages and from all walks of life.
Participants at the special session will include high-level political representatives from Governments and Observer States, and representatives of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations.
As the UN intergovernmental advocate for equality between men and women, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) acts as the preparatory body for the special session. Each year since the adoption of the Platform for Action in 1995, the Commission, which is responsible for monitoring the follow-up to the Beijing Conference, has examined several of the critical areas contained in the Platform for Action, to assess progress and recommend priorities for accelerating implementation. In its preparatory role, CSW is holding open-ended deliberations allowing for the full participation of all UN Member States, specialized agencies and observers.
Numerous preparatory activities for the special session are currently underway or planned at the national, regional and international levels. Among them are:
In her address to the fifty-fourth
session of the General Assembly in October 1999, Angela E.V. King, Special
Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women,
reiterated, "As we prepare for the special session to appraise progress
made in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and to commit
ourselves to further actions and initiatives, we recognize that much has
been done to achieve gender equality. Many areas still need our thought,
imagination, careful attention and energy."
Published by the United
Nations Department of Public Information