United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women

Africa/Asia Parliamentarian Forum on Human Security and Gender

"The Role of the Legislature"

Marrakech, Morocco
24-26 March 2002


I. Introduction

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) are organising a Forum for members of Parliament from selected African and Asian countries, to be held in Marrakech, Morocco from 24-26 March 2002. The event will be held following the IPU 107th Inter-Parliamentary Conference.

The Forum is organized in collaboration with the Moroccan Parliament and the Ministry in charge of the Promotion of Women and Protection of the Family and Childhood and Integration of Handicapped, and in close cooperation with the UNDP Country Office in Morocco. The initiative is financially supported by the Japanese Government through the Japan Women in Development (JWID) Fund in UNDP. The initiative was developed in collaboration with Dr. Najma Heptulla, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) of the Indian Parliament, and President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Council.

The objectives of the Forum are to:

    (a) discuss the role of parliamentarians - the opportunities and challenges they face - in promoting gender equality in the context of human security;
    (b) exchange experiences, good practices and lessons learned;
    (c) strengthen existing South/South networks of parliamentarians who advocate for gender equality;
    (d) create additional opportunities for knowledge networking among members of parliament in support of their efforts to mainstream gender issues in the legislature.
The Forum in Morocco represents the first phase of the project, while the second phase entails the organization of another meeting in India later in 2002. The outcomes of both meetings will provide substantive inputs to the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III) scheduled for 2003. This activity will also contribute to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, in particular Agenda Item G (women in power and decision-making and gender equality). In addition, the Forum represents a follow-up activity to the Beijing +5 recommendations as it addresses emerging issues and recommendations contained in the Outcome Document adopted at the UN twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (June 2000).

II. Background

All global UN Conferences, particularly the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 and the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-first Century," underlined the importance of women's empowerment in the decision-making fora as crucial to the achievement of the gender equality goal and sustainable human development goal. Women's equal representation in the political arena and partnership with men will further gender equality goals as well as women's specific needs and concerns in national policies. As members of the legislature, women and men parliamentarians who are advocates for gender equality play a key role in the creation of an enabling national environment for gender equality.

A recurring recommendation for further integrating the objective of gender equality into the parliamentary work has been the need to strengthen sustainable and long-term co-operation among parliamentarians. This would build their capacity to formulate policies and sponsor legislation for the advancement of women and gender equality in line with the Beijing Platform for Action (PFA). To this end, there is, in particular, an interest in promoting partnerships among parliamentarians in the Asia-Africa co-operation framework.

The Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD II): (a) considered gender equality as an important element of democracy; (b) identified gender mainstreaming in development policies and programmes as a critical condition for the reduction of poverty; and (c) emphasized the need for experience sharing between the two regions. As the political empowerment of women and achievement of gender equality represent important objectives for sustainable development in both regions, this Asia-Africa co-operation framework for gender equality will directly feed into the TICAD process.

III. Objectives

The Forum will discuss the role of parliamentarians - the opportunities and challenges they face - in promoting gender equality in the context of human security. Specifically, the Forum aims to:

    1. contribute to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and gender equality by identifying practical/operational ways and good practices of mainstreaming a gender perspective into parliamentary policies, practices and decision-making, focusing on issues related to human security;

    2. establish a sustainable network of a group of "critical" and influential parliamentarians (30-50 MP's) who are advocates for gender equality from Asia and Africa in 2002;

    3. contribute to the empowerment and knowledge networking among parliamentarians for strengthening national, regional and inter-regional parliamentarian efforts to promote gender equality; and

    4. address priority issues relating to human security and gender, namely:

      a. Human security and gender: freedom from want and freedom from fear;
      b. Role and challenges facing parliamentarians in promoting gender equality and mainstreaming in parliamentary work;
      c. Socio-economic policies to empower women, including poverty reduction strategies which are responsive to the gender equality goals; and
      d. Threats to human security in the wake of armed conflict, including violence against women.

IV. Organization and format of the Forum

The Forum will be organized by UNDP (BDP) and UN/DESA (DAW) in close collaboration with UNDP Country Office in Morocco. The Forum will be hosted by the Moroccan Parliament and the Government of Morocco.

The participants will meet in plenary as well as in working groups. Issue papers will be prepared to serve as guidelines for the discussions and presentations in the plenary and working groups. In an opening plenary, participants' presentations will create a conceptual framework for the discussion. The plenary will be followed by short presentations and in-depth discussions on specific issues in working groups. At the conclusion of the Forum, participants will endorse a joint communiqué that outlines the major conclusions and recommendations of the meeting. A final report will be produced after the meeting.

The opening session will be chaired by Dr. Nejmaa Heptulla, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) of India. A chairperson will be selected for each session, alternating regionally. Facilitators and rapporteurs will be identified for panel and working group sessions.

V. Documentation

Issue papers on topics related to human security will be prepared by UN/DESA (DAW) to serve as background materials for the participants and guide the preparation of presentations. They will also raise specific questions that will be discussed during the sessions.

Additional background documentation will be provided at the conference site.

VI. Expected Outputs

    1. A sustainable knowledge network of gender sensitive women and men parliamentarians from Africa and Asia will be established;
    2. South-South exchanges between parliamentarians will be enhanced;
    3. Identifying good practices;
    4. Strategies to implement recommendations on issue areas identified, progress on which will be reported on at the second meeting to be held in India.
    5. A joint Communiqué will be adopted by the participants to contribute further to the TICAD process. The Communiqué will focus on specific recommendations on the role of parliamentarians in gender mainstreaming. These will be submitted to the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III).

VII. Venue and Participants

The Forum will be held at the Sheraton Hotel in Marrakech, Morocco. It is scheduled to take place from Sunday 24 to Tuesday 26 March 2002.

The number of participants will be approximately 40-50. They will include:

    1. Parliamentarian members from selected Asia and African countries. (A recommendation is made to include, in particular, newly elected and gender sensitive parliamentarians.)
    2. Members of Moroccan Parliament and Government officials.
    3. Resource persons and facilitators.
    4. Representatives of the IPU and UN entities.
    5. UNDP and UN/DESA (DAW) staff.

UNDP/BDP Gender Focal Points in Africa and Asia, and in particular UNDP/BDP Gender Specialists in Dakar, Pretoria and Kathmandu will assist in the selection of participants.

The costs of participation for those who are invited by the United Nations will be covered by the Japan WID Fund. Other participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements and expenses.


The Forum will be conducted in English and French. Background material will be provided in English and French.

Passports and Visas

Participants will be expected to make necessary arrangements with regard to passports, visa and health certificates for travel.

All relevant correspondence should be addressed to:

Ms. Fatiha Serour
Task Force Manager for DESA
Tel: (212) 963 8379
Fax: (212) 963 3463
E-mail: serour@un.org with a copy to Ms. Makiko Tagashira at tagashira@un.org


Aide-Mémoire (French)

Message from
Ms. Carolyn Hannan
Director of the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women

List of Participants

Press Release


Division for the Advancement of Women -- DAW

Website: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
United Nations