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2000 Review
of Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action
Economic Commission for Europe

Statement by Ms. Yakin Ertürk
Director, Division for the Advancement of Women
Gevena, 19-21 January 2000

Your Excellencies
Mr. Yves Berthelot, Executive Secretary of ECE
Distinguished delegates
Ladies and gentlemen

It is a great honour for me to be here today to share another significant moment in the history of our collective effort towards the advancement of woman and gender equality.

At the outset, I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Berthelot, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe, for his continued support in driving forward the global gender agenda in the activities of the ECE. I would also like to thank Ms.Hübner and Mr. Robineau and their team for their hard work in organizing this meeting.

The ECE Regional Preparatory Meeting on the 2000 Review of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, along with the other regional preparatory meetings, will broaden our understanding of the achievements and obstacles encountered by governments and other actors in fulfilling the commitments they made at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. These regional conferences provide the building blocks on which governments will reafirm their commitments to the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action and adopt futher actions and initiatives for its full implementation at the Special Session of the General Assembly in June of this year.

The Division for the Advancement of Women has analyzed 135 reports that were submitted by Member States and Observers in reponse to the questionnaire on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. Such a high response rate in and of itself is indicative of the strong worlwide commitment to the goal of gender equality. The report of the review and appraisal will be available shortly as an unedited advanced copy. The country reports, which are diverse in their content and format, will also be available on the DAW website.

These reports reveal that profound changes have occurred since Beijing Governments have adopted gender sensitive policies, undertaken legal reforms, made institutional adjustments, launched special programmes and generated and disseminated knowledge in accordance with goals of the Platform. In addition, new modes of resource allocations have emerged at national and international levels, although the actual amount of resources allocated to gender issues often has lagged behind the required levels.

Overall analysis of the implementation of the Platform for Action revealed that, despite much progress towards achieving gender equality between men and women, there have been no major breakthroughs with regard to equal sharing of decision-making in political structures and other critical institutions at national and international levels. In most countries of the world the representation of women in decision-making structures remained low. Even in the European region, where some countries have reached a ‘critical mass’ in decision-making positions within the public sector, there are few women on boards of directors of major business corporations. Consequently, there is a need for more careful monitoring of progress to ensure women’s equitable participation in these positions of economic power.

Another issue that emerged from government reports is the challenge posed by the multi-faceted impact of globalization. The reorganisation of world economic relations, new structures of economic decision-making and international finance that transcends national borders and changing demand for labour offer both new opportunities as well as vulnerabilities for women and gender relations. New strategies for enhancing women’s leadership roles in local, national and global governance are essential for moving forward the agenda of gender equality in a rapidly changing world. In this regard, there is a need to focus on the mobilization of young women and men who are the leaders of tomorrow. Success in this area requires first and foremost attention to the deep-rooted stereotypes related to gender roles and identities. Traditional perceptions of and attitudes towards feminine and masculine roles were repeatedly cited in the country reports as obstacles to the implementation of the Platform. Patriarchal understandings of masculinity shape not only gender roles and identities but also the institutional and legal frameworks of societies. Therefore, innovative approaches are needed to transform these gender biased perceptions and to encourage men to participate actively in the construction of just and equal structures.

The frequent references to a lack of national resources to implement Platform commitments and declining development assistance make it imperative that innovative approaches to the allocation of existing resources be employed, not only by governments but also by their partners in the NGO and private sectors and within the international community. Gender analysis of national budgets, including national security and defense, needs to be carried out to determine the impact of budget expenditure on women and men respectively. Such analyses are necessary if budget processes are to address gender equality and existing resources utilized in a gender sensitive manner.

Last but not least, in their country reports, governments emphasized the need for time-bound targets and monitoring and accountability measures to ensure effective implementation of all policies and programmes. This is an area where governments and NGOs must cooperate to devise realistic targets and ways of measuring progress for all the critical areas of concern.

In closing my statement, I would like to express that we at the Division for the Advancement of Women are at your disposal to assist you and work with you torwards the Special Session and beyond.

I wish you succes in your deliberations.