Preparations for the 2005 CSW review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and the Outcome Document of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly (2000)
Director, UN Division for the Advancement of Women
Presented at the
Member States Gender Experts Meeting
Organized by the European Commission
Brussels, 26 November 2003
I wish to thank the European Commission (EC) for inviting me to this meeting of gender experts. I am especially appreciative for the opportunity to, at an early stage of preparations, share information and get your feedback and ideas on the preparations for the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and the outcome document of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly (Beijing +5, 2000), which will be carried out by the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in 2005. In my presentation I would also like to highlight areas where support from Member States of the United Nations and the United Nations is needed in this process.
The General Assembly in a recent resolution (57/270B) called for integrated and coordinated follow-up to global conferences and summits. Some of the basic principles outlined include: the Millennium Declaration and MDGs as the basis for review processes; Member State responsibility for implementation; the three-tiered review process involving the functional commissions (for example, the CSW), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the General Assembly; the need for coordination in the United Nations system; the key role of the regional commissions; the importance of simplification and harmonization of processes; and the importance of statistics and indicators (including development of national capacity).
The Commission is mandated in its multi-year programme of work for 2002-2006 to consider two themes at its 49th session in March 2005: “Review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly”; and “Current challenges and forward-looking strategies for the advancement and empowerment of women and girls”.
I would like place the review and appraisal of 10 years of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the CSW in a much broader context, as 2005 will be a critical review year in different ways. Member States have agreed that a major event on the follow-up to the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be organized in 2005. It will be important to ensure that the follow-up to the global mandates on gender equality are included in this process. The ten-year review and appraisal of the social summit (Copenhagen, 1995) will also be undertaken in 2005, as well as follow-up processes on the Monterrey Consensus and the Johannesburg Declaration and Plan of Implementation. A report on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2001) will be prepared in 2005. In addition, the World Summit on the Information Society will be held in Tunis in the same year. Clear links should be established between the review process in the CSW and these other global processes, and gender perspectives should be given full attention in all global events and review processes carried out in 2005.
In the context of discussing the review and appraisal it is particularly important to give attention to the Millennium Declaration and MDGs. The Millennium Declaration is increasingly used as an overall development framework by Member States and the United Nations system. The Millennium Declaration recognized that gender equality is a key indicator of, and precondition for, eradication of poverty and hunger and achievement of sustainable development. The MDGs clearly set out critical development goals, targets and indicators, including one goal on gender equality. The focus in the Millennium Declaration framework on implementation and monitoring and reporting, with a stong emphasis on targets and indicators, provides an important opportunity for promotion of gender equality, if adequate attention to gender perspectives can be assured. The important rationale - that the MDGs cannot be achieved unless gender perspectives are brought to the fore - needs to be more strongly emphasized. Work is already underway at national level, and in the context of the United Nations and other international and regional organizations, to increase attention to gender equality. The major event planned in 2005 provides an opening for consolidating these efforts and expanding the focus on gender equality.
Efforts have been made, particularly in the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995) and the 23rd special session of the General Assembly (2000) to set concrete targets against which progress on gender equality could be measured. Targets were, however, identified in only a limited number of areas. The strong focus on targets and indicators in the MDGs provides therefore an opportunity to increase and strengthen the targets and indicators on gender equality. This requires, however, awareness that one separate goal on gender equality is not enough; the gender perspectives on each of the other MDGs need to be recognized and addressed. It also requires recognizing and addressing the fact that the targets and indicators already developed for gender equality need further development, including in relation to violence against women, political participation, and reproductive health and in terms of linking education with employment opportunities and sustainable livelihoods.
The review and appraisal process
The Division for the Advancement of Women, as the substantive secretariat of the CSW, will prepare Secretary-General's reports on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome document of the special session for discussion in the CSW in 2005. The basis for these reports will include the Member State's National Action Plans and their updates, progress reports submitted in the context of the 23rd special session (Beijing +5) in 2000; reports of States parties to CEDAW; other existing reports such as Country MDG reports, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, and Human Development Reports; statistics submitted to the United Nations; as well as reporting in other contexts of other functional commissions, for example on sustainable development, social development and population. Regional review and appraisal processes are also underway, under the guidance of the regional commissions. The regional commissions may require financial support to implement these processes.
Non-governmental organizations will also be engaged in preparatory activities. The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development will carry out an independent study, in collaboration with research institutes and individual researchers, to complement the mandated review by the United Nations Secretariat.
To complement the information already available at both global and regional levels, a questionnaire on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome document of the special session has been prepared by the Division for the Advancement of Women, in collaboration with the regional commissions. Efforts have been made to ensure that the regional and global processes are complementary and that there is no duplication or over-burdening of Member States. The questionnaire was sent to all Member States in September 2003 and the deadline for responses (to be no more than 20 pages) is the end of April 2004. Member States are requested to provide information on four overall questions: The main achievements and gaps and challenges in 10 years of implementation; the progress in implementation of the specific Critical Areas of Concern and the areas identified in Beijing +5); the status of institutional arrangements and mechanisms; and the commitments Governments will make to address identified gaps and challenges. Many Member States may require support in the preparation of these reports from the United Nations system and bilateral agencies.
The Division for the Advancement of Women will also organize expert group meetings on critical issues to complement the information received. The organization of such meetings is an important mechanism for accessing the most recent thinking on different issues. Experts from around the world are brought together to exchange ideas and experience and formulate recommendations for further action. Topics the expert group meetings in preparation for the 49th session of CSW will cover include, for example, the role of national machineries and other national mechanisms established to promote gender equality at national levels. Support from Member States in terms of hosting such expert group meetings, or providing funding for participants, will be needed. The Division will also initiate a series of on-line discussions for young women and men on their priorities and recommendations for promotion of gender equality in the coming decade, the results of which will be presented at the CSW in 2005.
To ensure that as many interested groups, networks and individuals as possible from around the world can contribute to the preparations of the review and appraisal, on-line discussions will also be organized, in the context of the inter-agency network, on all the critical areas of concern and other issues emerging from Beijing +5. These on-line discussions are important to ensure possibilities for active engagement and contribution of groups, networks and individuals, who may not have the chance to attend the sessions of the CSW or participate in the Expert Group Meetings. The on-line discussions will be carried out on the inter-agency network website: WomenWatch. There is urgent need for support to WomenWatch, to effectively carry out the on-line discussions.
The 49th session of the CSW in 2005
The 49th session of the CSW in 2005 will be commemorating both the ten years of implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the 30 years of United Nations efforts on promoting gender equality since the World Conference on Women in Mexico in 1975. There have been calls for visibility of the process and high-level representation. Many Member States and NGOs have also indicated that a strong focus at global level enhances the work at national level, and therefore advocate a high-profile review and appraisal process. There is consensus that the process should lead to a stronger focus on implementation and impacts, sharing of experiences and good practices, identification of gaps and challenges, increased political will, and clear commitments from Governments. No decisions have, as yet, been taken on the format of the CSW 49th session. These decisions will be taken by the Member States, presumably at the 48th session in 2004.
Two flagship publications of the United Nations will be available at the CSW in 2005: The World Survey on The Role of Women in Development, prepared by the Division for the Advancement of Women, which will focus on gender and migration; and The World's Women: Trends and Statistics, prepared by the United Nations Statistics Division in collaboration with the Division for the Advancement of Women. Support is needed to cover the costs of production of The World's Women: Trends and Statistics.
As is the practice at the CSW sessions, there will be "side-events" in 2005, which will provide opportunities for Governments, NGOs, research institutes, private sector, and UN entities to organize panels, workshops, seminars, hearings, exhibitions, etc. to highlight the achievements made over the past decade.
Information on preparations for CSW in 2005 will be available on the website of the Division for the Advancement of Women throughout 2004, including information on the regional preparations, and on NGO preparations, as information becomes available.
Resources are required to support the preparatory work outlined. Following the Fourth World Conference in Beijing in 1995, a trust fund was established to support the work of the Division for the Advancement of Women on implementation of the Platform for Action. The trust fund was utilized for preparatory processes for the 23rd special session (Beijing +5) in 2000. In the context of the preparations for the 49th session of the CSW in 2005, there is a need to replenish the trust fund.
The Division for the Advancement of Women welcomes inputs on the preparatory processes and encourages organizations to already now begin to consider possible side events for the CSW in 2005 which would highlight progress made and gaps and challenges. We look forward to your support in this process in different ways.