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iNon-Governmental Organizations
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Working Group on:
National Machineries
for Gender Equality
February 8 to March 19, 1999

This Virtual Working Group reviewed progress in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action on the topic Institutional Mechanisms/National Machineries for the Advancement of Women. The Working Group ran for six weeks, from February 8 to March 19.

About the Working Group
(Please note: The information below was distributed before the Working Group began. This Working Group closed in March 1999)

The UN Commission on the Status of Women meets in early March 1999. A key topic for review and discussion will be the contributions and challenges of National Machineries. Whether you work in a National Machinery, have collaborated with them as an NGO or have interacted as an outside supporter or observer, this Working Group is an opportunity to add your views to the global discussion.

WomenWatch, the UN Internet Gateway on the Advancement and Empowerment of Women, has developed this Virtual Working Group as a forum for activists, experts, researchers, government officials and other interested individuals to share concrete ideas and suggestions for the Commission.

The Working Group's proposals will also feed into a Special Session of the General Assembly in June 2000: "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century." This Special Session will assess the results of the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 and propose further actions and initiatives.

The Working Group will exchange experiences on the following topics:

  • Case studies, best practices, and other examples describing how national machineries can successfully promote a gender perspectives in government policies.
  • Strategies and partnerships that national machineries and NGOs have devised together to influence government.
  • Accountability and monitoring mechanisms such as gender budgeting and gender impact studies - how useful are they?
  • The role of national machineries in formulating legislation that supports gender equality.

The discussion will focus on these and other questions and will be organized around specific topics for the convenience of Working Group members. Members will receive from 3-4 messages daily and one summary weekly.

At Beijing it was agreed that in order to achieve full equality for women, governments should set up institutional structures to promote women's advancement and enjoyment of their human rights. These structures are referred to as "national machineries." Sometimes they are a blue ribbon committee of prominent women's advocates, or a Ministry or Department in Government, or an office attached to the office of the Prime Minister or President of the country.

Many countries have created such bodies as a result of the Beijing Conference, others have yet to do so. In March the Commission will discuss whether national machineries are serving their purpose and will consider ways of strengthening their role to promote women's advancement.

The Working Group will have impact both at the Commission on the Status of Women and the UN General Assembly's Special Session to assess follow-up to Beijing in June 2000. WomenWatch is hosting Working Groups on all the critical areas to contribute to the assessment of progress in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action. (A parallel discussion is currently underway on critical area D: Violence against women. Information on this list is available on the WomenWatch homepage at http://www.un.org/womenwatch)

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