third in the series of joint workshops, the workshop brought together
seventeen participants from the IACWGE, representing a total of
twelve entities; ten representatives from the Working Party on
Gender Equality representing X Member States, one representative
from the OECD Secretariat, one representative of the International
Organization for Migration and one expert/resource person. Earlier
workshops on gender mainstreaming and on the rights-based approach
to women's empowerment and gender equality had been held at the
International Labour Organization in Geneva in 1997 and the Food
and Agricultural Organization in Rome in 1998 respectively.
workshop was opened by Mr. Adrianus Mooy, Executive Director of
ESCAP, who drew attention to the prospect of increased conflicts
and fragmentation of States and national groups in the new millennium
and the importance of considering the notion of human security
in a broad way, so as to include some of the critical areas of
concern addressed in the Beijing Platform for Action.
her opening statement, Ms. Angela King noted that issue of human
security had received growing attention since the Secretary-General's
"Agenda for Peace" and its supplement in 1992 and 1995 respectively.
The 1994 Human Development Report had advocated greater emphasis
on people's security as opposed to territorial security in the
formulation of the concept of human security, as well as a shift
from the provision of security through armaments, to security
through human development. The Human Development Report had identified
seven dimensions required for human security: economic security;
food security; environmental security; personal security; community
security; and political security. Ms. King pointed out that while
all people were faced with threats to their enjoyment of all these
dimensions, women faced particular threats in this regard. Although
the Platform for Action had identified many of the constituent
requirements of women's human security, there had been no comprehensive
analysis of these requirements. The workshop would provide a forum
in which an understanding of the differences between the requirements
of women and men with respect to human security would be examined.
It would also provide multilaterals and bilaterals with an opportunity
to address the potential of the human security agenda to advance
women's empowerment, especially in their day-to-day work.
Diana Rivington reminded participants that it was well-known that
women are active agents in solving their own problems and can
turn adverse situations into sources of empowerment. Using the
experience of post-conflict reconstruction Rwanda as a case study,
she stressed that the critical challenge for multi-lateral and
bi-lateral agencies was to identify the support women needed and
the best way to provide that support. Another important goal was
to determine how these agencies could help to build connections
between people, rather than contribute to divisions.
background paper prepared by Ms. Beth Woronuik for the workshop
entitled "Women's Empowerment in the Context of Human Security:
A Discussion Paper", and commentary on that paper by Ms. Shanti
Dairiam, provided the conceptual framework for the workshop. Both
drew attention to the fact that discussions and priorities relating
to human security have failed to reflect an understanding that
women's security interests are often different from men's and
have not highlighted women's empowerment as a priority.
background paper proposed that "the challenge in looking at women's
empowerment in the context of human security is to move beyond
identifying 'women's issues' at the margins of the primary discussion.
The goal is not to develop an annex to the primary discussion
that highlights where and how women are the exception to general
security issues. Rather the commitment to gender equality raised
questions that influence the centre of the definition of human
security". Two vital questions were posited: -"Whose security
is being considered (which men's? which women's?) - How do gender
inequalities and differences affect people's ability (both women
and men ---individually and collectively) to articulate their
security needs and mobilize resources to meet those security needs?"
background paper and the commentary concluded that although there
was potential to raise women's empowerment issues in the context
of human security, this would require concerted effort. The concept
of human security must be reinterpreted to include a gender perspective
and the notion of autonomy or empowerment factored into its definition.
A framework of "Survival, Security and Autonomy" was suggested
by Ms. Dairiam as providing relevant indicators, at least in respect
of poverty alleviation, and she emphasized that programmes must
go beyond those directed at survival, and include empowerment
elements for results to be sustainable on a long-term basis.
concurrent working groups provided the opportunity for more focused
discussions on particular topics raised during the plenary discussion,
while aspects of human security in the ESCAP region were considered
at a working dinner.
on presentations by Japan and the United States of America, working
group 1 discussed promoting women's empowerment and security through
good governance, and considered how Member States of the United
Nations, the international community, non-governmental organizations
and individuals can enhance the empowerment of women and human
security. Taking account of Gita Sen's definition of empowerment
as the process by which the powerless gain greater control over
the circumstances of their lives, the working group considered
empowerment to focus on individual women, as well as women collectively.
Good governance predicated respect for human rights, transparency,
access to knowledge, resources and decision-making, as well as
participation, all of which were essential for empowerment. Several
actions were determined to be critical for good governance, and
the working group identified actors responsible for the implementation
of those actions. For example, the reduction or combating of violence
in the household was regarded as a good governance activity, with
responsible actors including Member States, NGOs and individuals.
group 2 addressed the subject of women at the peace-table: making
a difference to human security at the national, regional and global
level. Against the background of good practice examples provided
by Australia and UNIFEM, in Bougainville and South Asia, respectively,
the working group considered initiatives adopted in several contexts
to increase women's involvement in conflict prevention and peace-building.
The working group recommended regular reporting on the gender
composition of peacekeeping missions, as well as the introduction
of actions to ensure the mainstream of a gender perspective in
this context. It also emphasized that information on successful
initiatives, especially at country level, should also be collected
and shared among and between multilateral and bilateral agencies.
group 3, which discussed a presentation by FAO, considered women's
empowerment in the context of freedom from want. Taking the view
that poverty is a violation of human rights and a denial of human
development, the working group noted that the realization of freedom
from want was affected by the changing role of the State in the
provision of social and economic services, as well as the reduction
of public expenditure. Globalization had also created new challenges,
but had also provided new opportunities for women. Investment
in the health and education of women and girls was agreed to be
the best means of redistributing the benefits of economic growth
and ensuring freedom from want. The importance of new technology
in improving productivity, especially in the informal sector,
and reducing drudgery was emphasized. The working group also drew
attention to the connection between sharing of family responsibilities
and freedom from domestic violence and the achievement of freedom
the presentations in plenary and in the working groups, a number
of common ideas emerged. Participants agreed that categorizing
freedom from want as primarily related to peace-time situations
and freedom from fear to conflict situations was an oversimplification,
as freedom from want and fear applied both in conflict and peace.
Key requirements for both freedoms were transparent governance,
a competitive political process, a politically active civil society
and respect for the rule of law and human rights.
human security in conflict was concerned, the importance of moving
beyond provision of assistance to an approach which emphasized
equal and equitable represention was underlined. The linkage between
women's empowerment and successful peace-keeping and reconstruction
was highlighted. Thus, peace-keeping and reconstruction were situations
in which new opportunities for women's empowerment could be found,
while at the same time, women's empowerment supports peace-keeping
and reconstruction. Participants agreed that the work of the Security
Council and the Special Committee on Peace-keeping should incorporate
a gender equality perspective, and that Governments in their peace-keeping
and reconstruction efforts should focus on gender equality issues.
impact of globalization and the recent economic crisis in Asia
featured in discussions of freedom from want. Participants also
emphasized the changing role of the State, especially with respect
to the provision of services, as well as the growing importance
of non-State actors in this regard.
multifaceted nature of the concept of human security is reflected
in the communique adopted by the workshop, as is the importance
of viewing the concept through a gender perspective. Actions to
promote women's empowerment in the context of human security,
both with regard to the policy level and at the level of practice
are included in the communique. These reflect and build on actions
at the earlier joint workshops. Accordingly, the workshop recommended
that the series of meetings between members of the two groups
would continue with a workshop in 2000.