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Regional Symposium on Gender Mainstreaming 
in the Asia-Pacific Region Bangkok, 
10-13 December 2001

Opening Statement by

Angela E.V. King Assistant Secretary-General, 
and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General 
on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women

delivered by Carolyn Hannan Director, Division for the Advancement of Women

I am delighted to send a statement of support to the opening of this first Regional Symposium on Gender Mainstreaming organized by the United Nations. The regional symposia which will be held annually in different regions over the next five years are being organized in response to increasingly clear intergovernmental mandates on gender mainstreaming. From the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995 and the ECOSOC agreed conclusions in 1997, to the Security Council resolution in October 2000 and the ECOSOC resolution this year (2001/41), the importance of incorporating gender perspectives into all areas of societal development has been highlighted by Member States of the United Nations.

It is highly appropriate that this first symposium is being held in the Asia-Pacific region since so much innovative work on promoting gender equality has been carried out in this region. I recall in particular the pathbreaking Regional Plan of Action prepared in preparation for the Fourth World Conference in Beijing in 1995.

I wish to congratulate ESCAP, in particular the Executive Secretary, Mr. Kim Hak-Su for his support to this process and to Ms Thelma Kay, Chief of the Women in Development Unit, and her staff for their efforts to make this symposium a success.

An authoritative definition of gender mainstreaming is contained in the ECOSOC agreed conclusions 1997/2:

"Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women's as well as men's concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality."

Throughout the United Nations system concerted efforts are being made to implement gender mainstreaming. Many organizations have established institutional arrangements, such as gender units and gender focal point systems. Initiatives are undertaken across the system to develop the capacity to identify and address relevant gender perspectives in all areas of work, at both normative/policy and operational/programme levels. Gender perspectives are being incorporated into planning, budgetting and reporting processes, and guidelines and other materials to support staff are being developed to ensure gender perspectives are taken into consideration in data collection and research, analysis, support to legislative change, policy and programme development and monitoring and evaluation.

Organizations in the United Nations system also support Governments to develop gender-sensitive policies and strategies and to take gender perspectives into consideration in planning, implementing and monitoring development interventions in all areas of collaboration. Considerable support is given to capacity development. Non-governmental organizations and groups and networks in civil society are also supported to play critical advocacy roles in relation to gender mainstreaming and monitor the adherence to all commitments made by Governments. Efforts are also being taken to involve more men in promoting gender equality through gender mainstreaming.

Within the United Nations, my office has been charged with promoting, supporting, facilitating and monitoring gender mainstreaming across the system. This has been done through advocacy, particularly with senior managers, advice and support and monitoring. In addition guidance materials have been produced - fact sheets, briefing notes, inventories of intergovernmental mandates, developing competence development programmes or training, providing advice and support on request and carrying out assessments of progress and providing recommendations for change. Examples of many of the materials developed are provided here.

The Interagency Meeting on Women and Gender Equality has also worked consistently to ensure greater collaboration and coordination in promoting gender mainstreaming. The work of the interagency group is organized through taskforces which have focused on inventories of good practices in gender mainstreaming, gender focal points and training materials; development of methods to incorporate gender perspectives in programme budgets; and collaborative efforts to influence processes such as CCA/UNDAF, the implementation of the Security Council resolution 1325 and preparations for the international conference on financing for development.

The Commission on the Status of Women has a catalytic role in relation to gender mainstreaming - to advocate for, promote and monitor progress on gender mainstreaming among Member States as well as within the United Nations itself. Attention was given to gender mainstreaming during the discussions of the future working methods of the Commission at its last session. These discussions will continue at the next session in March 2002 and I am certain that the outcomes of this symposium will make an important contribution to these discussions.

Increasingly, efforts have also been made to incorporate gender perspectives into other intergovernmental processes. To give one concrete example, in the preparations for the International Conference on Financing for Development to be held in Monterrey in Mexico in 2002, attention has been given to gender perspectives in relation to all areas of the financing for development agenda: domestic resource mobilization, including credit and savings, national budgets and expenditure reviews, taxation and social security systems; foreign direct investment; trade; debt; ODA; and systemic issues. These positive steps are due to the commitment of Member States, as well as to the efforts of the United Nations Interagency Taskforce on Gender and Financing for Development. Critical inputs are also being made by NGOs, working individually or in coalition, to raise awareness and promote the incorporation of gender perspectives into the preparatory process. Member States are also making advances in implementation of gender mainstreaming at national level. This is increasingly evident in the national statements during the Commission on the Status of Women as well as in the panel discussions around the themes being addressed by the Commission each year.

The purpose of this regional symposium is to stimulate exchange of knowledge, experience and good practice on gender mainstreaming, that is, on identifying and addressing gender perspectives in different areas of work. We know that there is a wealth of good ideas and initiatives in this region and that many of these have not been adequately documented. We hope that this symposium will bring these to the fore.

In order to achieve this goal we hope that the examples provided will be very concrete and the discussions practically oriented, so that by the end of the symposium we will have some very practical recommendations and good practice examples to disseminate on a broad scale. Given the wealth of knowledge and experience among the participants at this symposium, I am certain we will have a very positive outcome.

Thank you.


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