Aide-Memoire EXPERT GROUP MEETING "Political Decision-Making and Conflict Resolution: The Impact of Gender Difference" (Santo Domingo, 7-11 October 1996) Introduction The Division for the Advancement of Women/Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DAW/DPCSD) and the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO) in cooperation with the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) are preparing an Expert Group Meeting on "Political Decision-Making and Conflict Resolution: The Impact of Gender Difference", which will take place at INSTRAW, Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, from 7 to 11 October 1996. Gender difference and the participation of women in decision-making and conflict resolution constitutes one of the major areas of activities of the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), mandated by the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, in particular its provisions under Chapter IV G and E. The meeting will contribute toward the further discussion of the topic in the context of the follow up to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. It will also provide substantive input to the report on the subject which will be submitted to the forty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 1997. I. Background The Platform for Action notes that "Despite the widespread movement towards democratization in most countries, women are largely under represented at most levels of government, especially in ministerial and other executive bodies, and have made little progress in attaining political power in legislative bodies or in achieving the target endorsed by the Economic and Social Council of having 30% women in positions at the decision-making levels by 1995". The data indicate that in the areas of political decision-making related to peace, security and conflict resolution, at both national and international levels, the situation is even worse than in some other fields, and amounts to almost complete absence of women. This exclusion has consequences for women and for society in general. From the human rights perspective, it contradicts international standards of equality and prevents women from enjoying their rights to be full citizens of their countries and full participants in world governance. It also deprives the world community of women's distinct perspective and contribution to the resolution of key global problems, and as the Platform for Action states "............Without the active participation of women and the incorporation of women's perspective at all levels of decision-making, the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be achieved" (para. 182). In order to redress this situation the Platform calls for action to "...........promote equal participation of women and equal opportunities for women to participate in all forums and peace activities at all levels, particularly at the decision-making level......" (para. 142, a), to "Strengthen the role of women and ensure equal representation of women at all decision-making levels in national and international institutions which may make or influence policy with regard to matters related to peace-keeping, preventive diplomacy and related activities and in all stages of peace mediation and negotiations ........" (para. 144, c) and to "......Integrate a gender perspective in the resolution of armed or other conflicts....." (Para. 142, b). The issue is a part of the broader problem of equal participation of women in decision-making process which has been analyzed by the DAW since 1989 and discussed by the CSW in 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1995, as well as by expert group meetings in 1989, 1991, 1994 and 1995. The EGM will constitute another stage of discussion on this topic focused on the qualitative aspects of the women's participation highlighted by the Platform for Action with the objective of contributing to the prompt implementation of its provisions. II. Objectives Drawing from previous expert group meetings and reports, and on the basis of the existing literature and the state of theoretical knowledge in the relevant academic disciplines and inter disciplinary fields the meeting will examine gender differences in men's and women's participation in decision-making, in particular in the areas of peace, security and conflict resolution in terms of setting political agendas and priorities; influencing the content of decisions, and outcome of negotiations; as well as managerial/leadership style and working climate. In this context and in view of women's gross under-representation at the decision-making levels in all these areas the meeting will also examine case- studies of examples where women as individuals or in formal or informal organizations and associations, have brought different priorities, experience and perspectives to influence and affect the political process, security issues, and peace. The meeting will also consider the policy implications of those gender differences and elaborate a set of recommendations aimed at: - Increasing the participation of women in decision-making in those areas, at least to achieve a 'critical mass', inter alia through identifying the issues that mobilize and motivate women's actions; - Achieving more balanced gender participation at all levels of peace related activities and conflict resolution, including the decision-making; - Bringing the results of the meeting into mainstream discussions within the UN system, research community and for practical application by policy makers, academic institutions and NGOs. III. Background documentation and profile of participants The basic documentation for the meeting will comprise background studies prepared by the organisers and papers prepared by experts. The organisers' studies will reflect on the current state of knowledge and practice on the role of gender in peace and conflict decision-making, and will address the political and philosophical problem of essentialism. The experts' papers will identify and analyze what impact gender difference has on the choice of political issues and priorities, on political style and process, on attitudes to violence and on conflict negotiation and resolution. In this context, expert papers will examine the concepts and experience of 'critical mass' and 'critical actions' to assess if and how women's participation makes a difference. These problems will be examined in general and comparative terms and through case studies. Experts will be chosen on the basis of their professional standing from among academics, researchers, practitioners and other experts in the relevant areas of peace/security/conflict resolution. In selecting the participants, the criteria of geographical and gender balance will be respected. IV. Organization The meeting will be organized by the Division for the Advancement of Women of the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development and the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. It will be attended by invited consultants and experts, as well as observers from the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations, research and academic institutions, and interested Governments. V. Administrative arrangements The meeting will be conducted in English. The costs of the participation of experts invited by the Secretariat will be covered by the United Nations (travel cost in economy class and daily subsistence allowance in Santo Domingo in accordance with the United Nations standards). Details of these arrangements will be provided later. All correspondence should be addressed to: Ms. Angela E.V. King Director Division for the Advancement of Women Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development United Nations , Room DC2-1220 New York, N.Y. 10017, USA Tel: (212) 963-5086 Fax: (212) 963-3463
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