UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

Parliamentarians Address Cairo and Beijing Themes

ICPD News, No. 2, October 1995

         Parliamentarians Address Cairo and Beijing Themes

     On the eve of the Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) in

Beijing, 91 parliamentarians from 57 countries gathered to address

key themes of the upcoming conference -- themes echoing those of last

year's International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

     Among the major aims of the International Meeting of

Parliamentarians on Gender, Population and Development, held in Tokyo

from 31 August to 1 September 1995, was a reaffirmation of the

parliamentarians' commitment to implementing the ICPD Programme of

Action, in accordance with the goals of the FWCW.  The meeting

provided a forum for participants to discuss and design strategies

for meeting those goals.

     The gathering was jointly organized by the Asian Forum of

Parliamentarians on Population and Development, the Global Committee

of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, the Inter-African

Parliamentary Group on Population and Development and the Steering

Committee of the Africa and Middle East Committee of Parliamentarians

on Population and Development.  Members of the International Medical

Parliamentarians Organization also participated in the event, which

was supported by UNFPA and the International Planned Parenthood

Federation (IPPF).

     Dr. Taro Nakayama, Chairman of the Japan Parliamentarians

Federation for Population, opened the meeting with a welcoming

address.  Among the keynote speakers was Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive

Director of UNFPA, who addressed the implications of the ICPD for the


     The topics discussed included the empowerment of women, the

need for full and equal partnerships between women and men, women as

agents of change as well as beneficiaries, and regional responses to

the ICPD.

     In the session on the empowerment of women, Ms. Fanny

Pollarolo, Member of Parliament of Chile, noted some discouraging

trends with respect to the empowerment of women.  She asserted that

the economic crises of the 1980s had an especially severe impact on

girls and women, who suffered the most from cuts in education and

health and from deteriorating working conditions.  Calling on

institutions with decision-making powers to give a greater voice to

women, she appealed for solidarity among women legislators, members

of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and women in general.

     In the session on equal partnerships between women and men,

Dr. Manto Tshabalala, Member of Parliament of South Africa, stressed

that most of the problems faced by women in developing countries

could be attributed to illiteracy, which often has its roots in

poverty.  Parliamentarians should, therefore, commit themselves to

developing policies aimed at eliminating illiteracy among women and

girls within a specific time-frame.  They should also develop

policies that promote the equitable distribution of resources within

the household and adopt legislative and administrative measures that

promote full and equal access to economic resources for both women

and men.

     Another speaker, Ms. Helle Degn, Chairperson of the Foreign

Policy Committee of the Danish Parliament and former Minister for

Development Cooperation, spoke about mainstreaming women in the

population and development process.  She emphasized that social and

economic development constituted the key to the empowerment of poor

women and that political will was urgently required to achieve such

development.  Ms. Degn applauded the ICPD Programme of Action for its

focus on poverty and basic human needs.  According to Ms. Degn, the

mainstreaming of women requires two steps: first, the "feminization"

of policy and, second, the integration of women into all societal

decision-making processes.

     Participants adopted by consensus the Tokyo Declaration, by

which they committed themselves to translating the ICPD Programme of

Action's recommendations into political action and to ensuring that

the ICPD's achievements would be reaffirmed both during the FWCW and

in their national legislatures.  The Declaration called upon

parliamentarians to act as "advocates for women's empowerment and

gender equality" and to "oversee the implementation of the goals and

recommendations of the ICPD and the FWCW, paying particular attention

to the need to mobilize the resources required to translate the goals

and recommendations into reality".

           Parliamentarians Appeal for Gender Balance

     "We, the parliamentarians from 57 countries attending the

International Meeting of Parliamentarians on Gender, Population and

Development,... in addressing ourselves to the issues before the

Fourth World Conference on Women... urge Governments to... assure

that, by the year 2005, women constitute at least 50 per cent of the

membership of all governmental bodies, including elected and

appointed positions at international, national and local levels.

     "We... urge the donor community to strive to fulfill the

agreed target of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product for

overall official development assistance and to earmark 50 per cent

of the share of this for women and gender-related activities."

            -- "Tokyo Declaration",

               International Meeting of Parliamentarians on Gender,

               Population and Development, Tokyo,

               31 August-1 September 1995

     "The Cairo Programme of Action itself is mainstreaming women

in population and development policy.  Mainstreaming women in policy

means two things.  Firstly, it means feminizing policy and, secondly,

it means bringing women into all societal decision-making processes."

            -- Ms. Helle Degn (Denmark), International Meeting of

               Parliamentarians on Gender, Population and

               Development, Tokyo

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