13 March 2008


13 March 2008
Economic and Social Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Commission on the Status of Women

Fifty-second Session

16th Meeting (Resumed) (AM)




Chair Describes Session as ‘Politically Intense and Forward-Looking’;

Says Text Could Help Instil ‘Gender Reflex’ in Development Financing Debate

The Commission on the Status of Women wrapped up its fifty-second session today adopting wide-ranging agreed conclusions on “financing for gender equality and women’s empowerment”, which Chairman Olivier Belle (Belgium) said might pave the way towards instilling a “gender reflex” in the development financing debate.

“This has been a decisive, politically intense and forward-looking session,” Mr. Belle said, welcoming the Commission’s concrete recommendations, among others, urging Governments to integrate a gender perspective -- and increase women’s participation -- in the design, implementation and monitoring of economic plans and strategies, in a coordinated manner and across all policy areas, including in national development, social protection and poverty reduction.

“We now have a path to the future […] it is the time for concrete action,” he said, stressing that the document could both raise awareness about investing in women and girls as a vital component towards achieving sustainable development for all, and provide an important input to the preparations for the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to review implementation of the 2002 Monterrey Consensus, to be held in Doha, Qatar, next November.

The draft agreed conclusions, based on the Commission’s priority theme, were introduced in detail by Vice-Chair Julio Peralta ( Paraguay).  The 46-member body’s annual two week session has been running in New York since 25 February, but it was forced to suspend its work last Friday evening -- the original scheduled closing day -- when negotiations stalled on the final text.

Though unable to reach consensus on the agreed conclusions at that time, the Commission was able to take action on a number of resolutions dealing with key women’s empowerment issues, including on scaling up resources and access to HIV/AIDS care, protecting women and girls from harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, and providing assistance to Palestinian women.

Today, Mr. Peralta thanked all delegations for their unfailing commitment and considerable flexibility in reaching consensus, assuring the Commission capped its work with a positive outcome.  The agreed conclusions, adopted in the form of a resolution (document E/CN.6/2008/L.8), was a significant step forward in advancing the global policy agenda on financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women, he said.

Highlighting key points among the text’s 39 operative paragraphs, he said in general, the Commission called for scaling up investment in gender equality and women’s empowerment, including through mainstreaming a gender perspective in resource allocation, as well as by ensuring the necessary resources for targeted activities for gender equality.  It also recommended ways for ensuring resource allocation in economic policy and public finance management, specifically noting that national plans for gender equality should be costed and their implementation adequately resourced.

The agreed conclusions also highlighted the role of national machineries for the advancement of women and of relevant governmental entities in financing gender equality.  Actions were put forward for strengthening institutional frameworks, accountability mechanisms, and capacity-building in order to systematically incorporate gender perspectives into budgetary policies and processes at all levels.  They also recommended actions to strengthen the knowledge base, tools and methods for measuring progress in financing gender equality and gender-sensitive analysis of macroeconomic policies, among others.

Finally, he underscored a number of the recommendations that touched on key elements of the 2002 Monterrey Consensus, which, among other things, calls on countries and all stakeholders to make sound economic decisions and ensure that economic growth and poverty eradication benefit all.  For example, the conclusions recommend that the differential impact of trade policies on women and men be addressed, and that the focus and impact of development assistance specifically targeting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls be strengthened.

Statements on Agreed Conclusions

Ahead of action, the representative of Cuba noted errors in paragraph 21 (q) of the current text, which were not representative of the agreed language.  The Commission agreed to the following changes:  “With respect to” to “Urges”; and, later in the paragraph, “with respect to” to “encourage”.

The representative of Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that her delegation attached great importance to achieving the goal of gender equality and women’s empowerment.  The European Union was convinced that the remaining obstacles and challenges in full implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action needed to be overcome in a holistic manner, as well as through national efforts towards the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment.  The European Union also attached great importance to the work of civil society and women’s organizations around the world.  The delegation, therefore, regretted that their crucial gender equality work had not been rightly reflected in the agreed conclusions, she said.

Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Iran said that, since his delegation was not a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, it would dissociate itself from those sections of the text that referenced that instrument and its monitoring body.  He added that, in Iran, promotion of women’s status was a priority and, to that end, national policies in socio-economic areas were being implemented on the basis of gender justice and family protection, which his delegation believed should receive due attention at the international level.   Iran intended to pursue that issue at a later stage.

The representative of the United States said that her delegation assumed that references to the Women’s Anti-Discrimination Convention and its Optional Protocol, as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, applied only to those States party to the instruments.  Further, the term “right to development” meant that each individual should enjoy the right to develop his or her own intellectual or other capacities to the maximum extent possible, through the exercise of the full range of civil and political rights.  The United States remained strongly committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, but believed that creating new definitions for expanding the scope of those previously-agreed Goals “will not help us maintain consensus”, she said.

She went on to say that neither the United States nor the General Assembly had agreed to the creation by the Secretariat of a new Millennium target on reproductive health.  Her delegation’s commitment to the Millennium Development Goals was based on the understanding that there was an international consensus that “reproductive health” did not include abortion.  On language calling for reducing excessive military expenditures, the United States did not accept that there was or should be a direct connection between such expenditures and development funding.

Finally, she stressed that, by adopting such a long text, the Commission had abdicated its responsibility to prioritize.  The United States would have preferred to see a concise and focused outcome document that could have given clear guidance and direction to the United Nations and its Member States on how to move towards the goal of improving financing for women’s empowerment.

Chile’s representative agreed that the text should have perhaps been more concise, but understood that it had been a work of consensus.  Her delegation was pleased that the text contained language on decent work for women, as well as on the impact of climate change on women, which was a particularly important issue to Chile.  Among the topics that should have received more attention, the Chilean delegation would have preferred stronger language on the participation of civil society and the private sector.

The Commission will meet again at a date and time to be announced.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.