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Excerpts from the Beijing process documents relating to women in decision-making and gender balance


Beijing Declaration

We are convinced that: 13. Women's empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision-making process and access to power, are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development and peace.

Platform for Action

Critical Areas of Concern

41. The advancement of women and the achievement of equality between women and men are a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice and should not be seen in isolation as a women's issue. They are the only way to build a sustainable, just and developed society. Empowerment of women and equality between women and men are perquisites for achieving political, social, economic, cultural and environmental security among all peoples.

Women in power and decision-making

186. The low proportion of women among economic and political decision makers at the local, national, regional and international levels reflects structural and attitudinal barriers that need to be addressed through positive measures. Governments, transnational and national corporations, the mass media, banks, academic, and scientific institutions, and regional and international organizations, including those in the United Nations system, do not make full use of women's talents as top-level managers, policy makers, diplomats and negotiators.

Strategic objective G.1. 

Take measures to ensure women's equal access to and full participation in power structures and decision-making

Actions to be taken: 192, By governments, national bodies, the private sector, political parties, trade unions, employers' organizations, research and academic institutions, subregional and regional bodies and non-governmental and international organizations:

a) Take positive action to build a critical mass of women leaders, executives and managers in strategic decision-making positions; b) Create or strengthen, as appropriate, mechanisms to monitor women's access to senior levels of decision-making; c) Review the criteria for recruitment and appointment to advisory and decision-making bodies and promotion to senior positions to ensure that such criteria are relevant and do not discriminate against women;

193. By the United Nations:

(a) Implement existing and adopt new employment policies and measures in order to achieve overall gender equality, particularly at the Professional level and above, by the year 2000, with due regard to the importance of recruiting staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible, in conformity with Article 101, paragraph 3, of the Charter of the United Nations;

(b) Develop mechanisms to nominate women candidates for appointment to senior posts in the United Nations, the specialized agencies and other organizations and bodies of the United Nations system;

(c) Continue to collect and disseminate quantitative and qualitative data on women and men in decision-making and analyse their differential impact on decision-making and monitor progress towards achieving the Secretary-General's target of having women hold 50 per cent of managerial and decision-making positions by the year 2000.

Institutional arrangements

United Nations Secretariat Other Units of the United Nations Secretariat

331. The Office of the Human Resources Management should, in collaboration with programme managers worldwide, and in accordance with the strategic Plan of Action for the improvement of the status of women in the Secretariat (1995-2000), continue to accord priority to the recruitment and promotion of women in posts subject to geographical distribution, particularly in senior policy-level and decision-making posts, in order to achieve the goals set out in General Assembly resolutions 45/125 and 45/239 C and reaffirmed in General Assembly resolutions 46/100, 47/93, 48/106 and 49/167. The training service should design and conduct regular gender-sensitivity training or include gender-sensitivity in all of its activities.

Beijing +5 Outcome document

II. Achievements in and obstacles to the implementation of the twelve critical areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action

G. Women in power and decision-making 

22. Achievements. There has been growing acceptance of the importance to society of the full participation of women in decision-making and power at all levels and in all forums, including the intergovernmental and non-governmental sectors. In some countries, women have also attained higher positions in these spheres. An increasing number of countries applied affirmative and positive action policies, including quota systems or voluntary agreements in some countries and measurable goals and targets, developed training programmes for women's leadership, and introduced measures to reconcile family and work responsibilities of both women and men. National mechanisms and machineries for the advancement of women as well as national and international networks of women politicians, parliamentarians, activists and professionals in various fields have been established or upgraded and strengthened.

23. Obstacles. Despite general acceptance of the need for a gender balance in decision-making bodies at all levels, a gap between de jure and de facto equality has persisted. Notwithstanding substantial improvement of de jure equality between women and men, the actual participation of women at the highest levels of national and international decision-making has not significantly changed since the time of the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, and gross underrepresentation of women in decision-making bodies in all areas, including politics, conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms, the economy, the environment and the media, hinders the inclusion of a gender perspective in these critical spheres of influence. Women continues to be underrepresented at the legislative, ministerial, and sub-ministerial levels, as well as at the highest levels of the corporate sector and other economic and social institutions. Traditionally assigned gender roles limit women's choices in education and careers and compel women to assume the burden for household responsibilities. Initiatives and programmes aimed at women's increased participation in decision-making have been hindered by a lack of human and financial resources for training and advocacy for political careers; gender-sensitive attitudes towards women in society; awareness of women to engage in decision-making in some cases; accountability of elected officials and political parties for promoting gender equality and women's participation in public life; social awareness of the importance of balanced participation of women and men in decision-making; willingness on the part of men to share power; sufficient dialogue and cooperation with women's non-governmental organizations, along with organizational and political structures, which enable all women to participate in all spheres of political decision-making.

IV. Actions and initiatives to overcome obstacles and to achieve the full and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action

C. Action to be taken at the international level 

By the United Nations system and international and regional organizations as appropriate:

86. (b) Ensure and support the full participation of women at all levels of decision-making and implementation in development activities and peace processes, including conflict prevention and resolution, post-conflict reconstruction, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building, and in this regard, support the involvement of women's organizations, community-based organizations and non-governmental organizations; c) Encourage the involvement of women in decision-making at all levels and achieve gender balance in the appointment of women and men, with full respect for the principle of equitable geographical distribution, including, as special envoys and special representatives and in pursuing good offices on behalf of the Secretary-General, inter alia, in matters relating to peacekeeping, peace-building and in operational activities, including as resident coordinators;

d) Provide gender-sensitive training to all actors, as appropriate, in peacekeeping missions in dealing with victims, particularly women and girls, of violence, including sexual violence.

88. Encourage the implementation of measures designed to achieve the goal of 50/50 gender balance in all posts, including at all the Professional level and above, in particular at the higher levels in their secretariats, including in peacekeeping missions, peace negotiations and in all activities, and report thereon, as appropriate, and enhance management accountability mechanisms.


Focal Point for Women.

Gender Mainstreaming IANWGE Contact
Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI)
United Nations, Two United Nations Plaza,
44th St. 12th Floor, NY ,NY 10017
URL: http://www.un.org/osagi