IWTC Women's GlobalNet #273

Activities and Initiatives of Women Worldwide 

By Anne S. Walker 

March 23, 2005


This report from the 49th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (February 28-March 11, 2005), also known as Beijing + 10, was put together by Aileen Familara of Isis International Manila and Asia-Pacific Women's Watch. Our sincere thanks to Aileen for an excellent overview.

The 49th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women ended on March 11 at the united Nations in New York with delegations acting on the proposed resolutions. Some resolutions did not achieve consensus, and needed to be put to a vote. The roll-call voting on some of the resolutions subsequently delayed the proceedings so that some items on the agenda were not taken up. Chairperson Kyung-wha Kang (Korea) announced that the Commission had no more time to address the session's remaining business and said only: "we will see if and when we are able to reconvene".

The US delegation was most vocal in its expression of opposition to any language contained in the proposed resolutions that referred to reproductive rights, as well as to references to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a treaty the US has neither signed nor ratified. The Australian delegation commented at the beginning of the proceedings that they had come to the session fully expecting to reaffirm and re-commit to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), and instead "We have spent a large amount of our time tied up in drafting sessions on resolutions, ten in all, which has distracted us from the important task we have come to the meeting to achieve" Thus, they registered their protest on the proliferation of resolutions and said that they did not want the meeting to "fall into the trap of becoming a giant drafting committee."

Six new resolutions were adopted: on gender mainstreaming on national policies and programmes; on the viability of appointing a Special Rapporteur on discrimination against women; on reducing demand for trafficking; on integrating a gender perspective in post-disaster relief especially in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami; on indigenous women; and on women's economic advancement. Resolutions that had been carried over from previous CSW sessions were also adopted, including: women, the girl-child and HIV/AIDS; the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women; the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan; and the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women.

On women, the girl-child and HIV/AIDS, the resolution calls for governments to intensify efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls in relation to HIV/AIDS, including through challenging stereotypes, stigmatization, discriminatory attitudes and gender inequalities and to encourage the active involvement of men and boys in that regard. The resolution further urges governments to pursue the empowerment of women to make them less vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

On reducing demand for trafficking women and girls, the resolution asks governments to adopt or strengthen legislative or other measures to deter exploiters and discourage the demand that fosters trafficking of women and girls for all forms of exploitation. It further calls on governments to "conclude bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international agreements to address the problem of trafficking in persons, especially women and girls; and to adopt specific measures aimed at reducing demand, as appropriate, to complement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children." It further asks governments to criminalize trafficking, penalize traffickers and raise public awareness on the issue.

On considering the advisability of having a Special Rapporteur on laws that discriminated against women the resolution urges governments to intensify their efforts to revoke any remaining laws that discriminated on the basis of sex and to remove gender bias in the administration of justice, in accordance with the Beijing Platform for Action, through the adoption of all appropriate means and measures at the national, regional and international levels. However, before adoption of this resolution, some delegations pointed out that it may duplicate mechanisms already in place around the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), so the matter of appointing a special rapporteur would be taken up at the 50th CSW session in 2006.

On mainstreaming a gender perspective into national policies and programmes the resolution asks governments to "ensure that gender mainstreaming was fully understood, institutionalized and implemented; increase understanding of that process; develop and use frameworks, guidelines and other practice tools and indicators to accelerate gender mainstreaming; develop effective and coherent accountability mechanisms; involve parliaments and the judiciary, where appropriate, in monitoring progress; recognize civil society's role in that regard; establish or reinforce existing national machineries for women's advancement and provide them with the necessary human and financial resources. "

On integrating a gender perspective in post-disaster relief efforts, particularly in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster the resolution asks government to place a gender perspective on disaster management and disaster preparedness, as well to ensure that women had an active role in all phases of disaster management. These aspects include services such as food, clean water, shelter and physical security, as well as health care, including reproductive health, psychological health and psychosocial support and education, taking into account the particular needs of women and girls. Moreover, it urges governments to address "gender equality dimensions of livelihood, security, land tenure, land rights, property and housing since they posed major challenges to women, in particular widows, women heads of households, women with disabilities and women who had lost family members in natural disasters."

On the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women the resolution recognizes the obstacle placed by the Israeli occupation of Palestine on improving conditions for Palestinian women's lives, and enjoins Israel as an occupying power to comply fully with international human rights treaties in protecting the rights of women and girls, as well as to "facilitate the return of all refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties."

On the strengthening of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), the resolution asks for more contributions from member states in support of the institute, and for the INSTRAW Executive Director to report on its programme of work for the period 2004-2007 at the 50th CSW.

On the economic advancement of women, the resolution asks governments to provide for enabling environments for women entrepreneurs and equal opportunities for women in the workplace; financial services for women in savings and lending and ownership, the promotion of equal access for women to information and communication technology-based economic activities and to information systems and improved technologies. The resolution also took into account the impact of globalization on women's labour and the role of international financial institutions on imposing liberalization policies.

On indigenous women, the full text was still unavailable at the time of the report.

On the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan the resolution urges the government of Afghanistan to "fully implement the Constitution and all international treaties to which Afghanistan was a party; ensure that legislative, administrative and other measures support women's and girl's full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms; enable the full, equal and effective participation of women and girls in civil, cultural, economic, political and social life throughout the country and at all levels; and ensure that women were able to register, run for office, campaign and vote in the upcoming national assembly elections"

Summaries of the proceedings are available online at <http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/Review/english/press-releases.asp>

For those with broadband access, video archives of the proceedings can be viewed at <http://www.un.org/webcast/index.asp>

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