| 41st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women |
|41st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women|
NGOs attended meetings of the commission and the parallel working group on the elaboration of a draft optional protocol to the CEDAW. In addition to NGOs in consultative/roster status, special arrangements were made allowing NGOs accredited to the Fourth World Conference on Women to be eligible to attend the 41st session. NGOs were also permitted to attend informal consultations, subject to the availability of seating. NGOs with consultative status were able to submit short written statements for distribution through the secretary of the commission, and three to five speaking slots were made available for NGOs to participate in panel dialogues. (Preference was given to those speaking on behalf of a number of organizations or a caucus.) A small conference room at headquarters was reserved for NGOs to hold caucuses and workshops, and computers were set up for their use.
More than 300 NGOs contributed to the commission's work through panel discussions, lobbying governments and participating in caucus meetings and dialogues. Evening dialogues co-sponsored by DAW and some NGOs provided government delegates and NGOs with the opportunity to hear and exchange views in a less formal environment.
An international group of human rights NGOs convened an informational meeting on 14 March on women's rights and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure that the court effectively redresses international human rights violations, particularly crimes against women. Efforts to raise concerns about how violations of women's rights will be condemned, investigated and prosecuted by the court were discussed; the violations include rape, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy and other sexual violence. The National Council for Research on Women, in cooperation with DAW and the International Women's Tribune Centre, convened a dialogue on 13 March on Women, Education and Training. Participants discussed how to bring a critical mass of women into educational leadership positions; successful examples of governments and NGOs investing in lifelong learning opportunities for women and girls; progress being made in the development of non-gender-biased curricula and teaching materials; and strategies for expanding access for women and girls to education and opportunities in science and technology.
The Women's Linkage Caucus met twice during the proceedings to coordinate NGO advocacy efforts and propose amendments to texts under discussion in all four of the UN commissions, which were meeting simultaneously. They are the Commission on Population and Development, Commission for Social Development, an intercessional meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development, and the CSW. The caucus also worked to highlight the need to integrate gender into all the UN commissions, including the upcoming UN General Assembly Special Session to review implementation of Agenda 21.
The Women's Linkage Caucus called on members of the Commission on the Status of Women to act as a strong "women's lobby" to influence the process and substance of every UN conference follow-up process at the local national and international levels, so that gender mainstreaming and gender balance become a reality. The caucus asked the CSW to begin by requesting heads of state and UN member states to make a series of commitments at the GA special session, including commitments to:
- recognize women not only as a "major group" of the Rio Agenda 21, but also as significant agents for local and global change, so that compartmentalized approaches give way to genuine integration of gender in sustainable development;
- expand efforts to eliminate negative effects on developing countries by reconciling WTO rule-making and global trade practices with the post-Rio agenda;
- work for international codes of conduct for corporations, especially to enforce compliance with ILO agreements, protect the rights of workers in developing countries and prevent gender-based and economic exploitation of labour by transnational corporations;
- support an international negotiation process on new financial. instruments, such as a tax on speculative capital transactions, to reduce market instability and generate resources for social sectors;
- address the impact of globalization and privatization on achieving the goal of universal access to water by the year 2000 and initiate an intergovernmental plan to overcome the obstacles to reach this important goal in the Beijing platform for action and other UN conference agreements; and
- make a major debt cancellation announcement at the special session.