| 41st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women |
|41st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women|
Panel sessions held during the first week of the 41st session provided a forum for an exchange of views among governments, UN experts and NGOs on emerging issues, successful strategies, and areas of continuing concern in each thematic area. They also discussed possible ways to move forward the implementation of the Beijing platform for action. The sharing of perspectives and subsequent recommendations enhanced government discussions and contributed to the agreed conclusions and resolutions adopted during the 41st commission.
The strategic objectives discussed by the panel on Women and Environment, facilitated by the chair of the CSW and convened on 11 March 1997, were to: involve women actively in environmental decision-making at all levels; integrate gender concerns and perspectives in policies and programmes for sustainable development; and strengthen or establish mechanisms at national, regional and international levels to assess the impact of development and environmental policies on women. During the discussions, participants stressed the importance of avoiding a simplistic view of women as victims or saviours of the environment. They also acknowledged the need to empower women to incorporate sound environmental practices into their activities, and apply a gender perspective in the allocation of funds for the environment, and the importance of equal access to resources. The panel concluded that effective implementation of gender-sensitive policies in the environment sector requires development of quantitative and qualitative indicators, review of legislation and reallocation of resources, and commitment at all levels of decision making. Participants included government nominees Sirpa Peitikainen (Finland), Economist and former Minister of Environment; Dr. Christina Amoako-Nuama (Ghana), Minister for Environment, Science and Technology; expert group meeting representative Rachel Kyte (UK), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Brussels; NGO representative Khawar Mumtaz, Coordinator, Shirkat Gab Women's Resource Centre (Pakistan); and UN system expert Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development.
The panel on Women and the Economy, facilitated by commission vice-chair Karin Stoltenberg, was convened on 11 March 1997. Speakers stressed that antidiscrimination laws, changes in corporate practices and introduction of teaching aids for gender equality would go a long way in promoting women's access to economic decision making. They also said that cuts in basic services tend to affect women the most, and structural adjustment programmer should be gendersensitive. The panel noted that economic policies are not gender neutral, and it is wrong to consider them so. The panel underscored the need to improve women's ability to make household economic decisions, put a value on women's unpaid work, ensure equal pay for work of equal value, and raise the status of part-time work. Participants included government nominees Mihye Roh (-Republic of Korea), Vice President of the Korean Women's Development Institute; Ambassador Akmaral Kh. Arystanbekova (Kazakhstan); expert group meeting representative Donna Dillon Manning (USA), Vice President of New Ventures, Catalyst; NGO representative Mamounata CissÃ© (Burkina Faso), General Secretary of the Organisation Nationale des Syndicats Libres; and UN system expert Lin Leam Lim, Labour Market Policies Branch, International Labour Office (ILO).
The panel on Women in Power and Decision Making, moderated by commission vice-chair Ljudmila Boskova, was convened on 12 March. Participants reconfirmed that stereotypes, tradition and strong competition within political parties represent some of the main barriers to women's participation in decision making. They stressed the need for a legal procedure to surmount such barriers, as well as adopting an equal gender status law and a parity threshold. They said such a threshold would mandate that there would be no less than 30%-40% and no more than 60%-70% of either sex in elected positions. Panel speakers, while warning of the dangers of sweeping generalizations about women and peace, said governments should encourage women leaders to enter the processes of good offices, mediation and decision making. Efforts to enhance women's role in early-warning initiatives, and the necessity of creating links between women in leadership positions and women at the grassroots level, were also underscored. Participants included government nominees Billie Miller (Barbados), Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tourism and International Transport; Professor Zofia Kuratowska (Poland), Deputy Speaker, Senate; Paloma Duran y Lalguna (Spain), Professor at the Faculty of Legal Sciences, Jaume I University; expert group meeting representative Eugenia Piza Lopez (Mexico) of International Alert; NGO representative Faiza Kefi, member of the Tunisian National Assembly and President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians.
A panel on Education and Training of Women, facilitated by commission Vice-Chair Zakia Amara Bouaziz was convened on 14 March. Speakers discussing the feminization of unemployment noted that the trend could be avoided by educating women to adapt to new conditions in the labour market, and providing special services for women with children of pre-school age and/or with handicapped children. Some of the factors identified by the panel as responsible for the high dropout rate of girls from school included early marriage, pregnancy, sexual harassment and a heavy work load at home. Speakers suggested the provision of free basic education and scholarships as some of the means to counter high drop-out rates. Participants included Valentina Ivanovna Matvienko (Russian Federation) Director of the Foreign Ministry Department for Links with the Subjects of Federation, Parliament, Public and Political Organizations; Irene de la Caridad Rivera Ferreiro (Cuba), Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Education; expert group meeting representative Swarna Jayaweera (Sri Lanka), Coordinator, Centre for Women's Research; NGO representative Celia Eccher (Uruguay), International Council for Adult Education; and UN system expert Aicha Bah Diallo, Director of Basic Education at the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).