Subject: [fem-women2000 372] Waiting for the outcome
From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 06:45:24 -0500
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 Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 17:25:07 +0200
 Subject: [B5NGONEWS] Waiting for the outcome

Global Women's Media Team/Electronic News Bulletin
distributed by Isis International-Manila
Waiting for the outcome

By Cholpon Akmatova*

New York, June 7: After three days of hectic activity, most of the
delegates to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session are
feeling jaded and skeptical of the final outcome. 'Women 2000: Gender
Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century' now seems
like much too grand a title for what seems to be a sliding back rather than
a surging forward.

"I'm afraid this conference will become just another conference that will
produce yet another document that will not deliver any practical results,"
says Ihssan Abdullah Algubshawi, General Secretary of the International
Muslim Women's Union and the first woman to be appointed the State Minister
of the Interior in Sudan. As Algubshawi pointed out, "developing countries
will be able to solve their pressing issues of poverty, health, illiteracy
and armed conflict only if they have the funds to address them."

Also looking for funds is Sagyn Ismailova, Chairman of the Kyrgyz State
Commission for Family, Women and Youth: "We are here to seek assistance
>from the international community. Kyrgyzstan is a small Central Asian
mountainous country with a harsh climate. The United Nations announced next
year as the Year of Mountains so we are hopeful there will be special
assistance to Kyrgyzstan, so we can help women living in the remote
mountainous areas." Unfortunately, Kyrgyzstan has no vote in this session
of the UN General Assembly due arrears in the payment of its financial
contributions to the United Nations.

The feeling among the NGOs is that the governments are not honouring their
commitments. So, they are lobbying hard for their concerns. Every day,
there are groups of women in the UN lobbies, waiting until midnight for the
plenary sessions to finish, waiting to know from their delegates how the
negotiations on the final document  the Outcomes document, as it is called
-- are going. It may be difficult to reach a consensus on the document soon
as there are still many contentious issues. Most of the differences center
around well-worn areas concerning sexual and reproductive rights. The US
and western countries are pushing developing countries to consider "sexual
rights" as "human rights" in their national laws and provide government
assistance for abortions. Some developing countries are opposed to this on
religious or cultural grounds.

"We don't want this special session become Beijing 5, we want to make sure
that we have a strong document. In five years we want to hear success
stories of poverty reduction and elimination of genital mutilation in
developing countries," said Lumba Sianga of Women for Change, a Zambian NGO
committed to empowering women in remote rural communities, and Patricia
Habanyama of the Zambian Coordinating Committee of NGOs.

"We want firm reiteration of the Beijing +5; governments must show the
political will to implement it. This document is only a means to an end.
It's up to NGOs to translate words into actions," said Akhila Sivadas of
the Indian Center for Advocacy and Research, who is involved in monitoring
the media. She expressed concern that the section of the final document on
the media does not reflect today's reality. It does not take account of the
globalization of the media. So, the Media Caucus has been lobbying to make
sure relevant changes are made.

Maria Arias, convener of the UN Task Force on Women and the Environment,
has been waiting in the UN lobby for the results of the negotiations on the
final document. She said the negotiations are stuck due to one country,
which does not want to sign under the paragraph which requires that "all
governments in cooperation with civil society begin monitoring and
informing women on water quality and support women farmers with education
and training in sustainable food production, particularly or including
organic." This paragraph is the only one that ensures women and their
families have safe food and water.

*Cholpon Akmatova is a member of the Global Women's Media Team (GWMT) for
the UN General Assembly Special Session  to Review the Beijing Platform for
Action.  GWMT is composed of NGO women and women journalists from
Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe. The GWMT is
coordinated by Isis International-Manila and supported by the United
Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in East and South East Asia and
South Asia, the Canadian International Development Agency - South East Asia
Gender Equity Programme, United Nations Development Program in Latin
America, the Caribbean and Mongolia, World Council of Churches, Foundation
for Sustainable Soceity, Inc., NCOS-Pilipinas, the British High Commission,
and WomenAction.

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