Subject: [fem-women2000 786] Women's GlobalNet #194: UN Special Session on Children
From: iwtc <>
Date: Fri, 3 May 2002 16:12:38 +0000
Seq: 786

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Initiatives and Activities of Women Worldwide
By Anne S. Walker, Isha Dyfan and Yasna Uberoi=20

May 3, 2002


(The Special Session, originally planned for 19-21 September 2001, was=20
postponed following the attack on the World Trade Center in New York and=
Pentagon in Washington on 11 September, 2001)

This issue of IWTC Women's GlobalNet begins with a plea from young=20
people to be heard at the Special Session, then gives examples of=20
lobbying action on behalf of the rights of children being undertaken by=20
women's groups in two countries (Australia and Canada). We hope these=20
examples will encourage other groups to take action in their own=20

NOTE: Despite concerted efforts early on in the drafting process The=20
Girl Child has not been completely removed from the draft policy=20
document, at least not yet!=20

Paragraph 22 states: The achievement of goals for children, particularly=
for girls, will be advanced if women fully enjoy all human rights and=20
fundamental freedoms, -including the right to development-, are=20
empowered to participate fully and equally in all spheres of society and=
are protected and free from all forms of violence, abuse and=20
discrimination. We  are determined to eliminate all forms of=20
discrimination against the  girl child throughout her life cycle and to=20
provide special attention to her needs in order to promote and protect=20
all her human rights, including the right to be free from coercion and=20
from harmful practices and sexual exploitation. We will promote gender=20
equality and equal access to basic social services, such as education,=20
nutrition, health care, including sexual and reproductive health care,=20
vaccinations, and protection from diseases representing the major causes=
of mortality, and will mainstream a gender perspective in all=20
development policies and programmes.=20

There are however renewed efforts amongst fundamentalist and right-wing=20
groups at the UN during negotiations this week to have, amongst other=20
things, sexual and reproductive care removed from the document. There is=
also currently no mention of the special needs of girls in the section=20
of the draft document on HIV/AIDS.

Entitled "A World Fit for children" the document can be found at=20=20

Voices of Youth has received many messages on its Special Session on=20
Children (SsoC) web discussion board as well as on the young-delegates'=20
networking board over the past few weeks. Many messages are about the=20
need to work with adults, especially parents and families, on critical=20
social issues. They show that young people are acutely aware of the=20
responsibilities that face them as the world's "next generation." They=20
are searching for ways to obtain the necessary skills and experience.=20

Young delegates to the SSoC have been introducing themselves on the=20
boards. What is most striking about their messages is that they clearly=20
are looking beyond the frontiers of their own country, choosing instead=20
to represent the interests of all young people around the world. There=20
are also messages reminding readers of the adversity and suffering=20
inflicted on very many young people. Yet the overriding sense is of=20
young people convinced that they can improve the world. One young=20
delegate writes, "I will leave you with a quote, which I think sums up=20
the Special Session for me, because even though there will be lots of=20
people when we all meet in New York, what we do individually, in our=20
small groups in our own countries, makes a difference too: 'Never doubt=20
that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the=20
world: indeed it's the only thing that ever has.'"=20

Voices of Youth message Boards can be accessed at the following=20

"Today, Ayodele's life, an African girl born the same year of the=20
earlier World Summit for Children in 1990, is similar to a 10 year-old=20
girl at that moment: no running water, no school, no appropriate health=20
care. She works in the fields and takes care of her little brothers and=20
sisters. Two of her siblings died before the age of 5. Forced into=20
genital mutilation, early marriages and pregnancies, slavery, sexual=20
relations without protection and consent, millions of girls need=20
government leaders and Heads of States to act now to give them a better=20

"From May 8 to 10, at the United Nations=E2 Special Session on Children,=
government leaders, Heads of States, non-governmental organizations and=20
young people themselves will evaluate the realization of the goals=20
adopted In 1990 at the World Summit. They will also elaborate a Plan of=20
Action for the next 10 years. Will the right wing allow the specific=20
realities of girls to be taken into account? What rights will be=20
acknowledged to them? Will the international community commit themselves=
to realize precise objectives?"

"From May 5th, with Action Canada for Population and Development,=20
Cybersolidaires will be in New York to cover the Special Session, the=20
Children's Forum and side events. Our team will disseminate news, in=20
French and English, on important issues concerning girls and teenagers=20
through listserves=E2 on women's networks and on our web site at=20
<>. Finally, if you go to the Session, we=20
would be glad to meet you. Don't hesitate to contact. In=20
cybersolidarity! Nicole Nepton and Colette Leli=8Fvre,=20".=20

For more on Cybersolidaires, go to=20
For Action Canada for Population and Development, go to=20


"I am writing with reference to the forthcoming negotiations for the=20
UNGASS on Children. I believe that children in every country in our=20
world are entitled to a life in which their human rights are respected=20
and protected. Your recent decision to ratify the Optional Protocol to=20
the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child=
Prostitution and Child Pornography suggests that your are equally=20
committed to the human rights of children, and I do congratulate you on=20
the ratification. "

"In the contest of the UNGASS on Children I ask that you ensure that the=
UNGASS outcomes document A World Fit for Children is consistent with=20
agreements already reached in other UN negotiations to which Australia=20
has been a party - specifically and crucially- the International=20
Conference on Population and Development (ICPD, 1994); Beijing Fourth=20
World Conference on Women (FWCW, 1995) and the respective reviews ICPD +=
5 (1999) and Beijing + 5 (2000). "

"Moreover, I ask that the Australian Government take an unequivocal=20
position in relation to the recognition and promotion of the human=20
rights of children in the document. This is a particularly appropriate=20
position for Australia to take as our laws, services and programmes=20
recognize and support children's human rights. This could be achieved by=
proposing strong and affirming statements in relation to the Convention=20
on the Rights of the Child (which has been scheduled to the HREOC Act)=20
and also safeguarding references to the human rights of children already=
contained in the document."=20

"The realization of the human rights of children is also dependent on a=20
document which recognizes the rights of parents (and other legal=20
guardians) alongside but not at the expense of, nor having precedence=20
over the rights of children. The Convention on the Rights of the Child,=20
provides a clear balance of the rights and responsibilities of parents=20
as well as the human rights of children and primacy of the best=20
interests of the child, and I strongly urge you to ensure that the=20
Australian government works towards such a balanced approach in the=20

"Finally, we strongly urge you to support existing consensus language=20
which supports adolescents having access to certain health services (as=20
per the conference outcomes from ICPD, ICPD+5, FWCW and Beijing Plus=20
Five). The consensus language from these conferences has consistently=20
recognized the rights of adolescents to access sexual and reproductive=20
health services, information and education, and requires those services=20
to safeguard the rights of adolescents to privacy, confidentiality,=20
respect and informed consent. Within this context, the Special Session=20
on HIV/AIDS, Co-Chaired by Australia, recognizes the importance of=20
adolescents to have access to health care and health services,=20
information and education in relation to sexual and reproductive health,=
and we ask that the Australian Government also supports this language in=
the conference document. "

"The United Nations Special Session on Children is a crucial opportunity=
in the global effort to address the many and profound issues affecting=20
children in all regions and all countries of the world. We call on you=20
to support this effort and to contribute to creating a world fit for=20

For further information, contact: Women's Rights Action Network=20
Australia, c/o Caroline Lambert <>

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