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Beijing PfA Reaffirmed;
NGOs Join the Fight Against US Objections

Marking the tenth anniversary of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in September 1995, the 49th special session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) took place in New York from 28th February to 11th March 2005. Government delegates from 165 countries attended, as well as over 2,500 NGO representatives from all over the world.

At the opening of the 49th special session
of the UN Commission on the Status of Women,
UN Headquarters, New York

US objects to reproductive rights

A declaration was adopted by the government representatives, reaffirming the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), though it was delayed due to initial US refusal as it tried to include an amendment to state that the BPfA does not include the right to abortion. The fact that the BPfA does not promote abortion at all seemed to have escaped the notice of the US representatives.

NGOs issued a statement on the proposed US amendment urging government delegations to oppose it. There was little support for the amendment and it was dropped after a week.

During the session, ten resolutions improving the status of women were adopted.


In a panel discussion observing International Women's Day on 8th March, attended by over 1,000 delegates and journalists, Nafis Sadik, former Executive Director, UNFPA, and Special Advisor to a UN high-level panel, sharply criticized political leaders, saying "It is time political leaders stop talking about peace and start investing in it. What contributes more to security; the $3 billion invested in women or the $900 billion squandered on weapons? cwe have all the evidence we need and enough in the way of recommendations on goals and targets. What women need now and what global security demands is action."


JOICFP's participation

During the special session, the Japanese Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office stated Japan's strong support for the BPfA. Prior to the event, 160 NGOs, including JOICFP, took part in a one-day consultation that explained the process and forums for NGO participation in the special session.

In a satellite NGO workshop organized by Japan's Network for Women's Health on women's health from the perspective of youth, JOICFP made a presentation on its advocacy experience and good practices in Japan. JOICFP spoke about its Japanese email advocacy for youth magazine Tarte, and how visits to its web site had risen dramatically as a result. JOICFP wants to stress the importance of young people now taking the lead in implementing the Beijing PfA.

The workshop attracted attention from the Japanese media, further increasing JOICFP's exposure.

NGO events

Several hundred NGO side-events took place, reflecting the diversity and vibrancy of how women at all levels around the world are implementing the Beijing PfA. Importantly, NGOs shared information, including how governments can be lobbied, information gathering and sharing, knowledge on procedure, and media relations.

Taking part in the special session contributed to capacity building for NGOs, showing them procedure of international conferences, ways of gaining government attention and support, as well as developing networks.

For a copy of the Statement of the Linkage Caucus, please click here.

At the Linkage Caucus

Japan's new initiative

At a side event to the conference, on 4th March, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched a new initiative on Gender and Development (GAD). The initiative provides sectoral assistance under the ODA Charter and Medium-term Policy on ODA, and aims to integrate gender perspective into the planning of policies and measures that do not focus on women's benefit as the main purpose.

Click here for details of GAD