Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

Commission on the Status of Women
Forty-ninth Session
10th Meeting (PM)
4 March 2005


Consensus Adoption of Text Ends First Week
Of Session Aimed at Reviewing Progress towards Gender Equality



The Commission on the Status of Women met this afternoon to convene a panel discussion entitled, “Presentation of the review and appraisal processes at regional level -- achievements, gaps and challenges”. 



FATIMA SBAITY-KASEM, Director, Centre for Women, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), said the Commission held the Arab Regional Conference “Ten Years after Beijing:  Call for Peace” at United Nations House in Beruit, in July 2004.  The conference was organized around four seminars on the role of women in Arab parliaments, women in executive and decision-making positions, women in civil society, and women in the media and intellectual and cultural life.  The conference produced the Beirut Declaration.  Among its highlights was the need to assess the accomplishments in preparation for the current session of the Commission.  In that light, the Declaration drew attention to the continuing instability in the Arab region, which had suffered for decades from conflicts and tensions and was one of the regions most exposed to wars and armed conflicts.  That situation not only slowed the pace of economic and social development, but also undermined the progress that had been achieved.

She said that the Declaration had also noted that there was evidence to indicate that the gravity of the regional dangers, the decrease in investment rates, and the persistence of the disparity between physical and human capital were all factors that contributed to reducing levels of growth.  The conference was being held in extremely difficult and intricate circumstances, when the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, were experiencing a decline at all levels, which was having a negative impact on the living conditions of Palestinian women and the Palestinian people as a whole.  The conference had also highlighted the progress achieved by the countries of the region towards implementation of the Beijing agenda.  Those accomplishments had included the promulgation of new legislation for the benefit of women, the establishment of mechanisms concerned with women’s issues, including ministries, the attainment of women in some countries of their political rights, the allocation of quotas to women in the parliaments of some countries and the ratification by 17 countries of the Women’s Convention.

In light of ESCWA’s analysis, it considered that the following measures, among others, were required to empower women and increase their participation in political, economic and social life:  governments must formulate strategies and programmes for women’s empowerment; actions should be taken to increase budgets for those programmes; indicators disaggregated by gender should be analysed; national legislation should be reviewed with a view to amending discriminatory legislation; early warning mechanisms should be set up to sound the warning of emerging negative social phenomenons, in order to remedy the problems those posed to women and girls; emphasis should be given to women’s role in strengthening the concepts of peace and dialogue, to which the Arab countries aspired; and attention should also be paid to the interlinkage of the efforts of men and women to achieve democracy and human rights and mainstreaming gender in development policies.

(Ms. Sbaity-Kasem’s statement also attached data on the following areas:  political participation; education, health and work; and illiteracy.

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For information media - not an official record