and men

Women´s Issues After Beijing
Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women
Positions - Networks - Results

Chapter III

The Twelve Critical Areas of Concern of the Beijing Platform for Action: A Women´s Agenda for the Twenty-first Century

8 Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women: no lasting impact in any country

The Platform looks into specific institutional advancement of women in a separate chapter. As in the chapter on women in power and decision-making, it arrives at rather sobering conclusions: institutions for the advancement of women have had no lasting success either at a national or international level and are often marginalized by insufficient resources.

Marginalized existence

These institutions are not supported by serious political commitment to genuine change: "National machineries for the advancement of women have been established in almost every Member State to, inter alia, design, promote the implementation of, execute, monitor, evaluate, advocate and mobilize support for policies that promote the advancement of women. ... Often marginalized in national government structures, these mechanisms are frequently hampered by unclear mandates, lack of adequate staff, training, data and sufficient resources, and insufficient support from national political leadership".

Lack of political will

There is no lack of methodologies for conducting gender-based analysis in policies and programmes. What is lacking is the political will to put into practice such results in favour of women.
At the international level, programmes for the advancement of women encounter similar problems emanating from a lack of commitment and political will. Moreover, the resources of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women are too limited to fully implement their mandates.

UN-programmes for the advancement of women also without power

Objectives and actions to be taken

The implementation of the three strategic objectives requires strong political commitment. The objectives:

  • to create or to strengthen institutions for the advancement of women,
  • to integrate a gender perspective in all policies for the benefit of women,
  • to generate data to this end.

Institutional advancement of women can be improved

The Platform regards institutional advancement of women as an instrument to be encouraged and promoted for the implementation of gender equality. Policies for the advancement of women should be coordinated by a central unit "at the highest possible level of government" which should be given a mandate "to review policies and programmes from a gender perspective". Before policy decisions are taken, an analysis must be made of their impacts on women and men. The evaluation of data and information for planning is part of the programmes for the advancement of women.
In order to function effectively, a national institution for the advancement of women must be located at government level, falling under the responsibility of a Cabinet minister. Clearly defined procedural rules are required for cooperation with non-governmental organizations. Sufficient resources must be available to the coordinating unit in order to influence government policy as early as the planning stages. All interested institutions and organizations in the public and private sector should be encouraged to participate in efforts to establish equality between women and men.

Activities to be located at Cabinet level

The Governments are called upon to give all ministries the mandate to review all policies "in the light of the Platform for Action" and to include a gender perspective. The national coordinating unit should monitor if and how the mandate is carried out and should establish direct links with institutions dealing with the advancement of women.

Policies at all levels to be examined "in the light of the Platform for Action"

More data should be collected on the full contribution of women and men to the economy, including the informal sector. In particular data and information on unremunerated work in the subsistence economy and on other forms of non-market production activities is inadequate. More precise data must also be collected to record women´s unemployment and underemployment which is at present underestimated.

Gender-specific data on unemployment

In order to document unremunerated work and to make visible how inequitably remunerated and unremunerated work are distributed, the Platform reaffirms the demand of the Nairobi Conference to assess this type of work under the so-called satellite accounts which are consistent with core national accounts. Time-use studies should be conducted to measure this work in quantitative terms.

Unremunerated work to be included in national accounts

The Platform expects the United Nations to provide a more precise analysis of violence against women and improved statistical data that relate to women in economic, social, cultural and political development. The collection of data entitled THE WORLD´S WOMEN should be issued at five-year intervals and distributed more widely. The Secretariat of the United Nations and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women should ensure that better information in respect of progress made at the national and international levels is regularly passed on to the Commission on the Status of Women.

UN should intensify research on women´s advancement


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© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | Net Edition mv&ola | Oktober 1997