Monday, November 9, 2009

Beijing +15 Concept Note/Background Information

Fifteen years have followed the adoption of the Beijing Platform For Action (BPFA) and Africa has witnessed many positive changes and breakthroughs for women in the continent. These successes will be profiled and show cased at the Eight Africa Review meeting to be held in Banjul, The Gambia, November 16-20, 2009. The compendium will give special recognition to the efforts employed by respective governments and institutions to mainstream gender in policy formulation and implementation. It will also encourage different countries and stakeholders to learn from one another and appreciate the value of gender mainstreaming as a strategy for the implementation of commitments governments made to promote gender equality and the advancement of women in Africa. The Beijing +10 review process is about accountability for the delivery on existing commitments and concrete steps forward to ensure gender equality, equity and women's empowerment, in all areas. The BPFA provides the actions for the implementation of commitment made by member states to the regional and global declaration as well as to meet the MDG goals.

The year 2010 is the mid-term review to Beijing +20. This is critical time for stocktaking and determining the steps to be taken towards achieving gender equality and women's empowerment. A key agenda of the Eighth Africa review is to inform the global report for review in 2010. The aim is to ensure that all 53 member states report on their level of implementation. Numerous lessons were learnt from previous reviews. At the Global review to be held March 1-12 in 2010 a UN commission on the Status of Women will be held March 1-12 in 2010. In that forum government delegations will assess progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action 15 years since it was adopted at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China in 1995.

The last review in Africa of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action was held in Addis Ababa in the year 2004. Reviews of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in Africa involve presentation of country reports, sub-regional conferences, as well as regional conferences. It is imperative that the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) continues to influence the political, social and economic development processes in all African member states.

The UNDP Representatives around the continent will use the conference as an opportunity to share experiences and lessons learned on Gender Equality and Advancement of Women.

Critical issues

The 12 critical issues of concern to the BPFA are:

 Women and poverty

 Education and training of women

 Women and health

 Violence against women

 Women and armed conflict

 Women and the economy

 Women in power and decision-making

 Institutional mechanism for the advancement of women

 Human rights of women

 Women and the media

 Women and the environment

 The Girl child

The BPFA is considered the most comprehensive agenda for women's empowerment. It contains strategic objectives and actions on the 12 critical issues of concern to women. In anticipation of Beijing +15, governments and NGOs around the world are engaged in preparatory activities to assess progress made at both national and regional levels to identify gaps and challenges requiring accelerated action in the years ahead.

Africa Regional Task Force

An African Regional Task Force has been set up and key among its mission is to mobilize women's organizations and individuals in different countries to carry out activities at national level, aimed at raising awareness on the 12 issues and ensuring that the governments take further measures and action to implement the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA).The Task Force will encourage women's NGOs and Civil Society Organizations to participate in national review activities and produce shadow reports, which will cover the accomplishments made and make suggestions on how to fill the gaps. These reports will be collated sub-regionally and sub-regional reports will inform the regional and civil society report. The Africa Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), a Task Force member, is coordinating for a number of Eastern and Central African countries.

Hosting of Beijing +15 Conference

The Gambia has agreed to host the 2009 Africa Review November 16-20, 2009. This is indeed a big event and an honour bestowed on the country. Recognizing that Beijing is a UN Conference, UNDP will support the government of the Gambia in hosting the conference.

The grand event will take place at the elegant Kairaba Beach Hotel. The host country plans to undertake a series of preparatory activities in the buildup to the conference. The pre-conference activities will include preparation of a country (national) report on the status of implementation of the commitment, finalization of the draft gender Policy and Strategic plan and production of a documentary film. The Documentary will feature good practices, achievements, challenges and forward looking strategies on the implementation of the 12 critical issues. The film will be projected at peak points during the conference. A summary background document will be prepared by a national consultant in order to guide the producer of the Documentary.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

This body is responsible for facilitating the African inter-governmental preparation for the Beijing +15 review. This includes: dissemination of questionnaires to national gender machineries to assess progress on implementation of the BPFA; compiling a comprehensive report based on the findings; and convening an Experts Group meeting and endorse the report. The ECA will also facilitate observer status for the Africa Task Force at a Ministerial meeting to be held in October 2009. It will also organize space for civil society to parallel activities and present their findings during the meeting.

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Violence against women is a worldwide yet still hidden problem. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battering, and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence is such a deep part of our cultures and lives.