In View of the Review

The UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) conducted a 10-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) in March 2005 in New York. The review focused on the achievements, the gaps and challenges in the implementation of the BPFA (in 1995) and the "Beijing+5 Political Declaration" taken from the five-year review in June 2000.

Isis International-Manila conducted an interview of some women representatives from women's organisations in the Asia-Pacific region who attended the March 2005 BPFA review. The women were asked about their own (and their organisations') previous Beijing experience, their perspective of the Beijing+10 (B+10) review; and their view of the "Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)" in relation to the B+10 process.

The Women We Interviewed and What They Say About Beijing

YEVGENIA KOZYREVA, representative of Feminist League (Almaty, Kazakhstan), a national organisation established in 1993 working on the promotion of the equality of women and men in all spheres of life: economic, political, social, cultural and within the home.

On B+10 Review
It's very difficult to get attention in this process (especially B+10) because it's more of an official process, a formal process. For the NGOs, it is very difficult to expect or determine what change will materialise after this meeting. But I think that after the B+10 declaration (document) is distributed, and we have talked about it in our country, maybe things will then become clearer than now.

I don't know but human rights are not right everywhere. It's not for us. And I think that the B+10 process is a presentation of our needs, of women's needs from all over the world and from our region.

We did a research about the MDGs in our country before this conference. The government might prepare the MDG report about equal rights of women and men. Our NGOs are too weak (do not have enough resources) to prepare for future projects and the implementation of the BPFA and the MDGs. We must now connect with government to integrate our efforts.

NURGUL DJANAEVA, regional coordinator of the Forum of Women's NGO of Kyrgyzstan (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan), a women's network organisation working for women's advancement and information exchange, including development of strategies for the implementation of the BPFA in Kyrgyzstan.

On B+10 Review
We were, of course, quite worried about whether the reaffirmation (of the BPFA) will come up finally, and with full implementation. And it is now obvious that there is a risk in that UNCSW declaration, that there is a strong opposition to the reaffirmation and full implementation from the Holy See and from the U.S. Thus, it is expected that this kind of conflict would appear. But still my expectation was that we would get from the government strong support to continue working on the BPFA without any changes and with full implementation.

But now from this point, I think that it is important for us also to start initiating those resolutions that will address our special needs. This year, the special resolution was on the tsunami. But we also see that in the past years. When our countries like the socialist countries were facing tremendous challenges and tremendous losses in many aspects, these concerns were not addressed by any UN meeting. There was no special resolution on women's losses during the transition period of some governments.

The major stakeholders of the UN, I think, are the states and governments because UN is a union of governments. So it's good that we (in the women's movement and NGOs) can speak, although it's very bad that we have a very small space, and I think that space is shrinking.

The debate in this review process has been ongoing for many years already, but we still do not have enough space to voice our concerns. And many positions being taken by the NGOs are not being documented because these are not in the official processes, so these are not put into the official statement, just as today.

This means that the UN process here was not permitting, not very inclusive, I think. But for NGOs, from where they stood, it's very good that the (UN) doors are open and people can learn and can see what governments are doing.
But it is also an excellent opportunity for people to network, to participate in caucuses, to link up with each other. Through the meeetings of the UNCSW, we also learn of the similar concerns of the women in different regions of the world. So I think it's great. But it has its own limitations. It's up to the commitment that UN has taken, to make this review an inclusive process, to give more space for NGOs. So why not allow NGOs to make more interventions, to open the stage for questioning also their own governments?

We think globally, but we have to work locally. That's where our action is. The UN has a will and a commitment but it's not implementing many of its obligations, even those declared and stated quite clearly in the BPFA. There is a risk that attention will be drawn to the MDGs and away from the BPFA, even if speaking about women. We have to work hard to keep our focus on the BPFA, even as we integrate the work on the MDGs.

ERIKO TANNO, a youth member of the Network of Asia-Pacific Youth (NAPY), a network composed of young women from the Asia-Pacific region that focuses on youth issues in the area of health and rights.
On Bejing Experience
This is actually the third time that we are attending the UNCSW.

On B+10 Review
It is good for the youth that the UN is taking up issues from the perspective of young women and men. Even here now, there is discussion on that as well as during a panel at a UNCSW meeting in Bangkok in September 2004.
Many people are focusing now on the youth because the youth will be the next leaders. Many delegates are also saying something to that effect.

NAN LAO LAING WON (TAYTAY), a refugee in Thailand from Burma who headed the Beijing+10 delegation of the Chiang Women's Action Network (CWAN). She is a member of Women's League of Burma (WLB) based in Chiangmai, Thailand which was established in 1999 and has member-organisations composed of women of different ethnic backgrounds from Burma. Its main mission is to work for the increased participation of women in all spheres of society in the democracy movement, and in peace and national reconciliation processes.

On Bejing Experience
We've been in this process not long ago because the Women's League of Burma was formed only in 1999. But right after that, we sent the report of the Beijing+5 to our network members.

In our work, we are also monitoring human rights abuses, particularly for violence against women inside Burma. Thus, we also raise the issue of sexual violence as well as the abuses committed by the military regime inside Burma.

In Beijing+5, we focused on the women in armed conflict areas, family planning, violence against women, and trafficking. We were so new then in this movement, a new organisation. But we would like to be more involved in the women's movement. For this purpose, we train women from different organisations to do human rights documentation and to collect women's stories in women's perspective, leading up to a really gender-sensitive perspective.

On B+10 Review
For us here, we have to be a global women's movement because we were so isolated. We just wanted to focus on the political issues. As women, we have to fight a lion, thus, we should consolidate our network members.

We also have to get into an urgent area of concern, focusing on women in armed conflict in Burma because the regime as well as the international community is denying this armed conflict. We would like that they recognise what armed conflict has caused inside Burma, and that women have been suffering.

TITILIA NAITINI, currently the president of the National Council of Women-Fiji (Suva, Fiji Islands), an organisation made up of grassroots women's NGOs that work on livelihood issues.

On Bejing Experience
I've looked at the preparation before Beijing and the activities after Beijing for the Pacific Island countries where we have worked. I've compared that collaboration and partnership to those for B+10, and they have sort of weakened for this event.

On B+10 Review
Coming from Fiji, I find that the process now doesn't have the motivation and urge that was present in 1995.

I came here especially to learn from past experiences of the CSW, and to experience the processes, of what it would be like to be seen as a delegate, which I am not. And also as an NGO, what are the benefits of being part of this meeting.

Just looking at the way that we've been consulting and what have been coming out from plenaries, I think there is the concern for most women that the MDGs might drown the BPFA and dilute it if we will concentrate on the MDGs. But then, women can continue to say that if MDGs are to work, we must have gender equality, and this is where we can use the BPFA and the CEDAW to be tools, to continue to push gender issues or integrate gender in the MDGs.

CAROLE SHAW, a lecturer at the School of Social Work and a research associate at the Centre for Refugee Research, University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia).

On Bejing Experience
We are actively out there lobbying for Security Council Resolution 1325 because we want to see that working together with the instruments here.

On B+10 Review
The role of women in conflict resolution and the post-conflict process would certainly need strengthening, and that's my main focus to gain here. NGOs have spoken of it, UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan has spoken on that, and a lot of the countries' statements are starting to include that. But I don't think we see it in this forum although it's been reflected in all the regional forums.

Aileen Familara is the Community and Independent Media Project Officer of Isis-Manila.
Angela Santos-Deldoc worked as a photobank documentor of Isis-Manila and is currently a Project Staff in Isis.

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