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June 1995: Overview of Draft Platform for Action for 4WCW
                                                       June, 1995 
                                 FOR THE 
The UN Fourth World Conference on Women will be held in Beijing from 
September 4 - 15, 1995.  The final preparatory meeting for the 
conference was held at the United Nations in New York from March 15 - 
April 7, 1995.  At this meeting, held during the annual session of the 
UN Commission on the Status of Women, the preparatory body for the 
conference, delegations negotiated a draft Platform for Action to be 
considered for adoption in Beijing.  This is an overview of the Platform 
as it was negotiated at the New York meeting, describing U.S. actions 
and priorities. 


The final draft of the Platform for Action to be adopted at the Fourth 
World Conference on Women in Beijing, contains distinct elements that 
reflect a developing consensus around the world -- a consensus that did 
not really exist ten years ago. 
The U.N. decade for women, 1975 to 1985, and the document adopted at its 
culmination, of the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies, (a plan for the 
years 1986-2000), sought to  advance the status of women working under 
the broad themes of equality, development and peace. 
The experience of the past ten years, a combination of research, 
analysis, legal reform, development work and the networking and 
organizing efforts of women themselves have brought the world to a 
realization that the only way to bring about equality, development and 
peace is to empower women by integrating them into the mainstream where 
they can work in partnership with men in all levels and structures of 
This directly mirrors the overarching goal for the conference set by the 
United States.  From the first paragraph of the Mission Statement 
through to the final chapters on Institutional and Financial 
Arrangements for Implementation and Follow-Up, the draft Platform is a 
call for the empowerment of women; integration of women into the 
mainstream of all institutions of society and of a gender perspective 
into all systems; and an equal partnership between men and women for the 
good of society. 
The overall priority of the U.S. is to build on the commitments made at 
the past world conferences on women, and on the recent world conferences 
on the Environment and Development, in Rio; on Human Rights, in Vienna; 
on Population and Development, in Cairo; and on Social Development, in 

Three sections involve human rights -- violence against women, the 
impact of armed conflict on women, and the human rights of women.  
Support for strong language in these sections, and leadership to retain 
such language, came from all regions of the world.  The U.S. underscored 
governments' responsibility to ensure the human rights of women, and to 
advance women's legal equality and civil and political rights.  African 
delegations in particular led the effort to call on governments to 
address harmful practices that led to violence against women, and to 
review civil and customary law so as to reduce legal discrimination 
against women, in such areas, for example, as inheritance and property 
The Violence against Women section provides a comprehensive definition 
of what constitutes such violence, and calls on governments to take 
responsibility for preventing and punishing acts of violence.  The 
platform also addresses the importance of preventive action, including 
through counseling and rehabilitative programs for offenders. 
The sections on Human Rights and on Promoting Peace seek to draw 
attention to the fact that the human rights of women are, as stated in 
the Vienna Declaration adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights 
in 1993, an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal 
human rights, and that action must be taken by governments and 
international organizations to ensure the protection of these rights. 
While there is already agreement on a number of important issues, there 
was a strong effort by some countries  to prevent any language that 
might broaden UN efforts in the area of human rights, and efforts by 
some countries to inject political issues into the debate. Thus, large 
portions of these sections remain bracketed. 
Nonetheless, consensus was reached on a number of important issues.  The 
Platform calls on the UN to integrate concern for the human rights of 
women into all its human rights activities.  The U.S. took the lead on 
committing governments to train officials, including security and 
military personnel, in human rights and humanitarian law, and to punish 
violations against women. 
The Platform recognizes that if women are to fully exercise their rights 
they must be informed about those rights. The U.S. was part of a broad 
consensus recognizing that innovative programs must be developed to help 
women to achieve legal literacy so that they understand and exercise 
their rights.

Drawing from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides 
that everyone has a right to take part in the government of his or her 
country, the Platform includes a section on the importance of increasing 
the participation of women in politics.  While there was disagreement 
over the types of mechanisms for facilitating this participation (with 
some countries favoring more affirmative measures), there was little 
disagreement expressed about the importance of this. 
The U.S. goal was to take a lifespan approach to health, broadening the 
attention given to health for women of all ages and from a diversity of 
situations and backgrounds.  In addition to these issues, progress was 
made in negotiating language on  preventive programs, research, 
increased resources and follow-up on women's health. 
Issues related to breast and cervical cancer, as well as other cancers 
of the reproductive system, menopause and other conditions associated 
with aging, nutrition, substance abuse and environmental and 
occupational health hazards are all addressed. 
Much of the text remaining in brackets is language that was previously 
agreed to in September, 1994 at the International Conference on 
Population and Development in Cairo.  Bracketed text primarily addresses 
reproductive and sexual health including in the sections addressing 
HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, reproductive rights, 
unsafe abortion, unwanted pregnancies, condoms and contraceptives and 
the number of times language addressing parental involvement in 
adolescent services is included in the document. 
Through the leadership of African states, the G77 introduced a new 
section for the Platform focusing on eliminating discrimination and 
ensuring the rights of girls.  The U.S. worked at the prepcom to 
strengthen the proposed section, by making it applicable globally rather 
than regionally.  Bracketed language remains concerning  discouragement 
of early marriage, addressing son preference that leads to prenatal sex 
selection, disparities in access to food, health services and education, 
and on reproduction, and the prevention of sexually transmitted 
The Platform calls attention to the increasing burden of poverty on 
women, (the feminization of poverty) and places women's situation in the 
context of the global economy and the effects of global economic 
policies.  For this reason, there is a considerable amount of bracketed 
language, much of it involving "cause and effect" relationships, calling 
for foreign  debt cancellation and the allocation of resources.  The US 
supported, and consensus was reached, on strong language calling for 
economic opportunities for women and inclusion of women in economic 
policy making, for access for women to credit and to savings mechanisms, 
and support services.  Although much of the text related to 
macroeconomic policies and structural adjustment programs is bracketed, 
consensus language calls for structural adjustment programs to be 
designed to minimize their negative effects on vulnerable groups and to 
review the impact of structural adjustment programs by means of gender-
sensitive social impact assessments. 
The U.S. supported the Platform's emphasis on full participation of 
women and girls in life-long learning and in educational policy- and 
decision-making.  The Platform calls for equal access to education for 
women and girls; education, training and re-training policies for women, 
particularly those re-entering the labor market; curricula free of 
gender stereotypes; the reduction of female illiteracy and the promotion 
of family engagement in learning. Bracketed areas involve barriers to 
schooling for pregnant girls and young mothers, teacher training 
programs and materials to promote mutual respect and shared 
responsiblities between girls and boys, and religious expression in 
educational institutions. 
The U.S. actively supported recognition of and action to address the 
data gap concerning women's susceptibilities and exposures to 
environmental hazards and toxic substances, the particular situation of 
women with low incomes, indigenous women, and women belonging to 
minorities, the participation of women and girls at all levels of 
decisionmaking in both formal and informal arenas that influence 
environmental quality, and equal access to education, information and 
resources in furtherance of environmental protection and natural 
resource management objectives. U.S. langauge relating to risks to 
women's health in low income areas with high concentrations of polluting 
industrial facilities remains bracketed. 
In the section on Economic Structures, the U.S. supported and introduced 
new language that focused on the need for wider acceptance of basic 
worker rights as minimum labor standards for women; facilitating women's 
access to credit and capital markets, training, and development of new 
financial intermediaries to serve their needs, including reaching hard 
to serve women such as those in rural areas. 
There is much in this chapter that was supported by the U.S., including 
improved gender-sensitive analysis of statistics, information and policy 
analysis; anti-discrimination; promotion of family-friendly policies for 
both women and men; and the acceptance and use of life-long learning for 
women and men in and out of school environments. 
The Platform urges governments to make efforts to measure and better 
understand unremunerated work, and to seek to develop methods to asssess 
its value in quantative terms, for possible reflection in accounts that 
are separate from but consistant with core national accounts. 

                         DOCUMENT-WIDE FEATURES 
To the surprise of most delegations, a handful of countries moved to 
delete or bracket the word "gender" throughout the text.  In order to 
resolve this issue, a special working group met in New York in May.  The 
U.S. joined consensus on the adoption of a Chairman's statement that 
will appear in the report of the Conference.  The statement reaffirms 
that "gender" as used in the Platform is intended to be interpreted and 
understood as it is in ordinary, generally accepted usage. 
As promised, the U.S. made inclusiveness a priority, working to ensure 
that the diversity of women was recognized as well as the fact that some 
women face additional barriers to their advancement because of factors 
other than gender.  This concept is recognized throughout the document. 
For example, the U.S. and other supporters, working with women 
themselves, were successful in including women with disabilities and 
women from ethnic and racial minorities. One paragraph early in the 
Platform describes the diverse situations of women which should be 
incorporated into action plans.  Because it is bracketed,  it remains to 
be negotiated in Beijing. 
The U.S. strongly supported recognition of the role NGOs play in policy 
planning, development, implementation and monitoring of programs for the 
advancement of women, and urged in several places in the document that 
governments work in partnership with NGOs, grant NGOs legal status and 
protection, and permit the independence of NGOs, including financial 
independence.  Some delegations within the G-77 strongly oppose a 
monitoring role for NGOs. The U.S. has consistently supported inclusion 
of monitoring. 
Working with the youth caucus, the U.S. introduced language in the 
Global Framework calling attention to the importance of young people in 
shaping the next century, and the commitment that the international 
community must make to them to prepare them for their future role.  
Young women need to be part of the process - working to ensure that 
their needs are addressed and helping to form their future.  The U.S. 
also supported specific references to young women or youth throughout 
the document. 
The U. S. supported language in the document introduced by Australia 
that invites governments to come to Beijing ready to state specific 
national commitments for priority action within the context of the 
Platform. These commitments are seen as  first steps toward 
implementation, not as a substitutes for action on the entire document. 
Currently, the U.S. is giving serious thought to the nature of 
commitments and types of initiatives it may bring to Beijing that will 
result in practical outcomes for women and girls in the U.S. 
The U.S. also supported and contributed to language that calls upon 
governments to consult with relevant institutions and non-governmental 
organizations, preferably before the end of 1995, on how to best develop 
implementation strategies for the Platform.  Further, governments are 
called upon to have such plans developed and in place within a year.  
The U.S. is committed both ideologically and because it is effective to 
an ongoing process between government and non-governmental organizations 
on achieving full equality and partnership between women and men in the 
political, economic and social structures of the U.S. 
In this time of tight resources, the U.S., as was true of donor nations 
in general, took a conservative approach toward finances and resources 
for implementation, urging refocusing and reallocation of existing where 
possible.  Also, because the U.S. is interested in overall reform of the 
UN and better coordination and linkage between its agencies and the 
whole series of international conferences that have been held in the 
past ten years, the U.S. concentrated on ensuring that implementation of 
the Beijing Platform be in concert with this overall process. 
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