41st Session of Commission on Status of Women

Preview Language:   English
10-Mar-1997 00:51:47
The 41st Session of CSW was held 10 - 21 March 1997 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

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Secretary-General stresses aim of creating employment environment supportive of women's needs at Commission on Status of Women, in Address to Status of Women Commission, as it Commemorates Fiftieth Anniversary and Begins Forty-First Session at Headquarters.

The full visibility and recognition of women's programmes would be protected in the process of reform and revitalization of the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Commission on the Status of Women as it commemorated its fiftieth anniversary, as part of the opening meeting of its forty-first session this morning.

While stressing that more effort was needed to reach the twin targets of having 25 per cent of the senior posts filled by women and the target of complete gender equality by the year 2000, he said his aim was to create an employment environment supportive of women's needs, an environment which helped women staff members give their best.

Stating that women continued to suffer disproportionately in armed conflicts, the Secretary-General emphasized the need to ensure that women played a full part in peace negotiations and missions. He recognized that the Commission had been a powerful catalyst for women's equality that had mobilized international efforts to defend women's rights. Today its focus was on gender mainstreaming, the empowerment of women, and ensuring implementation by governments of commitments made at the United Nations conferences on women from 1975 to 1995.

Recognizing women who had contributed to advance the cause of women's rights, Mr. Annan said, "It gives me personal satisfaction to remember the first African Chairperson of the Commission. Justice Annie Ruth Jiagge, who died last year, was my countrywoman and a leading member of the Ghanaian legal profession. She served as a delegate to the Commission from 1962 to 1972. Her contribution was immense. She served both as Rapporteur and as Chairperson. Her shaping of the Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women helped to transform dreams into reality.

Statements by representatives of regional groups congratulating the Commission on its achievements over the last 50 years were made by the representative of Egypt (on behalf of the African Group), Finland (on behalf of the Western European and Other States Group), Republic of Moldova (on behalf of the Eastern European Group), Paraguay (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group of States) and China (on behalf of the Asian Group).

Also this morning, a commemorative booklet on the Commission's history and its achievements was presented by the Special Adviser to the Secretary- General on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, Angela King.

As part of the ceremony marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Commission, achievements of several women in the area of women's rights were also recognized, including those of: Minerva Bernardino, a signatory to the United Nations Charter at San Francisco, where she represented the Dominican Republic; Mimi Marinovic de Jadresic from Chile, who contributed to the drafting of the Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which later was converted into the Women's Anti-Discrimination Convention; and Helvi Sipila of Finland, a former Commission Chairperson.

In addition, the contributions of the following were also mentioned: Rosario Manalo of the Philippines, Commission Chairperson in 1984, who had helped steer the preparations for the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the Decade for Women (Nairobi, 1985); Patricia Licuanan, also of the Philippines, Commission Chairperson in 1994-1995; Olga Pellicer of Mexico, Commission Chairperson in 1986 and 1987; Janet Cockroft of the United Kingdom, Commission Chairperson in 1978; Hanna Bokor-Szego of Hungary, Commission Chairperson in 1969; Johanna Dohnal of Austria, Commission Chairperson in 1989; Mervat Tallay of Egypt, Commission Chairperson in 1992 and 1993.

Also, the Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, Nitin Desai, noted the achievements of Esther Hymer, who had been present at the signing of the United Nations Charter in San Francisco; Margaret Bruce from the Secretariat who had played an instrumental role in organizing the first global women's conference at Mexico City in 1975; and Khunying Supatra Masdit, who had been instrumental in organizing the parallel NGO Forum at the Fourth World Conference in Beijing.

As a part of the commemorative meeting, the Commission watched a video on the four global conferences on women and their parallel NGO forums.

Further this morning, the Commission elected Zakia Amara Bouaziz (Tunisia) to replace Rafika Khouini (Tunisia) and Eva Hildrum (Norway) to replace Karin Stoltenberg (Norway) as Vice-Chairpersons.

The remaining members of the Commission's bureau, who will continue from last year, in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1987/21, are: Sharon Brennen-Haylock (Bahamas), Chairperson; Ljudmila Boskova (Bulgaria), Vice-Chairperson; and Sweeya Santipitakas (Thailand), Rapporteur.

Beginning its forty-first session, the Commission adopted its provisional agenda and organization of work. In addition, it heard introductory statements from the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues, Ms. King, and the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, Mr. Desai on the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women. The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, also spoke.

The Commission will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its debate.

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