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  1. 1

    The fourth World Conference on Women: a conference of women on the world.

    Gottschalk J


    This report provides commentary on some of main features of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) Forum. Despite considerable obstacles from China, poor housing accommodations, and bad weather, nearly 50,000 men and women attended the conference on women. There were 6000 delegates who represented 189 nations, 4030 NGO representatives, and 3245 media representatives. The 1994 women's conference was one of a series of UN conferences (children, human rights, population and development, and social development) held since 1990 on the most urgent social issues. The themes of the women's conference were equality, development, and peace, which were further subdivided into 12 areas. Some of the 12 areas pertained generally to inequalities in access to training, education, health care, inequalities in economic structures, inequalities between men and women in power sharing and decision making, and gender inequalities in management of natural resources and in the media. There was concern for women's poverty, domestic violence, wars' impact on women and children, the advancement of women, stereotyping of women, discrimination against and violation of the rights of the girl child, and lack of respect for and protection of women's human rights. Accredited NGO participation included roles as monitors and active lobbyists, which was an unprecedented accomplishment. In prior years, NGOs wielded influence through increasingly sophisticated analyses, organization, lobbying strategies, and networking before, during, and after conferences. NGOs at the women's conference effectively organized themselves into teams with a principal focus in order to maximize impact in the complicated process of plenary sessions, main committee meetings, and informal meetings. Many new networks were formed that hold the hope of the development of one world based on peace and justice for all and protection of a fragile ecosystem. The author briefly discusses human rights, inheritance, armed conflict, girls and adolescents, poverty, the environment, and health.
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  2. 2

    Review of further developments in fields with which the Sub-Commission has been concerned. Study on traditional practices affecting the health of women and children. Final report.

    Warzazi HE

    [Unpublished] 1991 Jul 5. [2], 39 p. (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1991/6)

    In late 1990, representatives of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities of the UN Economic and Social Council's Commission on Human Rights went to Djibouti and the Sudan to explore steps the governments and women's groups are taking to eliminate traditional practices adversely affecting women and children, especially female circumcision. The missions allowed the consultants to examine the problem with women and groups directly affected by the practices and within their cultural contexts. In 1991, the Centre for Human Rights and the Government of Burkina Faso organized the first regional Seminar on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children which considered the effects of female genital mutilation, son preferences, and traditional delivery practices, and facilitated the exchange of information on these practices to fight and eliminate them. The UN reviewed reports from governments, nongovernmental organizations, and UN agencies on these traditional practices. All these activities led the UN to make various observations and recommendations. The degree of public awareness about the harmful effects of female circumcision, nutritional taboos, and delivery practices have improved significantly. Governments and organizations have neither studied nor dealt with son preference and its effects adequately. More African governments were willing to address the problems of traditional practices, e.g., legislation against these practices. The Centre for Human Rights, WHO, UNICEF, and UNESCO should work together more closely to effectively take action on traditional practices. The Centre needs a full time professional staff to gather information, write reports, organize seminars, distribute documents, and network with appropriate organizations. The Sub-Commission should continue to have traditional practices on the agenda to keep it in the fore. No less than two more regional seminars on the issue should take place in Africa to discuss it and increase public awareness.
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  3. 3

    The United Nations, human rights and traditional practices affecting the health of women and children.

    Gallagher A

    Development. 1993; (4):44-8.

    In 1991, the UN Commission of Human Rights presented a detailed report on 3 of the traditional practices which are harmful to the health of women and children: female genital mutilation, traditional delivery practices, and son preference. Female genital mutilation has received the most attention, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has supported a number of initiatives to eradicate it. In addition, the WHO Safe Motherhood Initiative was launched in the late 1980s to reduce the number of maternal deaths. WHO has resolved to gear its programs toward the elimination of harmful traditional practices. In 1984, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) held a seminar in Senegal and established the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children which serves as a focal point of government and NGO activities. Meanwhile, a UN Working Group on genital mutilation, maternal practices, and son preference presented a report in 1986. Its tasks were then assumed by a Special Rapporteur who recommended that relevant UN agencies coordinate their work in this field more closely as they organize regional seminars, monitor the progress of work, and routinely include information on these practices in programs to improve the status of women. To date the UN's work has had few tangible results in preventing these practices and has failed to acknowledge the link between them and the more generalized problem of sexual discrimination. At one level, the problem is exacerbated by the difficulty of reconciling the competing concepts of universal human rights and cultural relativism. Also, human rights entitlements are sought from states and not in families. Despite these problems, the UN has given these matters international attention. The international community must affirm the universality of human rights norms and recognize the desirability of a culturally sensitive approach to the implementation of these norms. NGOs have also played a crucial role in bringing these issues to the consideration of the human rights community.
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  4. 4

    The state of world population 1989.

    Sadik N

    New York, New York, United Nations Population Fund, 1989. 34 p.

    Women are at the heart of development. They control most of the non- money economy (subsistence agriculture, bearing and raising children, domestic labor) and take an important part in the money economy (trading, the informal sector, wage employment). Women always have 2 jobs--inside the home and outside it. Much os this work is unrecognized and those who do it can expect no support. Their health suffers, their work suffers, their children suffer. Development itself is held back as a result. This report demonstrates some of the costs of ignoring the needs of women: 1) uncontrolled population growth, 2) high infant and child mortality, 3) weaker economies and agriculture, 4) a degraded environment, and 5) a poorer quality of life. This report also demonstrates that social investments in women--family planning, health services, education--help women do a much better job of what they are already doing. A change in any aspect of a women's life produces change in every other aspect. Recommendations to endure the full participation of women in development include 1) documenting and publicizing women's vital contribution to development, 2) increasing the productivity of women and lessening the double burden of women, 3) providing family planning, 4) improving the health of women, 5) expanding education, 6) increasing equality of opportunity, and 7) some specific goals for the year 2000, such as increasing international assistance for family planning programs.
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  5. 5

    The women of rural Asia.

    Whyte RO; Whyte P

    Boulder, Colorado, Westview, 1982. 262 p. (Westview Special Studies on Women in Contemporary Society)

    This book provides a descriptive analysis of the historical, cultural, and environmental causes of women's current status in rural Asia. This analysis is requisite to improving the quality of these women's lives and enabling them to contribute to the economy without excessive disruption of family life and the social structure of the rural communities. Many studies of rural areas have ignored this half of the population. Analyzed in detail are social and economic status, family and workforce roles, and quality of life of women in the rural sectors of monsoonal and equatorial Asia, from Pakistan to Japan, where life often is characterized by unemployment, underemployment, and poverty. It has become increasingly necessary for rural women in this region to contribute to family budgets in ways beyond their traditional roles in crop production and animal husbandry. Many women are responding by taking part in rural industries, yet the considerable disadvantages under which they labor--less opportunity for education, lower pay, and poor access to resources and high status jobs--render them much less effective than they could be in their efforts to increase production and reduce poverty. A review of the activities of national and international agencies in relation to the status of women is also included, as well as an outline of major needs, and current indicators of change.
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