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24. 3. 2009 7:49

Information about the 53th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

The Commission on the Status of Women held its session at the UN headquarters in New York from 2 to 13 March 2009.
 
1        The Commission holds its sessions once a year in the course of two weeks, as a rule at the end of February and in the beginning of March so that the session period includes also the International Women’s Day. The Commission consists of 45 UN member states representatives elected on the basis of geographical distribution. African and Asian states are in numerical majority in the Commission. UN member states which are not members of the Commission have observer status with a strong mandate because the Commission attempts to adopt its conclusions by consensus of all UN member states.
 
2        Member states of the European Union do not act separately at the session of the Commission but are represented by the presiding country of the European Union, in the year 2009 consequently by the Czech Republic. This meant  that the representatives of the Czech Republic had to negotiate every day at coordinating meetings with member states of the European Union the common position of the European Union in order to make the voice of the European Union in the United Nations clear, strong and unanimous. The Czech Republic then advocated at the session of the Commission the opinions of the European Union and based on this position conducted negotiations with other UN states.
 
3        Priority theme of the Commission for the year 2009: The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS.
Review theme: Equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels.
 
4        Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Michael Kocáb participated in the session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women on 2 and 3 March 2009. At the opening of the session the Minister as the EU representative presented the priorities of the European Union in the field of equal opportunities for women and men. He also participated on behalf of the European Union in the ministerial meeting focused on strengthening the effectiveness of work and the new organizational structure of the United Nations in the field of equal opportunities for women and men. The Minister also actively participated in another event, namely the high level round table on the exchange of practical experience in promoting the equal sharing of responsibilities of women and men in care for family members (e.g. children, sick persons, persons with disabilities and seniors).
 
5        The Czech Republic presented at the session of the Commission on behalf of the European Union respective views in the panel discussion on the following themes:
a)      The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS,
b)      equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels,
c)      gender mainstreaming in national policies supporting the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS,
d)      the aspect of equal status of women and men under the conditions of financial crisis,
e)      legislative regulation concerning struggle against violence on women, including violence against women in armed conflicts (state of war, ethnic cleansing, civil wars, religious fighting etc.),
f)        fulfilment of international objectives and commitments in the field of healthcare from the standpoint of equal status of women and men.
 
6        More than 2.000 non-profit non-government organizations were accredited at the session of the Commission. Simultaneously with the session of the Commission on the Status of Women over 200 events were arranged by non-profit NGOs or UN member states (e.g. workshops, conferences, meetings, round table discussions).
 
7        The Czech Republic was the only one from among UN member states that organized two meetings with non-profit non-government organizations. These meetings were arranged in the form of a briefing taking place in the UN building and their objective was mutual exchange of information and cooperation with civil society. At the first briefing (5 March 2009) the Czech Presidency of the European Union presented basic programme documents and priorities of the European Union in the field of equal status of women and men representing the starting point for negotiations conducted by the European Union. At the second briefing (10 March 2009) the Czech Republic presented its concrete proposed amendments to the draft conclusions of the Commission and positions on the draft resolutions. At both meetings the non-profit non-government organizations informed the Czech Presidency of the EU about their positions and proposals. In absolute majority of cases the proposals submitted by non-profit non-government organizations corresponded to the proposals presented by the European Union since equal opportunities for women and men are a common objective.
 
8        The Czech Republic prepared a parallel event – a workshop called „Reconciling family and professional life: The EU approach". This workshop took place on 6 March 2009 and was attended by more than 100 participants. At this workshop the European Union, France and Sweden presented their approach.
 
9        The main programme document which is the output of the session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women comprises the so called Agreed Conclusions. The Commission adopted these conclusions through a consensus of United Nations member states on the last day of the session, 13 March 2009, at 7 o´ clock p.m. The conclusions state that the care for family members still rests mainly on women and that it is necessary to involve men more in the family life, care-giving and the responsibility for children and family. As a result of prejudices and outdated views regarding the status of women and men in society, men´s participation in responsibilities for family care-giving is low and they are edged out of the family. Women thus in a disproportionate manner bear the main burden of responsibilities for the family, often alongside their jobs, and establishing the conditions for reconciling family and professional life remains the main challenge for the member states. The situation is critical in countries with mass incidence of HIV/AIDS when a women or a girl is often responsible for the whole family suffering from HIV/AIDS. The Commission encourages the states, UN entities, international and regional organizations, civil society, private sector, employers, trade unions, media and other stakeholders to actively develop activities leading to equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men in care for family members, including care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS. Equal opportunities for women and men in the society lie not only in the labour market but also in the family.
 
10    The Commission on the Status of Women also discussed and adopted resolutions regarding the following themes:
a)      Situation of Palestinian women,
b)      Women and girls and HIV/AIDS,
c)      Activities of Working Group on Communications (complaints to the UN Commission on the Status of Women),
d)      Strengthening of the activity of the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW),
e)      Preparation of the Commission session in the year 2010 (15th anniversary of adoption of the Beijing Action Platform as the United Nations basic programme document in the field of women´s rights),
f)        Future organization and the method of work of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (working plan for the years 2010-2014).
 
The conclusions of the Commission and the resolutions will be published in full on the United Nations website after the editorial revision and translation to the working languages of the United Nations by the end of March 2009.

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