IWTC - International Women's Tribune Centre




On the agenda at the recently concluded 2009 Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) were four brainstorming sessions focusing on plans for the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA +15) which will take place next year. Although there will be no special session for Beijing +15 convened by the UN, ideas proposed by NGOs for the 15-year anniversary include  the following:

  1. To report on the current condition of women, to create a vision of the future, and to address the gap between words and deeds.
  2. To renew awareness, commitment and engagement on the need to implement the Beijing PFA at all levels, including international, regional, national and local.
  3. To promote the critical need for implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the PFA.

Participants also stressed  that the NGO Beijing +15 event should support the Gender Equality Architecture Reform campaign (GEAR)  which is advocating for   the development of a new international women's agency at the UN and capitalize on GEAR infrastructure, mobilize existing allies while engaging new ones, particularly men and youth groups, and strategically communicate to communities.
 The idea was put forward to launch a Beijing +15 campaign which would include the development of a Beijing + 15 Communications Toolkit that could be disseminated at the regional and country level to support each country's effort to deliver one key output: a document identifying 12 key accomplishments that have been made since Beijing and highlighting 12 key areas where critical gaps remain. October was proposed as a campaign launch date, with country-level events held monthly from now until the March 2010 CSW.  It was envisioned that the final NGO event would take place in the days prior to the CSW, with country-level and New York-based rallies occurring simultaneously to create awareness about BPFA, and to bring specific attention to national priorities.  
To coordinate this campaign, it was suggested that an NGO Coordinating Committee be formed to include the NGO CSW Working Group, participants from GEAR and other international and national networks, NGOs at all levels, and relevant government ministries.  Participants emphasized the need to collaborate with schools, the private sector, religious and traditional leaders, ambassadors, academia and celebrities to execute national plans, although there was general consensus that appropriate partnerships would need to be considered on a country-by-country basis. It was also suggested that an honorary board of directors be created to act as public figures in support of the event. 
Several key challenges emerged that require on-going consideration in the planning phase:

  1. Youth groups voiced the need to be included in the coordination committee. They stated  that there is currently both a lack of general awareness and a need for youth to explore how Beijing is relevant to them in order to ensure that it continues to have relevance moving forward.
  2.  A second issue expressed by representatives from developing countries was the logistical and financial constraints of holding events on a monthly basis in the run-up to the 2010 CSW and the challenges on managing events at home while preparing to be in NYC for the CSW.
  3. A third issue raised was the need to ensure that any communications strategy developed could be adaptable to the conditions of different countries. For countries where ICT is integral, blogs and interactive tools would be key. In countries with low literacy rates and/or limited access to electricity, radio should be a primary vehicle, etc.

The Asia -Pacific Women's Watch has started preparations for the Asia-Pacific NGO Forum on Beijing + 15. It will be held in the Philippines on October 1-25, 2009
and will be hosted by Miriam College.  The Forum will highlight the accomplishments and contributions of civil society, especially women's organizations towards the attainment of the strategic objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action.

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