The Committee on Women was established pursuant to Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) resolution 240 (XXII) of 17 April 2003, which was endorsed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in its resolution 2003/9 of 18 July 2004. It was established with the aim of following up international and regional conferences on women, ensuring the participation of ESCWA member countries in those conferences and coordinating the efforts exerted by member countries and regional organizations in the implementation of resolutions and recommendations adopted by those conferences. The Committee on Women held its first founding session in Beirut, on 4 and 5 December 2003, its second session in Beirut, from 8 to 10 July 2004 and its third session in the Headquarters of the General Women's Union of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, on 14 and 15 March 2007. The Committee will hold its fourth session under the theme "Promoting the Economic Participation of Arab Women" at the Bristol Hotel in Beirut, from 21 to 23 October 2009.
The session will focus on empowering women economically, increasing their participation in economic activities and addressing the negative impacts of the international financial crisis on the status of women in the Arab region.
An expert group meeting will convene two days before the session to review the progress achieved in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the Arab region: Beijing +15. It will be held at Bristol Hotel in Beirut, on 19 and 20 October 2009. Government and non-government experts will attend the meeting in which the draft consolidated Arab report on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action will be discussed. The recommendations made at the meeting will be presented to the Committee on Women at its fourth session for discussion and adoption.
Efforts exerted by ESCWA, as regional coordination agent, in the preparation for and follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, from 4 to 15 September 1995 (Beijing Conference), resulted in the adoption, by the Council of Arab Ministers of Social Affairs of the League of Arab States in 1995, of the Arab Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women to the Year 2005. A year after the Beijing Conference, the League of Arab States held, in coordination with ESCWA, the Arab Conference for the Development of a Programme of Work and a Follow-up Mechanism Beyond Beijing Conference, in Amman, from 25 to 29 September 1996. The Consolidated Arab Programme of Work, which was developed at the Arab Conference, was endorsed by the Council of Arab Ministers of Social Affairs in 1997.
The second Arab Meeting to Follow-up Beijing Conference was convened by ESCWA and the League of Arab States in Beirut, from 12 to 15 December 1998, to prepare for the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (Beijing +5), which was held in New York, from 5 to 9 June 2000, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 52/231 of 4 June 1998 on the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action. A regional report on the progress achieved since Beijing Conference was prepared by ESCWA for the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly.
Subsequently, the preparations for Beijing +10 were launched in two phases: in the first phase, ESCWA organized the first preparatory meeting for Beijing +10, which was held in Beirut, on 8 and 9 March 2003, with the aim of monitoring the progress achieved in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Arab Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women, by reviewing, examining and assessing achievements and defining the challenges that prevented the realization of goals set up in 1995. On the basis of suggestions presented by Arab countries, ESCWA prepared a document in which new actions and initiatives were recommended to overcome the challenges hindering the empowerment of Arab women in order to accelerate the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Arab Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women to the Year 2005.
In the second phase, and pursuant to General Assembly resolution 58/148 of 22 December 2003 on the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, ESCWA organized the Arab Regional Conference Ten Years After Beijing: Call for Peace, which was held in Beirut, from 8 to 10 July 2004. The Conference endorsed the Beirut Declaration on Arab Women Ten Years after Beijing: A Call for Peace, after its adoption by the Committee on Women at its second session, which was held as part of the Conference. The Beirut Declaration was to be implemented during the following ten years until 2015, in the implementation process of the Beijing Platform for Action, with a view to empower women, improve their situation and increase their participation in the political, economic and social fields.
In the context of the preparations taking place at the international, regional and national levels to review and assess the efforts exerted by countries to implement the resolutions made at Beijing Conference 15 years later (Beijing +15), and in assisting member countries in the process of monitoring the progress achieved in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, a draft consolidated Arab report on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action 15 years later was jointly prepared and coordinated by ESCWA and the League of Arab States. The report will be discussed at the expert group meeting, which will precede the fourth session of the Committee on Women, and subsequently adopted at the session. The report will form the Arab segment of the fifteen-year world review report on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (Beijing +15), which will be submitted to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women at its fifty-fourth session to be held in New York, from 1 to 12 March 2010.
The draft consolidated Arab report on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action was prepared on the basis of responses given by Arab countries to a questionnaire prepared by the secretariat for the purpose of monitoring the efforts exerted by those countries at the practical and strategic levels to implement the Beijing Platform for Action. The report focused on country performances in that regard and on the achievements, obstacles and future challenges.
The Committee on Women at its fourth session aims to:
(a) Review and assess progress achieved in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action 15 years later, adopt the consolidated Arab report on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (Beijing +15), determine future priorities for the period until 2015 and present new initiatives and actions aimed at accelerating the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Arab Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women to the Year 2005 and addressing challenges to implementation;
(b) Explore ways to empower women economically, eliminate obstacles hindering their professional development, increase their participation in economic activities to achieve sustainable development, and address the negative impacts of the international financial crisis on the status of women;
(c) Review the activities undertaken by the ESCWA Centre for Women since the third session of the Committee on Women, and present the proposed programme of work for the biennium 2010-2011 in the field of advancement of women for discussion and comments.
Representatives of National Machineries for the Advancement of Women in member countries, including ministries, councils and committees on women from all Arab countries, will participate in the session as government experts.
Representatives of United Nations programmes and specialized agencies, international and regional governmental and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, other governmental organizations, national and regional networks, research centres active in the field and bilateral and multilateral regional and national donors, in addition to experts, consultants and academics will attend the session as observers.
The secretariat hopes that country representation would be at the ministerial level and that delegations would include experts in issues related to the development of women. In accordance with the United Nations regulations for such intergovernmental meetings, member countries participating in the session are responsible for the travel and accommodation expenses of their representatives.
Change of venue: this meeting will take place in "Le Bristol" Hotel in Beirut
National Reports Beijing +15
NON- ESCWA Countries