With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to halve extreme poverty now placed at the centre of today's socio-economic programmes for developing countries, the national experience of each country with existing treaties on women's rights must be integrated into plans to achieve those targets, the United Nations women's fund says.
The recommendations from the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) come in a new publication, "Pathway to Equality: CEDAW, Beijing and the MDGs."
The "resource tool" was prepared in advance of the 49th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), to be held from 28 February to 11 March at UN Headquarters in New York. Delegates will conduct the 10-year review of undertakings by governments at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (Beijing+10).
UNIFEM notes that the Millennium Declaration, agreed at a UN summit in September 2000, explicitly pledges "to combat all forms of violence against women and to implement the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)," commonly seen as the international bill of rights for women.
"However, many women's human rights advocates have noted that gender equality, as a cross-cutting concern for the achievement of all the MDGs, is not well-reflected in the global targets and indicators," the agency says.
UNIFEM proposes to treat the MDGs not as a brand new agenda, but as a new vehicle for implementation of the CEDAW and Beijing agendas.
"Comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the ways in which gender equality operates in every dimension of women's lives has already been generated through CEDAW and Beijing and it is available to work on the MDGs," it says.
With the Millennium Declaration, its goals and targets also scheduled to undergo their five-year review later this year, UNIFEM says CEDAW, Beijing+5 and Beijing+10 reports contain a wealth of useful qualitative and statistical inequalities in each country. It also notes that the CEDAW Committee has provided detailed guidance on such key issues as ending violence against women and improving health care and political participation.
There is much to gain from approaching CEDAW, Beijing and the MDGs as mutually supporting processes, the agency adds, illustrating its point by giving lists of CEDAW and Beijing recommendations alongside the relevant MDG targets.