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Economic and Social Council - 24 maggio 1990
Member Name E90r015

24 May 1990

13th Plenary Meeting

1990/15. Recommendations and conclusions arising from the first review and appraisal of the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women to the year 2000

The Economic and Social Council,

Recalling its resolution 1987/18 of 26 May 1987, in which it affirmed the appropriateness of a five-year cycle of review and appraisal of the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women,

Having reviewed the discussion held by the Commission on the Status of Women at its thirty-fourth session on the report of the Secretary-General on progress at the national, regional and international levels in the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women,

1. Adopts the recommendations and conclusions arising from the first review and appraisal of the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, annexed to the present resolution;

2. Urges Governments, and international and non-governmental organizations to implement the recommendations;

3. Requests the Secretary-General to give wide distribution to the recommendations and conclusions;

4. Further requests the Secretary-General to include information on the implementation of the recommendations in his biennial monitoring report and in the report on the second regular review and appraisal of the Forward-looking Strategies.




1. After five years of implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, one third of the time set for achieving the objectives having elapsed, obstacles remain. Although the continued efforts of women throughout the world to achieve equality, development and peace have begun to have an effect at the grass-roots level, their efforts have yet to be translated into improvements in the daily lives of most women. This success is largely invisible: it is not yet reflected in official statistics and not always found in government policy. The entrenched resistance to women's advancement and the reduction of resources available for change that has accompanied the world economic situation in the late 1980s have meant that there has been a loss of impetus and even stagnation in some areas where more progress would have been expected.

2. The pace of implementation of the Strategies must be improved in the crucial last decade of the twentieth century. The cost to societies of failing to implement the Strategies will be high in terms of slowed economic and social development, misuse of human resources and reduced progress for society as a whole. For this reason, immediate steps should be taken to remove the most serious obstacles to the implementation of the Strategies.

A. Equality

3. The interdependence of the different political and social sectors on the one hand, and the legal and social situation on the other, needs to be recognized. However, de jure equality constitutes only the first step towards de facto equality. Most countries have enacted legal measures to ensure that women have equal opportunities before the law, that is de jure equality. But de facto as well as de jure discrimination continues and visible political and economic commitment by Governments and non-governmental organizations will be required to eliminate it. One obstacle to eliminating de facto discrimination is that most women and men are not aware of women's legal rights or do not fully understand the legal and administrative systems through which they must be implemented. Some affirmative action measures require legal bases which still need to be created.

Recommendation I. Governments, in association with women's organizations and other non-governmental organizations, should take steps on a priority basis to inform women and men of women's rights under international conventions and national law and to prepare and/or continue campaigns for women's "legal literacy" using formal and non-formal education at all levels, the mass media and other means; efforts to this end should have been undertaken by 1994.

The work of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women should be widely publicized through forms of communication that are accessible to women in order to make them aware of their rights.

National reports to the Committee should be widely disseminated within the respective countries and discussed by governmental and non-governmental organizations. Organizations of the United Nations system, particularly the International Labour Organisation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, should be requested to examine national experience in promoting legal literacy with a view to assisting Governments, non-governmental organizations and women's movements in mounting successful campaigns.

Recommendation II. Governments should take steps to put legal equality into practice, including measures to provide a link between individual women and official machinery such as the establishment of offices of ombudsmen or similar systems. Where possible, access to legal redress by collective and individual legal action by national machinery and non-governmental organizations should be facilitated in order to assist women in ensuring the implementation of their rights.

4. There is abundant evidence that practices denigrating the role and potential of women continue to constitute obstacles in many countries.

Whether reflected in stereotyped images of male and female roles in textbooks or in the glorification of traditional roles in the mass media, the perpetuation of such images retards women's advancement by providing justification for an unequal status quo.

Recommendation III. In the area of education, both formal and non-formal, Governments should promote the training of teachers on gender issues, co-education and professional counselling. Governments should complete the revision of textbooks expeditiously, if possible by 1995, in accordance with national law and practice, in order to eliminate sex-biased presentations and should, in conjunction with women's groups, take steps to reduce the stereotyping of women in the mass media, whether by self-policing on the part of the media or by other measures.

Governments, non-governmental organizations, women's groups and all other entities concerned should take steps to amend formal and informal educational systems at all levels to promote change in the psychological, social and traditional practices that are the foundation of the de facto obstacles to women's progress.

The United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and other appropriate organizations of the United Nations system should continue to analyse the extent and effects of stereotyping of women and implement innovative programmes to combat it.

5. Women have always been an important part of the work-force and their role will continue to grow with development, industrialization, economic necessity and the expansion of women's access to the economy. In most countries, however, the participation of women and men in the economy continues to be unequal, characterized by job segregation, insufficient training opportunities, unequal pay for work of equal value, inadequate career prospects and lack of full participation in economic decision-making.

Recommendation IV. Governments, non-governmental organizations and private-sector enterprises should take special measures to increase the proportion of women involved in economic decision-making, including studies on the incidence of women in such positions in the public and private sectors, the promotion of training programmes, analysis of alternative policies to provide women with careers leading to economic decision-making, and the adjustment of national legislation.

The United Nations should study the incidence of women in economic decision-making world wide, analyse innovative national programmes to increase the proportion of women in economic decision-making positions and publicize the results, within existing resources.

Recommendation V. Governments and/or appropriate parties should make efforts to increase the number of women in paid employment, including measures to eliminate sex segregation in the labour market and to improve women's working conditions. Governments and/or appropriate parties should collect, maintain and improve statistics showing the relative remuneration of women and men. They should renew their efforts to close the gap between women's and men's pay, possibly by 1995, and take special measures to address the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.

They should also take concrete steps to measure the economic value of women's unpaid work with a view to taking it into account in national policies by 1995.

The United Nations system should complete work on methodological aspects of measuring pay inequities between women and men, unpaid work and work in the informal sector and should publish studies of countries where such measurements have been made.

6. That women are grossly underrepresented in political decision-making has been amply documented. This means that decisions on public policies that affect women's equality are still in the hands of men, who may not have the same incentive to pursue them as women. Despite indications that in some countries women, by voting for candidates or parties that promise to promote their interests, are beginning to decide the outcome of elections, the incidence of women in parliaments, political parties and in formal Government is still low. The situation will persist unless more women stand and are selected for office and are allowed to begin careers leading to senior management positions in the public sector and until women exercise their voting power in their own interests as well as in the interests of society.

7. The number of women in decision-making positions in intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations should be increased. Efforts should also be made to ensure women's participation in the process of selection and enrolment.

Recommendation VI. All civil service regulations should have clear statements on practices of recruitment, appointment, promotion, leave entitlement, training and development, and other conditions of service.

Governments, political parties, trade unions and professional and other representative groups should each aim at targets to increase the proportion of women in leadership positions to at least 30 per cent by 1995, with a view to achieving equal representation between women and men by the year 2000, and should institute recruitment and training programmes to prepare women for those positions.

Governments, political parties, trade unions and women's organizations should be encouraged to establish a list of qualified women which could be used to fill vacant positions. The importance of training women in the skills necessary for political and administrative careers should also be recognized.

The Interregional Consultation on Women in Public Life, to be held in September 1991, should have maximum participation by Governments and non-governmental organizations and should elaborate for the first half of the decade an agenda for political action that will mobilize all women to participate actively in the political process.

The United Nations Secretariat, in co-operation with other institutions and in collaboration with Governments, should further develop and disseminate an accessible data base on the composition of the highest decision-making bodies at the national, regional and international levels, disaggregated by sex. The United Nations system could assist national Governments to set up such data bases.

B. Development

8. The experience of the past five years has confirmed the view expressed at the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, held at Nairobi from 15 to 26 July 1985, that the advancement of women is not possible without development, and that without the advancement of women, development itself will be difficult to achieve.

9. Unfortunately, women in most developing countries were adversely affected by an overall economic crisis produced by the debt problem, deteriorating terms of trade, protectionism, internal imbalances and unequal patterns of income distribution. For the majority of women, economic and social developments during the 1980s have not resulted in the benefits anticipated at the beginning of the Decade. On the contrary, there has been a dramatic reduction of economic development and the adjustment-oriented policies adopted have led to a serious reduction of public expenditure on education, health and housing. Those circumstances have affected the condition of women in a variety of negative ways.

10. An economic environment of growth with equitable distribution, both at the national level and in the international economic system, is essential, as is the recognition of women's full participation. The feminization of poverty reflects the underlying structural problems faced by women in the midst of economic change. Prevailing economic policies at the national and international levels have frequently failed to take into account potential negative effects on women or women's potential contribution and have accordingly not succeeded.

Recommendation VII. In order to help revitalize economic growth, international economic and social co-operation, together with sound economic policies, should be pursued. Structural adjustment and other economic reform measures should be designed and implemented so as to promote the full participation of women in the development process, while avoiding the negative economic and social effects. They should be accompanied by policies giving women equal access to credit, productive inputs, markets and decision-making and this should be incorporated fully into national economic policy and planning.

The international development strategy for the fourth United Nations development decade should take full account of women's contribution and potential and this should be an important part of monitoring its implementation. Relevant organizations of the United Nations system should continue to examine the effects of national and international economic policies on social progress, in particular the condition of women in developing countries.

11. The incorporation of women into the labour force has occurred on a scale unimaginable 30 years ago. Nevertheless, given unfavourable economic conditions in developing countries, the majority of women remain or are increasing in number in the informal sector of the economy.

Recommendation VIII. Governmental policies, non-governmental action and international co-operation should be directed towards supporting programmes to improve the living conditions of women in the informal sector.

These programmes should contribute, among other things, to the incorporation into the informal sector of appropriate technologies which could increase production in that sector and make domestic and international markets more accessible. Women in the informal sector should be encouraged to organize themselves so that they know their rights and are able to obtain the necessary support to exercise them.

Appropriate organizations at the international level should gather more detailed and accurate information related to women in the informal sector in order to identify the most efficient measures to ameliorate their condition.

12. Women are overrepresented among the poor because of the factors deriving from existing inequality between men and women in most societies. The number of women living in extreme poverty in many countries has increased during the period under review.

Recommendation IX. Governments, non-governmental organizations and international organizations should take concrete measures to eradicate poverty. These measures should have a multi-purpose approach and include educational skills and training designed to generate productive activities.

13. Since 1970, there has been a significant expansion in women's access to education, which has proved to be an important means of equipping women to play a full and equal role in society. Although some regions have achieved equality in access to education, considerable progress remains to be achieved in most developing countries at all levels of education, including universal primary education. Moreover, although improved access of girls to education is gradually eliminating illiteracy among the young, gender-related differences in illiteracy among adults continue to constitute an obstacle to women's legal, economic, social and political empowerment by denying women an essential tool for acquiring knowledge and skills. In addition, women who have access to education are often channelled into traditionally female specialities. Of particular concern for the future is the achievement of women's access to science and technology through education and training, which is now limited by budgetary constraints, espe

cially in developing countries.

Recommendation X. Governments that have not already done so should reorient resources to ensure women's equal access to education and training at all levels and in all fields and, in collaboration with women's groups and non-governmental organizations, should make special efforts to remove all gender-related differences in adult literacy by the year 2000. Programmes should be established to ensure that parents and teachers provide equal educational opportunities for girls and boys. In particular, encouragement should be given to promoting the study by girls of scientific and technological subjects, particularly those corresponding to national development priorities, and to preparing girls for full participation in the economy and in public life. In order to fulfil these commitments, appropriate measures should be taken at the national and international levels to ensure revitalization of growth on a long-term basis.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and other organizations of the United Nations system should give special priority to eliminating female illiteracy and to monitoring efforts to ensure that women have equal access to all levels of education and training.

14. The importance of food security and the critical role of women as food producers - of both domestic and cash crops - are indisputably recognized;

none the less, the conditions of rural women are improving at a slow pace and in some cases have even deteriorated. Projects on their behalf have generally met with limited success. The main reasons are insufficient human and financial expertise, the lack of a country-wide network of regional or local branches of government agencies and the lack of technical expertise. All of these factors have been aggravated in developing countries by the current economic crisis, which has shifted resources to export-oriented farmers and deprived rural women of vital inputs and infrastructure.

Recommendation XI. Governments should take particular steps to ensure that new technologies are accessible to women and that women participate in the design and application of those technologies.

Recommendation XII. Governments and non-governmental organizations should adopt empowerment rather than welfare strategies to support women in their role as agricultural producers, with a view to improving their economic and social situation and to integrating them into mainstream agricultural development. Priority should be accorded to projects aimed at guaranteeing access of rural women to technology, credit, training, trade marketing, management and improved agricultural infrastructure and control of the use of land.

The United Nations system, mainly the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, should collaborate with Governments in identifying and providing inputs that are needed to support the agricultural productive capacity of women.

The United Nations system should develop new methods of promoting the transfer of science and technology to women.

15. Since the beginning of the 1980s, there has been a decline in women's standard of health and nutrition in parts of every developing region due, inter alia, to a decline in per capita expenditure on health. This is a particularly alarming situation since maternal and neonatal health are crucial to infant survival. Infant and child mortality rates have been rising in a number of countries after having declined for decades.

Recommendation XIII. Governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and the public in general should be aware of the decline in women's health in developing countries. Improvement of women's health by providing appropriate and accessible health services should be a priority within the goal of health for all by the year 2000.

Women constitute the majority of health care workers in most countries.

They should be enabled to play a much larger role in decision-making for health. Governments, international non-governmental organizations and women's organizations should undertake programmes aimed at improving women's health by ensuring access to adequate maternal and child health care, family planning, safe motherhood programmes, nutrition, programmes for female-specific diseases and other primary health care services in relation to the goal of health for all by the year 2000.

The World Health Organization and other organizations of the United Nations system should further develop emergency programmes to cope with the deteriorating conditions of women's health mainly in developing countries, with particular attention to nutrition, maternal health care and sanitation.

16. Women's access to information and services relating to population and family planning are improving only slowly in most countries. A woman's ability to control her own fertility continues to be a major factor enabling her to protect her health, achieve her personal objectives and ensure the strength of her family. All women should be in a position to plan and organize their lives.

Recommendation XIV. Governments, non-governmental organizations and women's movements should develop programmes to enable women to implement their decisions on the timing and spacing of their children. These programmes should include population education programmes linked to women's rights and their role in development, as well as the sharing of family responsibilities by men and boys. Social services should be provided to help women reconcile family and employment requirements.

Family planning programmes should be developed or extended to enable women to implement their decisions on the timing and spacing of their children and for safe motherhood.

The United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations Population Fund, the World Health Organization and other organizations of the United Nations system should develop collaborative programmes to link women's role in development to questions related to population.

17. During the past five years, women's health, both physical and psychological, has been increasingly affected in many countries by the consumption and abuse of alcohol, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

Recommendation XV. Governments and other competent national authorities should establish national policies and programmes on women's health with respect to the consumption and abuse of alcohol, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Strong preventive as well as rehabilitative measures should be taken.

In addition, efforts should be intensified to reduce women's occupational health hazards and to discourage illicit drug use.

18. The emergence, since the Nairobi Conference, of new threats to the health and status of women, such as the alarming increase in sexually transmitted diseases and the AIDS pandemic, requires urgent action from both medical and social institutions.

Recommendation XVI. Greater attention is also needed with respect to the issue of women and AIDS. Efforts in this regard should be an integral part of the Global Programme on AIDS of the World Health Organization.

Urgent action and action-oriented research are also required by social institutions at all levels, in particular the United Nations system, national AIDS committees and non-governmental organizations, to inform women of the threat of AIDS to their health and status.

19. Urbanization, migration and economic changes have increased the proportion of families headed by women and the number of women entering the labour force. These women have experienced increasing difficulties in harmonizing their economic role with the demands on them to provide care for children and dependants. The double burden, rather than being reduced by greater sharing between spouses, has increased. Unless it is reduced, women will not be able to play their full and fair role in development.

Recommendation XVII. Governments and other appropriate bodies should, by 1995, establish social support measures with the aim of facilitating the combination of parental and other caring responsibilities and paid employment, including policies for the provision of services and measures to increase the sharing of such responsibilities by men and women and to deal with specific problems of female-headed households that include dependants.

The United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations Children's Fund and other appropriate organizations of the United Nations system should, as part of the International Year of the Family in 1994, make a special effort to analyse the issues of caring for children and dependants and sharing domestic, parental and other caring responsibilities, including the appraisal of national experience.

20. The issue of the environment affects the lives of everyone, women and men alike. Women's participation in making decisions on the environment is limited despite the high level of concern women express for the issue and their involvement in it. Women's concern for the environment in all its aspects can be an important force for a general mobilization of women that may have an impact on other areas, including equality and peace.

Recommendation XVIII. Governments should make efforts to involve individual women and women's groups in making decisions on the environment. Educational programmes should be developed on environmental issues and their relation to daily life.

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, to be held in 1992, should consider dealing with the issue of women and the environment with a view, inter alia, to mobilizing women at both the national and international levels and to ensuring that the experience and knowledge of women are fully taken into account.

21. The progress made in disarmament negotiations is welcomed. It is noted that this has not been matched by progress in social and economic development.

Recommendation XIX. Governments are urged to consider redirecting possible savings from disarmament to the improvement of social and economic development, including women's development.

C. Peace

22. Despite the progress made in some areas, international, regional and national conflicts persist, and women continue to number among their main victims. At the same time, women are no more prominent among those making decisions on conflicts than in the past.

Recommendation XX. Governments should be encouraged to increase the participation of women in the peace process at the decision-making level, including them as part of delegations to negotiate international agreements relating to peace and disarmament and establishing a target for the number of women participating in such delegations.

The United Nations and the international non-governmental organizations concerned should continue to monitor and support greater involvement of women in the peace process.

Recommendation XXI. In the context of an increased effort to resolve the long-standing conflicts affecting Palestinian and South African women, special efforts should be made to ensure that all women concerned fully participate in the peace process and in the construction of their societies. The reconstruction process should include as a priority special programmes of assistance to women. Such programmes should also be developed for the benefit of Namibian women.

23. The recognition that violence against women in the family and society is pervasive and cuts across lines of income, class and culture must be matched by urgent and effective steps to eliminate its incidence. Violence against women derives from their unequal status in society.

Recommendation XXII. Governments should take immediate measures to establish appropriate penalties for violence against women in the family, the work place and society. Governments and other relevant agencies should also undertake policies to prevent, control and reduce the impact of violence on women in the family, the work place and society.

Governments and relevant agencies, women's organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector should develop appropriate correctional, educational and social services, including shelters, training programmes for law enforcement officers, the judiciary and health and social service personnel, as well as adequate deterrent and corrective measures. The number of women at all levels of law enforcement, legal assistance and the judicial system should be increased.

The United Nations system, Governments and non-governmental organizations should study the relationship between the portrayal of violence against women in the media and violence against women in the family and society, including possible effects of new transnational transmission technologies.


24. The first few years of the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women have emphasized the importance of national machinery for the advancement of women in promoting the integration of women's needs and concerns into government policies and programmes, in mobilizing grass-roots support and in providing information at the national and international levels. National machinery, despite resource limitations, has been a significant factor in keeping the Strategies alive in individual countries. The effectiveness of national machinery has been found to depend on the political commitment of Governments, as reflected in appropriate resource levels, institutional location, competence in technical fields and ability to use information. Improving all of these factors is an important means of eliminating other obstacles.

Recommendation XXIII. National machinery should be established in every State by 1995, should be given an institutional location allowing it to have a direct effect on government policy and should be provided with sufficient resources of its own (a) to collect and disseminate information on the situation of women and on the potential consequences of government policies on women and (b) to contribute to their advancement. National machinery should continue to develop coherent policies for the advancement of women as part of national priorities and plans.

The United Nations system should support national machinery by providing advisory, training and information services relating to planning and management, training methods, evaluation and the acquisition and use of information; it should encourage mutual assistance and exchange of experience between units of national machinery.

Recommendation XXIV. The United Nations system should, within the existing regular budget, allocate sufficient resources to enable it to meet national requests and maintain co-ordinated international activities at a level that will make possible the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women. Additionally, voluntary contributions to this end are to be encouraged.


25. Based on this analysis, the Commission on the Status of Women should examine key priority themes in each of the areas of equality, development and peace.

A. Equality

1. Increased awareness by women of their rights, including legal literacy

2. Equal pay for work of equal value, including methodologies for measurement of pay inequities and work in the informal sector

3. Equality in economic decision-making

4. Elimination of stereotyping of women in the mass media

B. Development

1. Women in extreme poverty: integration of women's concerns in national development planning

2. Women in urban areas: population, nutrition and health factors for women in development, including migration, drug consumption and AIDS

3. Promotion of literacy, education and training, including technological skills

4. Child and dependant care, including sharing of work and family responsibilities

C. Peace 1. Women and the peace process

2. Measures to eradicate violence against women in the family and society

3. Women in international decision-making

4. Education for peace

Argomenti correlati:
economic and social council
risoluzione 1990/15
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