Report on Congo Meeting Geneva 28-30 June 2007

Release Date

At the Civil Society Development Forum, a meeting held by CONGO in Geneva, there were many items of interest to PPSEAWA, particularly progress being made towards the Millennium Goals. There were workshops particularly focusing on women’s rights, which I attended.

Conchita Poncini of the International Federation of University Women has put together a working group on women’s unpaid labour. This could lead to the inclusion of such labour in national GDP and recognition of women’s non-financial contribution to national economies. A presentation was given by Carl Brinton, who had put together a report for the working group, on how different countries include (or fail to include) such data in economic statistics. Adriana Mata Greenwood, a statistician for the ILO, told us that originally the SNA (System of National Accounts), which is used to calculate GNP and GDP, had included unpaid activities. They are not included now as they are seen as too difficult to calculate. The difficulty of conducting surveys of unpaid labour includes the problem of defining child labour: children who are not at school, nor working in paid employment (working in the home, as many, particularly girls, are) are thus excluded from national statistics. The ILO would like such unpaid domestic labour by children to be included in statistics. There are further reports planned for the future and this is something of particular interest for the economic status of women.

Gea Meijers of WIDE, gave a presentation on Gender Equality Architecture and UN Reform. There is a proposal to consolidate the three existing UN women’s entities into one organization focused on gender. There would be an executive director with the rank of Under Secretary-General. Gender equality would be enforced throughout UN agencies.

This proposal has been opposed by some member states, for various reasons, partly a concern that UN aid would then be tied to their fulfilment of gender equality requirements. CEDAW is to be moved to Geneva (from its current base in New York) to centralise the human rights work of the UN.

The report that went forward from this workshop to the meeting of ECOSOC the following week impressed the need for the UN to demand gender equality within all associated groups, and to press member states to fulfil their own commitments to gender equality.