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There is “much to celebrate” in progress toward gender equality, but also “much at risk”, a decade after the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, as you will see from the enclosed copy of Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World
, released by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.
Ten years after this landmark conference, we have seen notable gains in such areas as political participation, education and labour force participation, but women continue to face limits on income, authority and power.
As you know, the last decade has presented new challenges to the struggle for gender equality. Although women have made gains in entering the workforce in many parts of the world, they may not fare well under deregulation- and free market-oriented “reforms”. While there has been a general “rising tide” of increased participation in public life by women since 1995, this has not been the case in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In addition, it will take time for newly elected women to have an effect on national policies. In the area of war and conflict, women have begun to gain recognition of their contributions to peacemaking and conflict resolution, although their roles in providing care and refuge and conducting humanitarian relief programmes have not been as widely noticed. While prosecutions of wartime violence against women by war crimes tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda are a welcome development, most wartime sexual crimes against women still go unpunished and prosecutions “tend to be painfully slow”.
This report addresses a number of key issues facing the world 10 years after Beijing, including whether liberalization and deregulation are the route to gender equality, the increasing presence of women in the labour force and the growth of “informal employment”, the role of women in democratization struggles, and the impact of conflict on women.
This is an important report, issued at an important time. I hope you will be able to use it as a source for stories and editorials. If you do so, kindly send tear sheets, or a copy of the publication in which the report is reviewed, to the Dissemination Unit, UNRISD, Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.
I encourage you to visit the UNRISD Web site at www.unrisd.org/research/gender/report
, or to contact Caroline Danloy at +41 (0)22 917 2316 or Nicolas Bovay at +41 (0)22 917 1143, for answers to any questions you may have or for further information.