Participation of Asia-Pacific NGOs in the Beijing-related process

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working on women’s issues have been very active during the ten years since the 4th World Conference on Women (the “Beijing Conference”) held in Beijing in 1995. They have worked to implement the Beijing Platform for Action for Equality, Development and Peace and to gather data and opinions on women’s emerging issues in order to pressure the United Nations as well as its member states to ensure responsive policies.

Regional NGOs at the Asia-Pacific NGO Forum, “Women in Development,” organized in Manila in 1993 collected their assessments into a Yellow Book, which became a major tool for NGO advocacy at the UN Regional Preparatory Meeting organized in Jakarta in 1994. The Yellow Book was a welcomed contribution during the 39th Session of the UN Commission o­n the Status of Women; a number of points raised in the Yellow Book were inserted into the Platform for Action. This represented a major achievement for the NGO community since, until that point, no NGO document had been used for formal input into a UN Preparatory Meeting.


Regional NGO groups also gathered together to review the 5-year implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (Beijing+5). Participating organizations included the Pacific South East Asia Women’s Association (PSEAWA), Asia Caucus, Asia Pacific Watch, Isis International, Asia Pacific Development Centre, and SEAWatch. These NGOs hosted the 2002 Asia Pacific NGO Women’s Forum, “Gender Equality, Development and Peace for XXI Century,” held from Aug 31 to Sep 4, 1999 in Thailand. This particularly successful event included 385 women from twenty-eight nations in the region. o­ne outcome was the “Declaration of Asia Pacific Women” and a brief assessment o­n the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action with analyses o­n the recorded achievements in all of the Platforms’ Twelve Areas of Concern. This report is known as the Blue Book.


During the UN special session held in New York in 2000, participating Governments recognized a number of obstacles preventing women’s advancement and affirmed a need to strive harder to achieve the objectives set up by Beijing Conference. In response to continuous pressure by NGOs, the Governments continue to reaffirm the Beijing spirit and to place more emphasis o­n language used in the Platform. Women’s organizations and social organizations have not allowed any back-sliding to occur in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action. They have also succeeded in achieving recognition for their highly valued Blue Book. Parts of the book's contents appear in the Session Resolution as “Conclusions and Follow-up Actions of Beijing+5.”


The year 2004 is a busy o­ne as regional NGOs prepare to review the 10-year implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (Beijing+10). The Asia Pacific NGO Forum met in Thailand from July 30 to July 3 to use reports from regional NGOs to assess trends in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action and the Beijing +5 Resolution. Asia Pacific Women’s Watch hosted the forum. This regional forum had the greatest number of participants and events. More than 700 women came from thirty-five countries in the region. They attended fifty-nine seminars, five training workshops, eight presentations o­n women’s emerging issues, and many other activities, including a film festival, cuisine festivals, exhibitions, and participants' cultural performances. The host organizations were Thai Women’s Watch, PSEAWA, the Thai Women’s Council, Mahidol University, and Bangkok University.


The Forum’s outcome included a Declaration reconfirming the regional NGOs' determination to continue the Beijing spirit and efforts to achieve the Beijing objectives for “Gender Equality, Development and Peace.” In addition, the Forum also adopted the Report o­n Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Beijing +5 Resolution.


The Forum decided to follow its own earlier, successful lessons in gathering NGO voices into a book for advocacy during the Beijing process by producing a Purple Book. The Forum sent its Purple Book to the Asia-Pacific High-Level Inter-Governmental Conference o­n Beijing +10 organized by ESCAP in September 2004. The Forum will also send its Purple Book to the Conference o­n Beijing +10 to be organized by the UN Commission o­n the Status of Women in New York in March 2005.


The Yellow Book, the Blue Book, and the Purple Book were developed for NGO activists and individuals to use during the Beijing advocacy process. These three books summarize initiatives from the NGO community in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Pham Hoai Giang