NGO GSWG at the Commission on the Status of Women....

Onsite report: 12 March 2003

by Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, Isis International-Manila

CSW delegates compromise on a few points, continue debates on others

New York ­ 12 March 2003 --The Bureau of the Commission on the Status of Women continued the informal consultation on the theme media and information and communication technologies (ICT) today. Following a closed meeting in the morning, the government delegates attending the ongoing 47th CSW session agreed on seven more paragraphs in the draft of the agreed conclusions.

One of the paragraphs where the delegates have come into an agreement is the one that calls for participation of women in the World Summit on Information Society that is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2003. The delegates approved the wording “high participation of women in the Summit” instead of the original draft that called for 30 percent women’s representation. This change was made following the United States representative’s objection to 30 percent representation.

The other areas where agreements have been reached were the inclusion of gender perspectives and gender-specific measurable targets in projects on ICT for development; the development of measures to promote girls’ education and enable them to access ICT; and the development of steps to include ICT education for girls and women in all educational levels including through methods such as distance and e-learning.

The paragraph on the encouragement of South-South cooperation to facilitate transfer and exchange of low-cost technologies and appropriate content was likewise approved. However, there was no mention of open source technology (e.g. non-proprietary software that is available for anyone to adapt and
change) as an example of low-cost and appropriate technology.

The last paragraph that was agreed upon in today’s discussion was the one on collection, sharing, and publicising good practices to counter gender stereotyping, negative portrayals, and exploitation of women, in all forms of media and ICT.

After these agreements, the delegates took almost an hour to discuss the need to “urge governments to take necessary measures to combat the growing sexualization and pornographization of the media output in terms of globalization and the increasing privatization of the media system.” G77*, as represented by the Moroccan delegate, refused to compromise and delete the need to urge governments to take action on this issue in media.

The other issue wherein the government delegates had a lengthy discussion was on the establishment and expansion of skills training, vocational and employment training and capacity-building programmes for women and girls on the use, design, and production of ICT to prepare them to take on leadership roles. The U.S. delegate proposed to insert the phrase “and to promote their participation in the political process.”

Both G77 and the European Union did not think that the phrase properly fitted in. Some NGO observers in the session felt that the U.S. objection was just another effort to stall the negotiations and prevent focus on the more important issues in the draft of the agreed conclusions.

The delegates also deferred agreement on the paragraph on the promotion and increased use of local languages as well as locally produced content in media and communications. The U.S. delegate wanted more clarification on what local content means and what it covers.

Towards the end of today’s session, the Moroccan delegate expressed concern over the amount of time (four days) spent debating on the use of the phrase “as appropriate” which the U.S. delegate wanted to insert in a number of paragraphs. One such paragraph relates to the “allocation of new and
additional resources to support strategies that aim at increasing women’s participation in the information society.” Speaking on behalf of G77, the Moroccan delegate stressed that they want new resources allocated because they want governments to commit and ensure progress in terms of implementation.