The Commitment Scoreboard
Will Beijing Be A Conference Of Commitments?
Women have great expectations for the UN's 4th World Conference
on Women in Beijing September 4-15, 1995. The Pledge to Gender
Justice, formulated by NGOs in the Women's Linkage Caucus in
February 1995, called on governments and UN institutions to take
specific actions and, in return, hundreds of NGOs as civil
society also pledged to take action. Australia's proposal to
turn Beijing into a "Conference of Commitments" was supported by
over 80 countries at the UN's March PrepCom including the United
In the UN Platform for Action (paragraph 293), there are
"brackets" around the idea. This call to action should be a
minimum response by all governments. The provision in paragraph
293 is sufficiently open-ended to allow for each government to
express its own priorities and activities in identifying
practical steps that can make a real difference in the lives of
women and girls. Support of this concept does not undermine the
implementation of the entire Platform because in paragraph 297,
governments have already agreed to have national plans and
targets by 1996.
On the UN's programme of work, all Governments have been invited
to make announcements in their seven minute speech to the plenary
during the conference from September 4-15th that highlight
national priority actions that will make a practical difference
in the lives of women and girls.
The "conference of commitments" idea is a major political
opportunity for governments to make headlines in the media to
spotlight priority actions it will undertake to immediately begin
implementing the agreement. Women are tired of waiting. This is
the 4th UN conference. This time for action is now. And the
success of this UN conference depends on governments making
commitments, not simply negotiating one more beautiful prose
document with hundreds of action steps that are never taken.
Women NGOs active in the Women's Linkage Caucus plan to organize
a Commitment Scoreboard in Beijing at the site of the official UN
conference that will be replicated at the NGO Forum in Huairou
and on-line through the Association of Progressive
Communications. The Commitment Scorebard and government speeches
will be posted on-line and available to NGOs at both the UN and
the NGO Forum sites as well as anyone with access to Internet.
Any interested NGOs are welcome to participate and join this
effort. The Commitment Scoreboard will be an easy place for NGOs
and the media to keep track of what governments commit to at the
conference. The Commitment Scoreboard will have every
government's name boldly posted up on a wall with a question mark
before each. There will be visual icons symbolizing the major
issue areas where we expect action to be taken. There will be a
symbol to indicate whether governments pledge any resources to
implement the initiative. And there will be some visual symbols
to indicate our assessment of each government's speech or whether
the speech was more rhetorical "hot air." (Please note: If the
Chinese do not let us put things up on a wall, we will create a
"virtual scoreboard." The concept of accountability does not
depend on the physical scoreboard but we will create a media
From the opening day of the conference on September 4th, NGOs
will be waiting for each government to step up to the podium and
make commitments that translate the words in the UN document into
concrete action. Many things will require significant new
resources and/or reallocation of budget priorities. Many things
can be done without resources. Everything will require political
will and commitment.
NGOs will able to rate each government's speech and comment to
the media on whether the commitments represent forward or
backward steps for women or merely standing still.
Women around the world have high expectations that their
governments will use this conference to make real progress in the
lives of women and girls. Women activists are calling on
governments to recognize the diversity among women and girls and
to "Commit to all our daughters."
NGOs at the conference will make sure that folks back home know
what their governments said inside the UN and what actions they
commit to in the final UN document, the Platform for Action. The
Commitment Scoreboard will be a handy reference for distilling
the essence out of the volumes of paper and speeches.
Commitments will be center stage at the conference.
For more online information, please contact:
plese put Committments in the Subject line.