The Commitment Scoreboard

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The Commitment Scoreboard

Will Beijing Be A Conference Of Commitments?

Government Commitments

Press Release

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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 States.

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 visual.)

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.

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