96th Congress CP
2d Session COMMITTEE PRINT
U.N. WORLD CONFERENCE OF THE
U.N. DECADE FOR WOMEN
Copenhagen, Denmark, July 14-30, 1980
CONGRESSIONAL STAFF ADVISERS TO THE
SUBMITTED TO THE
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
70-5550 WASHINGTON : 1980
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
CLEMENT J. ZABLOCKI, Wisconsin, Chairman
L. H. FOUNTAIN, North Carolina
DANTE B. FASCELL, Florida
BENJAMIN 8. ROSENTHAL, New York
LEE H. HAMILTON, Indiana
LESTER L. WOLFF, New York
JONATHAN B. BINGHAM, New York
GUS YATRON, Pennsylvania
CARDISS COLLINS, Illinois
STEPHEN J. SOLARZ, New York
DON BONKER, Washington
GERRY E. STUDDS, Massachusetts
ANDY IRELAND, Florida
DONALD J. PEASE, Ohio
DAN MICA, Florida
MICHAEL D. BARNES, Maryland
WILLIAM H. GRAY III, Pennsylvania
TONY P. HALL, Ohio
HOWARD WOLPE, Michigan
DAVID R. BOWEN, Mississippi
BERKLEY BEDELL, Iowa
GEORGE W. CROCKETT, JR., Michigan
WILLIAM S. BROOMFIELD, Michigan
EDWARD J. DERWINSKI, Illinois
PAUL FINDLEY, Illinois
JOHN H. BUCHANAN, JR., Alabama
LARRY WINN, Ja., Kansas
BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York
TENNYSON GUYER, Ohio
ROBERT J. LAGOMARSINO, California
WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania
JOEL PRITCHARD, Washington
MILLICENT FENWICK, New Jersey
DAN QUAYLE, Indiana
JoHN J. BBADY, Jr., ChiefofSaff
MARGARET GOODMAN, Staff Cosultant
MARGARET E. GALEY, Staff Consultant
JANEAi L. MANN, Minority Staff Conultant
SHAuON M. WLLCOX, Staff Assistant
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
This report has been submitted to the Committee on Foreign
Affairs by the congressional staff advisers to the U.S. delegation to
the U.N. World Conference of the U.N. Decade for Women, held
in Copenhagen, Denmark, July 14-30, 1980.
The views expressed in the report do not necessarily reflect the
views of the membership of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. It
is hoped that the report will prove useful to the Congress and the
CLEMENT J. ZABLOCKI, Chairman.
LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL AND INTRODUCTION
Hon. CLEMENT J. ZABLOCKI,
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives,
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: From July 14 to 30, 1980, we served as
congressional staff advisers to the U.S. delegation to the U.N. World
Conference of the U.N. Decade for Women in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Conference was attended by representatives of 144 governments,
various U.N. Specialized Agencies and Programs, many international
nongovernmental organizations, and several national liberation
organizations. Its purpose was to review the progress made and
obstacles encountered by governments and international organizations
in achieving the goals of the U.N. Decade for Women, 1976-85,
during the first 5 years of that decade and to develop plans and
strategies for improving the situation of women worldwide during
the remainder of the decade.
Media coverage and subsequent discussion of the Copenhagen
Conference have tended to focus on the politicization of the Conference
and on the three provisions of the 287-paragraph program of action
concerning the unresolved Middle East situation which required the
United States to vote against the program. The Conference did,
however, produce many positive results: The documents prepared by
governments and U.N. agencies and programs, substantial portions
of the program of action, and many useful resolutions. The Conference
also provided an opportunity for women and men to meet and share
common concerns about the rights and welfare of women worldwide.
Fifty-one nations signed the Convention on the Elimination of Dis-
crimination Against Women in Copenhagen. Since the Conference
has concluded, 32 additional nations have signed the convention
and 7 have ratified it. All of these achievements have furthered the
understanding and implementation of the objectives of the U.N.
Decade for Women: Equality, development, and peace.
This report discusses Conference preparations, proceedings, and
results as well as the role of the U.S. delegation from the perspective
of the congressional staff advisers. The appendixes contam relevant
U.S. and U.N. documents.
It is our hope that the report will provide the committee and the
Congress an accurate assessment of the Conference and U.S. par-
ticipation in it, and that it will be useful to the Members in their
oversight of U.S. participation in international conferences generally
and in considering the impact of the Conference on the women of
the United States and the world.
MARGARET E. GALEY,
JANEAN L. MANN,
Minority Staff Consultant.
Foreword ----------------------_- --------------_ II
Letter of transmittal and introduction_--- ------------------- v
I. Summary and recommendations--__ -- -------------1-
Preparation for possible 1985 conference--------------------- 1
U.S. conference preparations and organization --------------- 2
II. Organization and outcome of the U.N. World Conference of the U.N.
Decade for Women:
Conference preparations -------- ---------------- 4
Global preparations--------------------------- 4
Regional preparations ------ -------------------- 5
National government activities-__----- ------------ 5
Preconference consultations --.------- ------------- 6
Conference proceedings------------ ------------- 6
Plenary sessions.--...------------------------- 6
Conference committees. ------------------- 7
Committee I_--__ - --------------------- 7
Committee II--.---.. -----..- -------.--.- 7
Committee of the Whole_-------------------- 8
Politics, politicization, and major issues .---------------- 8
Other conference decisions ----------------------------- 11
III. U.S. delegation._ ------------------------ 13
U.S. conference preparations----- ---_ --------_-------- -- 13
Delegation organization and performance at Copenhagen------- 15
U.S. initiatives at the Conference -------------------------- 17
IV. NGO Forum ------------ -------------------- 20
I. Members of the U.S. delegation to the U.S. World Conference of the
U.N. Decade for Women, Copenhagen, Denmark, July 1980------ 23
II. Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination ------ 25
III. Resolutions sponsored by the U.S. delegation:'
Improving the situation of disabled women of all ages (ac-
cepted) -------------- 38
cepted)------------- --------------- ------- -- 38
Elderly women and economic security (accepted)-------------- 40
Battered women and violence in the family (accepted)--------- 41
The situation of women refugees and displaced women the world
over (accepted) --------------------------------------- 42
Coordination of issues relating to the status of women within the
United Nations system (accepted) ----------------------- 44
International drinking water supply and sanitation decade
(accepted) ------------------------------ 45
Women and discrimination based on race (withdrawn)- ----- 46
Women in agriculture and rural areas (accepted) ------------- 47
Exploitation of the prostitution of others and traffic in persons
(accepted) ------------------------------------------- 48
1The complete text. of all resolutions accepted by the Conference, as well as the text of
the Program of Action, can be found in the report of the Conference to the General Assembly
at its 35th session. doc. A/CONF. 94/85.
IV. Congressional documentation:
H. Res. 748, relating to the United Nations Mid-Decade Con- Page
ference for Women----------------------------------- 50
S. Res. 473, deploring the politicization of the Mid-Decade
Women's Conference and urging the United States delegation
to oppose any politically motivated resolutions at the
Communications between members of the House Committee on
Foreign Affairs and Secretary of State Edmund Muskie regard-
ing the Conference-------------------------------- 55
Communications between Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and
Acting Secretary of State Warren Christopher regarding the
Conference .-- ---- --- -------------------- 58
V. Official country statements:
Opening statement of the U.S. delegation ---____------__ -59
U.S. explanation of vote on the program of action ------------ 65
Canadian explanation of vote on the program of action ------- 68
New Zealand explanation of vote on the program of action ---- 72
I. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The U.N. World Conference on the U.N. Decade for Women has been
an important milestone in the international women's movement.
Preparations for the Conference which were facilitated by the U.N.
General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, its Regional
Commissions, the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women and the
Conference Preparatory Committee in turn stimulated governments,
U.N. Specialized Agencies, various U.N. programs and many non-
governmental organizations to report on their activities for women.
The Conference Secretariat prepared a wealth of documentation and
provided Conference services on a very limited budget. The Confer-
ence itself assessed and reviewed progress and obstacles encountered
by women in the areas of health, education, and employment; it
facilitated the development of women's networks; furthered the identi-
fication of problems and issues common to women worldwide; and it
expanded the concepts of the goals of the U.N. Decade for Women,
equality, development and peace, beyond those defined in Mexico
City and despite the unfortunate politicization of the Conference's
PREPARATION FOR POSSIBLE 1985 CONFERENCE
With respect to the future and, in particular, the preparations for a
possible Conference in 1985, several conclusions and recommendations
are to be made.
(1) The preparatory work assigned to the 23-member Preparatory
Committee was duplicated by the 1980 session of the U.N. Commission
on the Status of Women which had been authorized to review the
Conference preparations. The 1980 Commission had to manage its
own agenda as well as to discuss Conference preparations. In the
future, preparations should be assigned to one global U.N. body-either
the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women or a preparatory com-
mittee. Since the Commission has the capability in terms of its mem-
bers' expertise and Secretariat services to undertake necessary prepa-
rations for such a Conference, it could be designated as the Preparatory
Committee for the Conference. However, if a Preparatory Committee
is created similar to the one established for the Copenhagen Confer-
ence, an effort should be made to insure that its agenda is coordinated
with that of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.
(2) The Conference operated on a very limited budget in contrast
to other U.N.-sponsored Conferences such as U.N. Conference on
Science and Technology for Development and the Third U.N. Confer-
ence on the Law of the Sea. The U.N. General Assembly should provide
adequate funding for a 1985 Conference, including appropriations for
additional staff as well as consultants.
70-555 0 81 2
(3) U.N. agencies and programs should review the Conference
resolutions and provisions of the World Program of Action to deter-
mine how best they can be implemented.
(4) It should be noted that public demonstrations of partisan
activity by the international secretariat staff, instances of which were
noted at Copenhagen, are not in keeping with the letter or spirit of
article 100 of the U.N. Charter. This article states that:
* * in the performance of their duties, the Secretary-General and the staff
shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other
authority external to the Organization; * and that they shall refrain from
any action which might reflect on their position as international officers responsi-
ble only to the Organization * Each member of the United Nations under-.
takes to respect the exclusively international character of the responsibilities of
the Secretary-General and the staff and not to seek to influence them in the
discharge of their responsibilities.
Necessary efforts to uphold this article should be taken.
U.S. CONFERENCE PREPARATIONS AND ORGANIZATION
With respect to the U.S. Conference preparations, the selection and
performance of the U.S. delegation and U.S. initiatives at the Con-
ference, the following recommendations are made:
(1) The Senate should consider and promptly ratify the Convention
on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in the 97th
(2) The U.S. Government should continue to support the sub-
stantial number of provisions in the Program of Action for the second
half of the U.N. Decade for Women which are in its interest, emphasiz-
ing that its vote against the program reflects its objections to only 3 of
the 287 paragraphs of the Program of Action. Similarly, the United
States should continue to support the implementation of the resolutions
which it supported at the Copenhagen Conference in order to promote
the goals of the U.N. Decade for Women.
(3) The executive branch should consider ways of implementing
those provisions of the Program of Action and resolutions that are in
the U.S. interest, including the upgrading and better coordination of
existing programs in various executive agencies and improved liaison
with concerned private organizations. Within the Department of State,
for example, consideration could be given to the establishment of a
position of Special Adviser for Women's Affairs within the Office of the
Secretary or Deputy Secretary of State. Such an office could monitor
the role of women in the Foreign Service and review issues concerning
women in bilateral foreign relations, as well as work closely with the
Office of International Women's Programs in the Bureau of Interna-
tional Organization Affairs.
(4) A review and evaluation of the manner in which the United
States organizes its delegations to international conferences should be
undertaken. Such an evaluation should take into consideration the
(a) The selection of participants-the criteria by which dele-
gations, including chairpersons, representatives, and advisers are
selected for particular conferences, the extent to which selection
criteria are applied and the way in which these criteria may
contribute to the strength of a delegation;
(b) Pre-Conference preparations-whether and to what extent
delegates are briefed on substantive issues of U.S. foreign policy
as well as on the political process and procedures of the interna-
tional conferences; whether budgetary resources are sufficient to
cover the briefing costs for the delegation;
(c) Delegation organization-how are delegations to international
conferences organized? How have well-managed delegations organized
so as to make use of the skills and expertise of members;
(d) The chain of command between the Department of State
and the delegation;
(e) The relation between the organization and performance of
the delegation and outcome of the Conference.
(5) The Department of State should have primary responsibility for
the management of U.S. participation in international conferences,
including leadership of delegations, selection of delegates and overall
(6) Future U.S. delegations should:
(a) Be selected at least 2 months prior to the Conference;
(b) Be briefed on the substantive issues of the Conference, their
relation to U.S. foreign policy interests, the U.N. Conference
process and procedure and their responsibilities as delegates,
whether representatives or advisers;
(c) Be organized so as to make appropriate use of the skills
and expertise of members and to insure the communications
within the delegation;
(d) Be briefed on U.S. domestic political issues which may play
a part in the delegation's objectives, initiatives, and strategies.
(7) U.S. delegations to future conferences should continue the
strategy of presenting positive initiatives for Conference consideration
rather than emphasizing primarily damage limitation positions. Such
initiatives should be formulated in advance of the Conference and
potential allies should be consulted.
(8) Women's organizations and other public affairs groups should
consider sponsoring short-term courses of study on U.N. Conference
process and procedures in conjunction with U.N. issue areas, such as
energy, oceans, environment, trade and development, arms control,
disarmament, or human rights that they may be examining.
II. ORGANIZATION AND OUTCOME OF THE U.N. WORLD
CONFERENCE OF THE U.N. DECADE FOR WOMEN
Global, regional, and national governmental organizations partici-
pated in the preparations for the 1980 Conference. Their activities
are described in the following paragraphs.
In 1975, the General Assembly decided to sponsor a World Con-
ference on Women in 1980 upon the recommendation of the Mexico
City Conference. In 1976, the Economic and Social Council called on
its subsidiary body, the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women to
discuss preparations for the Conference. The Commission, in turn,
created an ad hoc committee to consider substantive and organiza-
tional arrangements for the Conference, including the need for a pro-
gram of action to guide governments and other organizations in
promoting the situation of women during the second half of the U.N.
Subsequently, the General Assembly in 1977 endorsed a recommen-
dation of the Ad Hoc Committee on Restructuring the Economic and
Social Sectors of the United Nations that gave the Economic and
Social Council direct responsibility for Conference preparations
"without prejudice to arrangements already agreed upon for Con-
ferences currently under preparation." In spite of concerns of some
members of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women regarding
the capability of the 53-member, predominately male Council to
undertake necessary preparations, at its 1978 session, the Commission
did request the Council to create a Preparatory Committee of 25 U.N.
member states while bearing in mind the expertise of the Commission
on the Status of Women. In 1978, the Commission also recommended
a provisional agenda for the Conference to the Preparatory Committee
that included: A review and evaluation of progress made in achieving
the goals of the U.N. Decade for Women; the program of action for the
second part of the U.N. Decade, 1980-85; and the question of the
situation of women under apartheid. It further recommended that the
subthemes of the Conference should be employment, education and
health, that the U.N. Secretary General collect materials from member
states on these subjects and analyze them for the Conference; that
regional commissions convene seminars and meetings on the subthemes
and report to the Conference, and that the Specialized Agencies also
report to the Conference on progress achieved in areas related to their
scope. These actions were confirmed by the U.N. General Assembly
at its 1978 session in Resolutions 33/185 and 33/189.
In January 1979, U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim ap-
pointed Lucille Mair (Jamaica) to be Secretary General of the Con-
ference. Dr. Mair and her staff supervised Conference preparations
from U.N. headquarters in New York, prepared Conference documents
and staffed meetings of the Preparatory Committee and regional
commissions and, subsequently, the sessions of the Conference itself.
The 23-member Preparatory Committee held three meetings: the
first in Vienna, Austria, from February 25 to March 5, 1979; and the
second and third in New York at U.N. headquarters from August 27 to
September 8, 1979, and from April 7 to 18, 1980, respectively, to discuss
revisions to the draft Program of Action for the second part of the
U.N. Decade for Women, including new strategies and approaches to
achieving the goals of the Decade. Between the second and third
sessions of the Preparatory Committee, the 1979 session of the General
Assembly approved several resolutions on the World Conference.
One resolution added two items to the Conference agenda: the effects
of Israeli occupation on Palestinian women in and outside the occupied
territories and women refugees. Reports on each item were to be sub-
mitted to the Third Preparatory Committee in April 1980. At the
Third Preparatory Committee, members adopted various reports
including those submitted by the Economic Commission for West Asia
on Palestinian Women and by the Office of the High Commissioner
for Refugees on Refugee Women. Meanwhile, the Commission on
the Status of Women at its 28th session in Vienna in February 1980
reviewed Conference preparations as had been requested by the
Each of the five U.N. Regional Economic Commissions sponsored a
regional conference to review and evaluate progress in their respective
regions on implementing the goals of the U.N. Decade for Women with
particular reference to the Conference subthemes.
The U.N. Regional Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) met in
Paris, France, July 9 to 12, 1979; the Regional Economic Commission
for Latin America (ECLA) met in Caracas, Venezuela, from August
12 to 16, 1979; the Regional Economic Commission for West Asia
(ECWA) in Damascus, Syria, from October 6 to 9, 1979; the Regional
Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) met in Lusaka, Zambia, from
October 3 to 7, 1979; and the Regional Economic Commission for
South Asia and the Pacific (ECSAP) in New Delhi, India, from
November 5 to 9, 1979. Each regional commission prepared and sub-
mitted a report to the Conference on new measures and strategies to
advance the situation of women in their respective areas.
NATIONAL GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES
Besides these global and regional preparatory activities, all govern-
ments were invited to participate in the Conference and to report on
measures they had taken to advance the situation of women m their
own societies. 93 governments prepared and submitted reports on
such topics as education, employment, health, political participation
of women, and national legislation and machinery for improving the
status of women. Based on these reports, the U.N. Secretariat prepared
comparative surveys on these topics for the Conference. National
governments also submitted their national reports to the Conference as
part of their official documentation.
On July 13, representatives of governments assembled at the Bella
Center in Copenhagen to discuss the recommendations of the U.N.
General Assembly and the Preparatory Committee on organizational
matters such as election of officers of the Conference, the proposed
rules of procedure, the appointment of members to the Credentials
Committee, the provisional agenda, the organization of the Confer-
ence's work and the assignment of agenda items to committees.
The pre-conference agreed to adopt the recommendations of the
Preparatory Committee on these matters except for the proposed
organization of work. Because several U.N. member states raised
the issue of the need to discuss part I of the draft program of action
concerning the "Historical Background" and "Conceptual Frame-
work," the pre-conference agreed to create a Committee of the
Whole to debate part I in addition to Committees I and II already
mandated to deal with the review of national and international
issues, parts II and III, of the Program of Action.
The Conference met in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the Bella Con-
ference Center from July 14 to 30, 1980. In response to the invitation
of the Secretary General of the Conference, representatives of 145
governments, 4 liberation movements, 29 U.N. Specialized Agencies
and Programs and over 130 international nongovernmental organi-
The Conference officially opened on Monday afternoon, July 14.
Helvi Sipila, Assistant Director General of the U.N. Center for Social
Development and Humanitarian Affairs, and Lucille Mair, Secretary
General of the Conference, opened the plenary. Lise Ostegaard,
Minister of Culture of Denmark, was elected by acclamation as
President of the Conference. U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim,
the Queen of Denmark, and the Danish Foreign Minister also welcomed
delegations. The representative from Zimbabwe was officially
seated for the first time in a U.N. meeting at this Conference. A group
of Nordic women presented Secretary General Waldheim with a
"petition for peace" signed by over 5,000 Nordic women.
From July 15 to 29, representatives of more than 75 governments
addressed the plenary on progress and obstacles to improving the
situation of women m their societies since the Mexico City Con-
ference in 1975. Highlights of the plenary included major addresses
by Sarah Weddington, Special Assistant to President Carter and
cohead of the U.S. delegation; Mrs. Anwar Sadat of Egypt; Ms. Hava
Hareli, Israel's representative; Mrs. Imelda Marcos of the Philip-
pines and by representatives of the Soviet Union, Bolivia, France,
West Germany, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and
numerous African, Latin American, and Asian states. The PLO
protested the appearances of Mrs. Sadat and Ms. Hareli by leading
an Arab walk out of the plenary hall.
Representatives of the U.N. Specialized Agencies and Programs,
including ILO, FAO, UNDP, UNICEF, the U.N. High Commissioner
for Refugees as well as non-U.N. organizations such as the European
communities and about a dozen international nongovernmental
organizations made statements in the plenary. These statements
along with national reports of participating governments constitute
an important record of the progress and obstacles to the advancement
of women in societies throughout the world.
The plenary recessed after accredited representatives gave their
statements and reconvened for the last 3 days of the Conference to
consider and adopt the World Program of Action and to approve
resolutions forwarded by the Conference committees.
Parallel to meetings of the plenary, the three Committees of the
Conference met to discuss their respective agendas.
Committee I.-This Committee convened to consider the effects of
apartheid on women in Southern Africa; progress and obstacles at the
national level to achieving the 14 minimum targets of the 1975 World
Plan of Action; part II of the Program of Action dealing with new
national targets and strategies for the second half of the U.N. Decade
for Women and the social and economic needs of the Palestinian
women, inside and outside the occupied territories. The Committee
held 21 meetings and devoted major discussions to amendments to
part II of the Program of Action. It also debated and adopted a
number of draft resolutions on a range of common concerns such as
elderly women and economic security; disabled women; battered
women and family violence; migrant women; women in agriculture
and rural areas; family planning; review and evaluation of progress
in implementing the World Plan of Action at the national level;
women and discrimination based on race; special measures for young
women; equality in education and training of women; women in con-
ditions of extreme poverty; and the Convention on the Elimination
of Discrimination Against Women.
Committee II.-This Committee considered special measures of
assistance to women under apartheid in Southern Africa; regional and
global activities of the U.N. system aimed at achieving the goals of
the Decade; part III of the Program of Action for the second half of
the Decade, including regional and international strategies as well as
women refugees; and special measures of assistance to Palestinian
women in and outside the occupied territories.
Committee II held 20 meetings and devoted principal attention to
debating and adopting amendments to part III of the Program of
Action for the second half of the U.N. Decade, the most controversial
being paragraph 244 on assistance to Palestinian women. It also
adopted numerous resolutions on such subjects as women refugees;
assistance to Sahrawi women; assistance to Lebanese women; women's
participation in strengthening peace; legislation to prevent family
abandonment; the situation of women in Chile; women in the U.N;
international drinking water supply and sanitation decade; the Inter-
national Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of
Women; strengthening machinery for integrating women in develop-
ment; exploitation of prostitution; women under apartheid; imple-
menting the goals of the U.N. Decade for Women within the framework
of the New International Economic Order; and the U.N. Voluntary
Fund for the Decade.
Committee of the Whole.-The Committee of the Whole, whose
mandate as established by the Conference on July 14 was to debate
part I of the Program of Action, the historical background and con-
ceptual framework, met 21 times mainly in closed session. Its de-
liberations involved the more controversial issues of the Conference:
debate on the issues of Zionism, the New International Economic
Order, and on considerations of feminist philosophy and sexism as
they relate to the objectives of the U.N. Decade for Women.
POLITICS, POLITICIZATION, AND MAJOR ISSUES AT THE CONFERENCE
International women's issues are political issues. Whether the
question is providing assistance to women in developing countries,
promoting the goals of the U.N. Decade for Women within the frame-
work of a new international economic order, ameliorating the condi-
tions of battered women and domestic violence, limiting the exploita-
tion of prostitution, or identifying measures to assist women refugees,
a United Nations Conference devoted to such issues will inevitably
mirror tensions and conflicts among nation-states in the world political
arena. Official participants in such conferences represent nation-states.
The U.N. Mid-Decade Conference for Women was not unlike other
international conferences, where delegates often disagree on the nature
of an issue, its relative importance or the preferred manner of resolving
Some women seek to redefine traditional interests of nation-states
such as security, equality, power, wealth, development, justice, and
peace to accommodate what is, in their view, the feminist perspective.
Not all women seek this objective, and the feminist views held by some
do not necessarily coincide with the views of others. Thus, the fact
that an international conference is devoted to women's issues or
feminism does not imply that a common set of views will be shared by
Politics as usual is the standard stock in trade of U.N. Conferences.
Politics, in this sense, characterized Conference Committee debates on
the vast majority of amendments to the World Program of Action as
well as the majority of draft resolutions, including those on refugee
women, on disappeared women, on women and agricultural develop-
ment, on battered women, migrant women, the disabled, the elderly,
and on women in the U.N. system, and on family planning. Many, but
hot all, of the amendments and 32 of the 48 resolutions on these sub-
jects were eventually adopted by consensus at the Conference and
reflected the extent of awareness among women throughout the world
of the range of their common problems.
Politics as usual is one thing. But politicization, the deliberate
introduction of intense conflict-generating issues, rhetorical polemics,
and/or tactics is another. The potential for politicization is inherent in
the nature of the United Nations. In this respect, the Copenhagen
Conference was politicized by the inclusion of issues relating to the
unresolved Middle East situation.
The politicization of this Conference grew out of the 1979 General
Assembly's decision to add the item of Palestinian women to the
Conference agenda and to authorize the preparation of reports on
the subject. Subsequently, the Third Preparatory Committee meeting
in April 1980 considered two papers prepared by the U.N. Regional
Commission for West Africa (ECWA), one concerned with the social
and economic needs of Palestinian women and the other with special
measures to improve the situation of Palestinian women. After con-
siderable debate over the accuracy and validity of the description of
Palestinian women, the Committee adopted the papers as official
Conference documents and recommended that they be submitted to
In response to this development, Members of Congress expressed
their grave concern that the Conference would become politicized.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote to Deputy Secretary of
State Warren Christopher, expressing his concern and requested
the Department to insure the adequate preparation of the delegation.
Fifteen Members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs wrote a
similar letter to Secretary of State Edmund Muskie. Subsequently,
concurrent resolutions introduced in both Chambers of Congress
called on the U.S. delegation, inter alia, to vote against any amend-
ments or resolutions that would have the effect of politicizing the
The world political context in which the Conference took place also
increased the potential for its politicization. The Western Europeans
arrived in Copenhagen 6 weeks after their governments had agreed
to language in the Venice summit communique that supported the
self-determination of the Palestinian people, a position that departed
from that of the United States. During the Conference in Copenhagen,
the U.N. General Assembly convened the highly politicized Emer-
gency Session on Palestine in New York. The General Assembly also
had planned its 11th Special Session on Global Economic Negotiations
for August 1980 to discuss the International Development Strategy
and proposals for a new international economic order. The Islamic
Conference met in Baghdad just prior to the Copenhagen Conference.
And during the spring and summer, the Camp David negotiations
had faltered despite U.S. efforts to put them back on the track. By
midsummer, the United States, Israel, and Egypt had become more
isolated from majority world opinion on a Middle East settlement.
Given these tensions and conflicts in the world political arena, and
the fact that representatives of governments at U.N. Conferences and
meetings articulate official positions that reflect those conflicts, the
1 See appendix IV for copies of correspondence and resolutions.
politicization of the Conference was probably inevitable. At Copen-
hagen, the debates on draft Program of Action paragraphs 2, 5, and
244 in particular reflected such politicization.
Negotiations on amendments to part I of the Program of Action in
the Committee of the Whole resulted in consensus on all but two
highly contested paragraphs. Paragraph 2 contained references to the
Mexico City declaration, which itself contained the original reference
to Zionism as a form of racism. Paragraph 2 also noted the recom-
mendations of the Conference of the Non-Aligned Countries in
Baghdad, which made negative references to the Camp David negotia-
tions. Paragraph 5 stated that equality of participation in developing
friendly relations among states would contribute to the struggle to
eliminate Zionism, racism, imperialism, colonialism, apartheid, foreign
occupation, and domination. The Committee of the Whole did not
reach consensus on paragraphs 2 and 5, notwithstanding the efforts of
the "Friends of the President" and these paragraphs were forwarded
to the Conference plenary for decision. The majority of representatives,
including the Group of 77, supported the text of paragraph 2 and the
Conference adopted it on a rollcall vote. In a rollcall vote on paragraph
5, 69 nations voted in favor, 24 against (the United States, Israel, and
the Western Europeans), and 25 abstained.
The third paragraph in the Program of Action unacceptable to the
United States, paragraph 244, stated that assistance to Palestinian
women should be provided through the U.N. and the Specialized
Agencies in cooperation and consultation with the Palestinian Libera-
tion Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people.
Following rigorous debate on the paragraph in Committee II of the
Conference, where it had been introduced by India on behalf of the
Group of 77, the Committee adopted it 85-4 with 22 abstentions.
Subsequently, the Conference adopted it in a separate vote: 76 in
favor, 4 against (United States, Israel, Canada, and Australia), with 24
Because paragraphs 2, 5, and 244 were contrary to basic tenets of
U.S. foreign policy, the United States was required to vote against
final approval of the entire 287-paragraph Program of Action and was
joined in this action by Canada, Australia, and Israel. The program
for the second half of the Decade was adopted by a vote of 94 (most
of the Group of 77 plus Japan) in favor, 4 against, and 22 abstentions
(mainly Western European delegations).
Clearly, these votes reflected the intense conflict between the Group
of 77 and the Soviet-Arab bloc on the one hand and the Western
nations on the other. However, the votes also indicated the isolation
of the United States and Israel from their Western allies on the
Middle East situation. While the Europeans voted with the United
States and Israel in opposing the reference to Zionism in paragraph 5,
they abstained on the vote on paragraph 244 which called for assistance
to Palestinian women through the U.N. and Specialized Agencies in
cooperation with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and they
also abstained on the final vote on the Program of Action.
Several delegations expressed outrage at the "diversion" of the
Conference from its main purpose-to discuss the inequality that
exists between men and women and to develop a Program of Action
to overcome it. In Canada's view, the Conference failed to discuss
(women's) concerns "in anything approaching a meaningful fashion."
Rather, the Canadian delegate went on, "we have heard speakers who
prefer the comfortable ring of global political platitudes to the un-
familiar and perhaps threatening terrain of sexual inequality; we have
been treated to a litany of catch phrases and rhetoric used to obscure a
realistic examination of the plight of women."
A further indication that the Conference was diverted from its
major purpose was the fact that only one paragraph in the Program
of Action focused on feminism. Proposed by New Zealand and Aus-
tralia in the Committee of the Whole, it was debated at length and
eventually adopted by consensus. However, despite efforts to amend
the program to include a paragraph on "sexism," insufficient support
from Third World states, including India whose representative in-
quired: "What is sexism?", relegated that concept to the status of a
Politicization rather than politics as usual thus dominated the final
days of the Conference.
OTHER CONFERENCE DECISIONS
The Conference reviewed and assessed the progress made and ob-
stacles encountered in improving the situation of women since the
1975 Mexico City Conference. It also revised and adopted a Program
of Action for the second half of the Decade and 48 resolutions on a
range of common concerns of women worldwide.
Apart from the three paragraphs opposed by the United States in
the Program of Action, and a few other paragraphs on which the
United States expressed reservations, the document contains many
useful guidelines for national, regional, and global governmental and
nongovernmental organizations to promote the situation of women
during the second half of the U.N. Decade, 1980-85. The resolutions
approved by the Conference also demonstrate the increasing scope of
common problems that women share and the wide consensus on the
need to find solutions to those problems. The resolutions explain more
fully the meaning of equality, peace, and development. Resolutions
on family planning, the situation of the disabled women of all ages, of
elderly women, migrant women, special measures to assist young
women and to prevent abandonment of families, as well as to provide
for refugee women contribute to extending the concept of equality.
Resolutions on battered women and family violence, on the situation
of women in Chile, on exploitation of the prostitution of others, on the
situation in Bolivia, among others, enhance the meaning of peace.
Recommendations on drought control in the Sahel, integrated ap-
proaches to health and welfare of women, the international drinking
water supply and sanitation decade, women in extreme poverty,
women and nutritional self-sufficiency, women in agriculture and rural
areas, employment, education, and health all add to the concept of
integrating women into development.
The Copehagen recommendations also have implications for U.N.
agencies and programs. They enhance the international visibility of
the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, the International Re-
search and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, the
U.N. Voluntary Fund and the Specialized Agencies in promoting the
status of women, including increasing the employment of women in
One of the most significant achievements of the Conference was the
signing of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination
Against Women. Adopted by the General Assembly on December 18,
1979, after almost 10 years of preparation, the Convention is the first
comprehensive treaty on women's rights. It defines the scope of sex
discrimination, prohibits such discrimination in all spheres, sets forth
responsibilities of state parties to undertake constitutional and
legislative measures to combat it, provides for equality of treatment
of women in political, civil, economic, social, and cultural areas, and
calls for the establishment of international machinery to implement the
provisions of the Convention after it comes into force, that is, 30 days
after the 20th state has ratified it.
The United States was one of the 51 states that signed the Conven-
tion in the ceremony at Copenhagen. At this writing, 83 states have
signed the Convention and 7 have ratified it.
In order for the United States to bring it into force, the Convention
must be ratified in accordance with article II, section 2 of the U.S.
Constitution which authorizes the President to make treaties by and
with the consent of the Senate. On October 28, 1980, President Carter
announced his intention to send the Convention to the Senate on
November 12, 1980, for ratification.
In addition to these Conference results, the millions of pages of
Conference documentation-background papers, national reports,
reports of the U.N. Specialized Agencies (ILO, UNESCO, WHO, FAO)
various U.N. programs (UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA) as well as of
non-U.N. governmental organizations-constitute a highly significant
benchmark on the status of women worldwide that may be expected
to provide a basis for further research on women's issues as well as
future policy initiatives and guidelines.
III. U.S. DELEGATION
The U.S. delegation, composed of 51 delegates, was the largest at
the Copenhagen Conference. This number, however, was not mordi-
nately larger than that from other countries. Other delegations ranged
in size from Italy's 42 delegates, Denmark's 39, 30 each from Japan
and Mexico, 25 from the U.S.S.R. and from China, to many countries
with 5 or fewer delegates.
The U.S. delegation was cochaired by Sarah Weddington, assistant
to the President, and the Hon. Donald McHenry, U.S. Ambassador to
the United Nations, and included Representatives Barbara Mikulski
and Mary Rose Oakar, three congressional staff, 20 high-level women
from various Federal agencies, representatives of 7 national women's
organizations and of State and local governments, as well as a labor
union official. Four Foreign Service officers accompanied the delegation
and served as political advisers. The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen
also provided assistance to the delegation.'
U.S. CONFERENCE PREPARATIONS
Coordination of preparations for U.S. participation on the U.N.
Mid-Decade Conference for Women was the formal responsibility of a
Secretariat, established for that purpose in November 1979 by the
Under Secretary for Management of the Department of State. The
Secretariat was staffed by a Director, Vivian Derryck, and a Deputy
assisted by 13 specialists and 4 support staff loaned by various Federal
agencies. In addition, the Office of International Women's Programs
in the Bureau of International Organizations of the Department of
State, which since 1973 has had responsibility for U.S. participation in
the United Nations and its agencies for women's programs and for
U.S. representation at meetings of the U.N. Commission on the Status
of Women, had an active role representing the United States at
various U.N. preparatory meetings. The Office of Women's Affairs at
the White House was also closely involved in monitoring the planning
and organization of U.S. regional preparatory meetings and the
selection of the delegates.
The Secretariat was responsible for organizing the selection of the
U.S. delegation, preparing U.S. Conference papers and positions on
Conference issues, publicizing the Mid-Decade Conference throughout
the United States, organizing briefings for the delegation, and pro-
viding support staff to the delegation during the Conference in
The Secretariat staff developed criteria to select the delegation from
a list of more than 500 candidates nominated by individuals and
groups from across the country, and submitted a list of 75 names
to the White House. Although the initial goal had been to select a
1 The complete delegation list is included as appendix I.
24-member delegation, the list of delegates released by the White
House on June 12, just a month before the Conference opened, was
more than double that size.
A substantial portion of the Secretariat's efforts was directed toward
publicizing the Conference in the United States. It organized and man-
aged a national outreach program within the United States which
consisted of 8 regional conferences (5 cosponsored with private
organizations), and a national conference held in Washington, D.C.
on June 11 and 12, 1980. Nearly 4,000 persons attended these con-
ferences. The purpose of this outreach program was to provide a large
number of U.S. women the opportunity to discuss and assess progress
and obstacles in meeting the goals of the Plan of Action which had
been adopted at Mexico City in 1975, to propose strategies to improve
the status of women during the second half of the U.N. Decade for
Women, and to stimulate interest in the Conference throughout the
United States. The Secretariat prepared and published a summary
of the U.S. meetings which, however, was not available to the U.S.
delegation until after its arrival in Copenhagen.
The Secretariat coordinated the preparation by appropriate Federal
agencies of country papers on the major subthemes of the Conference:
Women's education, employment and health, as well as other back-
ground papers on various Conference issues. These country papers
provide significant benchmarks against which the U.S. Government
and interested organizations can measure U.S. progress toward meet-
ing the goals of the U.N. Decade for Women and formed the basis of
the official U.S. national report to the U.N. Mid-Decade Conference.
These papers also contributed to the Secretariat's preparation of
comparative surveys of the status of women in health, education, and
employment throughout the world which in turn were submitted as
official Conference documentation.
The organization of the outreach program and preparation of the
U.S. papers, the national report and U.S. position papers were essen-
tial to overall U.S. participation in the U.N. Decade for Women and
the Conference. These activities, however, seemed to have little
direct relation to the actual orientation and briefing of the U.S.
delegation in preparation for their responsibilities for the Conference.
With respect to the orientation and preparation of the 51-member
delegation, the Secretariat organized three briefings. The first briefing
was held on June 12 for 1 hour prior to the second day of the
Washington National Meeting on the Mid-Decade Conference for
Women. At that briefing, the Secretariat provided members of the
delegation that were present with copies of country papers and avail-
able Conference documentation. At the second briefing on June 21,
State Department officials discussed the results of the U.N. regional
meetings, U.N. processes and procedures and some of the logistical
aspects of the Conference (hotel reservations, transportation, mail
delivery, etc.) During a final briefing on July 11, the afternoon pre-
ceding the departure of most of the delegation for Copenhagen,
officials of Federal agencies discussed the major conclusions of their
respective country papers on health, education, and employment, and
State Department officials discussed major U.S. foreign policy posi-
tions on critical Conference issues. In cooperation with the White
House, the U.S. Secretariat arranged for the delegation to visit the
White House for an official photograph and the announcement of the
President's decision that the United States would sign the Conven-
tion on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
The three Department of State briefings-the most important
specific Conference preparations for the delegation-were more than
the usual number of briefings provided by the Department of State for
public delegations to international conferences. However, not all
members of the delegation were able to attend all of the briefings.
Although many delegation members located in the Washington area
attended two or three briefings, those who lived outside the Washing-
ton area were unable for financial or other reasons to attend all of
them. Notably, the Department of State's budget for international
conferences does not provide for reimbursing members of delegations
for their expenses to and from Washington to participate in the
Although many members of the delegation were politically sophis-
ticated, many had never attended a U.N. or other International
Conference and felt that their individual participation and contri-
butions could have been more effective had they been better informed
on such matters as U.N. Conference processes and procedures.
One or more intensive briefings, perhaps in a weekend retreat
situation, sponsored by the Department of State and other appro-
priate agencies for all members of the delegation might provide in
the future an opportunity for more in-depth discussion and under-
standing of the international political dynamics of such a Conference,
Conference process and procedure, and responsibilities of the in-
dividual members of the delegation. Such briefings, with an oppor-
tunity for role-playing of conference-related scenarios, would facilitate
an understanding of the important role of U.S. delegations to such
conferences as well as individual member tasks, and could promote
improved political understanding. In addition, national women's
organizations and other public affairs groups might usefully develop
short-term courses or programs on U.N. Conference process and
procedures in conjunction with particular U.N. issues that they may
be currently studying.
A serious omission from U.S. Conference preparation was the lack
of advance preparation of draft statements and amendments to the
draft Program of Action. For example, draft amendments to the
Program of Action as well as U.S. resolutions could have been prepared
and considered more thoroughly in Washington, where useful refer-
ences and resources would have been available, than they were under
severe time constraints in Copenhagen. Likewise, advance preparation
of draft statements for plenary and Conference committees would
have facilitated the work of the delegation and reduced the cable
traffic between Washington and Copenhagen.
DELEGATION ORGANIZATION AND PERFORMANCE AT COPENHAGEN
Various efforts were made to organize and manage the delegation
and U.S. activity in the Conference. First, regular delegation meetings
were held every morning to review briefly the status of Conference
activities and to provide an opportunity to discuss upcoming issues.
Second, certain members of the delegation were assigned responsibility
for following the work of the plenary and each of the three Conference
Committees and other members were assigned to assist them. Third,
interested members were asked to contact representatives of dele-
gations from particular regional areas, although specific restrictions
against contacting some delegations were also given. Fourth, two
delegation members were assigned to provide liaison with non-
governmental organizations and other members organized afternoon
press conferences at the Conference center. Fifth, some delegates
were asked to manage particular tasks, e.g., taking notes on the
Conference plenary and committee meetings, drafting amendments
and resolutions and or statements for U.S. Representatives to give
in each Committee of the Conference. The four Foreign Service
officers who accompanied the delegation assumed responsibility
for drafting cables to the Department of State in Washington.
Despite these efforts, several problems developed. First, a number
of members of the delegation were unclear as to their actual function
within the delegation and how that function fit into the larger scheme
of delegation organization. Second, the confusion over who was respon-
sible for what was compounded by the overriding sense of urgency to
produce amendments, resolutions, statements, and positions under
severe time constraints as well as by the size of the delegation and the
unfamiliarity of many delegates with U.N. Conference procedure and
process. Third, the expertise of a number of delegates was not fully
utilized. Understandably, many women politically sophisticated on
domestic affairs felt that they should have been given some or more
responsibility for formulating and implementing U.S. foreign policy
initiatives in the Conference. At the same time, those with foreign
policy expertise were not adequately utilized.
It is possible that better delegation planning, leadership, and coordi-
nation could have resulted in greater success for U.S. positions and in
the adoption of less strident language in the Program of Action.
Many problems of the delegation's organization were due to the
fact that the leadership of the delegation was not as effective as it
could have been. Ambassador McHenry attended only 2 days of
the Conference. Presidential Assistant Weddington, who was the active
head of the delegation, had limited experience in foreign policy and
international conferences and appeared to be more interested in domes-
tic reaction than in the impact of the delegation on the outcome of
the Conference. In addition, communication on some key issues and
positions between the leadership and other members of the delegation
was limited and a clear chain of command was frequently lacking. For
example, some delegates assigned to make contact with other dele-
gations were not always clearly advised about U.S. negotiating posi-
tions on certain issues and were unclear about channels through which
they could report on contacts they made. Some delegates who were
assigned to take notes on the debates on Committee sessions were not
requested to submit their notes to the delegation leadership. And,
delegates assigned to prepare amendments to the draft Program of
Action were not aware of a "U.S. strategy to load the agenda with
many noncontroversial amendments," as the post-Conference De-
partment of State briefing indicated.
Notwithstanding these and other problems, it was significant that
most, if not all of the members of the delegation participated in
numerous ad hoc meetings as well as in delegation meetings to draft
amendments to the World Program of Action and to prepare and
discuss resolutions that the United States wanted to intiate or co-
sponsor. In the latter regard, the delegation invited NGO's to con-
tribute to preparing resolutions. In addition, ad hoc groups formed to
prepare statements for representatives to give in plenary and Com-
A major delegation activity which appeared to be the most suc-
cessful and best organized was liaison with the nongovernmental
organization representatives who were participating in the NGO
Forum or attending the official conference as accredited observers.
Members of the official delegation attended forum sessions and con-
ducted regular evening briefings to advise NGO representatives of
developments in the official conference.
U.S. INITIATIVES AT THE CONFERENCE
Although there has been much criticism of the outcome of the Mid-
Decade Conference and of the ability of the U.S. delegation to affect
that outcome, the results of initiatives by the United States were
Actions at the Copenhagen Conference marked a departure from
the traditional U.S. role in United Nations fora. In too many inter-
national, and particularly U.N. Conferences, the U.S. role has been
primarily one of damage limitation-reaction to what other nations
or groups have proposed and efforts to reduce the deleterious effects
of such proposals. Although some defensive actions were necessary,
positive U.S. initiatives were the rule rather than the exception m
the U.S. strategy at Copenhagen. Five of the six resolutions intro-
duced by the United States were adopted as were numerous U.S.
amendments to the Program of Action. Many developing nations
demonstrated a willingness to cosponsor these initiatives.
The record of success of these initiatives reflects a mutuality of
concern between the United States and many developing nations in
contrast to the often accentuated differences between the United
States and the developing world. These successes should encourage
future U.S. delegations to undertake positive initiatives which can
serve the dual purpose of addressing critical world problems and
enhancing the image of the United States.
Perhaps the major resolution introduced by the United States and
adopted by the Conference was one dealing with women refugees.
Prior to the Conference, little attention had been given to the fact
that the majority of the world's refugees-an estimated 70 percent-
are women and children and that their special needs had not been
adequately considered. Because of the U.S. record of leadership in
assisting refugees, both financially and in resettlement, the delegation
was in a strong position to initiate such a proposal.
The United States addressed this problem of refugee women in a
resolution and in a series of amendments to the Program of Action that
strengthened guidelines for U.N. members in dealing with refugee
women and children. Both efforts focused necessary worldwide
attention on the long-term international problem of refugees.
70-555 0 81 4
The U.S.-sponsored resolution on women refugees called on all
nations to share the burden of refugee assistance, to promote the
protection of women and children in particular, and to bring to justice
those who abuse refugees. The resolution also urged the U.N. High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other concerned organi-
zations to support the implementation of the UNHCR's mandate
and to establish programs on health, education, employment, nutri-
tion, and family planning as well as resettlement and family reunifica-
tion to meet the needs of displaced and refugee women.
A second U.S. initiative focused on the desperate need in many
parts of the world for safe drinking water supplies and improved
sanitation. This resolution encouraged U.N. member states and
international organizations to promote the aims of the U.N. Decade on
Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation, urged them to commit funds
to these aims and called on them to promote full participation of
women in the planning, implementation, and application of technology
for water supply projects, and urged the U.N. Development Program
as coordinator of the U.N. Water Decade to review the extent to which
women participate in such water supply projects. This resolution,
adopted by consensus with numerous cosponsors, was commended as
a model conference approach to specific issues of concern to women.
A third U.S. initiative focused on the problem of battered women
and family violence. The U.S.-sponsored resolution requested the
Secretary General of the United Nations and relevant U.N. agencies
to prepare a study on the extent and types of physical, sexual, and
other forms of abuse in families and institutions and on the availa-
bility and use of resources for addressing the problem. It also requested
that this study be submitted to the 29th session of the U.N Commission
on the Status of Women and urged governments to establish family
courts staffed with experts on family violence and to adopt measures
to protect victims of such violence. The resolution was adopted
Another major U.S. initiative was a resolution on women and
discrimination based on race. The U.S. delegation as well as numerous
nongovernmental organizations unanimously supported the intro-
duction of a resolution that recognized the dual burden of discrimina-
tion based on race and sex. The U.S. resolution called on the United
Nations and its Specialized Agencies to take positive steps to overcome
this dual burden and urged U.N. member states to give special con-
sideration to eliminating such discrimination in their development
programs and other activities. Unfortunately-although perhaps not
surprisingly-other states amended the resolution to include language
offensive to the United States, such as the references to Zionism and
the Declaration of Mexico. The United States, therefore, withdrew
the resolution, which was subsequently reintroduced by Angola with
the offensive language included. A U.S. proposal to strike the language
was then defeated by only two votes. This unusually close vote
demonstrated the existence of widespread concern for the issue of
discrimination against women based on race, a concern which appeared
to transcend immediate political pressures of the Conference. The
Angolan resolution was eventually adopted with 78 in favor, 3 opposed
(the Federal Republic of Germany, the UK, and the United States),
and 39 abstentions. The United States was obliged to vote against
adoption of the resolution because of the references which had been
added which were contrary to U.S. foreign policy interests. Neverthe-
less, the fact of U.S. willingness to introduce the resolution, the first
time the United States has introduced a resolution on race at a U.N.
Conference, and the very strong support for the U.S. position gave the
U.S. delegation cause to claim a moral victory.
The U.S. delegation worked with the representative of a number
of other states on other initiatives. For instance, the delegation worked
closely with Egypt and Barbados on a resolution concerning women
in agriculture and rural areas. The resolution, which was adopted by
consensus, called on governments to give special attention to the needs
of rural women, including their education, their involvement in rural
development projects, and their equal access to land.
The United States also consulted with Australia and several West-
ern European countries on a resolution on the coordination of women's
issues within the United Nations system. This resolution recognized
the need to strengthen the capacity of the U.N. system to coordinate
and address women's issues adequately and called upon the Secretary
General and the heads of the Specialized Agencies to consider the
implications of the Program of Action on their agencies and to report
to the 35th General Assembly on what arrangements should be made
to coordinate, monitor, and evaluate the program.
Besides these initiatives, the United States proposed a number of
amendments to parts I, II, and III of the draft Program of Action.
These amendments served a dual purpose. First, they reflected the
interest of the United States in helping to moderate more strident
amendments to the program and, second, they strengthened provisions
of the program which the delegation believed deserved greater
In this regard, U.S. amendments to the program regarding women
refugees, equal educational opportunities, enforcement of laws pro-
moting and guaranteeing equal rights, and the full participation of
women in all efforts to promote and maintain peace are to be noted.
This record of success was achieved despite, rather than because of,
preplanning on the part of the delegation or the administration.
Although one important pre-Conference initiative was President
Carter's decision to sign the Convention on the Elimination of Dis-
crimination Against Women, only two of the other U.S. initiatives-
the resolution on women refugees and on water supply-were con-
sidered prior to the delegation's departure for Copenhagen. Because
delegation members had no opportunity to discuss beforehand all
possible amendments and/or resolutions to be initiated at the Con-
ference, the drafting of amendments and resolutions had to be done at
the Conference in Copenhagen under severe time constraints. Not-
withstanding these limitations, the record of the adoption by the
Conference of U.S. amendments and resolutions was favorable, except
for three provisions relating to the situation in the Middle East that
have been discussed earlier in this report. The final Program of Action
in general reflected more fully U.S. policies and priorities than the
draft program that had been submitted to the Conference.
IV. NGO FORUM
Because women's nongovernmental organizations have tradi-
tionally been active on international issues and because of the prece-
dent of the Mexico City Tribune in 1975, the Conference of Non-
Governmental Organizations at U.N. Headquarters in New York
decided in 1979 to convene a nongovernmental forum during the
official Conference of Governments in Copenhagen to provide inter-
ested NGO's and individuals an opportunity to discuss issues of com-
mon interest. Organized by a 32 member volunteer planning com-
mittee under the leadership of Elizabeth Palmer, the forum met from
July 14 to 24 at the Amager Center, a branch campus of the University
of Copenhagen near the Bella Center. Over 8,000 participants from
128 countries attended the forum.
The Planning Committee raised $470,000 from 11 governments
(including the United States), 1 foundation, 3 companies and several
individuals to finance the NGO forum. A grant from the Agency
for International Development to the International YWCA, the
Overseas Education Fund of the League of Women Voters, and the
National Council of Negro Women enabled those organizations to
support the participation of women from developing countries in
the NGO forum.
The forum sponsored over 150 workshops and panel discussions a
day on a wide variety of subjects related to the Conference themes of
equality, development, and peace, on issues such as racism, sexism,
women's access to credit and employment, organization of family
planning programs, appropriate technology, special problems of elderly
women, family violence, women's studies, women in science and the
arts, and trade union organization and membership. It also provided
daily briefings for interested participants on Conference activities.
The NGO Forum Press Office published a daily newspaper, Forum
80, and distributed it at the forum as well as the Conference. Because
of its limited budget, the forum could only afford simultaneous
translation for 2 of the 600 meeting rooms. Most of the sessions
were conducted in English with translation into other languages pro-
vided by volunteers. The Forum newspaper, also published in English,
carried some articles in French and Spanish.
The forum exemplified the benefits that can be achieved by volun-
teers operating on a limited budget. Through its workshops and panels,
the forum offered an opportunity for greater in-depth consideration
of specific women's issues than the official Conference. Not surprisingly,
in some of its sessions, forum participants confronted each other with
some of the same political issues that the Conference dealt with. For
instance, representatives and supporters of the PLO attempted to
dominate several sessions on the situation on the Middle East and a
number of participants organized a demonstration against the military
coup in Bolivia. Yet, the workshops, briefings, and informal corridor
discussions significantly contributed to building and extending
women's networks on a full range of women's concerns.
Many forum participants from the United States attended the regular
U.S. delegation NGO briefings on the Conference and were encouraged
to submit proposals for U.S.-sponsored resolutions. In spite of the
hectic, confused atmosphere that frequently surrounded the Conference,
there appeared to be general satisfaction with communication between
the official U.S. delegation and U.S. forum participants. The greater
frustration, in fact may, have been that schedules of many members of
the official delegation were too full to permit them to attend the forum
sessions in which they had particular interests, rather than that
forum participants felt excluded from the official Conference.
MEMBERS OF THE U.S. DELEGATION TO THE U.N. WORLD CONFERENCE
OF THE U.N. DECADE FOR WOMEN, COPENHAGEN, DENMARK,
UNITED STATES DELEGATION
CO-HEADS OF DELEGATION
Hon. Donald F. McHenry, Ambassador, Permanent U.S. Representative to the
Hon. Sarah Weddington, Assistant to the President.
Vivian Lowery Derryck, Director, U.S. Secretariat for the World Conference of
the U.N. Decade for Women, Department of State.
Arvonne Fraser, Coordinator, Women in Development, Agency for International
Alexis Herman, Director, Women's Bureau, Department of Labor.
Koryne Horbal, U.S. Commissioner to the U.N. Commission on the Status of
Sarah Power, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization
Affairs, Department of State.
SPECIAL AMBASSADORIAL ADVISER
Hon. Warren D. Manshel, Ambassador to Denmark.
Hon. Barbara Mikulski, U.S. House of Representatives.
Hon. Mary Rose Oakar, U.S. House of Representatives.
CONGRESSIONAL STAFF ADVISERS
Maura Corrigan, Assistant to Representative Oakar.
Margaret E. Galey, Staff Consultant, Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House
Margaret Goodman, Staff Consultant, Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House
Ann Lewis, Assistant to Representative Mikulski.
Janean L. Mann, Minority Staff Consultant, Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S.
House of Representatives.
Virginia Allan, Special Assistant for Women's Studies, Dean of the Graduate
School of Arts and Sciences, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Ingrid Fabbe Bauer, Clerk-Typist, Department of Social and Health Services,
Friday Harbor, Washington.
Mary Bitterman, Director, Voice of America, U.S. International Communication
Barbara Blum, Deputy Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency.
Kathy Cade, Special Assistant to Ms. Carter.
Blandina Cardenes-Ramirez, Member-Designate, U.S. Commission on Civil
David Cardwell, U.S. Mission to the U.N.
Liz Carpenter, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of Education.
Margaret Carpenter, Office of Coordinator for Refugee Affairs, Department of
Judy Carter, Writer.
Marjorie Bell Chambers, President's Advisory Committee on Women.
Nicholas W. Danforth, Education and Training Specialist, Westinghouse Health
Susan Kunitomi Embrey, Chairperson, Los Angeles City Commission on the
Status of Women.
Sister Isolina Ferre, Social Worker, Puerto Rico.
Eunice Fiorito, Special Assistant to the Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services
Administration, Department of Health and Human Services.
Barbara Good, Director, International Women's Programs, Department of State.
Mary A. Grefe, President, American Association of University Women.
Abigail Havens, Assistant to Ms. Weddington.
Dorothy Height, President, National Council of Negro Women.
Barbara Herz, Senior Adviser for Human Resources, International Development
Ruth J. Hinerfeld, President, League of Women Voters.
Arthur H. Hughes, Counselor of Embassy, American Embassy, Copenhagen.
Perdita Huston, Regional Director, Peace Corps.
Mary King, Deputy Director, ACTION.
John Kriendler, U.S. Mission to UNESCO, Paris.
Odessa Komer, International Vice-President, United Auto Workers.
Esther R. Landa. Immediate Past President, National Council of Jewish Women.
Lillian Levy, Press Officer, U.S. Secretariat for the World Conference of the U.N.
Decade for Women.
Mary W. E. Natani, President, North American Indian Women's Association.
Bea Peterson, Journalist.
Dan Phillips, Political Officer, U.S. Secretariat for the World Conference of the
; U.N. Decade for Women.
Vel Phillips, Secretary of State, Wisconsin.
Maureen Rafferty, Health Education Associates, Public Health Center No. 5,
Lynda Johnson Robb, Chairperson, President's Advisory Committee on Women.
Deidre Ryan, Public Affairs Counselor, American Embassy, Copenhagen.
Sana Shtasel, Department of Justice.
Roma Stewart, Director, Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and
Csanad Toth, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Department of State.
Anne B. Turpeau, Co-Chairperson, Continuing Committee of the National
Maureen Whalen, Deputy Director, U.S. Secretariat for the World Conference
of the U.N. Decade for Women.
CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION
The States Parties to the present Convention,
Noting that the Charter of the United Nations reaffirms faith in fundamental
human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights
of men and women,
Noting that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the principle
of the inadmissibility of discrimination and proclaims that all human beings are
born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the
rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind including
distinction based on sex,
Noting that States Parties to the International Covenant on Human Rights
have the obligation to secure the equal rights of men and women to enjoy all
economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights,
Considering the international conventions concluded under the auspices of
the United Nations and the specialized agencies promoting equality of rights of
men and women,
Noting also the resolutions, declarations and recommendations adopted by
the United Nations and the specialized agencies promoting equality of rights of
men and women,
Concerned, however, that despite these various instruments extensive
discrimination against women continues to exist,
Recalling that discrimination against women violates the principles of
equality of rights and respect for human dignity, is an obstacle to the
participation of women, on equal terms with men, in the political, social, economic
and cultural life of their countries, hampers the growth of the prosperity of
society and the family, and makes more difficult the full development of the
potentialities of women in the service of their countries and of humanity,
Concerned that in situations of poverty women have the least access to food,
health, education, training and opportunities for employment and other needs,
Convinced that the establishment of the new international economic order based
on equity and justice will contribute significantly towards the promotion of
equality between men and women,
Emphasizing that the eradication of apartheid, of all forms of racism. racial
discrimination, colonialism, neo-colonialism, aggression, foreign occupation and
domination and interference in the internal affairs of States is essential to the
full enjoyment of the rights of men and women,
Affirming that the strengthening of international peace and security,
relaxation of international tension, mutual co-operation among all States
irrespective of their social and economic systems, general and complete disarmament
and in particular nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international
control, the affirmation of the principles of justice, equality and mutual benefit
in relations among countries, and the realization of the right of peoples under
alien and colonial domination and foreign occupation to self-determination and
independence as well as respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity
will promote social progress and development and as a consequence will contribute to
the attainment of full equality between men and women,
Convinced that the full and complete development of a country, the welfare of
the world and the cause of peace require the maximum participation of women on equal
terms with men in all fields,
Bearing in mind the great contribution of women to the welfare of the family
and to the development of society, so far not fully recognized, the social
significance of maternity and the role of both parents in the family and in the
upbringing of children, and aware that the role of women in procreation should not
be a basis for discrimination but that the upbringing of children requires a sharing
of responsibility between men and women and society as a whole,
Aware that a change in the traditional role of men as well as the role of
women in society and in the family is needed to achieve full equality between men
Determined to implement the principles set forth in the Declaration on the
Elimination of Discrimination against Women and, for that purpose, to adopt the
measures required for the elimination of such discrimination in all its forms and
Have agreed on the following:
For the purposes of the present Convention, the term "discrimination against
women' shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex
which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition,
enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of
equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the
political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.
States Parties condemn discrimination against "omen in all its forms, agree to
pursue, by all appropriate means and without delay, a policy of eliminating
discrimination against women and, to this end, undertake:
(a) To embody the principle of the equality of men and women in their
national Constitutions or other appropriate legislation if not yet incorporated
therein, and to ensure, through law and other appropriate means, the practical
realization of this principle:
(b) To adopt appropriate legislative and other measures, including sanctions
where appropriate, prohibiting all discrimination against women;
(c) To establish legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis
with men and to ensure through competent national tribunals and other public
institutions the effective protection of women against any act of discrimination'
(d) To refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against
women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in
conformity with this obligation;
(e) To take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against
women by any person, organization or enterprise:
(f) To take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or
abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute
discrimination against women!
(g) To repeal all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination
States Parties shall take in all fields, in particular in the political,
social, economic and cultural fields, all appropriate measures, including
legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the
purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and
fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men.
1. Adoption by States Parties of temporary special measures aimed at
accelerating de fact equality between men and women shall not be considered
discrimination as defined in this Convention, but shall in no way entail, as a
consequence, the maintenance of unequal or separate standards: these measures shall
be discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment have
2. Adoption by States Parties of special measures, including those measures
contained in the present Convention, aimed at protecting maternity, shall not be
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures:
(a) To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women,
with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other
practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of
either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women
(b) To ensure that family education includes a proper understanding of
maternity as a social function and the recognition of the common responsibility of
men and women in the upbringing and development of their children, it being
understood that the interest of the children is the primordial consideration in all
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to
suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination
against women in the political and public life of the country and, in particular,
shall ensure, on equal terms with men, the right:
(a) To vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for
election to all publicly elected bodies;
(b) To participate in the formulation of government policy and the
implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions
at all levels of government"
(c) To participate in non-governmental organizations and associations
concerned with the public and political life of the country.
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure to women on equal
terms with men and, without any discrimination, the opportunity to represent their
Governments at the international level and to participate in the work of
1. States Parties shall grant women equal rights with men to acquire, change
or retain their nationality. They shall ensure in particular that neither marriage
to an alien nor change of nationality by the husband during marriage shall
automatically change the nationality of the wife, render her stateless or force upon
her the nationality of the husband.
2. States Parties shall grant women equal rights with men with respect to the
nationality of their children.
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination
against women in order to ensure to them equal rights with men in the field of
education and in particular to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:
(a) The same conditions for career and vocational guidance, for access to
studies and for the achievement of diplomas in educational establishments of all
categories in rural as well as in urban areas* this equality shall be ensured in
pre-school, general, technical, professional and higher technical education, as
well as in all types of vocational training;
(b) Access to the same curricula, the same examinations, teaching staff with
qualifications of the same standard and school premises and equipment of the same
(c) The elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women
at all levels and in all forms of education by encouraging coeducation and other
types of education which will help to achieve this aim and, in particular, by the
revision of.textbooks and school programmes and the adaptation of teaching methods,
(d) The same opportunities to benefit from scholarships and other study
(e) The same opportunities for access to programmes of continuing education,
including adult and functional literacy programmes, particularly those aimed at
reducing, at the earliest possible time, any gap in education existing between men
(f) The reduction of female student drop-out rates and the organization of
programmes for girls and women who have left school prematurely:
(g) The same opportunities to participate actively in sports and physical
(h) Access to specific educational information to help to ensure the health
and well-being of families, including information and advice on family planning.
1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate
discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a
basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:
(a) The right to work as an inalienable right of all human beings;
(b) The right to the same employment opportunities, including the application
of the same criteria for selection in matters of employment;
(c) The right to free choice of profession and employment, the right to
promotion, job security and all benefits and conditions of service and the right
to receive vocational training and retraining, including apprenticeships, advanced
vocational training and recurrent training:
(d) The right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal
treatment in respect of work of equal value, as well as equality of treatment in the
evaluation of the quality of work;
(e) The right to social security, particularly in cases of retirement,
unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age and other incapacity to work, as well
as the right to paid leave;
(f) The right to protection of health and'to safety in working conditions,
including the safeguarding of the function of reproduction.
2. In order to prevent discrimination against women on the grounds of
marriage or maternity and to ensure their effective right to work, States Parties
shall take appropriate measures:
(a) To prohibit, subject to the imposition of sanctions, dismissal on the
grounds of pregnancy or of maternity leave and discrimination in dismissals on the
basis of marital status;
(b) To introduce maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits
without loss of former employment, seniority or social allowances;
(c) To encourage the provision of the necessary supporting social services to
enable parents to combine family obligations with work responsibilities and
participation in public life, in particular through promoting the establishment and
development of a network of child-care facilities
(d) To provide special protection to women during pregnancy in types of work
proved to be harmful to them.
3. Protective legislation relating to matters covered in this article shall
be reviewed periodically in the light of scientific and technological knowledge and
shall be revised, repealed or extended as necessary.
1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate
discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a
basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those
related to family planning.
2. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1 above, States Parties shall
ensure to women appropriate services in connexion with pregnancy, confinement and
the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate
nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination
against women in other areas of economic and social life in order to ensure, on a
basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:
(a) The right to family benefits:
(b) The right to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit;
(c) The right to participate in recreational activities, sports and in all
aspects of cultural life.
1. States Parties shall take into account the particular problems faced by
rural women and the significant roles which they play in the economic survival of
their families, including their work in the non-monetized sectors of the economy,
and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the application of the provisions
of this Convention to women in rural areas.
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate
discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of
equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural
development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right:
(a) To participate in the elaboration and implementation of development
planning at all levels'
(b) To have access to adequate health care facilities, including information,
counselling and services in family planning;
(c) To benefit directly from social security programmes;
(d) To obtain all types of training and education, formal and non-formal,
including that relating to functional literacy, as well as the benefit of all
community and extension services, inter alia, in order to increase their technical
(e) To organize self-help groups and co-operatives in order to obtain equal
access to economic opportunities through employment or self-employment;
(f) To participate in all community activities;
(g) To have access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing facilities,
appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as
in land resettlement schemes'
(h) To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing,
sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.
1. States Parties shall accord to women equality with men before the law.
2. States Parties shall accord to women, in civil matters, a legal capacity
identical to that of men and the same opportunities to exercise that capacity.
They shall in particular give women equal rights to conclude contracts and to
administer property and treat them equally in all stages of procedure in courts and
3. States Parties agree that all contract and all other private instruments
of any kind with a legal effect which is directed at restricting the legal capacity
of women shall be deemed null and void.
4. States Parties shall accord to men and women the same rights with regard
to the law relating to the movement of persons and the freedom to choose their
residence and domicile.
1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate
discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family
relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:
(a) The same right to enter into marriage:
(b) The same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only
with their free and full consent-
(c) The same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its
(d) The same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective of their
marital status, in matters relating to their children. In all cases the interests
of the children shall be paramount;
(e) The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and
spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and
means to enable them to exercise these rights;
(f) The same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship,
wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children, or similar institutions where these
concepts exist in national legislation. In all cases the interest of the children
shall be paramount;
(g) The same personal rights as husband and wife, including the right to
choose a family name, a profession and an occupation-
(h) The same rights for both spouses in respect of the ownership,
acquisition, management, administration, enjoyment and disposition of property,
whether free of charge or for a valuable consideration.
2. The betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect and
all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum
age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry
1. For the purpose of considering the progress made in the implementation of
the present Convention, there shall be established a Committee on the Elimination
of Discrimination against Women (hereinafter referred to as the Committee)
consisting, at the time of entry into force of the Convention, of 13 and,
after its ratification or accession by the thirty-fifth State Party, of
23 experts of high moral standing and competence in the field covered by the
Convention. The experts shall be elected by States Parties from among their
nationals and shall serve in their personal capacity, consideration being given to
equitable geographical distribution and to the representation of the different forms
of civilization as well as the principal legal systems.
2. The members of the Committee shall be elected by secret ballot from a list
of persons nominated by States Parties. Each State Party may nominate one person
from among its own nationals.
3. The initial election shall be held six months after the date of the entry
into force of the present Convention. At least three months before the date of
each election the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall address a letter to
the States Parties inviting them t6 submit their nominations within two months.
The Secretary-General shall prepare a list in alphabetical order of all persons
thus nominated, indicating the States Parties which have nominated them, and shall
submit it to the States Parties.
h. Elections of the members of the Committee shall be held at a meeting of
States Parties convened by the Secretary-General at United Nations Headquarters.
At that meeting, for which two thirds of the States Parties shall constitute a
quorum, the persons elected to the Committee shall be those nominees who obtain the
largest number of votes and an absolute majority of the votes of the
representatives of States Parties present and voting.
5. The members of the Committee shall be elected for a term of four years.
However, the terms of nine of the members elected at the first election shall
expire at the end of two years; immediately after the first election the names of
these nine members shall be chosen by lot by the Chairman of the Committee.
6. The election of the five additional members of the Committee shall be
held in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 of the present
article following the thirty-fifth ratification or accession. The terms of two of
the additional members elected on this occasion shall expire at the end of two
years, the names of these two members having been chosen by lot by the Chairman of
7. For the filling of casual vacancies, the State Party whose expert has
ceased to function as a member of the Committee shall appoint another expert from
among its nationals, subject to the approval of the Committee.
8. The members of the Committee shall, with the approval of the General
Assembly, receive emoluments from United Nations resources on such terms and
conditions as the General Assembly may decide, having regard to the importance of
the Committee's responsibilities.
9. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall provide the necessary
staff and facilities for the effective performance of the functions of the
Committee under the present Convention.
1. States Parties undertake to submit to the Secretary-General of the
United Nations, for consideration by the Committee, a report on the legislative,
judicial, administrative or other measures which they have adopted to give effect
to the provisions of the Convention and on the progress made in this respect:
(a) Within one year after the entry into force for the State concerned;
(b) Thereafter at least every four years and further whenever the Committee
2. Reports may indicate factors and difficulties affecting the degree of
fulfilment of obligations under the present Convention.
1. The Committee shall adopt its own rules of procedure.
2. The Committee shall elect its officers for a term of two years.
1. The Committee shall normally meet for a period of not more than two weeks
annually in order to consider the reports submitted in accordance with article 18
of the present Convention.
2. The meetings of the Committee shall normally be held at United Nations
Headquarters or at any other convenient place as determined by the Committee.
1. The Committee shall, through the Economic and Social Council, report
annually to the General Assembly on its activities and may make suggestions and
general recommendations based on the examination of reports and information received
from the States Parties. Such suggestions and general recommendations shall be
included in the report of the Committee together vith comments, if any, from
2. The Secretary-General shall transmit the reports of the Committee to the
Commission on the Status of Uomen for its information.
Specialized agencies shall be entitled to be represented at the consideration
of the implementation of such provisions of the present Convention as fall within
the scope of their activities. The Committee may invite the specialized agencies
to submit reports on the implementation of the Convention in areas falling within
the scope of their activities.
Nothing in this Convention shall affect any provisions that are more conducive
to the achievement of equality between men and women which may be contained
(a) in the legislation of a State Party; or,
(b) in any other international convention, treaty or agreement in force for
States Parties undertake to adopt all necessary measures at the national level
aimed at achieving the full realization of the rights recognized in the present
1. The present Convention shall be open for signature by all States.
2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations is designated as the
depositary of the present Convention.
3. The present Convention is subject to ratification. Instruments of
ratification shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
4. The present Convention shall be open to accession by all States.
Accession shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument of accession with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations.
1. A request for the revision of the present Convention may be made at any
time by any State Party by means of a notification in writing addressed to the
Secretary-General of the United Nations.
2. The General Assembly of the United Fations shall decide upon the steps,
if any, to be taken in respect of such a request.
1. The present Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after
the date of deposit with the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the
twentieth instrument of ratification or accession.
2. For each State ratifying the present Convention or acceding to it after
the deposit of the twentieth instrument of ratification or accession, the Convention
shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date of the deposit of its own
instrument of ratification or accession.
1. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall receive and circulate
to all States the text of reservations made by States at the time of ratification
2. A reservation incompatible with the object and purpose of the present
Convention shall not be permitted.
3. Reservations may be withdrawn at any time by notification to this effect
addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations who shall then inform all
States thereof. Such notification shall take effect on the date on which it is
1. Any dispute between two or more States Parties concerning the
interpretation or application of the present Convention which is not settled by
negotiation shall, at the request of one of them, be submitted to arbitration. If
within six months from the date of the request for arbitration the parties are
unable to agree on the organization of the arbitration, any one of those parties
may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice by request in conformity
with the Statute of the Court.
2. Each State Party may at the time of signature or ratification of this
Convention or accession thereto declare that it does not consider itself bound by
paragraph 1 of this article. The other States Parties shall not be bound by
paragraph 1 of this article with respect to any State Party which has made such a
3. Any State Party which has made a reservation in accordance with
parnaraph 2 of this article may at any time withdraw that reservation by
notification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The present Convention, the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and
Spanish texts of which are equally authentic, shall be deposited with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations.
IF WITNESS WIEREOF the undersigned, duly authorized, have signed the present
RESOLUTIONS SPONSORED BY THE U.S. DELEGATION1
Improving the situation of disabled women of all ages
The World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality,
Development and Peace,
Recalling Economic and Social Council resolution 1921 (LVIII) of 6 May 1975,
requesting propramr.es for preventing disability and rehabilitating disabled persons,
Recalling General. Assembly resolution 3447 (XXX) of 9 December 1975,
proclaiming the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons,
Recalling resolution 13 of the World Conference of the International Women's
fear held in Mexico from 19 June to 2 July 1975 entitled "Social security and
family security for women, including the elderly and the handicapped",
Recalling General Assembly resolution 31/123 of 16 December 1976, proclaiming
the year 1981 "International Year of Disabled Persons",
Recalling the Declaration on Social Progress and Development approved by the
General Assembly in its resolution 2542 (XXIV), especially its article 19 (d),
Recalling General Assembly resolution 34/154 of 17 December 1979 entitled
"International Year of Disabled Persons", with the theme "full participation and
Recalling the Commission on the Status of Women resolution 2 (XXVIII) of
4 March 1980, conveying concern over the situation of disabled women to the World
Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women held in Copenhagen,
Noting with appreciation the activities of Governments, United Nations
organizations, the specialized agencies, and non-governmental organizations in
connexion with the International Year of Disabled Persons,
Bearing in mind the importance of co-ordinated activities at the international,
regional and national levels for the purpose of programmes for disabled persons
to prevent disability and for rehabilitation,
Recognizing that, while disabled women and men have the same right to enjoy a
decent life, including general and vocational training and employment, disabled
women of all ages encounter particular difficulties in developing their individual
abilities and skills to the maximum, in becoming as self-reliant as possible and
in participating fully in social life,
Bearing in mind that certain countries, at their present stage of development,
can devote only limited efforts to this end,
1. Appeals to all women and men of the world to support and contribute to
the success of the International Year of Disabled Persons 1981 and the
implementation of the Plan of Action for the Year;
The complete texts of all resolutions accepted by the Conference, as well as the text
of the Program of Action, can be found in the report of the Conference to the General
Assembly at its thirty-fifth session, document A/CONF.94/35.
2. Requests Governments, the United Nations and other concerned United
Nations organizations, in order to ensure the implementation of the Plan of Action
for the Interrational Year of Disabled Persons (see document A/311/158), to give
special attend ion to disabled women in order to promote .their full participation
and integrate n in all fields of normal life and to provide them with recreational
3. Rec ests that programmes of all Member States of the United Nations for
the Internati nal Year of Disabled Persons should explicitly take into consideration
the special n, eds of disabled women of all ages for medical, social and vocational
rehabilitation with the object of:
(a) Assuring the prevention of disability through education, particularly of
parents so as to avoid disablement caused by genetic, congenital and accidental
(b) Providing general, vocational and health education for disabled women,
including adequate assistance, care and guidance-
(c) Enlarging the scale of vocational skills and training facilities in
order to enable disabled women to perform jobs requiring qualifications, including
(d) Providing conveniently situated training and employment facilities,
wherever possible, in the proximity of the family's home, in order that parents
may more easily arrange for the training of disabled children and that disabled
women with family responsibilities can participate in such programmes and
(e) Providing technical and financial support and social services to assist
disabled persons in their domestic responsibilities and to enable disabled mothers
to bring up their children;
(f) Acknowledging the special needs of women who have disabled children or
provide full-time care for disabled relatives for appropriate support services,
including relief programmes;
(g) Encouraging special attention to the particular problems of disabled
women of all ages in study and research projects designed to facilitate their
practical participation in daily life as well as in training and on the labour
(h) Facilitating the immigration and care of disabled refugees and disabled
(i) Encouraging and supporting research on appropriate technological aids
needed by disabled women with the aim of making these aids available at low cost;
4. Requests the specialized agencies, in particular the World Health
Organization, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,
the International Labour Organisation, the United Nations Industrial Development
Organization, the High Commissioner for Refugees and other United Nations bodies
and programmes concerned to take into consideration, in their activities and
programmes, the needs of disabled women of all ages and the necessity to improve
their situation through preventive and rehabilitative measures, and to co-ordinate
their activities in this area;
5. Welcomes the efforts of non-governmental organizations, particularly
those organizations of disabled persons themselves and their families, and asks
for'public and financial assistance-
6. Decides that, in implementing the Programme of Action for the Second
Half of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace,
the needs of disabled women of all ages should be taken fully into account
internationally, regionally and nationally;
7. Requests the Advisory Committee for the International Year of Disabled
Persons in drafting the long-term World Programme of Action related to the Year,
to take into account the special needs of disabled women of all ages.
SElderly women and economic security
The World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality,
Development and Peace,
Recognizing that in many societies, because of longer life expectancy,
elderly women are a fast growing segment of national populations,
Considering that in many States Members of the United Nations this phenomenon
has not been dealt with comprehensively,
Taking into account the value and worth of the elderly populations of the
world and concerned by reports of neglect and denial of basic economic security
for the expanding elderly population of the world, including women,
Recalling the spirit of resolution 13, "Social security and family security
for women", including the elderly and handicapped, that was adopted by the World
Conference of the International Women's Year in Mexico City in 1975,
Recalling General Assembly resolution 34/153 of 17 December 1979 calling for
a World Assembly on the Elderly in 1982 and the request that the Secretary-General
and relevant agencies collect data on the elderly,
Recalling the conclusions of the study prepared for the Secretariat concerning
women and international conferences (A/CONF.94/19 and Corr.l and 2) that were
discussed at this Conference,
1. Requests States Members of the United Nations to ensure that women are
included in the planning process for and are appointed as members of their
delegations to the World Assembly on the Elderly in 1082;
2. Requests Member States and the Secretary-General of the United Nations
to pay, in proceedings of the said World Assembly, special attention to the
problems that elderly women face in their societies;
3. Requests the Secretary-General, in collecting data on the situation of
the aging as called for in General Assembly resolution 34/153 to incorporate
specifically, data on elderly women;
4. Further requests the Secretary-General, in co-operation with the relevant
international agencies, to prepare a comparative study on the availability of
social and economic security for elderly women and their need for a minimum
standard of social security;
5. Requests that these data should be submitted to Member States
participating in the World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women, to the
World Assembly on the Elderly, to the Commission on the Status of Women at its
twenty-ninth session, with a view to recommending necessary action related to the
plight of elderly women throughout the world.
Battered women and violence in the family
The World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality,
Development and Peace,
Recalling paragraph 131 of the World Plan of Action for the Implementation
of the Objectives of the International Women's Year in section F concerning the
family in modern society,
Considering that violence in the home and in the family as well as in
institutions, and in particular physical, sexual and other forms of abuse of
women, children and the elderly constitutes an intolerable offence to the dignity
of human beings as well as a grave problem for the physical and mental health of
the family as well as for society,
Recognizing that domestic violence is a complex problem for which the causes
vary, but whose contributing factors include geographic or social isolation,
financial difficulties, irregular employment, alcohol or drug abuse and lov
Recognizing that long-held attitudes that diminish the value of women have
resulted in virtual immunity from prosecution of persons who commit acts of violence
against members of their families and against women in the care of institutions,
Believing also that improved communication among and within Member States of
the United Nations has drawn increasing attention to this serious problem,
Aware that battering of family members must be recognized as a problem of
serious social consequences that perpetuates itself from one generation to the
1. Requests the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in co-operation
with all the relevant organizations of the United Nations system, to prepare a
study on the extent and types of physical, sexual and other forms of abuse in
families and institutions and on existing resources available for dealing with
2. Recommends that the Secretary-General of the United Nations should submit
this study to the twenty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women
for consideration of appropriate further action;
3. Further urges Member States to consider, where appropriate, establishing
family courts, staffed wherever possible with personnel, including women, trained
in law and in various other relevant disciplines, as well as those with special
expertise and experience:
4. Urges Member States to adopt measures to protect the victims of family
violence and to implement programmes whose aims are to prevent such abuse as well
as to provide centres for the treatment, shelter, and counselling of victims of
violence and sexual assault and to provide other services such as alcohol and drug
abuse rehabilitation, housing, employment, child care, and health care.
SThe situation of women refugees and displaced women the world over
The Uorld Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality,
Development and Peace,
Noting the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
eco g that the problems of refugees and displaced persons affect every
continent and place special burdens on developing countries,
Aware that the substantial majority of refugees in most areas are women and
Bearing in mind that displaced and refugee women suffer more radical changes
in roles and status thmn refugee men,
Recalling the special requirements of women refugees, especially pregnant
and lactating women, wocen with small children and women as heads of families and
Deeply concerned that existing assistance to refugees and displaced persons
does not adequately address the special needs of refugee women and children,
Aware of the effects of separation or death on refugee families, especially
refugee women and children,
Shocked by reports of physical abuse of refugee women and girls,
Recalling the principles of the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status
of Refugees and mindful of the need to apply them to refugees wherever they find
themselves, without discrimination as to sex, race, age, religion or country of
1. Urges all States to recognize their responsibilities and to share the
burden of refugee assistance, whether in providing first asylum, permanent
resettlement opportunities or financial support;
2. Strongly urges all States to co-operate with the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees in order to assure full implementation of his mandate to
protect women and children in particular, and further strongly urges States
receiving refugees to protect their well-being and legal rights under international
law and national legislation;
3. Strongly urges Governments to bring to justice those who abuse refugee
women and children, and to take every possible step to prevent such abuses-
4. Urges the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,
in co-operation with other concerned United Nations agencies and international
and non-governmental organizations, to establish the programmes necessary for
dealing with the special needs of displaced and refugee women, especially in the
areas of health, education and employment;
5. Recommends that the Office of the UNHCR, in collaboration with other
organizations within the United Nations system, should establish special health and
nutritional programmes, particularly for pregnant and lactating women:
6. Requests that family planning information and methods should be available
on a voluntary and nationally acceptable basis to both refugee men and women;
7. Urges the Office of the UINCR to work with host-country Governments to
encourage the participation of women in the administration of refugee humanitarian
.assistance programmes, including distribution of food and other supplies in
first asylum countries and in the design and management of vocational training and
.orientation programmes in first-asylum and resettlement countries-
8. Urges the Office of the UIHCR, in co-operation with other United Nations
and non-governmental agencies and the States concerned, to develop and implement
programmes of resettlement and family reunification, including special programmes
for reuniting unaccompanied children with their families;
9. Calls upon the organizations of the United Nations system, and the
UNHCR in particular, to give high priority in their public information activities
to the need to address the special requirements of displaced and refugee women
and children the world over;
10. Recommends that the Office of the UNHCR should increase the number of
women at all levels of its staff, and establish a high-level position for a
co-ordinator for women's programmes. In addition to ensuring that refugee
programmes meet the needs of displaced and refugee women and children, this Office
should co-ordinate the collection and analysis of data and conduct case studies
on women refugees.
Co-ordination of issues relating to the status
of women within the United Nations system
The World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality,
Development and Peace,
Considering the need to strengthen the capacity of United Nations bodies to
promote the status of women, particularly for the United Nations Decade for Women
and the Programme of Action for the second half of the Decade in implementation of
thw World Plan of Action,
Recognizing the roles of the Commission on the Status of Women, and also the
Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs, the International Research
and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women and the Voluntary Fund for the
United Nations Decade for Women,
Ephasizing the importance of the roles of the specialized agencies and
organizations and the regional commissions and other United Nations bodies in
implementing the Programme of Action for the Second Half of the United nationss
Decade for Women,
Emohasizing that the concerns of women should be an integral part of the
consideration of all issues, policies and programmes in all spheres of United
Recognizing the need for a new approach to the co-ordination of the diverse
efforts of all these agencies end the United Nations bodies and for a reordering of
priorities within current budgetary allocations in order to furtl'er efforts to
raise the status o0 women,
Calls on the Secretary-General and Heads of specialized agencies and
organizations severally and within the Administrative Connittee on Co-ordination
to consider the implications for organizations within the United Nations system
of the Programme of Action adopted at the 190O Conference of the United 7ihtions
Decade for Homen: Equality, Development and Peace and requests the Secretary-
General to report to the thirty-fifth session of the General Assembly on what
arrangements should be made to implement the Progranje and to ensure efficient
co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation of implementation.
International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade
The World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality,
Development and Peace,
Considering that the United Nations Decade for Women was proclaimed in order
to draw attention to the problems faced by women in their daily lives,
Realizing that women of the world may spend as much as one third of their
work day locating and transporting water for drinking, agriculture, food production
and preparation and family hygiene,
Considering that the majority of people of the world have severely limited
access to aRequate safe drinking water,
Deeply concerned that insufficient water and unsafe drinking water and the
lack of sanitation facilities contribute to a high rate of disease and mortality
particularly among women and children,
Recognizing that to achieve the health and nutrition goals of the United
Nations Decade for Women it is essential to meet such basic needs as adequate
daily safe water supply,
Considering that success in establishing and maintaining water supply
systems can be promoted by encouraging active community participation of women
in designing, establishing, maintaining and utilizing such supplies.
1. Strongly encourages Member States of the United liations and
international organizations, including specialized agencies as well as
non-governmental organizations, to promote the objectives of the United Nations
Decade on Drinking Uater Supply and Sanitation:
2. Urges that Member States commit funds and programme development efforts
to these objectives and to co-ordinate the programme with other related sectors
of development to make it more effective;
3. Calls on Member States and United Nations agencies, including
specialized agencies, to promote full participation of women in planning,
implementation and application of technology for water supply projects;
4. recommends that the United Nations Development Programme, as
co-ordinator for the United Nations Decade on Drinking Water Supply and
Sanitation, should review in its annual report the progress in implementing the
goals of this resolution including in particular the extent of community
participation by women and their involvement in designing, maintenance and
utilization of water supply;
5. Urges the World Health Organization to support fully the programmes
submitted by countries on drinking water supply and sanitation systems.
Women and discrimination based on race
The World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development
Mindful of the particular needs of the majority of the world's female population,
who suffer discrimination based both..on race and on sex,
Recognizing the significance for women of the Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Racial Discrimination,
Gravely disturbed by the fact that, because of this discrimination, women suffer
disproportionately from poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and poor health,
Acknowledging that discrimination due to race as a fundamental cause of the
subjugation of women merits singular consideration,
Believing that the stress on family members is compounded by the dual forces
of racial discrimination and sex discrimination,
Concerned to note that the fundamental issue of discrimination due to race and
its impact on economic development, peace and equality was not adequately addressed
in the World Plan of Action adopted in Mexico City in 1975,
1. Calls union the United Nations and its specialized agencies to take
positive steps to overcome the dual burden of discrimination based both on
race and on sex in all their programmes in developed and in developing
2. Calls'upon *ll Member States to give special consideration to the
elimination of discrimination based on race as well as on sex in development
programmes and in all activities that promote women's social, economic and
political integration, particularly in areas of health, employment, education
and rural dcvelopmcnt.
Women in agriculture and rural areas
The World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality,
Development and Peace,
Recalling resolution 21 of the World Conference of the International Women's
Year 1975 and General Assembly resolution 3523 (XXX) of 15 December 1975,
Understanding the need for rural and peasant women to participate in the
development process and the importance of addressing the specific needs of the rural
world and particularly rural women,
Recognizing that rural women throughout the world must be ensured access to
water, to health services, to education, to employment, to transportation and to
land on terms of equality with rural men and with urban people,
Recalling also General Assembly resolution 31/175 of 21 December 1976 on
effective mobilization of women in development, in which the Assembly urged Member
States inter alia to ensure that women have equal access in agriculture to
co-operatives and credit and loan systems, as well as equal opportunities to
participate in policy-making in the economic field, and in commerce and trade in the
advanced efforts of industry,
Extremely concerned that the review and appraisal nof the economic and social
situation of rural women contained in the report of the Secretariat (A/CONF.94/28)
reveals that little or no positive improvements have taken place since the first half
of the Decade,
Aware that, although in many countries women grow, process and market food,
rural women lack production and management skills and access to information and
Related support services,
1. Urges Governments, United Nations organizations and other funding
organizations to give special attention to the needs and priorities of rural women
as determined by rural women themselves;
2. Recommends that all development processes and activities should give due
regard to community orientation with the aim of making it possible for rural women
to remain in their own communities, thus minimizing the flow of migration from rural
to urban areas in countries where this is necessary;
3. Requests Governments to ensure that rural women:
(a) Are provided with education, technology and training suitable to their
needs, as identified by them in order to improve employment opportunities in rural
(b) Have access to credit and financing mechanisms on a basis of equality with
men, and flexibility in the institutions which deliver credit services to rural
(c) Are encouraged and assisted to attain key leadership roles in rural
communities and organizations;
(d) Are encouraged and adequately trained to participate actively in
co-operatives and other organizations concerned with marketing;
(e) Have free access to participate in rural industrialization programmes;
4. Further requests Governments to have trained professionals, rurally-
oriented and specially concerned with education, health and employment, available in
5. Urges Governments to give priority to research and action programmes for
landless rural women and their families;
6. Also requests governmental and non-governmental organizations to encourage
and support the cultural, economic and technical co-operation between rural women in
developed and developing countries and among developing countries;
7. Calls on rural women throughout the world to become aware of their rights
in order that they can exercise and benefit from them;
8. Also calls on rural communities to endeavour, in collaboration with the
mass media, to reflect a more realistic picture of rural living, its problems and
9. Urges the United Nations and organizations in the United Nations system,
in particular the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the
International Labour Organisation, to:
(a) Assist Governments to train women at the para-professional level in basic
agricultural techniques as field workers so that they can travel and exchange
appropriate technology as well as remain in their own environment and become direct
links of communication with rural women in their fields and homes;
(b) Review their funding policies and priorities, especially with respect to
action programmes for women, and in the next five years devote more funds to the
unstinting development of rural and agricultural women;
(c) Seek to employ many more highly qualified and skilled women in agriculture
from all parts of the world at the policy-making level within United Nations
Exploitation of the prostitution of others and traffic
The World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality,
Development and Peace,
Considering that traffic in women and children forced into prostitution remains
a continuing evil,
Considering that women and children (girls and boys) are still all too often
victims of physical abuse and sexual exploitation constituting virtual slavery.,
Noting that the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and
of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others was approved by the General
Assembly in resolution 317 (IV) of 2 December 19 9,
Noting that the World Conference of the International Women's Year in Mexico in
1975 adopted a resolution on "Prevention of the exploitation of women and girls"
requesting the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in co-operation with other
agencies, to undertake a world-wide survey of prostitution and the maltreatment
involved in it,
Considering also that, although section II (Specific areas for national action),
subsection I (Other social questions), of the World Plan of Action for the
Implementation of the Objectives of the International Women's Year refers to this
matter in three different places, the measures and decisions taken in this connexion
have not yet had the desired effect,
Noting that the Commission on the Status of Women, at its twenty-eighth session,
reminded the Secretary-General that a report on the subject should be submitted
Deploring the scant interest shown by Governments and international
organizations in this serious problem,
Believing that it would be desirable to improve the procedures and expand the
activities of organs in the United Nations system, the Commission on the Status of
Women, the Committee on Crime Prevention and Control and the Working Group on
Slavery of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of
Minorities of the Commission on Human Rights, which could help to prevent forced
prostitution, suppress its exploitation and facilitate the rehabilitation of its
1. Invites Governments to take appropriate measures with a view to ratifying
the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation
of the Prostitution of Others and to submit to the Secretary-General the information
specified in article 21 of that Convention;
2. Urges the Governments of States Members to recognize that women and
children are not a commodity and that every woman and every child has the right to
legal protection against abduction, rape and prostitution;
3. Further reminds Governments that women and children prostitutes have the
right to legal protection against maltreatment which they may be subjected to for the
sole reason of their being prostitutes;
4. Reminds the United Nations, non-governmental organizations in consultative
status and all international organizations that they should make concerted efforts
to ensure the success of the campaign against this scourge;
5. Invites the Sixth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and
the Treatment of Offenders to make concrete recommendations in regard to the
relationship between development, prostitution and exploitation and traffic in
6. Recommends that the Secretary-General of the United Nations should invite
the Governments of States Members to take action against international networks of
traffickers and procurers:
7. Requests the Secretary-General to submit to the twenty-ninth session of
the Commission on the Status of Women and to the next session of the General
Assembly of the United Nations the requested report on prostitution throughout the
world, its causes and the social and economic conditions which encourage it.
2D SESSION RES. 748
Relating to the United Nations Mid-Decade Conference for Women.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
JuLY 24, 1980
Mr. ZABLOCKI (for himself, Mr. ROSENTHAL, Mr. BINGHAM, Mr. SOLARZ, Mr.
BONKER, Mr. PEASE, Mr. MICA, Mr. BARNES, Mr. GRAY, Mr. HALL of
Ohio, Mr. BBOOMFIELD, Mr. DERWINSKI, Mr. BUCHANAN, Mr. WINN, Mr.
GILMAN, Mr. GOODLING, Mr. PRITCHARD, Mrs. FENWICK, Mr. MAGUIRE,
and Mrs. SCHROEDER) submitted the following resolution; which was re-
ferred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Relating to the United Nations Mid-Decade Conference for
Whereas the World Conference of the United Nations Decade
for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, is currently
meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark;
Whereas the principal aims of the Conference are to review and
evaluate the progress made and obstacles faced by women
in member states of the United Nations in improving their
access to health, educational opportunities, and employment;
Whereas the agenda of the Conference also includes items on
women refugees, the effect of apartheid on women, and the
situation of Palestinian women in the occupied territories;
Whereas a document drafted by the Economic Commission for
West Asia on the subject of Palestinian women for discus-
sion in relation to agenda items on the same subject threat-
ens to detract from the positive results that could emerge in
achieving the principal aims of the Conference and of the
United Nations Decade for Women; and
Whereas United States foreign policy interests are best served
by the positive results of constructive resolutions that could
emerge from the Conference including a reaffirmation of the
World Plan of Action for the Integration of Women in
societies throughout the world: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Repre-
(1) the United States delegation to the Copenha-
gen Conference on the United Nations Decade for
Women should support appropriate resolutions on the
principal agenda items relating to health, education,
(2) the United States delegation should oppose
any resolutions or amendments introduced at the Co-
penhagen Conference on issues which do not directly
relate to the goals of the Conference, such as the sepa-
rate issue of Palestinian women, and should work ac-
tively with other delegations to ensure that they voice
similar opposition; and
(3) the United States delegation should report to
the Congress on the results of the Conference.
Calendar No. 914
2D SESSION S R 47
Deploring the politicization of the Mid-Decade Women's Conference and urging
the United States delegation to oppose any politically motivated resolutions
at the Conference.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
JUNE 24 (legislative day, JUNE 12), 1980
Mr. JAVITS (for himself, Mr. STONE, Mr. SABBANES, Mr. HAYAKAWA, Mr.
MOYNIHAN, Mr. BAYH, Mr. DURENBERGEE, Mr. HEINZ, Mr. LEVIN, Mr.
RIEGLE, Mr. BOSCHWITZ, Mr. DOLE, Mr. CRANSTON, Mr. PELL, and Mr.
BEADLEY) submitted ithe following resolution; which was referred to the
Committee on Foreign Relations
JUNE 25 (legislative day, JUNE 12), 1980
Reported by Mr. CHURCH with an amendment
[Omit the part struck through]
Deploring the politicization of the Mid-Decade Women's Confer-
ence and urging the United States delegation to oppose any
politically motivated resolutions at the Conference.
Whereas a United Nations Mid-Decade Conference for Women
has been scheduled for July 14-30, 1980, in Copenhagen to
review and evaluate "the progress made and obstacles en-
countered in attaining the objectives of the United Nations
Decade for Women"; and
Whereas a separate item was included in the agenda of that
Conference on "The Effects of Israeli Occupation on Pales-
tinian Women Inside and Outside the Occupied Territories"
despite United States opposition and despite the existence of
the more general item of "Women as Refugees" on the
Whereas a document drafted by the Arab States and the Pales-
tine Liberation Organization and adopted as official docu-
mentation for the Conference, "The Social and Economic
Conditions of Palestinian Women Inside and Outside the
Occupied Territories", presents a biased account of the
conditions of Palestinian women by arguing that the Arab-
Israeli conflict is responsible for the problems faced by
Palestinian women; and
Whereas the addition of this document and separate agenda item
in the proceedings of the Mid-Decade Conference is an
obvious attempt to inject a highly politicized discussion into
an apolitical meeting; and
Whereas the speetre of as iwelevant, pelitieally motivated
debate threatens to detaeet from the pe9itive results that
may emerge in ehieving the objeetives of the Deeade:
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that-
(1) the inclusion of a separate agenda item on
Palestinian women and the acceptance of a sixty-six-
page document relating to that item present an unfor-
tunate intrusion of political issues into a conference de-
voted directly to questions of health, education, and
employment for women throughout the world and as
such is deplored by the Senate; and
(2) the United States delegation to the Confer-
ence should be instructed to oppose any resolutions or
amendments introduced at the Copenhagen Conference
on issues which do not relate directly to the goals of
the Conference, such as the separate issue of Palestin-
ian women, and should actively work with other dele-
gations to ensure that they voice similar opposition.
(mtogress of the united states
lInmmittee =n orzin & affairs
Pmous of sprsem6izatas
PBasjhzgtW, VAL 20515
May 29, 1980
The Honorable Edmund S. Muskie
Secretary of State
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Mr. Secretary:
We are writing to express to you our deep concern over the agenda
of the United Nations Mid-Decade Conference on Women, to be convened in
Copenhagen from July 14 to July 30, 1980. It is likely that the Conference
will be politicized as a result of possible action on agenda item number
ten, entitled, "The Effects of Israeli Occupation on Palestinian Women
Inside and Outside the Occupied Territories."
The agenda item on Palestinian women has been documented, as required
by U.N. procedures, in a report prepared by the U.N. Economic Commission
for Western Asia -- a body which excludes Israel. This sixty-six page
report, in our view, grossly misrepresents the socio-economic conditions
of Palestinians and distorts the political context in which Palestinian women
live. Furthermore, we believe that a lengthy discussion of this report in
Copenhagen would not contribute in any constructive fashion to the enhance-
ment of the status of Palestinian women.
We witnessed five years ago the way in which the adoption of a resolution
equating Zionism with racism and condemning the State of Israel by the U.N.
Conference on International Women's Year in Mexico City resulted in bitterness
and divisiveness. Those attempting to focus attention on the status of
Palestinian women undoubtedly are seeking the adoption of a similar resolution
at the Copenhagen Conference.
The politicization of international conferences does not serve U.S.
interests, nor does it serve the interests of the majority of states partici-
pating. In the case of the upcoming Mid-Decade Conference, such politicization
would only ~g pa1ai gafi promotion of the rights of women worldwide.
Therefore, we urge you to instruct the U.S. delegation to the U.N.
Mid-Decade Conference on Women to oppose amendments or resolutions whose
motivation is strictly political and that do not relate directly to the
substance of the Conference.
With best wishes,
William S. Broomfie
Ed*ard J. Derwinski
S.Jo. Buchanan /
Benjmfn A. Gi
Clement J. Zablocki
'tI C I ,
'Dante B. Fascell
Charles C. Diggs, Jr.
Bjamin S. Rosenth\
Jonathan B. Bingham'
Stephen J. Solarz
Achael D. Barnes
Tony P all
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Dear Mr. Chairman:
Secretary Muskie asked me to reply on his behalf to
your letter of May 28 on the Palestinian Women's item on
the agenda of the United Nations Mid-Decade Conference for
Women. I am sending a copy of my reply to each of the Mem-
bers of Congress who joined you in signing the letter. I
share your concern completely about the effect the Pales-
tinian Women's item could have on the Copenhagen Conference.
As you may know, the United States vigorously opposed adding
this item to the agenda. We also opposed making the United
Nations Economic Commission for Western Asia (ECWA) report
an official Conference document.
I can assure you that a major goal of the United States
delegation to the Copenhagen Conference will be to keep the
focus of the Conference on issues of larger concern to women.
The delegation will be instructed to work with other delega-
tions to oppose resolutions which are critical of Israel.
They will be instructed in particular to oppose any resolu-
tion that is unfairly critical of Israel based on the objec-
tionable language and analyses in the ECWA document.
Mindful of the effort to equate Zionism with racism
at the 1975 Mexico City Conference and the bitterness and
divisiveness that this generated, the State Department
recently instructed a number of our Missions abroad to
explain our position to their host Governments and to seek
their support in opposing the politicization of the World
Conference. As the Conference approaches, we will continue
consulting with other countries on how we might best achieve
J. Brian Atwood
Assistant Secretary for
Clement J. Zablocki,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
House of Representatives.
Hon. WasIt CHaIroegPn
Agttof secretary of State, .Sj. Department
of State. Washington. D.C.
Das Cnms: Some fly years ago, while
- erring a United States Abassador to the
United Nations. I had the opportunity to
observe firsthand the unfolding of a disturb-
ing but fasmiar scene at the World Con-
afrence of the United Nations Decade for
Women held in Mexico City. The issues be-
fore the Conference and the UN Comnu s-
ston on the Status of Women were and ar
fundamental and pressing. All too prediot-
ably. however, the Mexico City Conference
deteriorated into a forum for the political
lashbin of Israel. It marked, you may recall.
the first effort to dentiy Zionism with
racism in an International conference.
It now appears that this episode may be
repeated shortly at the July Mid-Decade
Conference in Copenhagen. Particularly
foreboding are sections of the Provisional
Agenda adopted at a recent UN preparatory
meeting.in New York. which pertain to the
"effect of Isrell occupation" on Palestinian
women in the occupied areas.
This effort can come as no surprise to us.
The precursor of this agenda item was a re-
port released last February by the United
Nation entitled "Social and Economic Con-
ditlons of Palestinian Women Inside and
Outside the Occupied TerritorieFs" The re-
port ls in turn the product of another
preparatory meeting held In Syria last De-
ember. Yet I fear tat tha all this warn-
ng, -w remain unprepared for the confer-
It would be a terrible oss were the July
meeting to be deflected from the vital s-
suu before it by the ritualstic gaseult upon
our democratic aly Israel.
It la my hope that prper nations wi be
taken in the remaining weea both to fore-
stal the occurrence of such an abuse of this
important United Nations forum and to pre-
par our own delegation to counter effes-
tively these and other actions which may
be taken to uassal Israel.
n Dun. PsATXc MonTaMA.
DEP A5 rtMr or STAT.
Washington, D.., May 1., 1980.
Hon. Dan=o. P. MOrrmIA,
DoAr PAT: Thank you for informing me of
your concern about the Palestinian Women
leaue at the UN Conference for Women in
Copenhagen. I share completely your view
that the Conference should deal with Issues
of vital importance to women rather than
degenerate into unfair criticism of anael and
acrimonious debate on Middle East Issues.
This is the primary goal of the State De-
partment and one that I am sure will be
fully shared by the U.V delegation to the
The Palestinian item. offlcally designated.
"The Effects of Israeli Occupatioon n Pales-
tinian Women Inside and Outside the Oc-
cupied Territories," was added to the Copsn-
hagen agenda at the 34th Sesaon of the UN
General Aoembly last December. The UBS.
opposed the singling out of Palestinan
women for special consideration when it was
first proposed at the Seond Prepartor
Committee In August of last yer. and again
during the debate In the General Asaembly.
We argued that problems of Palestinian
woman should be dealt with as part of the
more general problem of women s refugee s
The vote at the General Assembly on the
item, however, was 119 in favor. 2 opposed
(Israel and the U.S.). with 20 abstentions.
At the Third Preparatory Committee in
New.Tork held in early April of 1980, it was
decided to take up the Palestinian issue at-
the Copenhagen Conference in two commit-
tea and limit the time for discussion to
hree sessions of each main committee. One
committee will review progress made during
the past five years on all the Issues before
the Conference, and the second committee
will consider new programs and measures for
the second half of the Decade. The three
politically sensitive issues on the agend-
Palestinian Women. Women and Apartheid.
and Women au Refugees-will be given equal
time n the two eommittesc and wil not be
discussed during the plenary seion excpt
a soclutlons relating t them my be de- i
bated toward the end of the Conferee. We
hope this agenda for the Conference wUl con-
tain the debate on the Paleatinlan Iue o ;
that t will not dominate the Conference.
At the Third Preparatory Committee, the
US. delegation also firmly opposed using the
report on "Social and conomlo Conditions
of Palestinian Women Inaide and Outside
the Occupied Terrttorieos prepared by the
Econmlo Commisseion for West AsI, a the
bau for dlscustlg the Palestinian Issue at
Copenhagen. Despite our strong opposition
n which w had good support from our West-
ern European allies and Japan, Australa,
and New Zealand, the ZWA report ws ap-
proved by the Preparatory Conference a
Conference document. Our objections and
thoe of our alles wer however recorded
verbatim In the Preparatory Committee re-
port. The BCWA document is now being
studied within 'the State Department and an
analysis and taking points will be provided
to our delegation at Copenhagen.- :-.. .-.- -
Let m aee you again that our goal Is
to ontain the Palestinian issue at Copen-
begaan nd to asntr an unfair oriti'Im
of Iset at the Conference. The US. delega-
tion, which will b announced in the next
few weeks, will he fully instructed to do all
It can do to achieve these goals.
With regards. -; -. ".
OFFICIAL COUNTRY STATEMENTS
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE U.S. DELEGATION
Madame President, Distinguished Delegates, and Concerned Women who have
gathered here in this great City:
For all our Delegation, it is an honor to join in this Conference with the
remarkable delegates who have done so much in their Nation's quest for equality
anong men and women.
The next two weeks are ours, all of ours, to make of them what we can what we
must for women around the world. How right that we meet in Denmark a
country which has made progress its tradition, and where equality, justice, and
dignity are the canon heritage of all.
Madame President, your election to the Presidency of the Conference is a recogni-
tion of your special diplomatic talents, and of your country's achievements. We
look forward to working with you.
Just five years ago in Mexico City, the world learned that women would no longer
accept being excluded from the decisions which affect their lives. Since
then, time and again, we have seen women demonstrate the will to direct the
forces of change.
This is the message we hear this is the message we bring you from the people
of the United States. It is their hope that the delegates meeting here will
focus upon the problems, aspirations, and goals that unite women throughout
the world. Recognizing our diversity, we emphasize our unity. Let our delibera-
tions be an example of goodwill to all who seek to improve the lives of women,
men, and children -everywhere.
We cane here to evaluate the progress of women in our respective countries in
accordance with the world plan of action. We are here to rededicate ourselves
to complete the unfinished agenda of our times in the firm belief that to advance
the cause of women's rights is to advance the cause of human rights.
Here in Copenhagen we will further that cause if we use our energies, our wisdom,
and our compassion to study and explore what we and our countries can do to
combat the age-old enemies of humankind poverty, illiteracy, disease.
These problems are the special lot of wcmen because for centuries wanen and
their children have been the principal victims of inequities, oppression, and
conflict. Their plight and their progress is the principal issue before us -
the overriding economic issue; the overriding political issue; and the overriding
But since Mexico we know that things will not change unless we, the wonen of the
world, have the will to change things. Since Mexico we know that the prejudice
enshrined in our minds by past millenia cannot be abolished in a single decade.
But since Mexico, too, we know we must try. We know also that no amount of
sloganeering and finding of scapegoats can change the fact that one of the root
causes of our present predicament is the continuing domination of woman by man.
The solution lies in the full and active involvement of women in all affairs of
Women in our Nation in recent years have exposed to the public many issues and
problems previously ignored domestic violence, rape, unnecessary use of drugs,
unnecessary surgery, occupational hazards such as dangerous exposure to chemicals,
and the mental stress caused by dual responsibilities in the home and workplace
without the necessary support services. The many efforts now underway to deal
with these problems owe much to the public concern and persistence of women.
The Conference in Mexico also made a difference. It was a catalyst pushing us
Working women present a special challenge: 60 percent of all women between 18
and 64 years are employed, and it is estimated that by 1999 this figure will
rise to 85 percent. It will be our task to better prepare them for employment
and confront the endemic problems of occupational segregation and low wages. It
is the task of those women who are taking their place among the leadership of
unions and corporations to assure that the laws which forced discrimination in
employment are fully observed.
Our Government has been striving to strengthen the role of women in public life.
Women have been appointed to the cabinet and to key positions in Government
Agencies. The Voice of America is now the Voice of a Waman and she is here
in our delegation. I, myself, a product of the wanan's movement, am honored to
be part of an Administration which has named 38 of our 44 women Federal Judges.
We are witnessing an increase in the number of wcmen elected to public office
at the State and Federal levels. Two of these women leaders are with us here,
both members of the National House of Representatives. Our entire delegation is
proof that increasing numbers of wamen have attained distinction in our Nation.
We are far from crowding the halls of power in Washington but the fact is that
- since the Mexico City Conference our numbers have increased and our collec-
tive voice is stronger. And it is heard.
In education, American women have made significant progress since we last met.
Most women now complete 12 years of schooling, and roughly half of college and
university enrollments are women.
Today, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of wonen who study to
be lawyers, doctors, engineers, and business leaders.
Largely because of efforts of our women's movement, Federal legislation has been
passed making it illegal to discriminate against women in the educational system.
These laws affect admission of students, hiring and promotion of teachers and
administrators, and the apportiorment of funds and facilities between male and
Enforcement of these laws is not perfect, but our new Department of Education,
headed by a distinguished waman, and our voluntary women's organizations are
actively monitoring progress and insisting upon full compliance with the laws.
They are working, for example, to eliminate gender-role stereotypes from textbooks,
and to demonstrate that girls and women are active participants of society.
Waaen's study courses have been added to the curricula of many universities.
Madame President, we know that our progress at home is inextricably linked to
the advancement of wanen everywhere. It is truer today than ever before. Since
Mexico in 1975, our quest for equality has been hampered by the wrenchings of a
world in which tradition, as well as modernization, often subject women to new
degrees of vulnerability. We have seen the process of development place additional
burdens on women and create stress within the family structure; we have seen
revolutions relegating women to passive roles. And we have witnessed the flight
of millions of families from their lands forced into Statelessness by the
lawlessness of States.
We are deeply concerned about the special problems of wnoen in Southern Africa
who must live and attempt to raise their families under apartheid.
The documentation prepared by the Secretariat on this item leaves no doubt about
the plight of the non-white wmnen in South Africa and Namibia. Their sufferings
stretch the limits of human tolerance, for not only does apartheid separate the
races, it separates families, and places a particular burden on women. We will
examine measures to ease those burdens.
And, Madame President, we are especially concerned by the plight of refugee
women who suffer the multiple pressures of hanelessness, discrimination, and
Madame President, if these are troubled times, they must not sway us from our
determination that the "Decade for Wonen" be a time for progress and achievement.
For our part, Secretary of State Edmund Muskie has, therefore, reaffirmed that
"A key objective of United States foreign policy is to advance worldwide the
status and condition of wamen." The United States is conscious of its obligation
to remain an important participant in the economic progress of the developing
countries, particularly as it affects women.
In this era of diminishing resources and growing scarcity, women will bring new
vitality to the process of economic and social development.
It is their right to do so, and it is our responsibility here at the conference
to see that these rights are honored. The United States Delegation conmits
itself to work with you in the days to came to pursue this goal. Just as we
have contributed to the voluntary fund for the United Nations Decade for Women,
we will also support proposals for a third conference for women, to be held in
1985 to assess further progress.
The U.S. delegation comnits itself to work with you in the days to cane to pursue
this goal just as we have contributed to the voluntary fund for the UN Decade
for Women, we will also support proposals for a third Conference for Women to be
held in 1985 to assess further progress.
I think the statements of the Cuban representative and the Syrian representative
yesterday about the U.S. were objectionable and unwarranted. But they were
particularly offensive because of the urgent objective which brings over 140
nations to this city. The work of this conference is so important to the achieve-
ment of justice for half the world's population that we must not permit it to be
jeopardized by the rash polemics unrelated to our purpose here. Because diversion
from this purpose is diversion from the economic opportunity to consider crucial
improvements in the often ignored needs of women.
We are convinced that the remainder of this Decade for Women must prepare the
next century of peace, a century that ensures full equality among all people.
But the path to peace lies through mutual tolerance and through the search for
permanent and comprehensive solutions. It holds true for the North and the
South, for the East and the West, in all corners of the globe, in Southeast
Asia, as well as in the Middle East. 'To end the sufferings of women, we must
cease the human conflicts. Therefore, it would contribute greatly to the
success of this conference if we demonstrate our unity to the world the unity
of women; and our will the will of women in seeking peaceful solutions to
But we must do more than demand peace; seek peace; pray for peace. We ourselves
must build peace step by patient step.
There is a song in my Country, Madame President, which begins this way:
"Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me..."
Our conference will be an even greater success if we translate that noble sentiment
into action here, now, in Copenhagen. In our deliberations, let us demonstrate
to the world our will to act in a spirit of ccmprcmise; to achieve agreements
peacefully and with principle; and to respect honest differences of opinion.
"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with all of us."
U.S. EXPLANATION OF VOTE ON THE PROGRAM OF ACTION
I remember how our delegation felt as we left Washington for
Copenhagen. We were excited; we were eager; we were looking
forward to joining you here. Our educators, health specialists
and labor experts came to discuss the substantive areas of
health, education and employment -- the subthemes of this
Conference as determined by the Preparatory Committee. Our
rural women our disabled and our displaced homemakers came to
address creatively the special problems they face. Our foreign
aid and refugee experts came to advise on those important
aspects of the agenda here. Our delegation came to Copenhagen
to discuss the complex and painful problems of over half of
the world's population. We came here determined to contribute
to a Program of Action that would speak directly to women
wherever they are in the world by developing appropriate
national, regional and international guidelines to improve the
conditions of the world's majority. And, in spirit, our
delegation carried the goodwill and hope for the future of
millions of American women, hundreds of organizations and diverse
constituencies across the United States.
Sadly, our mutual efforts have fallen far below their potential
accomplishments. Those efforts have been subverted by those
with a different agenda. The focus on women here was pushed
aside and became a victim of those who choose instead to focus
on the political polemics of the Middle East situation. We are
denied a consensus not by questions of how to help women in
developing areas, not by questions of what education women need,
not by questions of how to support women who are discriminated
against on the basis of race and sex, not by any question
uniquely pertaining to women or issues viewed from a woman's
perspective. We are denied a consensus by those who want to
focus a statement against zionism, by those who want to
advance their special interests in the Middle East -- knowing
full well that a Special Session of the United Nations General
Assembly is already working on the highly complicated and
difficult problem involved. They have not compromised as they
claim; they have denied women whatever their race, religion,
or national origin a unique opportunity to contribute solutions
to their own issues in their own way. And the intemperate
and abhorent attacks against Israel and the Camp David process
are completely false and regrettable.
We recognize the difficulties of this Conference, but we are
disappointed that the collective will of women here at this
Mid-Decade Conference of the UN Decade for Women has not been
sufficiently strong to overcome the forces operating here and
to refocus this Conference on the issues and problems we came
This disappointment does not negate the contribution that the
Decade and this Conference has made to the cause of women.
More women are serving on their countries' delegations in
Copenhagen than in Mexico City in 1975. Seventy-five countries
(sixty-eight of them represented by women) signed the Convention
for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Networks among women have been strengthened here among the 2,000
government representatives participating in this Conference and
among the 8,000 women attending the Forum. The documentation
published by nations, the UN, its specialized agencies and other
participating programs, as well as numerous non-governmental
organizations, is extremely valuable. And we are pleased that
such initiatives as those on the disabled, the elderly, on
refugees, and on women in the UN system have achieved wide
Nevertheless, we return to our country with heavy hearts because
women have been denied the time they deserved on the world's
center stage and have been denied the opportunity to accomplish
all that they hoped to achieve. However, we will also return
to our country with undaunted determination to continue to work
for the cause of women.
We return to pursue ratification of the Convention that the U.S.
delegation signed here. We will pursue ways to implement a
number of important initiatives taken here. We will go home to
find ways, working within the government and with the women of
our country, to apply our maximum collective influence and
strength toward our mutual goal: equality, development, and peace.
CANADIAN EXPLANATION OF VOTE ON THE PROGRAM OF ACTION
My delegation has voted no on paragraph 183a as we did on paragraph 5.
It is, therefore, with considerable disappointment that my delegation
has been placed in a position where we have no alternative but to vote against
the programme of action.
My delegation came to Copenhagen to contribute to a programme of action
that would advance the social, economic and political position of women. We
came to declare our support for a programme of action to eradicate the universal
imbalance of power that exists between women and men.
Prior to this conference, women in Canada had high expectations and con-
siderable optimism that the United Nations would agree to a programme of action
that spoke to issues common to women around the world.
We came to this conference convinced that a world programme of action
could result in substantial changes in legislation, policies and programs
that would indeed lead to recognition of women's contribution and an end to
The fundamental purpose of this conference was to address the inequities
that exist between women and men, in all nations, and to propose a program
of action to overcome them.
To put the matter simply and plainly, Madam President, this conference
has been diverted from its fundamental purpose by a relatively small number
of delegations which seem to overlook the importance of the specific concerns
This diversion began in the first days of the conference with a series
of amendments proposed by the delegation of India. While they contained a
number of useful ideas relating to women and development which we were prepared
to negotiate in good faith, these amendments also contained certain political
references, notably paragraph 5 calling for the elimination of zionism, which
were known to be totally unacceptable to us, as well as to a good many other
delegations. From the day these amendments were circulated, the overwhelming
focus of debate has been on these diversions. Given the ludicrous spectacle
we have witnessed tonight, it is no wonder that women here because of their
commitment to ending women's inequality have become disheartened by this conference's
failure to discuss their concerns in anything approaching a meaningful fashion.
My delegation was quite prepared to deal seriously with the question
of Palestinian women. But we were fundamentally disappointed that, rather
than draw on the expertise of UNRWA, to which Canada is a major contributor,
or explore in a serious fashion inequalities between Palestinians, men and
women, we were limited to discussion of the political framework of the Middle-
East question, a subject more properly and capably discussed at the just concluded
special session of the General Assembly.
In the meantime only a fraction of debating time at this conference has
touched the key political questions that concern women: the re-structuring
of family responsibilities so that men do their fair share; equal renumeration
for work of equal value; an equal share from economic development and in all
decision-making, to name a few. The implementation of these clauses of the
program of action would amount to an overturning of the old order in all nations.
My delegation supports major portions of the programme of action, in
particular, those dealing with national machineries and the sub-themes --
health, education, and employment. The programme contains a number of useful
practical measures, such as the employment of women in the U.N. system and
the integration of the concerns of women in U.N. policies and programmes.
We will incorporate these ideas in our own national plan of action and will
continue to support the international measures in our future participation
in U.N. meetings.
We also support a number of sections designed to meet the aspirations
of developing countries for a more equitable global economic order in which
women would occupy a position of equality with men. These undertakings will
help guide Canada's developmental efforts in a way that responds directly
to the concerns of women.
But the Canadian delegation cannot concur in the adoption of blatantly
biased political references, nor can we sanction the diversion of the conference
from its main objectives. We have heard speakers who prefer the comfortable
ring of global political platitudes to the unfamiliar and perhaps threatening
terrain of sexual inequality. We have been treated to a litany of catch-
phrases and rhetoric used to obscur a realistic examination of the plight
of women. In all, the results of the conference have been discouraging to
those women who believe in the necessity and propriety of prompt and effective
international action. These results fully merit the negative vote which my
delegation will give to signal its strong disapproval of the mockery and farce
this conference has made of serious proposals to end women's inequality.
Our faith in women remains unshakeable.
Our future is clearly in our own hands.
NEW ZEALAND EXPLANATION OF VOTE ON THE PROGRAM OF ACTION
We have already explained our rejection of one paragraph of the
Programme of Action: if we had not had to cast that vote, we should have
been able to support the Programme as a whole; indeed we believe it contains
much which is of value for women in New Zealand and all over the world.
However, we have some comments which will make dearer the context in which
we have seen ourselves obliged to abstain on the entire document.
This Conference on Women has significantly addressed the following
-- In the negotiations for peace, equality and development, humanity
is denying itself the intelligence, the experience, the sensitivity and vision
of half its members in decision-making, negotiation, planning and practical
-- Economic organization by itself is not responsible for women's
subordinate position in development; it interacts with a supportive ideology
of sexual bias, that is sexism, to create an adverse environment for all people.
Furthermore, while the economic organization of society may change, every woman
everywhere must confront the problem of woman as both mother and worker,
reproducer and producer.
It is not good enough for progressive groups to ignore women's
particular needs and subordination by saying that the "general" struggle for
change will take care of women's oppression.
There are fallacies associated with grouping women with the poor
without recognizing their special vulnerability as women. This burden of
oppression is a multiple one; of woman and poor-- or woman and black,
or woman and homeless.
Women do share elements of a universal oppression and dependency.
It had been our hope that this Conference would have dedicated itself
to the elimination of all exploitative, dependent relationships, particularly
that between men and women.
It is our deepest regret that this has not been the case.