Request for a Fifth UN World Conference on Women

Athens, Greece, 27-28 January 2006


Socialist International Women adopted, at its Bureau meeting in Rome, January 2003, a declaration on holding a fifth UN World Conference on Women. Other UN Conferences show that such large gatherings are a valuable public acknowledgement of the issues discussed. Women demand and need the international community to focus on the further development of real gender equality. Socialist International Women believes that this can only be done effectively in a conference.

Women NGOs have witnessed the disastrous negotiations on Beijing plus 10 at the 2005 session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and realise that discussing the Platform for Action would therefore be a grave mistake. However, SIW like many other women NGOs all over the world, still firmly believes that such a conference is needed. Together with many women's organisations SIW is certain that the application of gender equality to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) would be an appropriate topic for such a conference.

Predictably but sadly, the MDGs have failed to do that: to acknowledge women not only as victims, but, more importantly, as actors in all those issues: the fight against poverty and hunger, HIV/AIDS, child mortality, the need for a responsible use of natural resources. Discussing women's role in developing a global partnership for development and offering women's creativity, their potential, their ideas would be a most welcome opportunity – which a fifth UN World Conference on Women would provide.

The social, cultural and economic equality of women and men is an essential precondition for overcoming and eradicating poverty and for sustainable development. Equality means that women and men receive equal recognition for their contribution to society and for their work; that they can participate in and shape development on an equal footing; and that they do have and make use of equal opportunities.

A fifth UN World Conference on Women should discuss, inter alia, issues like better education, health care and secure food for women and girls; legal equality as well as economic and political strengthening of women; and fair access to resources, e.g. land, water, income, energy and capital.

SIW therefore calls on governments of UN member states to agree to hold a fifth UN World Conference on Women. SIW will encourage – through its member organisations – national governments to support this proposal.



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The First Hundred Years

A Short History of Socialist International Women

By Irmtraut Karlsson

This book tells the history of the first one hundred years of the Socialist International Women