DEVELPOMENT REPORT - UN Conference on Women

By Caty Weaver

This is Tim Shamble with the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

The United Nations recently held a conference on women's rights. Delegates from almost one-hundred-ninety nations attended. About one-thousand-two-hundred non-governmental organizations also sent representatives.

The name of the conference was Women Two-Thousand: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century. The unofficial name of the conference was Beijing Plus Five. A major goal of the delegates was to speed progress on action called for at the last UN conference on women in the Chinese capital in Nineteen-Ninety-Five.

There was much debate at the women's conference. Women's rights groups and most western countries wanted to produce a final document that clearly stated support for the sexual rights of women.

They also wanted the document to clearly state support for the right and ability of women to receive medical treatments to end pregnancies. However, many Islamic and Roman Catholic countries objected to including such language in the final document.

On the last day of the meeting, the delegates approved a new plan to improve the rights of women around the world. The final document demands measures to stop violence against women by family members. It calls for strong punishment for attackers, including husbands who force their wives to have sex. The document also deals with the killing of women believed to have dishonored their families.

The final document calls for measures to end the trade in female sex workers. And, it demands more action to fight the disease AIDS among women. In the past five years, the disease has begun to affect more women, especially in Africa.

The women's conference was held from June fifth to June tenth at United Nations headquarters in New York. UN General Assembly President Theo-Ben Gurirab of Namibia led the conference. Angela King also was a major organizer of the event. She is a special adviser to the UN on women's progress.

Both officials were pleased with the results of the conference. However, some women's groups felt the conference did not go far enough to guarantee women's rights. The issues they are concerned about will probably be debated again at the next UN women's conference in Two-Thousand-Five.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Caty Weaver. This is Tim Shamble.

Voice of America Special English