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Vol. 12 Nos. 1 & 2
December 1998



The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Convention) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) identify a group of human rights that, if fully realized, would universally redefine how human beings relate to each other. If discrimination against women were truly and entirely eliminated, relationships between women and men would no longer be defined by stereotypical thinking and unequal power relationships. If discrimination against children were eliminated, all children would be recognized as human beings with basic rights as individuals rather than as property of their families and communities. These two conventions have the highest number of ratifications of any of the human rights treaties-and the highest number of reservations. Apparently governments find the basic principles politically irresistible, but they fear the fundamental change that would result from full, unreserved compliance.

The CEDAW Convention and the CRC have essential elements in common. Both refer specifically to rights to nondiscrimination, participation in decisionmaking, access to education and health care, nationality, and attention to the best interests of the child. The approach of each convention to these rights is shaped by the nature of the centrally affected group. The CEDAW Convention carefully defines discrimination against women, which is alluded to in other treaties but has not received adequate attention in intergovernmental and NGO fora, and notes the obstacles to women's enjoyment of their fundamental human rights. The CRC specifically outlines the concept that children have human rights as individual human beings, which had not been acknowledged clearly in prior instruments.

Advocates for women's human rights and for children's rights have on occasion insisted that certain rights of children as stated in the CRC and certain rights of women under the CEDAW Convention must inevitably conflict. The NGO communities concerned respectively with each treaty have rarely collaborated on a community-wide basis and sometimes do not even know each other within a particular country. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has concerned itself to some extent with certain issues pertaining specifically to girls, and the CEDAW Committee has paid some attention to issues concerning rights of female children, but the two Committees historically have not collaborated or overtly acknowledged the potential commonality of their concerns.

In the last two years this picture has changed. In 1996 UNICEF adopted a mission statement that explicitly refers to the significance of the CEDAW Convention and mandates attention to its implementation. Members of the CEDAW and the CRC Committees met in November 1996 in Cairo and determined that indeed the two conventions share certain commonalities and there is potential for positively exploring the overlap in interests. And in 1998, a series of international meetings were held to lay the groundwork for cooperation between the international and local communities concerned with the rights of children and those concerned with the human rights of women. The meetings were cosponsored by IWRAW, Save the Children Alliance, UNICEF, UNIFEM and the UN Division for the Advancement of Women; the Commonwealth Medical Association also collaborated.

Advocates for the human rights of children and of women have a considerable commonality of interest in what the two conventions define as fundamental social and legal change. The key to successful collaborative efforts lies in identifying the commonalities and understanding that the perceived conflicts are matters of economic or political priorities and not a conflict of rights. As sister instruments derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two conventions cannot embody conflicting rights. But they do refer to conflicting interests, which must be resolved by addressing the conflicts at community and state levels. For example, women's employment rights can be seen as conflicting with children's right to health, particularly if breast-feeding is endorsed as the healthiest way to feed an infant. But if provision is made for paid leave and adequate breast-feeding breaks at work, and if resources are made available to underwrite healthy alternative ways to feed an infant, the perceived conflict can be resolved in the best interests of both child and parent.

The series of meetings in 1998 explored issues such as this and resulted in commitments by NGOs and international agencies to develop further collaboration that will serve both communities well. At an expert meeting held in Geneva in October 1998, focusing on prevention of violence in the family, members of the CEDAW Committee and the CRC developed a set of recommendations for working in parallel, such as development of parallel questions for States parties concerning violence in the family, which each committee will consider for adoption in full session.

IWRAW has committed to providing information and technical assistance to NGOs concerned with using the reporting process for either commitee to advance the human rights of women and girls. IWRAW invites inquiries and information on developments concerning the rights of girl children, for publication and use in monitoring and reporting. The reports of the 1998 series of meetings on this subject are available from IWRAW as well as from the other sponsoring agencies; see Resources in this issue.

Articles 2, 3, 5

The United Nations has issued an extensive analysis of the treatment of gender issues by the human rights treaty bodies. The paper, prepared by the Divison for the Advancement of Women, was requested by the Chairpersons of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies. Recommendations included review by each treaty body of its attention to gender perspectives; adoption of explicit decisions concerning gender mainstreaming; requesting and using sex-disaggregated data with respect to all subjects of the treaty rather than limiting their use to traditionally "women- specific" issues; specific actions to foster cooperation between the five treaty bodies serviced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the CEDAW Committee, and between their respective servicing units; and efforts to increase normative consistency between the treaty bodies as to gender perspectives, in their concluding comments and their general comments/ recommendations At their annual meeting in September 1998, the Chairpersons strongly endorsed the report and called upon each of the committees to take full account of the recommendations in their work. The paper is available on the Division for the Advancement of Women Web site, http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/.

On September 2, 1998, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, convicted Jean-Paul Akayesu, a former mayor, of rape and genocide. The rape counts were added to the case after the trial began, based on testimony that was entered at trial. The rape accusation was included after women's groups lobbied the chief prosecutor and submitted an amicus brief to the judges, resulting in amendment of the indictment in June 1997.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in September 1998 that British law does not adequately protect children from corporal punishment. In 1993 a man was charged with assault after beating his stepson hard enough to raise welts. The British court acquitted, holding that the beating was justified as "reasonable chastisement" because it took place after the boy had threatened his brother with a kitchen knife. The European Court stated that the British government has a duty to protect vulnerable citizens from assault and ill treatment. While the Court did not hold that all corporal punishment is illegal-that is, British parents will retain the right to "smack" their children-the law will have to be rewritten to clearly prohibit beating.

The Government of Indonesia has established an official committee to investigate reports of widespread rape, targeting women of Chinese descent, during the May 1998 riots in Jakarta and other cities. Accounts of the rapes came to light after Jakarta's Volunteer Team for Humanity, an NGO coalition, opened a confidential hotline a week after the riots. The Volunteer Team says it has documented the rape of 168 women. Observers suspect that the rapes were orchestrated by members of the military, so fear of reprisal intimidates victims and witnesses. While some NGOs claim that the rapes were specifically aimed at terrorizing the Chinese minority, which was the target of the riots, the Rev. Sandyawan Sumardi, head of the Volunteer Team, suggests that they were planned to terrorize the nation generally. Both NGOs involved in investigation and government officials who have minimized the accounts have been threatened. Despite invitations to representatives of the Chinese and Singapore governments, the official investigating committee may be stymied by witness' fears.

In November 1998 the Iranian parliament approved a draft law allowing for the recruitment of women for the police force. Women have not been allowed to serve as police officers since the 1979 revolution. They will be assigned duties such as delivering documents, performing body searches on women, and enforce Islamic dress codes. They will be required to maintain Islamic dress themselves and remain segregated in their employment setting. This minor breakthrough follows the appointment of the first four women to the judiciary in 1997.

Still, for every policy decision indicating progress, several more emphasize the limitations on Iranian women's freedoms. Women now have the "benefit" of special compartments on trains if they are travelling without a male companion. In September,1998, a special park reserved for women was established in Ahvaz, a major provincial city. The Head of Women's Contributions Affairs Center has endorsed a speech by President Khatami that supported women's confinement of their "social activities" to the home. And in December 1998, the conservatives who dominate parliament proposed a law prohibiting male physicians from treating female patients. Physicians responded that such a provision would push medical treatment of women "back to the Stone Age."

A number of women in the Gulf states have made a name for themselves as writers, but for many of them the name is a pseudonym. Gulf women have been writing for newspapers and publishing poetry and other work for years, but only recently have some of them come out from behind pen names. Family criticism and social condemnation have prevented them from claiming their work under their own names. In Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates, a few women have been encouraged by family or simply have gained the confidence to use their real names. The issue is no different for women who write poetry or who write for conservative, government-supporting newspapers; it is a matter of women's right to expression regardless of their political leanings.

A US Department of the Interior investigation has found significant human rights violations in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. A seven-member investigative team concluded that CNMI citizens are victims of rampant employment recruitment scams; that poverty and health problems are increasing; and that trafficking of minors from the Philippines and China, and of Russian women from Sakhalin Island, for purposes of prostitution. The report also stated that, although abortion is prohibited by the Constitution, it "appears to be a common practice" among Saipan garment workers. One garment worker filed a discrimination complaint stating that her employer had fired her when she refused to have an abortion.

The Community for Human Rights in North Africa (CHRNA) has accused the Tunisian government of torture, exploitation, and systematic rape of women prisoners. Despite repeated requests by the Tunisian League of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and others, Tunisia has allowed no independent access or inspection of its prison system. CHRNA has gathered testimony in support of the accusations and requests an independent and transparent investigation into cases of alleged death in custody and the allegations of sexual assault and rape in Tunisian prisons and detention centers since 1991.


CEDAW General Recommendation 19

The Chilean Ministry for Women has launched a "Zero Tolerance of Sexual Violence" campaign to change legislation and public opinion about sex crimes. The campaign is to be carried out through parliamentary lobbying, use of communication media, and work with women's organizations. Current legislation, some of which dates from mid-century, still refers to concepts such as "doncella" (virgin) and "women of good or bad reputation," which result in women having to prove their innocence. In Chile just 10.2% of the cases result in convictions. The Ministry proposes changes in the law: to abolish the provision allowing a perpetrator to be freed if he marries the victim; to criminalize marital rape; to allow for investigations based only on a report of rape; to decrminalize voluntary homosexual relations; to prohibit sexual harassment in any public or private places; and to prohibit sexual exploitation in children. The program also encourages ratification of the Convention of Belem do Pará on the eradication of violence against women and that the Convention be adopted as law, and would require national tribunals to take into account the international treaties ratified by Chile.

In Cairo, Egypt, two doctors were charged in July 1998 with illegally performing female genital mutilation on three young girls, one of whom died of an antibiotic allergic reaction during the operation. The doctors were released on bail; if found guilty, they could be sentenced to three years in prison. FGM is prohibited under a ban issued by the Minister of Health in 1996 and upheld by the Supreme Court in December 1997.

Article 6

International news services report that Thai women are being brought to South Africa to be trapped into sexual slavery. Members of a well-organized gang promise the women jobs as hostesses; the women pay a fee for their tickets and work permits, and find themselves in South Africa at the mercy of the recruiters, forced to work day and night. A few have been repatriated, and Thai authorities are hunting the gang members.

As of January 1, 1999, men who buy sexual services in Sweden may be arrested and fined or sent to jail for up to six months. Adopted in July 1998 by a 181 to 92 vote in the Riksdag, applies everywhere-on the streets and in brothels, private clubs and massage parlors. Stockholm police will use video cameras to monitor red-light districts and they register auto license plates of suspected men. The new law does not make prostitution illegal, and sex workers can continue offering their services. Recent police figures indicate that between 5,000 and 6,000 prostitutes work in Sweden; many come from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. In neighboring Finland, the government has banned the purchase of sexual services from persons under the age of 18. The new law in effect as of January 1, applies both at home and abroad. Under the measure, Finnish citizens and Finland's foreign residents may be prosecuted even if the purchase of sexual services from minors occurs in a country where child prostitution is not illegal.

A study by the International Labor Organization, released in August 1998, documents the economic impact of the commercial sex trade and suggests that governments officially recognize it in economic reporting and planning. The study did not call for legalization of prostitution, but indicated that the revenues and remittances from urban to rural areas in the four countries studied (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand) are too large to be ignored.

Articles 7 & 8

The September 1998 elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina resulted in a dramatic increase in women's representation in Parliament. The rules established by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which supervised the election, required that each party include at least three women in the top ten on its party list. Voters choose parties, rather than individuals, and each party can seat a number of delegates proportional to it share of the vote. With three women in the top ten on any list, the number of women was bound to increase. Women now hold 11 of the 42 seats in the House of Representatives (compared with one before), 21 of the 140 seats in the Federation House of Representatives, and 19 of the 83 seats in e Republika Srpska National Assembly. However, an OSCE democratization officer notes that women were excluded from places further down on the lists rather than integrated througout.

Following the elections, the female parliamentarians, from all parties and ethnic groups, agreed to form an alliance to keep each other informed and to work together on common issues such as budget, the military, health and education. What brought them together (under OSCE auspices) was the common experience of being ignored by their own parties and passed over for high parliamentary posts.

The first woman to serve as President of Switzerland was elected in December by Parliament. Interior Minister Ruth Dreifuss, a Social Democrat who has been serving as Vice President, will preside over the Cabinet during 1999. The Presidency is a largely ceremonial post that rotates every year, but Dreifuss nonetheless sees it as an opening for women, who have been underrepresented in high government posts. She is only the second woman to serve in the Cabinet.

Article 10

The latest UNICEF annual report, State of the World's Children, reconfirms the importance of girls' education as critical to addressing basic population and economic issues. Currently sixteen percent of the world's population is illiterate, and the percentage is expected to grow because only one in four children in very poor countries is currently in school. Less than half of the school population is female. Yet better education for women and girls has proven to result in better health, including reduction in infant mortality as well as lower fertility rates. School attendance rates are dropping because hard-pressed governments place a low priority on supporting education. Ethnic conflict also makes for millions of school-age refugees. The report is available from UNICEF, UNICEF House, East 44th Street, New York 10017 USA.

Twenty-five women in sub-Saharan Africa will receive Ph.D. training fellowships to study science and technology in other developing countries, under a pilot program established by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The program is specifically aimed at developing a group of African women trained to participate in significant technological research and decision-making. The fellowship program, operated through the Third World Academy of Sciences, is part of an effort to meet a newly adopted development goal of gender equality in programs of SIDA's Department for Research Cooperation (SAREC).

The South Korean Ministry of Education has adopted a new national curriculum with a goal of eliminating gender discrimination from all textbooks. The new curriculum requires that technology and home economics be taught as basic subjects by the year 2001. The Ministry will survey the ratio of women promoted to positions as vice principals and principals and will revise personnel management rules to guarantee equal opportunity. The new approach includes encouragement of girls to take technology courses and establishment of additional engineering high schools and classes for women.

Article 11

The Chilean parliament has approved a law prohibiting employers from requiring pregnancy tests as a condition of hiring or consideration for promotion. The change was proposed by the Ministry of Women. The CEDAW Committee in its review of Mexico in January 1998 called on the Government of Mexico to similarly prohibit pregnancy tests in the hiring process.

Even though wage discrimination has been illegal in the US for 35 years, the US Census Bureau reports that many women still earn, on average, just 74 cents for every dollar men earn. To illustrate the extent of the salary gap, the Working Women's Department of the AFL-CIO (labor union consortium) has established a Web site where the visitor could estimate how much the wage differential is costing her.

During her recent visit to China, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson noted the high number of women workers laid off in Shanghai as a result of restructuring and requested that city authorities broaden retraining programs to provide more opportunities for women. She also objected to the practice of allowing employers to designate whether they wanted a man or a woman for particular jobs. In the past seven years 1.2 million workers have been laid off. The textile industry, which employs largely women, has lost 300,000 out of its original 570,000 workers.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that women who suffer "routine pregnancy-related inconveniences," such as fatigue or morning sickness, may have their wages cut by their employers. If the discomfort does not rise to the level of incapacity for work or a threat to the unborn child, the Court said, the women do not have a right to be paid when they do not show up for work. In the same ruling, involving pay legislation in Denmark, the Court did hold that employers could not reduce salaries of women who are totally unfit to work for a reason connected to pregnancy, as salaries were not reduced for men who were unfit to work for medical reasons. Also, employers cannot reduce pregnant women's pay on grounds that they cannot find suitable work for them. These provisions violate equal pay provisions of European Union treaties.

After a fourteen-year legal battle, Canada's Human Rights Tribunal issued a landmark decision in July 1998 finding that public servants in female-dominated job categories must be paid on an equal basis with men whose jobs are comparable. The pay equity case dates from 1984, and the award orders pay adjustments, including interest, retroactive to March 1985. According to the public service board, the award is worth Can$1.33 billion. The government has appealed.

Women Board Directors International, a US-based nonprofit group that promotes women's access to the highest levels of corporate management, has declared that the percentage of women on corporate boards in Japan is "pathetic." Women constitute 0.2 percent of Japanese corporate directors, compared with 11.2% in the US and five percent in the UK. The largest, most international Japanese corporations have no women on their boards; the few women serve on boards of mid-sized, more local companies. The study, produced by a private Japanese think tank, included all of Japan's publicly traded companies. The results reflect the consequences of women's position in Japanese society in general, where most are employed as "office ladies" or in other low-level, dead-end positions, and only eight percent of the members of the Diet are women.

Articles 10, 12, 14

Ligia Martín, Costa Rican Women's Ombud, has reported significant lapses in gynecological and obstetrical care. Gaps include lack of breast proteases and mammogram machines, unavailability of reconstructive breast surgery, lack of information, and lack of attention to privacy. In addition, authorities have discovered a failure to analyze six thousand cytology (cervical) samples taken between November 13, 1996 and April 3, 1997. The affected women were not notified, putting them at significant health risk. Hospital authorities blame the gynecologists and the patients, claiming that the physicans should have taken new samples when they did not receive results and that patients should attend to having the tests every two years. Meanwhile, the Costa Rican Medical Association Commission on Human Reproduction has called for a change in the law concerning sterilization. The 1988 law authorized sterilization upon a conditions including "signed request by the interested parties" and "written medical justification for the request." The law's vagueness as to the conditions has resulted in subjective and oppressive application, such as requiring a husband's permission, or that the woman be 35 years old or older and have at least three children. According to the Constitutional Board, these conditions violate constitutional freedoms.

In October 1998 Sheik Nasr Farid Wasel, Egypt's Grand Mufti, made a revolutionary appeal to the government to permit abortions for unmarried rape victims. Abortion is illegal in Egypt unless the pregancy threatens the life of the mother. A provision for abortion in the case of rape would constitute a major broadening of the law. However, the Grand Mufti made no suggestion as to abortion in the case of a raped married woman. The issue seems to center on questions of marriagibility and virginity rather than on considerations of the woman's state of mind; in the same speech the Grand Mufti also suggested that government clinics should be allowed to "restore" the woman's physical "virginity." Aminna al-Naqqash, a member of the opposition Progressive Unionist Party, welcomed the ruling as to abortion but dismissed the suggestion as to "restoring virginity," noting that it would be merely a physical procedure that would have no effect on the damage to a woman's selfhood caused by the rape. The government, meanwhile, indicated that it had no plans to consider either provision.

On July 10, the High Court of Pretoria, South Africa, dismissed a constitutional challenge to the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act. The challenge was brought by three right-wing Christian groups, who claimed that the Act is unconstitutional and should be struck down in its entirety. The plaintiffs argued that the life of a human being starts at conception, abortion terminates the life of a human being and that everyone has a right to life and that everyone includes a fetus. But the court decision confirmed the protection of women's rights: the constitution guarantees women the rights to equality, to make decisions concerning reproduction, and to security and control over their bodies. The case also was noteworthy in that, although the claim was against the Ministry of Health and the Premier of Gauteng Province, the court also admitted as defending parties the Reproductive Rights Alliance (an NGO) and the Commission on Gender Equality. The full opinion is available at: http://www.law.wits.ac.za

The five-year review of the International Conference on Population and Development, (ICPD + 5), will be held in New York in June 1999. Events center on a special session of the General Assembly, June 30-July 2. Several UN roundtables have been held on ICPD subjects. An NGO Forum, limited to 800 particpants, will be held in conjunction with the GA session. Cairo Plus Five, a newsletter produced for journalists concerned with ICPD, cites programs in Nigeria, Brazil, and Bangladesh as examples of progress towards the ICPD goals-but notes as well that oppression and violence continue to hamper women's access to their reproductive rights. The US is cited as particularly culpable in cutting off financing for the UN Fund for Population Activities as a result of conservative politics. NGO Forum and ICPD+5 Web site: www.unfpa.org; Cairo Plus Five: c/o Population Action International, 1120 19th Street, N.W., Washington DC 20036 USA; (202) 659-1833.

Article 16

Under a new South African law, customary marriages are now recognized formally, giving women new legal protections against exploitation by husbands and extended families. Historically, under the Apartheid regime, customary marriages were not regulated in any way by the state, and the government essentially relegated all African marriages to invisibility before the law. Women had no rights to property either within the marriage or upon its breakup; they had no legal capacity to engage in commercial transactions or make decisions affecting the family; and they had no say in whether the husband took additional wives. The Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, adopted in late 1998, provides for registration of customary marriages, legal equality between husband and wife, and division of property upon divorce.

The Act allows for polygynous marriages, a position adopted after a major public debate. Many women's human rights advocates insisted that abolition of polygyny is required by the CEDAW Convention and as a matter of women's fundamental right to equality in marriage. But great concern also was expressed over the position of women, mostly rural, who are currently in polygynous marriages or who might become second and subsequent "wives" in unregistered partnerships and who would not have any rights with respect to their partners if polygynous marriages remained outside the law. Information: Gender Research Project, Center for Applied Legal Studies, University of WitwatersrandP.B. 3, Wits 2050 South Africa. Tel: 27 011 403-6198; fax 403-2341; e-mail 125je2wa@solon.law.wits.ac.za

In Lahore, Pakistan, a judge of the High Court has ordered confiscation of a woman's property as punishment for her refusal to submit to her husband's conjugal "rights." The ruling, issued by a female judge, has resulted in a national debate. A former High Court judge has termed the decision unique in judicial history and contrary to fundamental rights; a religious scholar also has weighed in against the result. Activists have noted that it is a woman's fundamental right to deny or agree to perform conjugal rights.

A Nigerian organization, "Mums and Widows," recently organized a rally at which hundreds of women showed up to protest the treatment of widows in Nigerian society, but very few of the invited men of substance appeared. According to Nigerian ethnic traditions, widows are treated as a lower caste, forced to engage in humiliating mourning rituals, prohibited from going to the market for a year after the husband's death, and prohibited from participating in the husband's funeral. In many cases, in-laws enforce these ritual requirements to an extreme. Women also are in many groups denied inheritance rights, and the husband's family grabs the property immediately after the death. While a few local male-run NGOs have taken up the widows' cause, most of the activism on the issue is by women's organizations, which have made little headway.



IWRAW's new Web site will be on line as of February 1, 1999. The redesigned and expanded site includes information on country reporting to CEDAW and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as well as IWRAW publications. See: http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/iwraw/index.html.

Publications concerning collaborative work on the CEDAW Convention and the CRC, as discussed in the opening of this newsletter, are available from IWRAW and the other sponsoring agencies. Free to developing countries; costs of mailing will be charged for requests from the US, Canada, and other industrialized countries.

The Human Rights of Women and Children: Challenges and Opportunities.
Full report of two-day expert group meeting held in New York, January 1998.
OR Short version, written in accessible format, for wider distribution.

Women, Children, and Human Rights: An IWRAW Consultation. Report of a one- day public consultation including discussion with members of the CEDAW Committee and a broad NGO representation, January 1998.

Preventing Violence in the Family . Report of a two-day expert group meeting on using the CRC and CEDAW Conventions in family violence prevention efforts meeting held in Geneva, October 1998. Forthcoming 1999.

Culture and Choice: Lesson from Survivors of Gender Violence in Zimbabwe, by Alice Armstrong, reports the findings of a three-year research project and workshops on gender violence in Zimbabwe, funded by the Ford Foundation. The research focuses on the experiences and attitudes of women who have survived gender violence, both with regard to the violence itself and the help they received in the aftermath. The women's stories are used to explore new ways of thinking about gender violence in the cultural context of southern Africa. To order: US$10 + $2 postage (in US) or $5 postage outside US, to: Alice Armstrong, AKA, 203 Zapata Lane, Chapel Hill NC 27514 USA. E-mail: alice@intrex.net.

Derechos Humanos de la Mujer: Perspectivas Nacionales e Internacionales, is available from Profamilia in Bogota. The book is an essential resource on women's human rights, the product of an international consultation held at the University of Toronto in 1994. It includes general discussions of the basic women's human rights issues and uses of the international human rights mechanisms as well as national and topical case studies. From: Profamilia, Carrerra 15 No. 34-37 Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia. Fax: (57-01)287 5530.

The VIII Latin American and Caribbean Encuentro (Feminist Meeting) will be held in the Dominican Republic, in September or November 1999. The meeting's goal is to evaluate feminist accomplishments in the last 30 years, stressing both the achievement and weakness of the movement in the region. In addition, the meeting will discuss the situation of women in the continent and the alternatives for increasing their influence on policy agendas. The organizers are hoping to hold the meeting to coincide with the celebration of the Day Against Violence Against Women (November 25), which was created in the first Encuentro in honor of the Mirabal sisters, women who were killed by the government of Dominican dictator Trujillo. Information: Rosa Curiel, Cimisión Organizadora VIII Encuentro Feminista Latinoamericano y del Caribe. Calle Santiago # 503, Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana. E-mail: rosa.curiel@codetel.net.do

A recent study by Population Action International highlights the increased demand for family planning services in Africa as a hopeful note in a difficult place. Africa's Population Challenge: Accelerating Progress in Reproductive Health documents the issues and some new approaches to providing necessary services to women and families. From: Population Action International, 1120 19th Street, N.W. Suite 550, Washington DC 20036 USA.


WOMEN'S WATCH subscriptions policy. Women's Watch is sent free to groups and individuals in developing countries and on an exchange basis with libraries and documentation centers. Subscriptions are US$25 per year payable in US dollars only or an international money order. Subscriptions are renewable as of January 1 of each year. Checks in US dollars on a US bank should be made payable to: IWRAW, Humphrey Institute. Other subscription points: In Great Britain and continental Europe, send subscriptions in pounds or Eurodollars to: Marianne Haslegrave, Commonwealth Medical Assn., BMA House, Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9JP, UK. In Australia: Hilary Charlesworth, Department of International and Public Law, ANU, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia. In Canada, Susan Bazilli, METRAC, 158 Spadina Road, Toronto, Ontario M5R 2T8. In Japan, Japanese Ass'n of International Women's Rights, Bunkyo Women's College, 1196 Kamekubo, Ohi-machi, Iruma, Saitama 354 Japan.

WOMEN'S WATCH is published by the IWRAW project, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, USA. Editor: Marsha Freeman. This issue was written with the help of Liu Dongxiao, IWRAW Cram-Dalton Fellow. IWRAW is a global network of individuals and organizations that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, an international treaty ratified by 161 countries.

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. The Humphrey Institute is hospitable to a diversity of opinions and aspirations. The Institute does not itself take positions on public policy issues. The contents of this report are the responsibility of the editors. IWRAW is grateful to the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, Shaler Adams Foundation, SIDA, Catharine Cram and numerous other individuals and foundations for financial support. Contributions to the project are welcome and are tax deductible for US taxpayers.

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* NOTE: The scheduling of the presessional working group will be changed for future sessions. The Committee will hold the presessional working group for each session immediately after the close of the prior session (example: the presessional working group for the January 2000 session will be held immediately after the close of the June 1999 session.) In transition, the presessional working group for the June 1999 session will be held as a special working group during the January 1999 session. NGOs that wish to submit information to be used by the presessional working group to prepare questions for June 1999 country reviews therefore must have their information ready by January 1999. This schedule change affects only those countries that are presenting second and subsequent reports. NGOs should note also that although information submitted after the working group meets will not be reflected in the questions sent to the government six months prior to the Committee session in which it will be reviewed, Committee experts will still be interested in having NGO information during the country review in the full Committee session.


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