Report on Caucus
This is a brief report about the women's caucus activities at the CSD
Intersessional meetings held in New York, 22 February - 3 March. We hope
this provides a bit of an account on what happened at the meetings.
Chief Bisi Ogunleye & Minu Hemmati
Co-facilitators of the CSD NGO Women's Caucus
As expected, there were few members of the caucus present at the
intersessional meetings on finance / trade / investment / economic growth
(first week) and on land / agriculture (second week). We were between 3 - 8
women (and sometimes a man) at caucus meetings. However, the caucus met
nearly every day and also worked closely with other caucuses.
FINANCE & TRADE
During the first weekend's preparatory meeting and the first week of the
intersessional, we focussed our work on participating at finance caucus
meetings and contributing to the papers and statements produced by the
finance caucus as well as to suggested amendments to co-chair's draft
reports (papers available on the steering committee website at
The caucus did a lot of work on land issues - incl. a side event (see
below). We also produced a statement which was delivered in the official
session on Tuesday, 29 February, by Chief Bisi Ogunleye (one of 3 NGO
statements). Copies of the statement were distributed to delegates by the
conference service while she spoke.
There was a good cross-over with the CSW session which was going on
parallel, and Chief Bisi was able to deliver the same statement again on the
next day in the CSW session.
The caucus also produced suggested amendments to the Co-Chairs
"Elements for a Draft Decision for CSD-8 on Integrated Management of
Land Resources" paper which was distributed on Wednesday. This was then
discussed by delegates on Thursday, and a new draft which was circulated on
Friday, was discussed Friday afternoon.
One of the major points the caucus lobbied on was to include the strong
commitment and language from the Habitat Agenda (part. Paragraph 40b)
instead of the suggested rather weak language on "improved access to
land". The European Union and other countries took this up and on
Friday suggested language from the Habitat Agenda.
The Steering Committee also decided to start founding a Land Caucus which
started as a working group and shall become a Caucus at the CSD in April.
The caucus did also work on agriculture, particularly through working
with the SAFS caucus and producing amendments to the Co-Chairs
"Elements for a Draft Decision for CSD-8 on Sustainable Agriculture and
Rural Development". We also used caucus position papers and the
amendments to lobby delegates at the sessions.
Working with the SAFS caucus also included Chief Bisi becoming part of the
SAFS coordinating group for the Dialogue Sessions in April.
The caucus also discussed plans for another side event in April - a luncheon
event, probably on 26 April.
The caucus held two side events:
1. "Women & Land Issues", Monday, 28 February, 6.15
- 7.45 pm.
Although the event was in the evening, which is not as good a time as lunch
time, and there had been no official negotiations in the afternoon, it was a
great success, with 70-80 people attending, including many government
delegates. We were also able to attract many people who were there for the
Commission on the Status of Women. The event continued until after 8pm.
It was chaired by Jan Peterson (Huairou Commission / Women's Super
Diana Lee-Smith (UNCHS)
Chief Bisi Ogunleye (COWAN Nigeria / WEDO / Women's Caucus)
H.E. Prof. Matia Mulumba Semakula Kiwanuka (Ambassador from Uganda to the
Selim Jahan (Deputy Director of the UNDP / Human Development Report Office)
Achola (UNDP Africa / Gender Desk).
The event was a very good linkage event, bringing together CSD and CSW NGO's
and UNCHS / Habitat; it subsequently generated discussions about a joint
Global Campaign on Women's Land Rights, linked to the UNCHS / Habitat
Campaign on Secure Tenure. One idea is to carry on convening side events at
upcoming meetings, incl. CSD-8, the Istanbul +5 1st PrepComm in May
(Nairobi), Beijing +5 (June, NY) and Copenhagen +5 (June, Geneva) and
subsequently at teh Regional PrepComms for Istanbul +5.
Further information from Minu Hemmati (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Jan Peterson (email@example.com) and
Diana Lee-Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2. "Women & Sustainable Development 2000 - 2002. Commitments
Benchmarked For the Year 2000 - Are We Going to Review ?".
This was to discuss the caucus paper produced shortly before the
The event was chaired by Chief Bisi Ogunleye.
Alison Drayton (First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Guyana to the U.N.)
Minu Hemmati (UNED / Co-facilitator CSD NGO Women's Caucus)
Patricia Holden (Permanent Mission of the UK to the U.N.)
Diana Lee-Smith (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements / Habitat)
June Zeitlin (Executive Director, Women's Environment and Development
About 40 people attended the event; discussions for focusing on review
processes, their problems and obstacles, including the capacities required
but not available to developing countries; and the need to pull the UN
processes together again. (There will be a summary of the discussions
available & circulated soon.)
DISTRIBUTION OF PREPARED CAUCUS PAPERS
The caucus papers on finance & trade, agriculture, land, etc. were
included in the NGO information packs that the Steering Committee produced
for NGOs. We also distributed copies of the papers and of the summary of
recommendations as much as the non-existing copying budget allowed. With the
help of the Habitat Office, we were able to distribute about 200 additional
copies of the paper on women & land. The paper "Women &
Sustainable Development 2000 - 2002" was printed in NY (with support
from the British Government) and we distributed about 500 copies.
NGO NEWSLETTER 'OUTREACH'
The caucus had 6 articles in the daily NGO newsletter 'OUTREACH'. During
the first week, we pulled together articles suing the summary of
recommendations - there was one on micro-finance (using Linda Mayoux' text),
one on trade (using the Women's Caucus Declaration from WTO / Seattle), one
on structural adjustment programs (using the paper from Dzodzi Tsikata).
During the second week, we had an article on land issues (based on the paper
by Diana Lee-Smith, Catalina Trujillo & the Huairou Commission) (on
Monday, before the side event on Monday evening and including an invitation
to the event), one on reviewing commitments on women & sustainable
development in Agenda 21 (based on the paper) (before the side event at
Tuesday lunchtime), and one on priorities for CSD-8 (based on the summary of
recommendations and the caucus work during the meeting) (we will circulate
MEETING WITH EUROPEAN UNION DELEGATION
During the second week, NGOs had a meeting with the EU delegation which
lasted about 75 minutes. We were able to ask questions and bring up issues
of concern to us re the issues of finance & trade, land and agriculture.
Minu Hemmati for the Women's Caucus brought up the concern about weak
language on land tenure and women's rights, in particular. Delegates were
receptive to the text being altered to incorporate existing international
agreements and later asked for detailed references and quotes of paragraphs.
Some delegates after the meeting also asked for more input on women's issues
between now and CSD-8.
on Land Issues
CSD NGO Women's Caucus
Statement to the CSD Intersessional Working Group on Integrated Planning and
Management of Land Resources, 29 February
By Chief (Mrs.) Bisi Ogunleye, Co-facilitator of the Women's Caucus /
Country Women's Association of Nigeria / Women's Environment and Development
Thank you, Chairperson.
Women's ownership, control and management of, as well as access to, land
and property (1) are crucial aspects of sustainable development. Land as a
resource has dimensions of ecological diversity and productivity for human
sustenance. Women, like men, need land as a home - a secure place to live.
They also need land as a means of livelihood - whether for food production
or other type of workplace. Finally, and especially in a globalizing money
economy, they need land as a form of wealth or capital.
With globalisation and the spread of the money economy, women are
disadvantaged because land becomes capital. In most parts of the world,
patrilineal inheritance customs have led to private land being in the hands
of men and not women. It was established at the time of the Beijin
conference (1995) that less than 1% of the world's landed property is owned
by women, whereas in Africa women are responsible for 80% of the food
production. Women's lack of equal property rights with men is a major cause
of the so-called "feminization of poverty", or impoverishment of
women. The lack of appropriate legal rights of women to land has meant and
increased reliance on limited credit programmes to allow them to buy land.
In addition to problems of legal access, huge inequities in access exist
even in countries where women have rights to ownership.
Men inherit land whereas women in general do not. Women are disadvantaged
where male inheritance systems are strong. This becomes sever in situations
of conflict and reconstruction, where widows and single women cannot inherit
either their parents' or their husbands' land and may be comdemned to a life
in refugee camps in some communities. In paragraph 40(b) of the Habitat
Agenda, governments committed themselves to "Providing legal security
of tenure and equal access to land to all people, including women and those
living in poverty; and undertaking legislative and administrative reforms to
give women full and equal access to economic resources, including the right
to inheritance and to ownership of land and other property, credit, natural
resources and appropriate technologies." (2) In 1998, the Kigali Plan
of Action indicated that "women should have adequate and secure rights
to property. These rights must be equal to those of men, and a woman should
not be dependent upon a man in order to secure or enjoy those rights."
Chairperson, distinguished delegates, the question is now: What have you
In order to address this inequality, we recommend that the CSD:
* Institute measurable timetables and benchmarks for governments to ensure
that constitutions and laws exist to guarantee women's equal rights to own
and inherit land and property;
* Call upon governments to ensure that such legal rights are regulated and
enforced, including joining the UNCHS / Habitat-led Campaign for Secure
* Utilize the 10-year review in 2002 as a deadline for reporting on
procedures undertaken, progress made, and changes achieved in proportion of
land ownership by women and men;
* Call upon governments to support the following:
- Activities of grassroots and community-based organisations whose purpose
is to improve women's land and property rights, in collaboration with NGOs;
- The dissemination of information on these rights in rural, semi-urban and
- The organisation and finance of intra- and inter-regional grassroots
exchanges concerning issues of women and secure tenure;
- Collection and dissemination of information on best practices in women's
equal ownership and control of, as well as access to, land and property;
- Training of paralegal advisers with respect to women's land rights;
- National, regional and global workshops on women's equal ownership and
control of, as well as access to, land and property, especially as part of
the Beijing and Istanbul follow-up processes.
Thank you, Chairperson.
(1) Land includes buildings, houses, fields for agricultural use, pastures
and other forms of productive resources that are immovable property.
(2) United Nations Centre for Human Settelments, UNCHS / Habitat, 1996. The
Istanbul Declaration and the Habitat Agenda. Nairobi
(3) Peace for Homes, Homes for Peace. Inter-Regional Consultation on Women's
Land and Property Rights in Situations of Conflict and Reconstruction,
Kigali, Rwanda, 16-19 February 1998, UNIFEM, UNCHS, UNCHR, UNDP. This
includes the "Kigali Plan of Action".
in: OUTREACH The NGO Newsletter at the CSD, 3 March 2000
Women’s Caucus Priorities for CSD-8 – some of them
The Women’s Caucus has been addressing the issues of CSD-8 in its
background and position papers and held discussions at the Intersessional to
further depth our work.
Some of our priorities regarding the CSD decision are:
We have called for reviewing gender-specific impact of Structural
Adjustment Programmes as it has been shown that they in many adversely
affect gender equity and social equity in general. We have addressed the
issue of micro-finance programmes, cautioning the overall
enthusiastic approach to micro-finance for women and calling for a review of
micro-finance programmes’ impact on empowerment. We also hope that CSD
will recognize the importance of traditional women’s credit &
savings systems and support the development of rural women banks.
On TRADE / INVESTMENT / ECONOMIC GROWTH:
As CSD-3 had called for an evaluation of the impacts of the Uruguay
Round, we call for a comprehensive gender assessment as an integral
part of this. We also agree with our colleagues that careful differentiation
between fair trade and free trade is essential. Social and
environmental impacts of more free trade, particularly on poor countries and
on women, need to be assessed. Governments need to retain the right to
advance local, national, social and economic goals, including programs
designed to increase opportunities for women in business.
Recognition of the fundamental injustice which exists in terms of women’s
ownership, control and management of and access to land. We hope the CSD
decision will not fall back behind existing international agreements such as
the Habitat Agenda (eg Para 40b) and the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights (eg Articles 2, 11; and General Comment No 7). We
also hope that the CSD decision will not only repeat existing "agreed
language" but move on to some creative discussions on practical
measures to further implementation of women’s equal right to ownership
of and access to land. The caucus has suggested such practical measures –
timetables and benchmarks on reporting; and collaboration with women’s
NGOs on information disemmination, legal support for women, etc.
On the issue of land rights, the Women’s Caucus has linked up with women’s
NGOs around the CSW and with UNCHS / Habitat. We are planning a Global
Campaign on Women’s Land Rights to be taken through the Beijing+5 and
the Istanbul+5 process up to 2002. What we would like to see are measurable
improvements in the proportion of women’s and men’s land ownership.
On SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT:
Again, the issue of land rights, women’s ownership and access
to land is crucial. Support for rural women farmers is another of our
major concerns. Their core role in ensuring food security needs to be
recognized and their access to land, inputs, credit, markets, knowledge
and training needs to be significantly improved. Existing programs need
to be evaluated from a gender perspective and practicable indicators for
improvement need to be put in place. We also hope that CSD will include
reference to environmental health problems of women farmers
(including reproductive health problems) and agricultural workers in general
in its decision and recommend to governments and industry the dissemination
of information in local languages and protective equipment.
On REVIEWING COMMITMENTS:
The caucus has also tried to kick off discussions on reviewing
commitments related to women & sustainable development issues for 2001
and 2002. There are numerous important and benchmarked commitments (eg
for the year 2000), and no review has been planned so far. Comments on the
background paper are welcome (to Minu Hemmati at email@example.com); we will
take the issues up again at CSD-8.
EVENTS AT CSD-8
The Women’s Caucus and its member organisations will host several side
events at CSD-8 – on trade, agriculture & pesticides, land
We are also planning a Women’s Caucus International Luncheon on
April 26, at the Church Centre:
Women food farmers from the 5 U.N. regions of the world will address the
government, UN and Major Group representatives at CSD-8. Many times when
people talk about agriculture and food, not much recognition is afforded to
rural women farmers who are the major players in food production. In fact,
very little chance is given to these women to speak of their efforts and
gain the support which they so badly need. At the event, people will hear
and learn from those who are most responsible for food production – and
taste what sisters and brothers from around the world have cooked.
The Women’s Caucus is seeking support and participation from regional
groups and countries in the preparation for this event and donation of food
Chief (Mrs.) Bisi Ogunleye
Pamela Ransom, WEDO
Women’s Caucus material:
Women’s Caucus background and position papers are available on
the caucus web-site. A summary of
recommendations on the upcoming issues is also available.
The caucus is also maintaining a list server - go to www.egroups.com/list/women-csd. You can subscribe there and check