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  United Nations


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World Conference to review and appraise the achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace

26 July 1985

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Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies. II. Development

  1. Obstacles

  2. Basic strategies

  3. Measures for the implementation of the basic strategies at the national level

II. Development

A. Obstacles

93. The United Nations Decade for Women has facilitated the identification and overcoming of obstacles encountered by Member States in integrating women into society effectively and in formulating and implementing solutions to current problems. The continuation of women's stereotyped reproductive and productive roles, justified primarily on physiological, social and cultural grounds, has subordinated them in the general as well as sectoral spheres of development, even where some progress has been achieved.

94. /10c There are coercive measures of an economic, political and other nature that are promoted and adopted by certain developed States and are directed towards exerting pressure on developing countries, with the aim of preventing them from exercising their sovereign rights and of obtaining from them advantages of all kinds, and furthermore affect possibilities for dialogue and negotiation. Such measures, which include trade restrictions, blockades, embargoes and other economic sanctions incompatible with the principles of the United Nations Charter and in violation of multilateral or bilateral commitments, have adverse effects on the economic, political and social development of developing countries and therefore directly affect the integration of women in development, since that is directly related to the objective of general social, economic and political development.

95. /10d One of the main obstacles to the effective integration of women in the process of development is the aggravation of the international situation, resulting in a continuing arms race, which now may spread also to outer space. As a result, immense material and human resources need for development are wasted. Other major obstacles to the implementation of goals and objectives set by the United Nations in the field of the advancement of women include imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, expansionism, apartheid and all other forms of racism and racial discrimination, exploitation, policies of force and all forms of manifestations of foreign occupation, domination and hegemony, and the growing gap between the levels of economic development of developed and developing countries.

96. The efforts of many countries to implement the objectives of the United Nations Decade for Women were undermined by a series of grave economic crises that have had severe repercussions, especially for many developing countries because of their generally greater vulnerability to external economic factors as well as because the main burden of adjustment to the economic crises has been borne by the developing countries, pushing the majority of them towards economic collapse.

97. The worsening of the social situation in many parts of the world, and particularly in Africa, as a result of the disruptive consequences of the economic crisis had a great negative impact on the process of effective and equal integration of women in development. This adverse social situation reflects the lack of implementation of relevant United Nations conventions, declarations and resolutions in the social and economic fields, and of the objectives and overall development goals adopted and reaffirmed in the International Development Strategy for the Third United Nations Development Decade.

98. /10e The lack of political will of certain developed countries to eliminate obstacles to the practical realization of such fundamental documents adopted by the United Nations as the Declaration on Social Progress and Development (General Assembly resolution 2542 (XXIV)), the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States (General Assembly resolution 3281 (XXIX)), the Declaration and the Programme of Action on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order (General Assembly resolutions 3201 (S-VI) and 3202 (S-VI), respectively), the International Development Strategy for the Third United Nations Development Decade (General Assembly resolution 35/56, annex), aimed at the restructuring of international economic relations on a just and democratic basis, should be counted among the main reasons for the conservation of the unfavourable and unequal position of women from the point of view of development, especially in the developing countries.

99. The last years of the Decade have witnessed a deterioration of the general economic situation in the developing countries. The financial, economic and social crisis of the developing world has worsened the situation of large sectors of the population, especially women. In particular, the decline in economic activity is having a negative impact on an already unbalanced distribution of income, as well as on the high levels of unemployment, which affect women more than men.

100. /10f Protectionism against developing-countries' exports in all its forms, the deterioration in the terms of trade, monetary instability,including high interest rates and the inadequate flow of official development assistance have aggravated the development problems of the developing countries, and consequently have complicated the difficulties hampering the integration of women in the development process.

One of the principal obstacles now confronting the developing countries is their gigantic public and private external debt, which constitutes a palpable expression of the economic crisis and has serious political, economic and social consequences for these countries. The amount of the external debt obliges the developing countries to devote enormous sums of their already scarce export income to the servicing of the debt, which affects their peoples' lives and possibilities of development, with particular effects on women. In many developing countries there is a growing conviction that the conditions for the payment and servicing of the external debt cause those countries enormous difficulties and that the adjustment policies traditionally imposed are inadequate and lead to a disproportionate social cost.

The negative effects of the present international economic situation on the least developed countries have been particularly grave and have caused serious difficulties in the process of integrating women in development.

The growth prospects of the low-income countries have seriously deteriorated owing to the reduction in international economic co-operation, particularly the inadequate flow of official development assistance and the growing trade protectionism in the developed countries, which restricts the capacity of the low-income countries to attain the objectives of the United Nations Decade for Women.

This situation is even more grave in the developing countries that are afflicted by drought, famine and desertification.

101. Despite significant efforts in many countries to transfer tasks traditionally performed by women to men or to public services, traditional attitudes still continue to persist and in fact have contributed to the increased burden of work placed on women. The complexity and multidimensional aspects of changing sex roles and norms and the difficulty of determining the specific structural and organizational requirements of such a change have hindered the formulation of measures to alter sex roles and to develop appropriate perspectives on the image of women in society. Thus, despite gains made by a few women, for the majority subordination in the labour force and in society has continued, through the exploitative conditions under which women often work have become more visible.

102. The effective participation of women in development has also been impeded by the difficult international economic situation, the debt crisis, poverty, continued population growth, rising divorce rates, increasing migration, and the growing incidence of female-headed households. Yet, neither the actual expansion of employment for women nor the recognition that women constitute a significant proportion of producers has been accompanied by social adjustments to ease women's burden of child and household care. The economic recession led to a reduction in investments, particularly in those services that allow greater societal sharing of the social and economic costs of child care and housework.

103. Insufficient awareness and understanding of the complex and multifaceted relationships between development and the advancement of women have continued to make policy, programme and project formulation difficult. While during the earlier, part of the Decade the belief that economic growth would automatically benefit women was more widely shared, an evaluation of the experience of the Decade has shed considerable doubt on this over-simplified premise. Consequently, the need to understand better the relationship between development and the advancement of women and to gather, analyze and disseminate information for the more effective formulation of policies, programmes and projects has become greater.

104. Although throughout history and in many societies women have been sharing similar experiences, in the developing countries the problems of women, particularly those pertaining to their integration in the development process, are different from the problems women face in the industrialized countries and are often a matter of survival. Failure to recognize these differences leads, inter alia, to neglect the adverse effect of the insufficient progress made towards improvement in national policies or programmes and the present international economic situation as well as the interrelationships that exist between the goals and objectives of the International Development Strategy for the Third United Nations Development Decade and the objectives of equality, development and peace.

105. The lack of political will and commitment continued to retard action to promote effective participation by women in development. Exclusion of women from policy-making and decision-making made it difficult for women and women's organizations to include in their preferences and interests the largely male-dominated choices of progress and development. Furthermore, because the issue of women in development has often been perceived as a welfare problem, it has received low priority, viewed simply as a cost to society rather than as a contribution. Thus, the specific formulation of targets, programmes and projects concerning women and development has often received little attention, awaiting the attainment of development rather than being instrumental to it. This, in turn, caused a parallel weakness in the institutional, technical and material resources devoted to the promotion of activities for effective participation by women in development.

106. Appropriate national machinery for the effective integration of women in the development process has been either insufficient or lacking. Where the machinery exists, it often lacks the resources, focus, responsibility and authority to be effective.

B. Basic strategies

107. The commitment to remove obstacles to the effective participation of all women in development as intellectuals, policy-makers and decision-makers, planners, contributors and beneficiaries should be strengthened according to the specific problems of women in different regions and countries and the needs of different categories of women in them. That commitment should guide the formulation and implementation of policies, plans, programmes and projects, with the awareness that development prospects will be improved and society advanced through the full and effective participation of women.

108. Different socio-economic and cultural conditions are to be taken into account when identifying the foremost obstacles to the advancement of women. The current economic situation and the imbalances within the world monetary and financial system need adjustment programmes to overcome the difficulties. These programmes should not adversely affect the most vulnerable segments of society among whom women are disproportionately represented.

109. Development, being conceived as a comprehensive process, must be characterized by the search for economic and social objectives and goals that guarantee the effective participation of the entire population, especially women, in the process of development. It is also necessary to work in favour of the structural changes needed for the fulfilment of these aspirations. In line with these concerns, one should endeavour to speed up social and economic development in developing countries; accelerate the development of the scientific and technological capabilities of those countries; promote an equitable distribution of national incomes; and eradicate absolute poverty, experienced disproportionately by women and children, with the shortest possible delay by applying an overall strategy that, on the one hand, eliminates hunger and malnutrition and, on the other, works towards the construction of more just societies, in which women may reach their full development.

110. As the primary objective of development is to bring about sustained improvement in the well-being of the individual and of society and to bestow benefits on all, development should be seen not only as a desirable goal in itself but also as an important means of furthering equality of the sexes and the maintenance of peace.

111. Women should be an integral part of the process of defining the objectives and modes of development, as well as of developing strategies and measures for their implementation. The need for women to participate fully in political processes and to have an equal share of power in guiding development efforts and in benefiting from them should be recognized. Organizational and other means of enabling women to bring their interests and preferences into the evaluation and choice of alternative development objectives and strategies should be identified and supported. This would include special measures designed to enhance women's autonomy, bringing women into the mainstream of the development process on an equal basis with men, or other measures designed to integrate women fully in the total development effort.

112. The actual and potential impact on women of macro-economic processes operating at the international and national levels, as well as of financial spatial and physical development policies, should be assessed and appropriate modifications made to ensure that women are not adversely affected. Initial emphasis should be placed on employment, health and education. Priority should be given to the development of human resources, bearing in mind the need to avoid further increases in the work-load of women, particularly when alternative policies are formulated to deal with the economic and debt crisis.

113. With due recognition of the difficulties involved, Governments, international and regional organizations, and non-governmental organizations should intensify their efforts to enhance the self-reliance of women in a viable and sustained fashion. Because economic independence is a necessary pre-condition for self-reliance, such efforts should above all be focused on increasing women's access to gainful activities. Grass-roots participatory processes and planning approaches using local talent, expertise and resources are vital and should be supported and encouraged.

114. The incorporation of women's issues in all areas and sectors and at the local, national, regional and international levels should be institutionalized. To this end, appropriate machinery should be established or strengthened, and further legislative action taken. Sectoral policies and plans should be developed, and the effective participation of women in development should be integrated both in those plans and in the formulation and implementation of mainstream programmes and projects and should not be confined solely to statements of intent within plans or to small-scale, transitory projects relating to women.

115. The gender bias evident in most development programmes should be eliminated and the prejudices hindering the solution of women's problems removed. Particular attention should be given to the restructuring of employment, health and education systems and to ensuring equal access to land, capital and other productive resources. Emphasis should be placed on strategies to assist women in generating and keeping income, including measures designed to improve women's access to credit. Such strategies must focus on the removal of legal, customary and other barriers and on strengthening women's capacity to use existing credit systems.

116. Governments should seek means to increase substantially the number of women who are decision-makers, policy-makers, managers, professionals and technicians in both traditional and non-traditional areas and sectors. Women should be provided with equal opportunities for access to resources, especially education and training, in order to facilitate their equal representation at higher managerial and professional levels.

117. The role of women as a factor of development is in many ways linked to their involvement in various forms and levels of decision-making and management in economic and social structures, such as worker participation in management, industrial democracy, worker self-management, trade unions and co-operatives. The development of these forms of participation, which have an impact on the development and promotion of working and living conditions, and the inclusion of women in these forms of participation on an equal footing with men is of crucial importance.

118. The relationships between development and the advancement of women under specific socio-cultural conditions should be studied locally to permit the effective formulation of policies, programmes and projects designed for stable and equitable growth. The findings should be used to develop social awareness of the need for effective participation of women in development and to create realistic images of women in society.

119. It is vital that the link between the advancement of women and socio-economic and political development be emphasized for the effective mobilization of resources for women.

120. The remunerated and, in particular, the unremunerated contributions of women to all aspects and sectors of development should be recognized, and appropriate efforts should be made to measure and reflect these contributions in national accounts and economic statistics and in the gross national product. Concrete steps should be taken to quantify the unremunerated contribution of women to agriculture, food production, reproduction and household activities.

121. Concerted action should be directed towards the establishment of a system of sharing parental responsibilities by women and men in the family and by society. To this end, priority should be given to the provision of a social infrastructure that will enable society to share these responsibilities with families and, simultaneously, to bring about changes in social attitudes so that new or modified gender roles will be accepted, promoted and become exercisable. Household tasks and parental responsibilities, including decision-making regarding family size and child spacing, should be re-examined with a view to a better sharing of responsibilities between men and women and therefore, be conducive to the attainment of women's and men's self-reliance and to the development of future human resources.

122. Monitoring and evaluation efforts should be strengthened and directed specifically towards women's issues and should be based on a thorough review and extensive development of improved statistics and indicators on the situation of women as compared with men, over time and in all fields.

123. Appropriate national machinery should be established and should be utilized to integrate women effectively in the development process. To be effective, this machinery should be provided with adequate resources, commitment and authority to encourage and enhance development efforts.

124. Regional and international co-operation, within the framework of technical co-operation among developing countries, should be strengthened and extended to promote the effective participation of women in development.

C. Measures for the implementation of the basic strategies at the national level

1. Overall

125. Appropriate machinery with sufficient resources and authority should be established at the highest level of government as a focal point to ensure that the full range of development policies and programmes in all sectors recognizes women's contribution to development and incorporates strategies to include women and to ensure that they receive an equitable share of the benefits of development.

126. To achieve the goal of development, which is inseparably linked to the goals of equality and peace, Governments should institutionalize women's issues by establishing or strengthening appropriate machinery in all areas and sectors of development. ln addition, they should direct specific attention to effecting a positive change in the attitudes of male decision-makers. Governments should ensure the establishment and implementation of legislation and administrative policies and mobilize communications and information systems to create social awareness of the legal rights of women to participate in all aspects of development at all levels and at all stages - that is, planning, implementation and evaluation. Governments should stimulate the formation and growth of women's organizations and women's groups and give financial and organizational support to their activities when appropriate.

127. National resources should be directed so as to promote the participation of women at all levels and in all areas and sectors. Governments should establish national and sectoral plans and specific targets for women in development; equip the machinery in charge of women's issues with political, financial and technical resources; strengthen intersectoral co-ordination in promoting women's participation; and establish institutional mechanisms to address the needs of especially vulnerable groups of women.

128. Governments should recognize the importance of and the need for the full utilization of women's potential for self-reliance and for the attainment of national development goals and should enact legislation to ensure this. Programmes should be formulated and implemented to provide women's organizations, co-operatives, trade unions and professional associations with access to credit and other financial assistance and to training and extension services. Consultative mechanisms through which the views of women may be incorporated in governmental activities should be set up, and supportive ties with women's grass-roots organizations, such as self-help community development and mutual aid societies and non-governmental organizations committed to the cause of women should be created and maintained to facilitate the integration of women in mainstream development.

129. There should be close co-ordination between Governments, agencies and other bodies at the national and local level. The effectiveness of national machinery, including the relationship between Governments and non-governmental organizations, should be evaluated and strengthened with a view to improving co-operation. Positive experiences and good models should be widely publicized. Paragraph 130

Governments should compile gender-specific statistics and information and should develop or reorganize an information system to take decisions and action on the advancement of women. They should also support local research activities and local experts to help identify mechanisms for the advancement of women, focusing on the self-reliant, self-sustaining and self-generating social, economic and political development of women.

131. Governmental mechanisms should be established for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of institutional and administrative arrangements and of delivery systems, plans, programmes and projects to promote an equitable participation of women in development.

2. Areas for specific action


132. Special measures aimed at the advancement of women in all types of employment should be consistent with the economic and social policies promoting full productive and freely chosen employment.

133. Policies should provide the means to mobilize public awareness, political support, and institutional and financial resources to enable women to obtain jobs involving more skills and responsibility, including those at the managerial level, in all sectors of the economy. These measures should include the promotion of women's occupational mobility, especially in the middle and lower levels of the work-force, where the majority of women work.

134. Governments that have not yet done so should ratify and implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and other international instruments relating to the improvement of the condition of women workers.

135. Measures based on legislation and trade union action should be taken to ensure equity in all jobs and avoid exploitative trends in part-time work, as well as the tendency towards the feminization of part-time, temporary and seasonal work.

136. Flexible working hours for all are strongly recommended as a measure for encouraging the sharing of parental and domestic responsibilities by women and men, provided that such measures are not used against the interests of employees. Re-entry programmes, complete with training and stipends, should be provided for women who have been out of the labour force for some time. Tax structures should be revised so that the tax liability on the combined earnings of married couples does not constitute a disincentive to women's employment.

137. Eliminating all forms of employment discrimination, inter alia through legislative measures, especially wage differentials between women and men carrying out work of equal value, is strongly recommended to all parties concerned. Additional programmes should help to overcome still existing disparities in wages between women and men. Differences in the legal conditions of work of women and men should also be eliminated, where there are disadvantages to women, and privileges should be accorded to male and female parents. Occupational desegregation of women and men should be promoted.

138. The public and private sectors should make concerted efforts to diversify and create new employment opportunities for women in the traditional, non-traditional and high productivity areas and sectors in both rural and urban areas through the design and implementation of incentive schemes for both employers and women employees and through widespread dissemination of information. Gender stereotyping in all areas should be avoided and the occupational prospects of women should be enhanced.

139. The working conditions of women should be improved in all formal and informal areas by the public and private sectors. Occupational health and safety and job security should be enhanced and protective measures against work-related health hazards effectively implemented for women and men. Appropriate measures should be taken to prevent sexual harassment on the job or sexual exploitation in specific jobs, such as domestic service. Appropriate measures for redress should be provided by Governments and legislative measures guaranteeing these rights should be enforced. In addition, Governments and the private sector should put in place mechanisms to identify and correct harmful working conditions.

140. National planning should give urgent consideration to the development and strengthening of social security and health schemes and maternity protection schemes in keeping with the principles laid down in the ILO maternity protection convention and maternity protection recommendation and other relevant ILO conventions and recommendations as a prerequisite to the hastening of women's effective participation in production, and all business and trade unions should seek to promote the rights and compensations of working women and to ensure that appropriate infrastructures are provided. Parental leave following the birth of a child should be available to both women and men and preferably shared between them. Provision should be made for accessible child-care facilities for working parents.

141. Governments and non-governmental organizations should recognize the contribution of older women and the importance of their input in those areas that directly affect their well-being. Urgent attention should be paid to the education and training of young women in all fields. Special retraining programmes including technical training should also be developed for young women in both urban and rural sectors, who lack qualifications and are ill-equipped to enter productive employment. Steps should be taken to eliminate exploitative treatment of young women at work, in line with ILO Convention No. 111 concerning discrimination in respect of employment and occupation, 1958 and ILO Convention No. 122 concerning employment policy, 1964.

142. National planning, programmes and projects should launch a twofold attack on poverty and unemployment. To enable women to gain access to equal economic opportunities, Governments should seek to involve and integrate women in all phases of the planning, delivery and evaluation of multisectoral programmes that eliminate discrimination against women, provide required supportive services and emphasize income generation. An increased number of women should be hired in national planning mechanisms. Particular attention should be devoted to the informal sector since it will be the major employment outlet of a considerable number of underprivileged urban and rural women. The co-operative movement could play an indispensable role in this area.

143. Recognition and application should be given to the fact that women and men have equal rights to work and, on the same footing, to acquire a personal income on equal terms and conditions, regardless of the economic situation. They should be given opportunities in accordance with the protective legislation of each country and especially in the labour market, in the context of measures to stimulate economic development and to promote employment growth.

144. In view of the persistence of high unemployment levels in many countries, Governments should endeavour to strengthen the efforts to cope with this issue and provide more job opportunities for women. Given that in many cases women account for a disproportionate share of total unemployment, that their unemployment rates are higher than those of men and that, owing to lower qualifications, geographical mobility and other barriers, women's prospects for alternative jobs are mostly limited, more attention should be given to unemployment as it affects women. Measures should be taken to alleviate the consequences of unemployment for women in declining sectors and occupations. In particular, training measures must be instituted to facilitate the transition.

145. Although general policies designed to reduce unemployment or to create jobs may benefit both men and women, by their nature they are often of greater assistance to men than to women. For this reason, specific measures should be taken to permit women to benefit equally with men from national policies to create jobs.

146. As high unemployment among youth, wherever it exists, is a matter of serious concern, policies designed to deal with this problem should take into account that unemployment rates for young women are often much higher than those for young men. Moreover, measures aimed at mitigating unemployment among youth should not negatively affect the employment of women in other age groups - for example, by lowering minimum wages. Women should not face any impediment to employment opportunities and benefits in cases where their husbands are employed.

147. Governments should also give special attention to women in the peripheral or marginal labour market, such as those in unstable temporary work or unregulated part-time work, as well as to the increasing number of women working in the informal economy.


148. The vital role of women as providers of health care both inside and outside the home should be recognized, taking into account the followings the creation and strengthening of basic services for the delivery of health care, with due regard to levels of fertility and infant and maternal mortality and the needs of the most vulnerable groups and the need to control locally prevalent endemic and epidemic diseases. Governments that have not already done so should undertake, in co-operation with the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, plans of action relating to women in health and development in order to identify and reduce risks to women's health and to promote the positive health of women at all stages of life, bearing in mind the productive role of women in society and their responsibilities for bearing and rearing children. Women's participation in the achievement of Health for All by the Year 2000 should be recognized, since their health knowledge is crucial in their multiple roles as health providers and health brokers for the family and community, and as informed consumers of adequate and appropriate health care.

149. The participation of women in higher professional and managerial positions in health institutions should be increased through appropriate legislations training and supportive action should be taken to increase women's enrolment at higher levels of medical training and training in health-related fields. For effective community involvement to ensure the attainment of the World Health Organization's goal of Health for All by the Year 2000 and responsiveness to women's health needs, women should be represented in national and local health councils and committees. The employment and working conditions of women health personnel and health workers should be expanded and improved at all levels. Female traditional healers and birth attendants should be more fully and constructively integrated in national health planning.

150. Health education should be geared towards changing those attitudes and values and actions that are discriminatory and detrimental to women's and girls' health. Steps should be taken to change the attitudes and health knowledge and composition of health personnel so that there can be an appropriate understanding of women's health needs. A greater sharing by men and women of family and health-care responsibilities should be encouraged. Women must be involved in the formulation and planning of their health education needs. Health education should be available to the entire family not only through the health care system, but also through all appropriate channels and in particular the educational system. To this end, Governments should ensure that information meant to be received by women is relevant to women's health priorities and is suitably presented.

151. Promotive, preventive and curative health measures should be strengthened through combined measures and a supportive health infrastructure which, in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, should be free of commercial pressure. To provide immediate access to water and sanitary facilities for women, Governments should ensure that women are consulted and involved in the planning and implementation of water and sanitation projects, trained in the maintenance of water-supply systems, and consulted with regard to technologies used in water and sanitation projects. In this regard, recommendations arising from the activities generated by the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade and other public health programmes should be taken into account.

152. Governments should take measures to vaccinate children and pregnant women against certain endemic local diseases as well as other diseases as recommended by the vaccination schedule of the World Health Organization and to eliminate any differences in coverage between boys and girls (cf. WHO report EB 75/22). In regions where rubella is prevalent, vaccinations should preferably be given to girls before puberty. Governments should ensure that adequate arrangements are made to preserve the quality of vaccines. Governments should ensure the quality of vaccines. Governments should also ensure the full and informed participation of women in programmes to control chronic and communicable diseases.

153. The international community should intensify efforts to eradicate the trafficking, marketing and distribution of unsafe and ineffective drugs and to disseminate information on their ill effects. Those efforts should include educational programmes to promote the proper prescription and informed use of drugs. Efforts should also be strengthened to eliminate all practices detrimental to the health of women and children. Efforts should be made to ensure that all women have access to essential drugs appropriate to their specific needs and as recommended in the WHO List of Essential Drugs as applied in 1978. It is imperative that information on the appropriate use of such drugs is made widely available to all women. When drugs are imported or exported Governments should use the WHO Certification Scheme on the Quality of Pharmaceutical Products Moving in International Commerce.

154. Women should have access to and control over income to provide adequate nutrition for themselves and their children. Also, Governments should foster activities that will increase awareness of the special nutritional needs of women; provide support to ensure sufficient rest in the last trimester of pregnancy and while breast-feeding; and promote interventions to reduce the prevalence of nutritional diseases such as anaemia in women of all ages, particularly young women, and promote the development and use of locally produced weaning food.

155. Appropriate health facilities should be planned, designed, constructed and equipped to be readily accessible and acceptable. Services should be in harmony with the timing and patterns of women's work, as well as with women's needs and perspectives. Maternal and child-care facilities, including family planning services, should be within easy reach of all women. Governments should also ensure that women have the same access as men to affordable curative, preventive and rehabilitative treatment. Wherever possible, measures should be taken to conduct general screening and treatment of women's common diseases and cancer. In view of the unacceptably high levels of maternal mortality in many developing countries, the reduction of maternal mortality from now to the year 2000 to a minimum level should be a key target for Governments and non-governmental organizations, including professional organizations.

156. /10g The ability of women to control their own fertility forms an important basis for the enjoyment of other rights. As recognized in the World Population Plan of Action /11 and reaffirmed at the International Conference on Population, 1984, all couples and individuals have the basic human right to decide freely and informedly the number and spacing of their children; maternal and child health and family-planning components of primary health care should be strengthened; and family-planning information should be produced and services created. Access to such services should be encouraged by Governments irrespective of their population policies and should be carried out with the participation of women's organizations to ensure their success.

157. /10g Governments should make available, as a matter of urgency, information, education and the means to assist women and men to take decisions about their desired number of children. To ensure a voluntary and free choice, family-planning information, education and means should include all medically approved and appropriate methods of family planning. Education for responsible parenthood and family-life education should be widely available and should be directed towards both men and women. Non-governmental organizations, particularly women's organizations, should be involved in such programmes because they can be the most effective media for motivating people at that level.

158. /11a Recognizing that pregnancy occurring in adolescent girls, whether married or unmarried, has adverse effects on the morbidity and mortality of both mother and child, Governments are urged to develop policies to encourage delay in the commencement of childbearing. Governments should make efforts to raise the age of entry into marriage in countries in which this age is still quite low. Attention should also be given to ensuring that adolescents, both girls and boys, receive adequate information and education.

159. /11a All Governments should ensure that fertility-control methods and drugs conform to adequate standards of quality, efficiency and safety. This should also apply to organizations responsible for distributing and administering these methods. Information on contraceptives should be made available to women. Programmes of incentives and disincentives should be neither coercive nor discriminatory and should be consistent with internationally recognized human rights, as well as with changing individual and cultural values.

160. Governments should encourage local women's organizations to participate in primary health-care activities including traditional medicine, and should devise ways to support women, especially underprivileged women, in taking responsibility for self-care and in promoting community care, particularly in rural areas. More emphasis should be placed on preventive rather than curative measures.

161. The appropriate gender-specific indicators for monitoring women's health that have been or are being developed by the World Health Organization should be widely applied and utilized by Governments and other interested organizations in order to develop and sustain measures for treating low-grade ill health and for reducing high morbidity rates among women, particularly when illnesses are psychosomatic or social and cultural in nature. Governments that have not yet done so should establish focal points to carry out such monitoring.

162. Occupational health and safety should be enhanced by the public and private sectors. Concern with the occupational health risks should cover female as well as male workers and focus among other things on risks endangering their reproductive capabilities and unborn children. Efforts should equally be directed at the health of pregnant and lactating women, the health impact of new technologies and the harmonization of work and family responsibilities.


163. Education is the basis for the full promotion and improvement of the status of women. It is the basic tool that should be given to women in order to fulfil their role as full members of society. Governments should strengthen the participation of women at all levels of national educational policy and in formulating and implementing plans, programmes and projects. Special measures should be adopted to revise and adapt women's education to the realities of the developing world. Existing and new services should be directed to women as intellectuals, policy-makers, decision-makers, planners, contributors and beneficiaries, with particular attention to the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960). Special measures should also be adopted to increase equal access to scientific, technical and vocational education, particularly for young women, and evaluate progress made by the poorest women in urban and rural areas.

164. Special measures should be taken by Governments and the international organizations, especially UNESCO, to eliminate the high rate of illiteracy by the year 2000, with the support of the international community. Governments should establish targets and adopt appropriate measures for this purpose. While the elimination of illiteracy is important to all, priority programmes are still required to overcome the special obstacles that have generally led to higher illiteracy rates among women than among men. Efforts should be made to promote functional literacy, with special emphasis on health, nutrition and viable economic skills and opportunities, in order to eradicate illiteracy among women and to produce additional material for the eradication of illiteracy. Programmes for legal literacy in low-income urban and rural areas should be initiated and intensified. Raising the level of education among women is important for the general welfare of society and because of its close link to child survival and child spacing.

165. The causes of high absenteeism and drop-out rates of girls in the educational system must be addressed. Measures must be developed, strengthened and implemented that will, inter alia, create the appropriate incentives to ensure that women have an equal opportunity to acquire education at all levels, as well as to apply their education in a work or career context. Such measures should include the strengthening of communication and information systems, the implementation of appropriate legislation and the reorientation of educational personnel. Moreover, Governments should encourage and finance adult education programmes for those women who have never completed their studies or were forced to interrupt their studies, owing to family responsibilities, lack of financial resources or early pregnancies.

166. Efforts should be made to ensure that available scholarships and other forms of support from governmental, non-governmental and private sources are expanded and equitably distributed to girls and boys and that boarding and lodging facilities are equally accessible to them.

167. The curricula of public and private schools should be examined, textbooks and other educational materials reviewed and educational personnel retrained in order to eliminate all discriminatory gender stereotyping in education. Educational institutions should be encouraged to expand their curricula to include studies on women's contribution to all aspects of development.

168. The Decade has witnessed the rise of centres and programmes of women' studies in response to social forces and to the need for developing a new scholarship and a body of knowledge on women's studies from the perspective of women. Women's studies should be developed to reformulate the current models influencing the constitution of knowledge and sustaining a value system that reinforces inequality. The promotion and application of women's studies inside and outside and conventional institutions of learning will help to create a just and equitable society in which men and women enjoy equal partnership.

169. Encouragement and incentives, as well as counselling services, should be provided for girls to study scientific, technical and managerial subjects at all levels, in order to develop and enhance the aptitudes of women for decision-making, management and leadership in these fields.

170. All educational and occupational training should be flexible and accessible to both women and men. It should aim to improve employment possibilities and promotion prospects for women including those areas where technologies are improving rapidly, and vocational training programmes, as well as workers' educational schemes dealing with co-operatives, trade unions and work associations, should stress the importance of equal opportunity for women at all levels of work and work-related activities.

171. Extensive measurers should be taken to diversify women's vocational education and training in order to extend their opportunities for employment in occupations that are non-traditional or are new to women and that are important to development. The present educational system, which in many countries is sharply divided by sex, with girls receiving instruction in home economics and boys in technical subjects, should be altered. Existing vocational training centres should be opened to girls and women instead of continuing a segregated training system.

172. A fully integrated system of training, having direct linkages with employment needs, pertinent to future employment and development trends should be created and implemented in order to avoid wastage of human resources.

173. Educational programmes to enable men to assume as much responsibility as women in the upbringing of children and the maintenance of the household should be introduced at all levels of the educational system.

Food, water and agriculture

174. Women, as key food producers in many regions of the world, play a central role in the development and production of food and agriculture, participating actively in all phases of the production cycle, including the conservation, storage, processing and marketing of food and agricultural products. Women therefore make a vital contribution to economic development, particularly in agriculturally based economies, which must be better recognized and rewarded. Development strategies and programmes, as well as incentive programmes and projects in the field of food and agriculture, need to be designed in a manner that fully integrates women at all levels of planning, implementation, monitoring evaluation in all stages of the development process of a project cycle, so as to facilitate and enhance this key role of women and to ensure that women receive proper benefits and remuneration commensurate with their important contribution in this field. Moreover, women should be fully integrated and involved in the technological research and energy aspects of food and agricultural development.

175. During the Decade, the significant contribution of women to agricultural development has been more widely recognized, particularly their contribution in working hours to agricultural, fishery and forestry production and conservation, and to various parts of the food system. There are indications, however, that poverty and landlessness among rural women will increase significantly by the year 2000. In order to stem this trend, governments should implement, as a matter of priority, equitable and stable investment and growth policies for rural development to ensure that there is a reallocation of the country's resources which, in many cases, are largely derived from the rural areas but allocated to urban development.

176. Governments should establish multisectoral programmes to promote the productive capacity of rural poor women in food and animal production, create off-farm employment opportunities, reduce their work-load, inter alia, by supporting the establishment of adequate child-care facilities and that of their children, reverse their pauperization, improve their access to all sources of energy, and provide them with adequate water, health, education, effective extension services and transportation within their region. In this connection it should be noted that the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, held at Rome in 1979, /12 recognized women's vital role in the socio-economic life in both agricultural and non-agricultural activities as a prerequisite for successful rural development policies, planning and programmes, and proposed specific measures for improving their condition, which are still valid. The Programme of Action for the Second Half of the United Nations Decade for Women also included specific measures to improve the situation of women in food and agriculture, which remain a valid guide for action.

177. The General Assembly, in resolution 39/165 on the critical situation of food production and agriculture in Africa, confirmed the growing concern of the international community at the dramatic deterioration in African food and agricultural production and the resulting alarming increase in the number of people, especially women and children, exposed to hunger, malnutrition and even starvation. Concrete measures and adequate resources for the benefit of African women should be a priority. The international community, particularly donor countries, should be urged to assist African women by continuing and, where possible, by increasing financial assistance to enhance the role of women as food producers, with an emphasis on providing training in food technologies, thereby alleviating the problems of the continent resulting from extended drought and a severe shortage of food. Donor countries should also contribute to the special funds that have been launched by various organizations - for example, the United Nations Development Fund for Women. Emergency assistance should be increased and accelerated to alleviate the suffering of starving and dying women and children under famine conditions in Africa. Furthermore, given the critical food situation in Africa, aggravated inter alia by demographic pressures, the international community is urged to give priority to and provide support for the efforts of the African countries to overcome this serious situation. These efforts include the Lagos Plan of Action and the Nairobi Programme of Action, as well as the consultation by African Governments on the role of women in food production and food security.

178. Governments should give priority to supporting effective participation by women in food production and in food security programmes and should develop specific plans of action for this purpose. This would ensure that resources are directed towards women's programmes, that women are integrated in all mainstream rural development projects and that projects are located within technical ministries as well as ministries of social affairs. Governments should promote integrated solutions, such as national food policies, which are diversified according to specific natural regions for the improvement of self-reliance in food production, instead of resorting to palliative or fragmented remedies.

179. Mechanisms should also include monitoring and evaluation and, where necessary, should modify the allocation of resources between women and men in mixed projects; should restructure rural development schemes to respond to women's needs; should assess women's projects in terms of technical and economic viability, as well as on social grounds; and should develop gender-specific statistics and information that reflect accurately women's contribution to food staples. Women's participation in programmes and projects to promote food security should be enhanced by providing them with opportunities to hold official positions, to receive training in leadership, administration and financial management and to organize on a co-operative basis. Research and experimentation should be conducted on food production and storage techniques to improve traditional knowledge and introduce modern technology.

180. Animal husbandry, fishery and forestry programmes should give greater attention to the effective participation of women as contributors and beneficiaries. Similarly, all other off-farm rural production programmes, as well as rural settlement, health, educational and social service programmes, should secure the participation of women as planners, contributors and beneficiaries.

181. Also important are the dissemination of information to rural women through national information campaigns, using all available media and establish women's groups; the exposure of local populations to innovation and creativity through open-air films, talks, visits to areas where needs are similar, and demonstrations of scientific and technological innovations; the participation of women farmers in research and information campaigns; and the involvement of women in technical co-operation among developing countries and the exchange of information.

182. Rural women's access to land, capital, technology, know-how and other productive resources should be secured. Women should be given full and effective rights to land ownership, registration of land titles and allocation of tenancies on irrigation or settlement schemes and should also benefit from land reform. Women's customary land and inheritance rights under conditions of land shortage, land improvement or shifts into cash-cropping should be protected. Implementation of inheritance laws should be modified so that women can inherit a fair share of livestock, agricultural machinery and other property. Women's access to investment finance to increase their productivity and income should be supported by removing legal and institutional restrictions and by promoting women's savings groups and co-operatives and intermediary institutions, as well as training in and assistance with financial management, savings and investments and reallocation of land resources, with priority placed on production, especially of staple foods.

183. Women should be integrated into modern technology programmes that introduce new crops and improved varieties, rotation of crops, mixed farming, mixed and intercropping systems, low-cost soil fertility techniques, soil and water conservation methods and other modern improvements. In this connection, women's involvement in the construction, management and maintenance of irrigation schemes should be promoted.

184. Appropriate food-processing technologies can free women from time- and energy-consuming tasks and thus effect improvements in their health. Appropriate technologies can also increase the productivity and income of women, either directly or by freeing them to engage in other activities. Such technologies should be designed and introduced, however, in a manner that ensures women's access to the new technology and to its benefits and does not displace women from means of livelihood when alternative opportunities are not available. Appropriate labour-saving technologies should utilize local human and material resources and inexpensive sources of energy. The design, testing and dissemination of the technology should be appropriate also to the women who will be the users. Non-governmental organizations can play a valuable role in this process. Appropriate and affordable food-processing technologies should be made widely available to rural women, along with appropriate and affordable storage, marketing and transportation facilities to reduce post-harvest and income losses. Information on improved methods which have been ecologically confirmed of reducing post-harvest food loss and of preserving and conserving food products should be widely disseminated.

185. Financial, technical, advisory and institutional support should be provided to women's organisations and groups to enhance the self-reliance of rural women. Women's co-operatives should be promoted to operate on a larger scale by improving farm input provisions, primary processing and the wholesale marketing of women's production. Comprehensive support should be given to women's organizations to facilitate the acquisition of farm inputs and information and to facilitate the marketing of produce.

186. Governments should set targets for increased extension contracts with rural women, reorient the training of male extension workers and train adequate numbers of female extension workers. Women should be given access to training programmes at different levels that develop various types of skills to widen the range of methods and technologies used for agricultural production.

187. Governments should involve women in the mobilization and distribution of food aid in countries affected by the drought, as well as in the fight against desertification, through large-scale afforestation campaigns (planting of woodlot, collective farms and seedlings).

188. Governments should pay greater attention to the preservation and the maintenance free from pollution of any kind of sources of water supply for irrigation and domestic consumption, applying special remedial measures to relieve the burden placed on women by the task of fetching water. To this end, they should construct wells, bore-holes, dams and locally made water-catchment devices sufficient for all irrigation and domestic needs, including those of livestock. Women should be included by Governments and agencies in all policy planning, implementation and administration of water supply projects and trained to take responsibility for the management of hydraulic infrastructures and equipment and for its maintenance.


189. The problems related to the industrial development of the developing countries reflect the dependent nature of their economies and the need to promote transformation industries based on domestic agricultural production as a fundamental issue of development. Women are an important part of the agricultural work-forces therefore, there should be special interest in the promotion of the technical training of women in this particular field. In this respect, Governments should take into account the following recommendations:

  1. There should be a link between agriculture and industry;

  2. Steps should be taken to eliminate the particular obstacles to industrialization and to the participation of women in industry, such as energy, the limited markets of some developing countries, the rural exodus, poor infrastructure, a lack of technical know-how, the dependence of the industries of some countries and a lack of financial resources;

  3. Steps should also be taken to promote women's equitable and increased participation in industry by enabling them to have equal access to and to participate in adult education and in-service progresses that teach not only literacy but also saleable income-generating skills, and by encouraging women to participate in collective organizations, including trade unions;


10c/ The United States abstained in the vote on paragraph 94 because of unacceptable language relating to economic measures by developed countries against developing States.

10d/ The United States reserved its position on paragraph 95 because it did not agree with the listing of those obstacles categorized as being major impediments to the advancement of women.

10e/ The United States requested a vote on paragraph 98 and voted against the paragraph.

10f/ The United States reserved its position on paragraph 100 because it did not accept the underlying philosophy of the paragraph as it concerned the economic situation in debtor and developing countries.

10g/ The Holy See delegation reserved its position with respect to paragraphs 156 to 159 because it did not agree with the substance of those paragraphs.

11/ Report of the United Nations World Population Conference, 1974, Bucharest, 19-30 August 1974 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.75.XIII.3), chap. I.

11a/ The Holy See delegation reserved its position with respect to paragraphs 156 to 159 because it did not agree with the substance of those paragraphs.

12/ Report of the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, Rome, 12-20 July 1979 (WCARRD/REP) (Rose, FAO, 1979), Program of Action, sect. IV.