Beijing + 10: Dutch NGOs review progress on Beijing Action Platform Print E-mail
Dutch NGOs review progress on Beijing Action Platform

By Lin McDevitt-Pugh,
International Information Center and Archives for the Women’s Movement (IIAV)

Holland is not a large country, but its women’s movement has international
fame and its government has a reputation for supporting the advancement of
women worldwide. At least, that was the case until recently. In January this
year 50 Dutch NGO’s published their joint study on how the Dutch government
has done on its promise to advance the position of women, made in 1995 in
Beijing at the 4th United Nations World Conference on Women. Publishing the
review is part of an NGO strategy to revitalise the Dutch government’s role
in supporting gender equality processes, at home and in the world.

According to the report, few promises have been kept. “Did the Beijing
Platform for Action Accelerate Progress? Dutch Beijing+10 NGO report” doesn’
t mince words. At the national policy level, the government has failed to
show its political commitment to the implementation of the Beijing Platform
for Action. It has never attempted to fulfil the entire scope of the
Platform for Action. In 2000, after pressure from the women’s NGO community,
the government adopted a long-term strategy plan but by 2002 this was
already shelved. Instruments like gender budgeting and gender impact
assessments are under-utilised. The current Dutch subsidy policy is
endangering the secure infrastructure of women’s organizations that supports
the gender equality process in the Netherlands. The authors of the report
write: “It seems that this government exercises its subsidy policy as an
instrument to prevent critical input from women’s organizations, preventing
them from lobbying and influencing gender equality policy.”

For many years the international women’s movement has been able to rely on
support from the Dutch government in developing their initiatives. But the
report finds that the Dutch government is not complying to the BPfA’s
condition for funding that is to commit adequate financial resources for
activities designed to implement the BPfA and to “conduct a critical
analysis of their assistance programmes so as to improve the quality and
effectiveness of aidthrough the integration of a gender approach”. The
authors conclude: “the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action is
a noncommittal, non-obligatory cause. After an initial promising start, with
the formulation of policy intentions (in 1995 and 1996) and the suggestions
for improvement provided by the IOB evaluation (in 1998), attention for the
implementation of the BPfA has progressively waned to the point where it has
now become completely invisible”.

The 50 NGOs formed the Initiative Beijing+10, Time for Action, and
organised, on January 15 2005, the Dutch Beijing+10 review meeting. 650
participants discussed the most pressing themes in the Dutch feminist
landscape, including women and Aids, women and water, the media
representation of diversity, women and armed conflict, violence against
women and women and power.
A sixteen-point Agenda for the Future resulted, which will be presented to
the minister responsible for gender equality, Aart Jan de Geus, on March 8.
The Agenda provides guidelines to the government on how to effectively
implement the BPfA. The women’s movement has the task of keeping up the
pressure on the government in the coming 2 years to effectuate the Agenda
for the Future, to the letter.

For a summary of the report, please visit www.beijing10.nl.

The IIAV hosted the secretariat of the initiative and plays a key role in
the organization.