The Status of Women: National Plans of Action (1998)

The Status of Women: National Plans of Action (1998)

Mr. Chairman,

What is» contained in the Platform of Action of the Beijing Conference, namely the recommendation to adopt as soon as possible national plans of action to improve the status of women, has the

approval of the Russian Federation, where there already is a clear need to produce new conceptual approaches to ensuring equal rights and opportunities for men and women during the transition to a market economy.

Something which was adopted in 1996, that is, the concept for the improvement of the status of women, became a document which laid the theoretical foundations and defined the strategic goals for the activities of the government in implementing constitutional provisions regarding the equality of men and women in the Russian Federation.

The national plan of action adopted in August 1996 to improve the status of women and enhance their role in society by the year 2000 in turn has expanded and supplemented the provisions of the Concept through specific practical actions by state institutions to implement its objectives.

On the one hand, the economic transformations in countries with transition economies have opened up new horizons for women, have provided new opportunities for self-fulfillment, and on the other hand, the major costs of market reforms are most intensively felt by women: there has been a rise in female poverty, a growth of female unemployment and a deterioration of women’s health. We are concerned about the negative demographic processes: a decline in the birth rate, low life expectancy indicators, high mortality figures for the population, especially of working age, and negative trends in reproductive health. There has been a drop in the level of female employment, and women account for 60% of the unemployed. In speaking of the moral state of society, we should take note of cases of brutal behavior within the family and of violence against women.

The problem of unemployment, the problem of the status of women and many other social issues are widespread. Mass and chronic unemployment also strikes those who have found work. This is because the threat of being downsized forces them to put up with the arbitrary will of entrepreneurs. Thus, according to ILO data, entrepreneurs as a rule pay young workers some 40-50% of the salaries paid to adults for such work.

Unemployment of a significant part of the younger generation is the root cause of many social problems. Deprived of the possibility to work, young people begin to experience alienation, a feeling that they are useless to society. And this ultimately leads to an increase in drug addiction, crime and prostitution.

Nor should we forget that today the mass media have enormous potential for influencing public opinion. This is particularly true today, when international relations are increasingly becoming a field

not only for professional diplomats but also for broad strata of world public opinion, when glasnost and the availability of information are becoming a sine qua поп and a catalyst for the democratization of international life.

A specific result of work to improve the status of women are the measures undertaken to provide female employment. We have seen the adoption of a general tripartite agreement between the government, employers and trade unions, and of a program of support and development for small enterprises. Advanced training is being conducted for workers who are vulnerable to dismissal, and there are programs for social adaptation of the unemployed. There has been the organization of professional retraining of unemployed women, and assistance is being given to help university graduates find jobs. Social assistance is now becoming carefully targeted.

The problems of the status of women are indeed universal in nature. A major factor for the successful implementation of the Beijing documents is the solidarity of women, and also close cooperation between governmental and public organizations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Main Aditor

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