LETTER: Questioning the values of the UN Conference on Women

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The Independent Online
From Ms Dianna Melrose

Sir: Teresa Poole ("So many women, so little time", 7 September) is right to draw attention to delegates' concern at the diversion of attention away from women's issues at the UN Women's Conference in Peking. Oxfam shares this concern, as the conference is an important opportunity to focus world attention on the enormous gender gap that still exists in countries (developed and developing) worldwide and to get governments to commit themselves to concrete action to improve the situation of women.

Oxfam would like to see tangible progress made in Peking, including reaffirmation that women's rights are fundamental human rights and agreement on action to halt the disproportionate increase of poverty amongst women. At the same time, governments need to agree to redirect resources to benefit poor women in developing countries through additional debt relief, poverty- focused aid and more investment in basic social services.

While strained Sino-US relations, the security operation and facilities at the NGO Forum have been worthy of attention, Oxfam urges that over the remaining days the focus be concentrated on the important issues being discussed by delegates, including women's access to land and the rights of refugee women. Without this media focus, the risk is that governments will continue to renege on commitments made at past UN conferences, to the detriment of women's rights.

Yours sincerely,

Dianna Melrose

Policy Director

Oxfam

Oxford

7 September

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