A Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) report entitled, “Mapping Progress: Assessing Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action,” documents that 70% of countries have drawn up plans for implementing the platform of the Fourth World Conference on Women. Despite these plans governments enacted policies that have impeded women’s access to employment, health care, education, property, credit and housing. Susan Davis, WEDO’s executive director, said “On balance, women are still the shock absorbers for structural change.”
WEDO received surveys from non-governmental organizations concerning the progress of 88 of the countries that were represented at the conference.
The report indicates that 45 percent of the countries have passed legislation that has decreased women’s employment levels and 28 percent have reduced education programs for females. Women living in the countries that are moving toward free-market economies have been hit the hardest, the report said.
Women’s unemployment averages about 70 percent in Armenia, Russia, Bulgaria and Croatia and is up to 80 percent in the Ukraine. Other countries export large quantities of merchandise are employing more and more women in factories, demanding “cheap and docile labor that can be used in low-skill, repetitive jobs in unsafe and insecure conditions without minimum guarantees.”
The report also detailed inhumane working conditions, as women migrant workers routinely “suffer gross violations of their human rights, ranging from inhuman working conditions to physical violence, and even rape and murder.”