There continues to be a difference in social and economic indicators relating to men and women throughout the world. Despite continued efforts dedicated to women, gender discrimination remains widespread. Unindustrialized countries, gender discrimination appears in employment and wages, and in developing countries the greatest disparities, besides the job market, are to be found in education, health care and nutritional support. These disparities persist despite clear acknowledgement of the pivotal role which women play in education, health and the running of the household.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
The Division for the Advancement of Women of the United Nations services the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). CEDAW was established 1982, with the signing of and under the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (also CEDAW). The Committee meets once a year to review national reports submitted by the states parties to the Convention on their progress to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and to promote equal rights between men and women – discrimination against women is defined in the Convention as any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil and any other field.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) relies heavily on tripartite institutions and consultations to both promote and implement international standards, such as labour legislation on equality and opportunity for men and women in employment. UNESCO has as one of its principal objectives the application of international instruments that promote equality between the sexes, as well as identifying the cultural and ethnic obstacles to de facto equality in daily life. UNFPA supports a number of research activities aimed at identifying attitudinal, traditional, cultural and legal factors that contribute to the inequalities between men and women in different socio-cultural settings. These aim principally to inform and educate women about their rights and their possibility of exercising them. UNHCR provides protection against discrimination for refugee women especially with respect to access to assistance programmes and relief supplies and services.
States party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women should review and suggest amendments to it by the year 2000, with a view to strengthening those elements of the Convention related to environment and development, giving special attention to the issue of access and entitlements to natural resources, technology, creative banking facilities and low-cost housing, and the control of pollution and toxicity in the home and workplace. States party should also clarify the extent of the Convention's scope with respect to the issues of environment and development and request the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to develop guidelines regarding the nature of reporting such issues, required under particular articles of the Convention.