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Beijing Conf. Gertrude Mongella 16 sept 1995

THE EARTH TIMES

SEPTEMBER 16, 1995

Women’s Conference Beijing

Gertrude Mongella’s finest hour

BY ASHALI VARMA

Beijing, China:  The Secretary General of the Fourth World Conference on Women, Gertrude Mongella, said she is confident that countries will keep the commitments they made in Beijing.

In an interview with The Earth Times just before the close of the Conference, Mongella said, “I cannot describe the happiness I feel.  I think we have achieved a very strong document for women.” She called the Platform of Action a “bedrock of women’s rights.  It is a launching pad for action for women’s rights and for action for peace.”

Looking red-eyed and tired, Mongella said she had only 25 minutes of sleep over the last two days.  She said, “I am very satisfied with the outcome.  Now the only thing we have to concentrate on is action.  I feel confident that the commitments made here by governments will be acted upon.  Some have already started working on a follow up plan as in the case of the host country, China.”

Mongella also reiterated her appreciation for China’s effort to host the Conference: “I am very grateful to the host country for the superb service and arrangements and the wonderful friendship.”

She said, “As far as financial resources are concerned, it is not a one time issue.  We will continue to negotiate with governments.  But I am pleased with the commitments made here by the Nordic countries, Japan, the United Kingdom and Canada.”

At a press conference, Mongella said that 20 countries had submitted written reservations, and another 20 reservations were expected.  But she said the reservations all concerned the same issues.  “This could be worrying if the reservations came from different groups, but it all comes from the Islamic countries.”

Asked whether she was in line to assume the new position of UN undersecretary general to coordinate the “mainstreaming” of women in the organization as stipulated in the Platform, Mongella said, “I don’t know about this, I’ve been too busy working with the Platform.  I’m not looking for a new job right now.”