GENEVA, Switzerland, Jan 21 (LifesiteNews) – The Economic Commission for Europe Regional Preparatory Meeting on the 2000 Review of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, began yesterday and ends today in Geneva. One of the workshops leading up to the prepcom focused on abortion, even though the subject was not one of the stated themes of the conference.

The workshop, held Monday and entitled “Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the ECE Region”, attracted some 40+ NGO delegates to the ECE Beijing+5 NGO preparatory meeting. The panelists, including Françoise Laurant from the French Family Planning Association (MFPF), Maria de Bruyn from Ipas (USA), Anne-Marie Rey from the Union Suisse pour Décriminaliser l’avortement, and Alice Frade from the Portuguese Family Planning Association,  tried to work their abortion advocacy into the themes of the conference involving women and economics and women and violence.

“The links between these focal areas and sexual and reproductive health and rights need to be emphasized,” said a UN report on the workshop. “For example, women who must flee their homelands due to war or conflict are at risk of sexual violence, which may result in unwanted pregnancy and the need for safe and accessible abortion services. Additionally, without the ability to control if, when and how many children to have, women cannot fully participate in   national and global economies and political decision-making.”

The panelists, workshop organizers, and workshop participants submitted four recommendations to the Caucuses and the NGO organizing committee. These recommendations call for addressing   “sexual and reproductive health in the Beijing+5 review process and urging countries to act on the Beijing Platform for Action”

The workshop was organized by: Coordination Française pour le Lobby Européen des Femmes (CLEF), Union Suisse pour Décriminaliser l’avortement (USPDA) and International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network. The General Assembly Special Session Women 2000 will take place on June 5-9, 2000 at United Nations headquarters in New York.