WOMEN’S ENVIRONMENT & DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION
News & Views
VOLUME 14, NUMBER 2 July 2001
By June Zeitlin
Preparations for the World Summit on Social Development (WSSD) to review progress since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) are now underway. WSSD will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002. Regional meetings will start this fall, and women are already gearing up to to move their feminist agenda forward.
UNCED was an important event for women worldwide, recognizing for the first time their crucial role in achieving a different type of development one that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and just.
The comprehensive plan of action that emerged from the conference Agenda 21 acknowledges the need to involve women and gender at all levels. Chapter 24 of the document, Global Action for Women Towards Sustainable and Equitable Development, outlines these principles, while other chapters also reflect the integration of gender aspects.
These gains were the result of women’s activism. In order to ensure their issues were addressed, women organized regionally and globally and pushed for stronger gender language in all official documents and gender balance in participation throughout the conference.
Women entered the UNCED process with their own comprehensive and integrated vision that emerged from the WEDO-organized First Women’s World Congress for a Healthy Planet, attended by 1500 women from 83 countries.
The congress adopted its own platform, Women’s Action Agenda 21, which covers issues of governance and decision-making; environmental ethics and accountability; militarism; global economic issues such as trade and debt; poverty, land rights and food security; women’s rights, reproductive health, and health and environment; biodiversity and biotechnology; energy; science and technology; consumer power; and information and education.
And, while the framework and approach may be a bit different today, these issues remain critical challenges to achieving sustainable development from a gender perspective. It is crucial for women to use this process to assess how far we have come and how far we still have to go.
That is why WEDO, partnering with other women’s organizations in different parts of the world, is undertaking a major review and revision of Women’s Action Agenda 21, consulting widely throughout the preparatory process. The update, Women’s Action Agenda 2002, will be launched at the World Summit in Johannesburg.
The Agenda will serve as a vision for the future and a document of principles that women and men worldwide could both contribute to and use for their own advocacy globally, nationally and locally.
Women’s commitment to sustainable development is based on a broad and integrated approach, one that includes apart from the ecological also the social and economic dimensions development and specifically gender equality. Thus, women believe it is very important that Earth Summit 2002 build on the outcomes and achievements of the previous UN World Conferences and their five-year reviews, including the Human Rights Conference (Vienna), ICPD (Cairo), the Women’s Conference (Beijing), the Social Summit (Copenhagen), and Habitat (Istanbul).
The call by the Commission on Sustainable Development urging governments to set their own national targets to speed progress and better measure results is welcomed. WEDO endorses this approach and will be looking to develop gender specific targets for countries to adopt as well. These targets will make it easier for activists to monitor governments and hold them accountable.
In addition, women are urging a close linkage with the High Level Meeting on Financing for Development, to be held in Mexico early next year. WEDO, along with the International Confederation of Free trade Unions (ICFTU), the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Team and women’s organizations from many parts of the world, have been working to bring a gender perspective to these discussions, stressing the point that when we talk about financing development we are talking about sustainable development.
But while this integration should be reflected in the content and process of Earth Summit 2002, it will be a struggle. The agendas of the CSD for the last several years have been narrow, focusing on only a few topics. While this allows for in-depth consideration and discussion, it fails to highlight the critical interrelation between and across all of these issues. Women are urging that priority consideration be given to these inter-linkages and the crosscutting concerns of gender equality, poverty eradication and environmental justice.
Another critical aspect of WSSD is the use of multistakeholder dialogues and discussions throughout the summit. Here we are strongly opposed to separating the governmental and nongovernmental events. Despite best efforts at transportation separately located forums will inevitably impede and limit access to government delegates and discussions. Women are particularly skeptical having experienced the logistical problems that come with separate meetings in China.
If there have to be separate venues they should be dedicated to the crosscutting themes and concerns of the major groups, so that each venue provides the opportunity for interaction and collaboration, not separation, between the major groups and the government delegations.
Women activists are already organizing for WSSD. WEDO will convene the Women’s Caucus at the global UN meetings, while partners from each region will determine how to position themselves into regional focal points. In some regions, such as Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia and the U.S., women’s organizations plan to organize regional conferences, focusing on the Earth Summit and engendering Local Agenda 21. Women across regions will also organize themselves around issues using existing networks.
WEDO is also seeking to work with women’s groups in South Africa as they prepare for the Summit and to support their efforts to advance a gender agenda and showcase women’s projects in the region.
We will also promote gender balance among NGOs at the regional and global meetings and hope to consult widely with women at these events.
The significant participation of women at the regional prepcoms is another goal of activists, as well as the international ones, not only at NGO levels but also in the official delegations.
WEDO will work with other UN bodies to advance the gender agenda. For example, the UN Commission on the Status of Women will be focusing its meeting in 2002 on poverty and environment. A large number of women’s organizations attend these meetings every year almost 1000 are registered with the Commission so this will be an important opportunity to generate further involvement and expert discussion on the links between gender, poverty and environment.
Women’s dreams for ourselves and all humanity are still best described by WEDO’s founder, Bella Abzug, when she declared, Women do not want to be mainstreamed into the polluted stream. We want to clean the stream and transform it into a fresh and flowing body. One that moves in a new direction a world at peace, that respects human rights for all, renders economic justice and provides a sound and healthy environment.
June Zeitlin is WEDO’s Executive Director.
Rosalind Petchesky, WEDO Board Secretary, was one of nine new distinguished professors approved by City University of New York Trustees in June. She is Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies at Hunter College. Patricia Mugambi, former Globalization and Sustainable Development Program Assistant, graduated from New York University with a Master’s degree in economics. Sabrina Palmieri, Communica- tions Intern, graduated from Queens College City University of New York with a B.A. in Political Science and Latin American Area Studies as well as departmental honors and an award for academic excellence.
In March, former WEDO Board member and Japanese parliamentarian Akiko Domoto was elected governor of Chiba Prefecture. While reflecting on the unique experience of being a woman politician running for election Domoto said, I hope that changes in Chiba with regard to welfare, environment and sustainable development, women’s rights and participation in the decision-making process will have a considerable impact on Japan as a whole.
Carmen Chiong is WEDO’s new Finance Director. Chiong received an MBA from the University of San Francisco and has a certification from San Francisco State University in Internal Auditing. She brings to the job some 12 years experience working in the areas of criminal justice, housing, mental health, employment and training, and economic development.
Two WEDO interns joined the staff in temporary positions. Nadia Johnson, a graduate student at City College, City University of New York, is the Program Assistant for Globalization and Sustainable Development. Imke-Friederike Tiemann, a graduate student at Freie University in Berlin, is the Gender and Governance Program Assistant.
Rosa Lizarde, WEDO’s former Global Networking Coordinator, is now collaborating with women’s groups in Latin America to establish a New York-based networking, training and advocacy organization aimed at promoting cooperation and dialogue on developments at the United Nations, and strengthening links between women in the region and Latinas in the U.S. She is the UN liaison for Mexican NGOs organizing for the International Conference on Financing for Development next March. Lizarde joined WEDO in January 1997 as Executive Assistant to Bella Abzug and Liaison to the WEDO Board of Directors. She brings to her new venture invaluable UN advocacy experience as well as a wealth of NGO contacts from around the world.
Also moving on: Reena Geevarghese, Assistant to the Executive Director; Rajyashri Waghray, Director of Globalization and Sustainable Development, and Bayartsetseg Jigmeddash, Gender and Governance Intern, who returned to Mongolia. Bojana Stoparic, Communications Intern and a graduate student of journalism at New York University started a new internship at The Nation magazine.
A group of young women from Austin College in Texas played the role of WEDO advocates in the Model United Nations program in April. The talented and motivated group stopped by the WEDO office for a mission briefing and to share with staff a position paper they had written for the United Nations Development Program.
Since the 1940s, Model UN programs have given high school and college students in the U.S. the opportunity to learn about diplomacy and international affairs by playing the roles of UN delegates in simulated UN debates. Participants are expected to learn the institution’s rules and language and represent their assigned delegation’s views and interests.
In May, eight Chinese women leaders of non-profit organizations, sponsored by the Elisabeth Luce Moore Leadership Program, met with WEDO staff to exchange ideas and learn more about each other’s work. The program, administered annually by the Institute of International Education, brings women leaders from China’s mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan to the U.S. for month-long visits with their U.S. counterparts, to promote stronger networks between Chinese and Americans working on issues of common concern.
By Georgia Tsaklanganos
On the road to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa (August 31-September 7), women advocates have brought into sharp focus the intersection of race and gender that separates women across the globe and within countries.
Despite clear inequalities in women’s situations and experiences throughout the world, the system of international human rights protections treats all women as a homogeneous mass and ignores their diverse experiences. The category women recognizes only gender identity and overlooks race, class, ethnicity, national origin, age and culture, thus ignoring women who endure multiple subordinations.
In South Africa, the unemployment rate is 11.5 percent for men and 14.7 percent for women. But the gap in the jobless rate between white women and black women is much wider 3.9 percent to 17.9 percent.
In Peru, maternal mortality rates are twice as high among indigenous women; in Guatemala, the average infant mortality rate is twice as high in the highland Indian areas.
Access to health care is stratified by existing racial, social and gender inequities. African women experience disproportionately high rates of HIV/AIDS, which often goes untreated, in part due to the unequal global distribution of health care resources. The trend towards privatizing health care in industrialized countries limits access by minority women, while the failure of medical studies to disaggregate data according to race and gender in effect ignores specific health issues that may affect women of color differently.
In the U.S., African-American, Latina, and Native American women have been the targets of sterilization campaigns, selective drug screening and prosecution during pregnancy. Latina women are twice as likely as white women to die in childbirth; African-American women four times as likely.
African-American women are more likely than white women to die from breast cancer, even though they develop the disease in lower rates. Women and girls in Native American communities suffer from disproportionately high rates of fetal alcohol syndrome.
Organized violence against women of color is particularly high. Rape and sexual violence have been used to target women of particular ethnic minorities as an instrument of genocide, as in the recent conflicts in Bosnia and Rwanda.
The growing concentration of world capital and resources in the industrial and post-industrial capitalist countries of the global North is inherently racist and unequal, giving rise to divisions among women: those who are privileged by their identities, and those who are not.
The international army of cleaners is almost exclusively made up of women who have migrated from developing countries to industrialized ones to work for the better-off career women as nannies, cleaners, cooks, or all-purpose servants. They face racism and, often, sexual abuse in their host countries while access to health care and other social services is often denied to them.
The global economy thrives on a transnational, sexual division of labor, creating a culture of consumerism that enhances the deep divide among the women of the world. In addition to domestic labor, race and gender concerns also affect labor exploitation in developing countries.
About half the clothing sold in the U.S. is made in sweatshops in Asia, Central and Latin America, and the Caribbean, mainly by young women working for low wages ranging from seven cents an hour in Bangladesh to 20 cents in China, 22 cents in Nicaragua and 29 cents in Indonesia.
When women workers in free-trade zones organize for better wages, multi-national companies such as Nike, Adidas, GAP, and Disney simply move their operations to another country.
Using an intersectional approach to examine human rights recognizes that categories of discrimination may overlap and individuals may suffer exclusions on the basis of race and gender, age and disability, or some other combination.
This approach captures both the structural and dynamic consequences of the interaction between two or more forms of discrimination or subordination. It specifically addresses the manner in which racism, patriarchy, economic disadvantages and other discriminatory systems contribute to create layers of inequality and a dynamic of disempowerment for specific groups of women.
The sexual trafficking of young West African girls, for example, is seen as a gender problem, failing to address their gender, race and socio-economic position, all of which makes them vulnerable to exploitation. But gender discrimination may be ignored due to the presence of another, more obvious discrimination, for example, the forced sterilization of black or other marginalized women is viewed as a racial problem and not as a form of sexual abuse.
Critical to the task of holistically addressing gender inequalities is the availability of reporting and evaluation data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, descent, citizenship status and other identities. Data disaggregated solely on the basis of gender (women compared to men), or of race (whites compared to blacks), are insufficient to identify intersecting discriminations. Data that has been disaggregated by race or ethnicity, and then further disaggregated by gender within those racial or ethnic groups, highlights discrimination based on the intersections of gender and race or other identities.
Contextual analysis and disaggregated data helps evaluate, for example, whether a policy addressing racial discrimination and economic opportunity for one group of women creates further competition and a hierarchy of minorities, serving to perpetuate the domination of a majority group. Or, whether implementation procedures for national machinery include a variety of strategies that are sensitive to the different situations of women’s subordination within different groups.
The idea that human rights are indivisible and interrelated is a principle of human rights that remains more theory than practice. In existing treaties and mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights, different aspects of human identity are treated separately: abuse by sex, by race, by migrant status are all addressed in separate treaty bodies. But there are signs of progress.
The Beijing Platform for Action, adopted by 189 governments in 1995, recognizes that women and girls face multiple barriers to their empowerment and advancement due to race, age, language, ethnicity, culture, religion, or disability, or because they are indigenous people. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has proposed that the UN human-rights system undertake an analysis of violations occurring at the intersections of gender and race. In addition, the Commission on the Status of Women is developing a monitoring approach that will incorporate an intersectional analysis.
But despite these initiatives, there’s still no sign of meaningful dialogue between the different treaty bodies of the various agencies. And, given the pace at which the UN system operates, it may yet be some time before an intersectional approach to discrimination is developed and even longer before country members begin reporting with data disaggregated on the basis of a holistic approach.
In the struggle for women’s human rights it is necessary to emphasize that all women’s experiences are not universal. Women do have the universal right to enjoy human rights, but the experiences, strategies or choices in affirming their human rights cannot be identical.
Full enjoyment of all human rights cannot be accomplished for marginalized groups of women by granting them equal rights and opportunities without defining to whom they are being compared. The equal rights approach treats identities as fixed rather than as fluid and contingent, and maintains a norm against which categorizations of difference are made. This background norm consists of characteristics associated with the dominant social group when human rights for women were first framed.
Women’s racial experiences encounter intersecting forms of oppression; the traditional human rights approach addresses only gender subordination. When, in the future, data of women’s intersecting subordinations have been documented, an anti-subordination approach will allow women protection from multiple subordinations, in accordance with the intersectional analysis being promoted in the human rights system.
The time is ripe for elevating the idea of women’s international human-rights protection. Women’s international human-rights discourse provides an excellent forum not only for political debates, but, most importantly, for change. It took the international human-rights system 50 years to accept a more honest analysis of ‘women’ and the multiple subordinations some of them experience; nevertheless, deconstructing the white male norm and reconstructing a multifaceted female one is always a step in the right direction.
Georgia Tsaklanganos, a lawyer, is a graduate student in political science at City University, New York. The article is based on her paper, Women’s International Human Rights and the ‘Women.’
by Bojana Stoparic
One-third of the world’s population two billion people is under the age of 25. Yet young people everywhere are discriminated against and marginalized not to mention excluded from decision-making processes at every level. The First Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance (WCAR), held at UN headquarters in Geneva in May 2000, was no exception.
Young people of oppressed races and ethnicities face a distinct set of challenges and discriminatory practices. Law enforcement officers target youth as troublemakers and lawbreakers simply because of their age. Young people’s labor rights are violated by employers paying below-average wages for above-average hours of work. Young women in developing countries are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation, including deceitful recruitment into the sex trade. Young men of color are often forcibly recruited into their countries’ armed forces by local militias or other armed units. And finally, ethnocentric education denies many young people knowledge of their cultural heritage and even denigrates their cultural identities.
Deciding to take matters into their own hands, a small group of young people attending the first WCAR PrepCom in Geneva began working to ensure that the voices of youth were included in the formation of the NGO International Coordinating Committee and its regional bodies. As a result, each of the four regions Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Asia/Asia Pacific/Middle East agreed to have at least one youth representative on their coordinating and facilitating teams. Plans were made to establish a Regional Youth Caucus of the Americas that in turn would plant the seeds for a Global Youth Caucus.
Subsequent WCAR meetings in the Americas provided opportunities for young activists from across the region to meet and strategize. More than 80 youth representatives participated in the Youth Caucus at the Regional Conference for the Americas in Santiago, Chile last December. They drafted a declaration about the ways racism affects young people and offered concrete proposals to governments, civil society, and international bodies such as the UN to rectify the problems.
The declaration urges UN Member States to design, ratify, and implement a Universal Declaration of Youth Rights. It also demands that governments eliminate laws and practices, such as racial profiling, that tend to target youth, and that governments offer support for programs benefiting youth, such as job training, cultural enrichment, education, and reproductive health services.
Governments should also provide specific mechanisms guaranteeing all young people access to high-quality education free of racial, ethnic and sexual biases, the declaration stresses. Domestic and transnational corporate employers should be required to provide humane working conditions and a living wage for all workers, with special attention paid to allowing young workers to be safely employed while still receiving a quality education. Effective measures against sex trafficking and exploitation of youth labor need to be adopted and the UN should act to halt recruitment of under-age men into military service or armed militias.
In addition to holding the Regional Youth Caucus, activists also formed the Indigenous Youth Network and the Youth of African Descent Network and both groups have drafted their own declarations. In Santiago, the Youth Caucus met twice with Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General of the WCAR, who voiced support for their goals, encouraging states to include a youth representative in official delegations to the conference.
Youth caucuses have formed in many world regions to promote young people’s participation in WCAR and to support a World Youth Forum, which will be held in Durban, South Africa, on August 27, 2001, the day before the opening of the NGO Forum.
The World Youth Forum is expected to launch a global dialogue among youth on the effects that racism, discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance have on their lives as well as potential remedies for these effects. For more information: www.hri.ca/racism/youth/index.htm.
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Bojana Stoparic is a former WEDO Communications Intern.
by Nadia Johnson
Unless gender inequalities are addressed there can be no people-centered development and poverty alleviation, say women involved in the UN’s on-going Financing for Development (FfD) process that is looking at ways to fund government commitments made at previous global conferences.
Although this message is beginning to trickle into the official proceedings, it’s been tough getting the point across. At the recent preparatory session in New York this May, gender was mentioned only twice in the working paper prepared by FfD Facilitator, Mauricio Escanero, which was used to guide the official discussions. The working paper covers six issue areas mobilizing domestic resources; mobilizing international resources; trade; Official Development Assistance (ODA); debt; and systemic issues and how they overlap.
Within the working paper gender is only considered under mobilizing domestic resources in the context of micro-finance and an enabling domestic environment. Advocates for women know this is not enough and they plan to step up their lobby for broader inclusion of gender concerns in the next draft, which will be presented by Escanero before the Third Preparatory Committee meeting resumes for its second week next October.
At the May meeting, plans for the FfD NGO Forum were outlined by representatives from the Mexico-based Steering Committee. The NGO Forum is likely to be held immediately prior to the official conference in Mexico next March. The Steering Committee consists of six organizations: Women’s Eyes on the Multi-laterals, National Coalition of Women’s NGOs for a Feminist Millennium, Women’s Latin American Network to Transform the Economy, National Action Network for Free Trade Agreements, Social Watch Mexico, and CASA/SAPRIN Network. Together these organizations represent some 600 networks and NGOs worldwide.
The FfD Women’s Caucus met daily to develop strategies for incorporating a gender-centered agenda into the general proceedings. WEDO distributed scores of copies of Women’s Consultation Recommendations, a working paper that presents a series of proposals to address gender issues in the Secretary General’s FfD Report (see box). The document was prepared in collaboration with six NGO representatives who took part in the Women’s Consultation workshop organized by WEDO in collaboration with the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) last February (see News & Views, March 2001). It is a valuable lobbying tool for presenting the gender components of each of the FfD issue areas.
Several delegations including St. Lucia, U.S., France, and the European Union made reference to gender concerns during the official proceedings. Canada was particularly supportive of the recommendations made by the Women’s Caucus and UNIFEM. Many others made general references to women and gender.
In addition to lobbying delegates, the Women’s Caucus called for representation within the NGO sub-caucuses to ensure that gender issues and women’s priorities were identified and articulated within the larger NGO community.
Two panels addressed the need for gender analysis within the FfD process. At the WEDO panel, Women’s Priorities and FfD, panelists presented regional women’s issues relevant to FfD; at a UNIFEM panel entitled The Gender Dimensions of the Financing for Development Agenda, feminist economists discussed the gender components of the six FfD themes.
The Women’s Caucus hosted a session with representatives of the UN Interagency Meeting on Women and Gender Equality’s Task Force on FfD. The Task Force, which is working to establish stronger ties to the community of women’s NGOs, includes representatives of the UN Division for the Advancement of Women (UNDAW), International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Non Government Liaison Service (NGLS), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and UNIFEM.
Task Force representatives distributed documents on UN gender mainstreaming and the FfD issue areas. They are planning a Day of Dialogue to take place in October or November of this year. Task Force representatives and Women’s Caucus participants also expressed interest in establishing a working relationship to advance gender concerns in the official FfD deliberations.
Angela King, Assistant Secretary General and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Gender, who heads the Task Force, presented a statement on the gender perspectives of FfD at the official meeting. Incorporating gender-sensitive commitments from the Millennium Declaration and other General Assembly sessions, King urged linking past UN gender commitments to the FfD process.
She also identified gender inequalities that hamper efforts to achieve sustainable economic development, including imbalances in economic power-sharing; unequal distribution of unremunerated work between women and men; lack of adequate support for women’s entrepreneurship; unequal access to and control over capital and resources such as land and credit; and inequalities in access to labor markets.
The new draft of the FfD working paper will be made available prior to the resumption of the Third Preparatory Committee session. Women activists are already working hard to ensure that the document includes the ideas put forth during this May’s PrepCom.
New York-based members of the FfD Women’s Caucus, including WEDO, will continue their advocacy with the FfD Facilitator as well as delegates and UN officials, while around the globe women will lobby their respective governments to include the gender components in the overall FfD agenda and debate.
Following their efforts in May, women are hopeful that their perspectives will prevail. But it is clear that they have put the issues onto the table where everyone involved in the process can take hold of the words and put them into action. All that is required is the will.
Nadia Johnson is WEDO’s Globalization and Sustainable Development Program Assistant.
At the May meeting on Financing for Development, WEDO and partners distributed the Women’s Consultation Recommendations, a lobbying document, to a wide audience that included women’s groups and other NGOs, country delegations and UN officials.
The document was developed in response to the lack of gender considerations in the Secretary General’s Report and the FfD Facilitator’s Working Paper.
The recommendations practical proposals that fall under the six issue areas in the FfD Working paper were a boon to women’s lobbying efforts. Women’s Caucus members also used the document as a guide to add a gender focus into their work with the larger NGO community, including the caucus statements presented at the official hearings.
The document is now open for revision by contributors, as well as Women’s Caucus members, during the next few months. It is also being updated and expanded to include the new topic of interlinkages, which was introduced in the Facilitator’s Working Paper in May.
The Women’s Consultation members who compiled the recommendations each took responsibility for one or two of the six issues as follows:
• Debt: World Council of Churches Ecumenical Team and Freedom From Debt (Philippines)
• Trade: Mariama Williams, Center of Concern consultant (Jamaica/U.S.)
• Systemic Issues: Women’s Eyes on the World Bank (Mexico)
• Official Development Assistance: Association for Women’s Rights in Development
• Foreign Direct Investment and Mobilizing Domestic Resources: WEDO
The document was prepared by WEDO. It can be downloaded at the WEDO website: www.wedo.org
by Oksana Kisselyova
Financial globalization has become inevitable. Since the end of the Cold War, the world has witnessed a spread of markets and multilateral development from which no country can operate independently.
This multidimensional process has different impacts on different countries, depending on the level of economic development and political influence, and it has both positive and negative consequences for human development.
New technologies, like the Internet, have globalized communications, creating an international informational space in which more and more people are able to participate. Humanity is becoming increasingly aware of a common responsibility towards its global future; collectivity and solidarity have reached across national borders and cultural boundaries. Despite these key accomplishments toward implementing a development framework that is healthy and sustainable, the gains have come at great expense.
It is clear that the rich industrialized countries of the global North, which have substantial influence on the economic and political world processes, are the main beneficiaries of economic globalization.
When multinational corporations and international financial institutions advance capitalist markets beyond national boundaries, they often do so without monitoring, accountability, or transparency; the market expands at any cost, including increased environmental damage, labor exploitation, and social inequalities.
Financial globalization can also entail the loss of autonomy for less developed states due to historical debts and financial dependence, the economic submission of developing countries to developed ones, the sublimation of cultural and non-material values, and the risk of global financial crisis.
FfD aims for economic growth that benefits all countries, but so far, countries in transition have been marginalized.
Since the end of the Cold War, the global financial architecture has been composed of developed, developing, and transitional countries. As a country in transition, Ukraine has suffered great economic hardship and instability. Even at the regional level, Ukraine cannot compete with other Central and Western European countries in the financial sphere.
This is partly due to the impact of Ukraine’s external debts, dating back ten years. Since 1992, state holdings in external and international financial markets have steadily increased. In 2000, Ukrainian debt decreased for the first time, falling by $2.1 billion U.S. dollars. Yet in the beginning of 2001 the external debt was still a massive $10.3 billion.
One overarching goal of the UN Financing for Development (FfD) process is to create world economic growth in which all countries benefit from globalization. But thus far in the FfD process, voices from countries in transition have been marginalized. Foreign investment from developed countries has been verbalized most often in reference to developing countries. Even the notion of countries in transition has almost disappeared from UN documents and discussions.
To complicate the situation, Ukraine’s two largest external creditors, the International Monetary Fund ($4.6 billion) and Russia ($2 billion) hold opposing views about Ukrainian economic development.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) has been positive in lowering the rate of inflation to its current 28 percent, and due to FDI the Ukrainian currency (hrivna) is relatively stable.
Yet the negative impacts of FDI are just as evident. Initial funds granted to the Ukrainian government fell victim to corruption instead of being invested into the economy. Though investors require careful investment evaluation of the projects that need funding, Ukraine and numerous other post-Soviet countries have violated this rule, resulting in huge scandals connected with wasteful use of external credits and state financial resource privatization.
Poor indicators of FDI and other private flows further exacerbate the economic situation, as social and political unsustainablilty and unreasonable fiscal policy stalls foreign investment.
Ukraine’s omission from world financial flows has led to its weak role in international economic relations by not only creating barriers to the benefits of financial globalization, but also increasing the negative effects.
Ukraine and other countries in transition face harsh challenges if they are to reap more than the bitter fruits of globalization.
Oksana Kisselyova is Women’s Program Coordinator at MAMA-86, a women’s environmental organization in Ukraine.
by Doris Mpoumou
The themes were Women, Girls and HIV/AIDS, and Gender, and All Forms of Discrimination when the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held its annual session to review the Critical Areas of Concern in the Beijing Platform for Action last March. The CSW also considered its 2002-2005 work program.
On the issue of gender and discrimination the Commission recognized that discrimination does not always affect women and men in the same way. Moreover, gender discrimination may be intensified and facilitated by all other forms of discrimination. However, the negotiations on HIV/AIDS were not concluded until early May in a meeting held behind closed doors. The final text acknowledges that gender inequality increases the risk of HIV/AIDS for women who are 55 percent of all HIV-infected adults and girls, who are infected at a rate five to six times higher than their male peers.</p>
During the weeklong session, WEDO organized several events to highlight the need for more women in decision-making positions. Among these events was a special tribute to women Ambassadors to the UN, organized in collaboration with the Group on Equal Rights for Women in the UN.
WEDO and GERWUN also organized a panel discussion on gender balance and decision-making positions in the UN system. The panel was held on March 8 to mark International Women’s Day. Panelists included Louise Frèchette, Deputy-Secretary-General; Angela King, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender; Jean-David Levitte, Ambassador of France to the UN; Jeanette Ndhlovu, Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN, and Shashi Tharoor, Interim Head of the UN Department for Public Information.
In her remarks, Deputy-Secretary-General Frèchette applauded the unprecedented number of women now in top UN positions, but she also emphasized the need to build on the institutional reforms in progress at the UN and to change the way managers view women in the system.
Women’s Political Rights are Protected in these International Documents
*Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948); www.un.org/rights/50/
decla.htm Article: 21
*Convention on the Political Rights of Women (1952); www.ipu.org/
wmn-e/planactn.htm#14 Relevant articles: Preamble, II and III
*International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1960); www.pch.gc.ca/ddp-hrd/english/iccpr/CN_1.htm; Article: 3
*Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979); gopher.un.org/00/ga/cedaw/convention; Articles: 7 & 8
*The Beijing Platform for Action (1995); www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/
beijing/platform/decision.htm; Paras: 190a; 191; 192a
*Report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole of the 23rd Session of the General Assembly (2000); www.un.org/womenwatch/confer/beijing5/; Paras:100a; 117a
Parity remains our goal and we will not rest until we get there,” she asserted. Any institution that fails to make use of half its potential intellectual or creative assets is short-changing itself.
Assistant Secretary-General King said women’s advancement required their participation in public life but also their increased involvement in defining the political, economic and social agenda.
Were it not for women’s participation at decision-making levels, issues such as childcare, violence against women, social protection, food security and unpaid labor would not have received the attention they have from policy makers, King said.
Ambassador Levitte spoke about the positive impact of Parité, the new French law that mandates that political parties run equal numbers of male and female candidates. Ambassador Levitte, who drew laughter when he quipped that they prefer revolution to evolution in France, described how Parité could be adapted in the UN.
Join WEDO’s network of women interested in politics and decision-making and receive quarterly updates on the progress of the global 50/50 campaign. Exchange information, ideas and strategies, while sharing and passing along resources. Tell us about initiatives in your country that are bringing more women into the realm of politics. French and Spanish submissions are welcome. To join, send an e-mail to email@example.com
Taking advantage of the nearly 300 non-governmental organizations attending the CSW, WEDO’s Gender and Governance team held briefing sessions in English, Spanish, and French to promote the 50/50 campaign, expand its constituency and distribute information and strategies on how to increase women’s representation in politics.
Each of the briefings focused on the genesis of the campaign and the low rate of women’s representation in politics, despite several international documents and instruments guaranteeing women’s right to political representation.
At the end of these sessions, participants filled out Action Cards, which detail a range of activities for promoting the campaign, such as collecting data, lobbying political parties for the inclusion of more women candidates on party lists and launching the 50/50 campaign at the community level. WEDO also convened a 50/50 caucus to identify potential partners to launch the campaign at the national level and to strategize on ways to increase active involvement in the campaign.
WEDO also convened a Linkage Caucus in collaboration with the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. It enabled women in regional and issue caucuses to exchange notes on meeting developments and to discuss the follow-up to the 2000 Review of the Beijing conference. Women taking part agreed the process of holding governments accountable to their commitments in Beijing must continue. The CSW adopted a multi-year work program for the effective implementation of the Beijing Platform.
In the first draft of the program, the topic Women in Decision Making was originally scheduled to be addressed in 2004, but was later set back to 2006 despite energetic lobbying from the African, European and Asia/Pacific women’s caucuses calling for the debate to be moved forward o 2003. For more information on the CSW log on to the Division for the Advancement of Women at www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/.
Doris Mpoumou is WEDO’s Gender and Governance Program Associate
Women may wear many different hats but it seems that few get to wear the top hat. Drawing attention to the absence of women in decision-making positions, WEDO and the Group on Equal Rights for Women in the UN (GERWUN) used International Women’s Day 2001 as an opportunity to honor women ambassadors to the UN with Bella Abzug-style hats, at a reception on March 7, 2001.
There are only 11 women among the 189 heads of UN missions, and this number will likely decrease by the end of the year with the appointment of new ambassadors in Australia, Liberia and Estonia. Through its 50/50 campaign, WEDO is calling on UN ambassadors to sign a pledge to equally divide the two top positions in their missions between women and men. Among the dignitaries who spoke in support of more women in decision-making positions , were Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, Former UN Special Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina Elisabeth Rehn, Princess Basma Bint Talal of Jordan, Noeleen Heyzer, UNIFEM Head and artist Nane Annan of Sweden, wife of UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan who was present as an unofficial guest. Ambassador Penelope Wensley of Australia spoke on behalf of the women ambassadors.
by Socorro L. Reyes
It has only been one year since WEDO launched its global campaign for more women in government but with the support of 219 organizations in 62 countries, 50/50 by 2005: Get the Balance Right! is picking up momentum.
In the last issue of News & Views (March 2001) we reported launching the campaign in the Philippines, Argentina, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Namibia, Kenya and Bulgaria. Since then, several other countries have jumped on board among them Guyana and Indonesia and an Asia/Pacific regional launch was mounted in the Philippines.
The Guyana launch in February was a collaboration of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Caribbean Gender Equality Program, and the Women’s Political Program. WEDO was represented by one of its Caribbean partners, Hazel Brown of the Network of Women NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago, which launched its national campaign last year.
The Guyana launch was timed to coincide with the nomination of candidates for the national elections in March. The Guyana Constitutional Reform Act requires political parties to include a quota of 33 percent women candidates in their lists. More than 60 women from the seven political parties were named as candidates. A record-breaking number of 20 women gained parliamentary seats and one was named as Deputy Speaker. Guyana, with a population of 700,000, has a 65-member National Assembly.
In March, the Center for Legislative Development (CLD) in cooperation with the Center for Asia-Pacific Women in Politics, and WEDO launched the 50/50 campaign for the Asia-Pacific region, in the Philippines.
Participating were 60 women from 10 countries Australia, Bangladesh, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, and Thailand. They represented non-governmental organizations, political parties, local legislatures and national parliaments. Donor partners were on hand to give their support including UNIFEM, UN Development Programme (UNDP), Economic and Social Commission for Asia/Pacific (ESCAP), CIDA, Asia Foundation, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
The regional launch included presentations on gender balance in political representation, women making a difference in local government and parliament, and strategies to promote gender balance. At the end of the two-day 50/50 workshop, participants issued a final declaration: A Call to Action for Full and Equal Participation and Representation of Women in Politics. The declaration recommended that governments take all possible measures, in particular, affirmative action such as the quota system, to speed up the attainment of gender equality and justice.
At the national level, WEDO’s Director of Gender and Governance, Socorro Reyes introduced the 50/50 campaign in a forum on Women in Political Parties: Reshaping Platforms Through Equal Representation, that was organized by the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, the national machinery for the advancement of women.
The forum aimed to draw commitments from leaders of political parties to increase the number of women in their party lists and their decision-making bodies. Representatives from major political parties as well as sectoral groups participated in the meeting, which marked the culmination of Women’s History Month.
Reyes also promoted the 50/50 campaign at the Asia-Pacific regional meeting of Women’s Business Councils. Her Call to Action was echoed by participants from Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.
In April, six women’s groups in Indonesia participants in the Asia/Pacific regional launch organized a workshop on Women in Politics. The 85 participants included representatives from the Indonesian parliament, the State Ministry for Women’s Empowerment, political parties, NGOs, the media, academia and labor unions.
The workshop focused on four issues: reform of electoral laws including the adoption of quotas and multi-member proportional representation; gender balance in political parties and the legislature; mass mobilization; and increased cooperation between NGOs, the government, political parties and donor agencies.
WEDO’s Reyes was also a resource person at a meeting organized by the State Ministry for Women’s Empowerment in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. To support efforts to strengthen affirmative action and electoral reform, the Indonesian Center for Women in Politics invited Reyes to promote the 50/50 campaign at the meeting.
Reyes’ itinerary included discussions with the Indonesian Women’s Political Caucus, a non-partisan group of party women from across the political spectrum. The Caucus pledged to advocate quotas for women in policy-making positions. She also met with the Women’s Political Action Network, which is a strong advocate of quotas and proportional representation, and held talks with the Electoral Committee a governmental body actively involved in drafting the Electoral Reform Law.
Socorro L. Reyes is WEDO’s Gender and Governance Director.
by Doris Mpoumou
When WEDO launched the 50/50 campaign on June 8, 2000, we were excited about the potential of a new French law adopted that same month.
The new law, Parité, had the same goal as our 50/50 campaign: getting the balance right in government.
Parité represents a significant ideological shift from the gender-neutral national motto of France, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, a maxim adopted in 1789 during the French revolution. Parité addresses the revolution’s exclusion of women from the public sphere: the maxim failed to address both women and men and their interelationships to each other in society.
In June 1999, the French Constitution was amended to allow passage of Parité in May 2000. The law requires all political parties to field an equal number of women and men in all elections or face disqualification from contesting and from government funding.
The newspaper Le Monde compared the national fervor around the passing of Parité to the post-war period, when the right to vote was extended to women.
Parité was applied for the first time in the March 2001 local elections in communities of more than 3,500 inhabitants. The result was a leap in the percentage of women elected to town councils from 22 percent to 47.50 percent.
But although Parité opens the possibility for more women in public office, how does it affect their participation? So far, of course, it is too soon to draw conclusions, but it is worth noting a few points that could influence how Parité plays out.
Until recently France had one of the lowest percentages of women in government among all West European countries: 5.9 percent in the Senate, 9.9 percent in the National Assembly, and 21.8 percent in the municipalities.
Following the elections, the percentage of women representatives in regions covered by the law , leapt to 46 percent from the 1995 figure of 26.5 percent. But in municipalities of less than 3,500 in habitants, the increase was much smaller (19.9 percent to 27.6 percent).
Three-quarters of the women who won are first timers and more women than ever before have since been appointed to decision-making positions in local government bodies. The exception has been within the traditional male preserves of finance and economic development.
The percentage of women mayors did not change dramatically either (5.6 percent to 7.7 percent), but this has not dampened enthusiasm for Parité.
Women themselves are extremely optimistic, said Colette Ori, who was elected in the March elections.
Progressively, the current percentage of women mayors will increase dramatically.
Parité will be put to the test in national elections for the Senate this coming September. Women know that it will be far harder to make gains in this highly traditionally male domain. But we can be sure of one thing: women will be making a showing like never before.
by Irene Dankelman
How much has the world developed in the past decade since the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro? And what should women focus on as they prepare for the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, in Johannesburg, South Africa, which aims to assess progress and set new goals for the future?
These are complex questions to answer, but one positive trend of the past decade has been the wide acceptance of the term, sustainable development. Governments made it part of their mission, corporations of their goals, educational and research institutions focused their programs on sustainability and a lot more sustainable products were offered on the global market.
But these mainly ad hoc initiatives, and the accompanying rhetoric, don’t necessarily signal the approach of a new era in which the social, ecological and economic dimensions of society are brought into balance.
Sadly, some trends are still going in the wrong direction: the gap between rich and poor continues to grow, not only between but also within countries; all over the world, at local, regional and global levels, people’s livelihoods are deteriorating due to environmental degradation, changes in weather conditions and vegetation, and pollution; the number of threatened ecosystems and species in natural areas and agricultural systems has seriously increased, with many consequences not only for nature, but also for people’s health, income and food security.
The result? More and more people are being displaced, and local and regional conflicts are erupting, extracting a heavy human and environmental toll.
Although many improvements have been made in health care, and life expectancy has increased, epidemics such as HIV/AIDs, and a growing number of other diseases, threaten human health and sustainable development.
Globalization and privatization have been two of the most significant global trends during the past decade. The power of multi-national companies increased substantially, as did trade liberalization and an intensified movement of resources, products, money, people and waste around the world. The culture of consumption and ‘McDonalds wealth’ was introduced to the most remote corners of the globe. And though globalization has benefited some, many more are struggling to cope with its negative aspects.
But there are signs of a growing people’s resistance against this one-sided view on development, and evidence that people hold their governments and transnational corporations accountable. In Seattle in 1999, 50,000 people from all walks of life and from all regions of the world protested peacefully over four days, stalling World Trade Organization efforts to start a new round of negotiations for accelerating the process of globalization. Such demonstrations are now expected at major global economic meetings.
Additionally, the private sector and international financial institutions like the World Bank are now more willing to listen to critics and to be more accountable.
There is now far more knowledge about the social and ecological conditions on planet Earth than 10 years ago, and the search for data and criteria is international. Since Rio we have also witnessed a growing number of conferences, international agreements and conventions on issues related to sustainable development.
Technology has developed at a fast pace and communication systems have been simplified, enabling civil society to network and plan more effective joint actions. The important role of civil society groups is also now recognized more widely.
Generally speaking humankind now has a greater capacity and more possibilities to solve global problems than ever before. However, the political and personal will to accept and enforce appropriate measures is often missing.
One example is the current stalemate over the Kyoto protocol on global warming, which is opposed by the Bush administration in the U.S., supported by Japan, Italy and others. On the one hand, many parties are willing to take more profound measures to protect the planet, and on the other resistance from corporate interests is growing.
In terms of science and technology, new innovations are often controlled by private interests and hidden from public view, making it more difficult to direct this sector towards sustainability. Another problem is that many people are excluded from the benefits of economic modernization, communication and other technologies.
But even where sound technologies and products are available, the consumption per person is increasing for example, cleaner cars are becoming available but more miles per person are being logged.
There are some issues on which common sense prevails, but there are also some battles women thought they had won, that resurface time and again, and have to be tackled with renewed energy for instance, the notion that population growth is the main cause of our environmental woes. Or the fact that women are still a minority in decision-making forums on sustainable development.
Women are demanding stepped-up action to implement the promise of UNCED for sustainable, balanced and just development. We are working together in our networks and organizations to make our voices heard. We are nurturing new feminist leadership for the future and we are sharing our expertise and enthusiasm world-wide.
In the coming months, there will be ample opportunity for us to show our governments that we are serious about the world and its future, and that success is possible when mind and heart go together.
At the country level, women and women’s groups can begin by making an input to the National Reports being prepared by their governments. Regional meetings begin in September, and from January 2002, the global Preparatory Committee meetings will begin reviewing progress since Rio, and identifying new priorities. Like the other major groups, such as youth, indigenous people, workers and trade unions, business, farmers, and the scientific community, women can make a contribution to these meetings. And in between regional and thematic meetings, gender networks will refine their strategies. During multistakeholder dialogues face to face and via the Internet we will share our views with other major groups.
Together we will develop the Women’s Action Agenda 2002, in which our views and priorities will be outlined. Women will make a difference in Johannesburg as we did in Rio with a push to turn rhetoric into reality.
Irene Dankleman, a WEDO Board member, is an ecologist and Coordinator for Sustainable Development at Nijmegen University, Netherlands.
by Anna Grossman
Planning for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in the U.S. has taken on a renewed sense of urgency with the recent backsliding on key environmental agreements, moves that threaten to damage ecological health at the national and global level.
Primary among these setbacks is the decision by the Bush administration to abandon the 1997 Kyoto Protocol the only binding international environmental agreement to cut carbon dioxide emissions and curb global warming. Others include the recent reversal of the Executive Order on international family planning, the push for a new round of talks at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the weak environmental protections in the Free Trade Areas of the Americas (FTAA) agreement.
Combined with the recent suspension of rules to reduce arsenic in drinking water, the pursuit of oil drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, and the possible reversal of a Clinton administration decision to protect some 19 million acres of federal land from logging, environmental policy in the U.S. looks pretty grim.
As a world superpower, the U.S. has an obligation to provide leadership on conservation and management of environmental resources. However, fundamental gains in sustainable-development strategies are being rapidly eroded, with serious global ramifications.
The worsening situation in the U.S. has pushed WEDO and the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham College, Pittsburgh, to host a Summit to assess environmental issues from a gender perspective and to generate U.S. policy recommendations, while examining both domestic and global policy implications.
The summit, entitled Women Assessing the State of the Environment (WASTE), will take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on November 9-11, 2001. It will bring together scholars, scientists, advocates, grass roots activists, and youth to network, share strategies and develop policy recommendations for sustainable development in the U.S.
Pittsburgh, given its historic reputation as the ‘smoky city,’ is an appropriate site for the gathering. It was also the home of Rachel Carson, one of the most important female figures of the modern U.S. environmental movement, author (Silent Spring) and an alumna of Chatham College.
Prominent leaders in the field who will participate include Sandra Steigraber, a professor at Cornell University and author (Living Downstream); Devra Lee Davis, a leading epidemiologist and researcher on environmental health and chronic disease, and a visiting professor at Carnegie Mellon University; and Lois Gibbs, Executive Director and founder of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice.
Topics covered at the summit will include ecological health; reproductive health and population; environmental justice and human rights; energy, transportation; land use; over consumption; the global economy; trade agreements and international financial institutions (IFIs).
The summit will also address the thorny topic of U.S. support for international commitments, such as climate change, biodiversity, persistent organic pollutants, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Financing for Development.
A youth summit on key questions of women’s leadership will be held to launch Chatham College’s effort to build a network of colleges and universities working on concerns related to women and the environment.
But the work doesn’t stop there. Recommendations and strategies of the summit will be shared with U.S.-based environmental and other civil society organizations in a series of meetings and briefings to ensure a strong and coordinated gender agenda at and beyond Earth Summit 2002, demonstrating the strong role women play in sustainable development.
For more information and registration details, contact: Tracy Dolan: firstname.lastname@example.org; Ellen Dorsey: email@example.com or visit our website: www.wedo.org
Anna Grossman is WEDO’s Communications Associate.
For over a decade, hundreds of diverse groups and individuals throughout the world have endeavored to create a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society. Today, the Earth Charter sets forth these principles and seeks to inspire in all peoples a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the human family and the larger living world.
The initiative began in 1987 as a response to the UN’s call for a new charter on sustainable development. By 1999 more than 40 national Earth Charter committees were formed, and numerous Earth Charter conferences were held. Comments and recommendations from all regions of the world were forwarded to the Earth Council and the Drafting Committee. The Commission issued a final version of the Earth Charter in March 2000.
The Charter, which recognizes the world’s environmental challenges, emphasizes that environmental protection, human rights, equitable human development, and peace are interdependent and indivisible. It provides a new framework for thinking about and addressing these issues. The result is a fresh, broad conception of what constitutes a sustainable community and sustainable development.
The objectives of the International Earth Charter Campaign include promoting a worldwide dialogue on shared values and global ethics; circulating the charter worldwide as a people’s treaty, promoting awareness, commitment, and implementation of its values; ensuring that the principles find expression in individual lifestyles, professional and organizational work ethics, educational curriculum, religious teachings, public policy, and government practices; and seeking endorsement of the charter by the UN General Assembly by 2002.
WEDO is one of the scores of organizations that have already endorsed the Earth Charter. You can actively support the Earth Charter Initiative by contacting national committees and partner organizations in your region. Groups and individuals can start an Earth Charter study group and explore what it would mean to implement the principles of the Earth Charter in their homes, work places, and communities, while engaging others in the process.
Explore the Earth Charter website for more information: www.earthcharter.org or contact The Earth Charter Initiative, Council, P.O. Box 319-6100, San Jose, Costa Rica; Fax: 506-249-3500; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.International Secretariat, The Earth