As our team becomes aware of news that is of global importance to women, we are committed to making it available here, and to featuring what we can in our periodic Newsletter. If you are aware of news that you feel is global in nature, please join our network and/or submit your news items here if you are already a member. If you would like to become a regular "reporter", please contact Jeanie@wayswomenlead.net . Together we will create currents of good news around the world!
Dilma Rousseff has
become the first woman to be elected Brazil's president, succeeding Luiz
Inacio Lula da Silva.
GEAR - Gender/Equality/Architecture/Reform
FEIM - La Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer
22 September 2010
Michelle Bachelet’s First Press Conference at the United Nations
Michelle Bachelet, recently assigned by the Secretary General of the United Nations to head UN Women, held her first press conference in the auditorium of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library. She is the past president of Chile.
As Latin American Focal Point for the GEAR Campaign and President of FEIM, I participated in this press conference where Bachelet demonstrated her political capabilities, although it is obvious that she was not able to talk about her service during her term in office yet because this would anticipate the timeline set by United Nations. Although she will not take office until January, starting now she will be incorporated into the United Nations and begin working with the transition group, which is made up of the four already existing women’s entities in the UN that will be integrated into the new entity. The representatives of the 41 countries that will make up the UN Women’s Board of Directors will be elected in October and the Committee will be constituted in November and begin their functions in January 2011.
Among the questions that she was asked at the conference, I will point out the most important ones, which I consider should be disseminated. How should violence against women be addressed—including massive rape of women in armed conflicts as well as such acts committed by United Nations Peacekeepers? Bachelet responded by stating that she will strengthen the actions of the Secretary General’s UNITE Campaign, and, among other actions, she will promote that the necessary laws are passed to address all forms of violence against women and that they be implemented in the countries where they already exist. She will also promote the creation and application of punishments for violence against women so that women feel that their rights are respected. She will promote that women not only receive treatment and support but also violence prevention, by advocating that this to be incorporated into primary education for girls and boys, and alluding to comprehensive sexuality education. Regarding massive rape of women, she said that these acts must be judged and penalized regardless of who commits them and that a review of ways to overcome the immunity of UN personnel will have to be carried out.
Another question was how she would work to achieve the Millennium Development Goales –MDGs- and if she would incorporate MDG 5: maternal health. She replied that now, in her new position, she will continue to advocate for fulfilling the MDGs, adding that 2015 is very close and we cannot wait any longer before getting to work. She recognized that since some time ago, from the MDG Support Committee, she was most interested in women’s and girls’ empowerment and maternal health. Now, in UN Women, she will focus more on these objectives and, she added, maternal mortality rates are very high and this affects women’s possibilities. For this reason she believes that, as this continues to be very important health issue, there are no excuses for not implementing these actions. She gave examples of effective interventions and even mentioned abortion as a cause that needs to be addressed in order to avoid these deaths.
She also stated that it is very important to improve women’s access to employment in the non-agricultural sector. Women’s participation is still very low, but she clarified that to achieve this, the current distribution of responsibilities in the family needs to be changed. For example, if women continue to be the sole caregivers for children, the elderly and the disabled, they will never be able to improve their participation in the formal labor market and this will keep them from achieving economic independence, which is something very important for improving the condition of women and real empowerment.
Later, she clarified that she the believes that UN Women cannot have only one formula for improving the situation of women, and it will therefore be necessary to see what is needed most in each country and privilege working on those issues, without leaving out others. In response to a question about how she will work in countries where women’s rights are ignored, she said that in those cases we will have to be realistic and work cautiously but continuously to move forward. Answering a journalist’s question about what it means to be realistic and cautious, Bachelet clarified that she is passionate and therefore, through UN Women, she will work to truly accelerate improvements for women. The audience applauded her answer.
In response to a question about whether she planned to work with civil society, she said that she already respects and knows the work of women’s organizations, that she has experience working with these organizations and that she believes that this is a key for UN Women. She mentioned, for example, that she has promoted the formation of advisory committees, commissions and other mechanisms for civil society participation, and that she will also promote this in UN Women.
She did not mention the situation of UN Women’s financial resources because there were no questions on this matter. Nonetheless, this is concerning because the commitment is to reach 500 million dollars but there still is not even a third of this amount. Therefore it is necessary that all states increase their donations and that women’s groups take an interest in this.
Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights, the General Assembly declared on July 28th, voicing deep concern that almost 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water.
The 192-member Assembly also called on United Nations Member States and international organizations to offer funding, technology and other resources to help poorer countries scale up their efforts to provide clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for everyone.
For more information about this significant UN action go to
UN WOMEN BORN: CIVIL SOCIETY CELEBRATES
CREATION OF GENDER EQUALITY ENTITY AFTER FOUR YEARS OF ADVOCACY
Celebrate with women and men from around the world that the United
Nations General Assembly formally adopted, July 2, 2010, the establishment of
the new gender equality entity. The dream
for this new agency is that it will become a solid foundation for advancing women’s human
rights, reduce poverty and bring forth a greater realization of peace and
democracy in the world. Now that she is
born, we all need to ensure that she has the human and financial resources to
grow into her full potential as a powerful global entity that engages with
women’s groups and other civil society organizations invested in gender
equality and the empowerment of women. After
four years of advocacy the GEAR campaign has succeeded. Congratulations!!!!
As the new entity is developed, GEAR supporters will continue to advocate for four major elements critical to its implementation:
systematic and diverse civil society participation at all levels
For more information please go to the GEAR Campaign website - www.gearcampaign.org - or contact the GEAR Campaign at: firstname.lastname@example.org www.gearcampaign.org - or contact the GEAR Campaign at: email@example.com
I am Whitney Smith and am honored to read this statement from Pathways to Peace. Co-sponsors are Women’s Intercultural Network and Women’s World Summit Foundation in Geneva. It was written by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. The title is “Advocating a UN NGO 5th World Conference on Women and Girls.”
To achieve gender equality and empowerment of women, the political will to make these goals into national and
international priorities has to exist. In democracies and govenments that are influenced by public opinion and votes,
mobilization of women on their own behalf has been the most effective and often the only reason for gains made so
A 5th UN NGO World Conference on Women, the first since widespread use of the internet, has the potential of
informing, linking, and networking women, creating effective networks and developing a critical mass of people who
realize that the planet and humanity need to have women involved at every level to have peace, a sustainable
economy, and to demand that UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and other documents be implemented.
The global women's movement needs the 5th UN sponsored World Conference on Women and Girls to continue the
momentum toward reaching gender equity. It would bring the concerns that mothers universally want for their children -- a world fit for children. This would be a world where children and therefore everyone, would not fear physical and
psychological violence, where there is enough good food to eat, clean air and water, health care, education and the
freedom to think, speak, create and love.
Neuroscience since Beijing shows that women respond to stress differently than men do. Women reduce stress by sharing perceptions, feelings and strategies. This is called the “Tend and Befriend” oxytocin response, and is enhanced by estrogen. This hormonal resonse supports dialogue, collaboration and peaceful resolution of conflicts and supports the designation of women as the “empathc gender.” This contrasts to men’s “Fight or Flight” physiological Adrenaline and Testosterone response to stress, which increases aggression and competitiveness. For peace and sustainability, political decisions and budgets need to be more oxytocin-influenced and less testosterone-driven.
At CSW54 Beijing + 15, it became evident how influential the 4th UN World Conference on Women had on developing leadership and networks among the women who attended. Most of whom are now in their sixties. They have had a major influence on shaping programs at every level. A UN 5th WCW would bring current and future women’s leaders together, creating and mobilizing intergenerational effective leadership, which is needed.
To accomplish the MDGs, civil society needs to play major roles at every level, to be an influence, increase women’s participation in furthering a “mother’s agenda” for children and planet. To accomplish this, ECOSOC needs to support the UN women’s entity authorized by the General Assembly in 2009, with sufficient funding and leadership to be effective, This new entity could organize a 5th UN NGO World Conference on Women by 2015 (instead of a
Beijing +20 review).
The potential of a UN NGO 5th World Conference on Women as a consciousness-raising focus is enormous. It would be the first in the 21st Century, the first since widespread use of the internet and technologies that could bring the conference to every city in the world. As a UN -sponsored conference of non-governmental organizations in civil society – the focus would be on learning best practices, networking support, and implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals.
Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak on behalf of Pathways to Peace, Women’s Intercultural Network, Women’s World Summit Foundation and the ten thousand people who signed the online petition. (http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/support-a-un-5th-world-conference-on-women.html, www.5wcw.org.)
Iranian women speak their truth about their country trying to get a seat on the United Nation's Commission on the Status of Women. They are joined by women's activists worldwide in blocking this attempt. The following was written by Robin Marty for Care2Causes.
Via Radio Free Europe:
A group of women's rights activists in Iran and worldwide has written an open letter to the United Nations opposing the Iranian government's bid for membership on the UN's Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.
The letter refers to Iranian laws that gender-equality groups say discriminate against women. These include statutes relating to such matters as divorce, child custody, education, and the ability to choose a husband.
Women have been "arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for peacefully seeking change of such laws," the letter says. "The Iranian government will certainly use [CSW membership] to curtail the progress and advancement of women."
The commission, who's sole reason for being is to promote the equality and advancement of women, seems like a very strange place for a country who has such warped ideas of women that their clerics proclaim things like "promiscuous women cause earthquakes," or is now declaring that they will arrest women who have suntans, since that proves they are not covering up properly in the eyes of Sharia law.
Gender Equality in Iran issued a petition that demands "an end to
state-led violence and repression" in Iran. In part, it said, "Over the
past eight months, the grass-roots protest movement that emerged
following the disputed presidential elections has been suppressed by
mounting violence. Physical and psychological violence - through
arrest, torture, rape, extended imprisonment, and even execution - has
been exercised against civil and political activists in Iran. As of
now, numerous women activists from various movements - women's,
workers, students, civil, and political - are detained and/or have
received heavy sentences. The list of detainees grows everyday."
the Point of the Women's Revolution if We Can't Dance - Stress, Burnout Risk +
Jane Barry and Jelena Dordevic met with activists around the world to
discuss the culture of the women’s movement and uncovered a disturbing trend:
We’re deeply unsettled in our work, and it’s affecting our progress. It’s
time to change that.
Ask yourself what well-being means to you. What would it take for you to live in balance? Take the time to listen to your answer. It means change—and change can be scary. Let the process of exploring inner sustainability transform your own activism. Challenge your beliefs about what it means to be a part of this movement. It starts with ourselves as individual activists and permeates outward.
What does it mean if the way we’ve been active for generations isn’t working for us anymore? I’ve often wondered if embracing a different way of working negates all of the progress we’ve made until now.
Of course, it means exactly the opposite. Embracing activist sustainability is about celebrating where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished. It’s about embracing the good and recognizing the bad. It’s time we start doing less and engage in “the extreme sport of stopping,” as one activist calls it.
We have to change the culture of activism and heal ourselves, so that we can begin to heal others. When this cultural shift takes hold, our movement will become truly unstoppable.
Dear GEAR Campaign Supporters,
The recent meeting of the 54th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) advanced the GEAR Campaign goal of continuing civil society pressure on governments to move forward in passing the resolution that creates the entity during this session of the General Assembly (which ends in September). At the CSW, over 60 countries (list to be available soon) from all regions spoke in support of the new gender architecture in their speeches. Governments initiated a resolution that was co-sponsored by 180 countries and introduced by the Joint Coordinating Committee of the Non-Aligned Movement and Group of 77/China (JCC) supporting the creation of the entity – indicating the wide spread assumption that this will happen. (The resolution is attached.)
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, called on governments to take action to create the entity without further delay, and the NGO Action of holding up a “GEAR UP NOW!” sign in the balcony on the day of his speech as part of the UN official observance of International Women’s Day on March 3rd was greeted with enthusiastic applause. The sessions on the new entity were packed, and many other sessions that addressed UN structural issues assumed the new architecture as part of the future UN landscape. All the NGO regional groups at CSW used this period to advocate for GEAR and specifically for a strong operational capacity in the new entity.
The General Assembly (GA) held several informal discussions on the System-Wide Coherence process (including gender architecture) before the CSW and has scheduled more March-June during which time, it is anticipated that a SWC resolution launching the new women’s agency will be drafted. Now, the GEAR Campaign’s greatest concern is not whether the entity will be created but WHAT will be created. We expect the resolution to be passed by the end of this GA session in time for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit review in September, but there are still a number of important details to be resolved. In order for the entity to be effective as a driver for the UN system on women’s rights and empowerment, it must have a robust country level operation that is more than just advisory to the UN system. This requires that it be both a coordinating body for the UN’s work on women with the capacity to hold the system accountable for gender mainstreaming as well as able to engage in its own programmatic work and to support governmental and NGO work at all levels.
We remain concerned about the money to enable the entity to be effective. Member states should pledge core, predictable, and multi-year voluntary funds now with a goal of growing to $US1 billion and beyond over time. There has not been enough progress on financial commitments to date. Further, we want the resolution creating this entity to recognize that civil society has played a vital role in work on women’s rights and that it is critical to partner with us and tap into the expertise and insights of a diverse and wide-ranging NGO constituency, particularly women’s organizations.
We would like to see the Secretary-General initiate a transparent recruitment process for the Under Secretary General to lead the entity immediately. We are encouraged that there are many rumors floating about names for this position which suggests the inevitability of the creation of the entity, but we would like a clear and accessible process begun soon to ensure a strong committed woman is appointed to this critical job. The GEAR statement articulating these concerns is attached as a flyer with talking points which we hope will be used by GEAR supporters in the coming two months to advocate for this kind of entity.
Finally, we have attached a new document from the Deputy Secretary General’s (DSG) office, “Establishment of a New Composite Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Key Messages, Background and Current Status.” This document answers many of the questions that we planned to address in a GEAR Q&A. It is a public document that we think is very useful in clarifying many points about what the entity is intended to do. While we agree with most of its points, it is also clear from this document why we need to continue to advocate with governments and the UN for a stronger operational presence of the entity on the ground that goes beyond what UNIFEM has now as well as for the money to make this possible and for greater civil society engagement.
In the coming weeks, we urge you to continue to advocate for a resolution that creates the women’s entity with these characteristics – using both the DSG’s paper and the attached GEAR talking points.
Center for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL) and Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)
On behalf of the GEAR Campaign Working Group
GEAR Campaign Working Group:
Global Focal Points: Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)
Regional Focal Points: African's Women Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), Asia Pacific Women’s Watch (APWW), Collective for Research and Training on Development-Action (CRTD-A), European Women’s Lobby (EWL), femLINKpacific, Foundation for Studies and Research on Women (FEIM), Servitas Cameroon and South Asian Campaign for Gender Equality (SACGE)/SAATHI
New York UN Lobbying Strategy Group: AIDS-Free World, Amnesty International (AI), Bahá'í International Community, UN Office, Care International, Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), ENLACE and Feminist Task Force - Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), Equality Now, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, Huairou Commission, Human Rights Watch (HRW), InterAction, International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR), International Service for Human Rights, International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), International Women’s Tribune Centre (IWTC), MADRE, FIMI, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), World Federalist Movement (WFM) and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 11, 2009
President Obama Announces White House Council on Women and Girls
President Obama today signed an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls. The mission of the Council will be to provide a coordinated federal response to the challenges confronted by women and girls and to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies consider how their policies and programs impact women and families. The White House Council on Women and Girls will meet regularly, and will serve as a forum for all involved agencies to focus on women.
...... [More at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/President-Obama-Announces-White-House-Council-on-Women-and-Girls/ ]
Initial members of the Council include:
The Secretary of State;
Bulgaria's parliament voted on Thursday to tighten a law that effectively banned cultivation of genetically modified crops. Public fears based on scientific and commercial reasons persuaded the Bulgarian government to prevent GMO crops from being planted. While the United States Food and Drug Administration insists that foods produced by genetic engineering are the same as foods from traditional breeding, their own scientists have reported that, "the processes of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different and... they lead to different risks." Currently 90 percent of all who farm in developing countries are planting GMO crops.
The people of Bulgaria through hard work by activists and organizations campaigning for sustainable agriculture in Bulgaria, and government listening to the people, now ensure that no field in Bulgaria will be cultivated with GMOS. Bulgaria is leading the way for sustainable agriculture for the common good.