international women's day 2011

Archive for the ‘Global’ Category

Annette Lawson is chair of National Alliance of Women’s Organisations in Britain. She has an OBE for services to diversity and is founder and Chair of The Judith Trust, which works for better lives for people with both learning disabilities and mental illness needs.

Chaos reigned last year at Commission on the Status of Women 54 which was known as Beijing+15 since it was 15 years since the fourth world ‘Women’s Conference’ had been held there on Equality, Development and Peace.

This chaos resulted from a total lack of preparedness on the part of the United Nations for the arrival of thousands of NGOs seeking to hold U.N. member states to account for the continuing inequalities and injustices still suffered by women globally.

The U.N. knew the numbers and had not worked out how to deal with the lack of space caused by the reconstruction of parts of the U.N. buildings. The paranoia of NGOs gathered there deepened as we were excluded, forced into interminable queues and were unable to work on any outcome document known as agreed text – important because that text provides lobbying material.

This year the U.N., with its great launch of U.N. Women, the new entity which merges others — especially UNIFEM and the Division for the Advancement of Women — into one, sought to improve access in these difficult conditions arising because of the continuing reconstruction. Indeed, despite hugely conflicting information ahead of the time, we finally had some good advisories about what we really would need and mostly registration happened quickly and simply.

Everyone came with multiple copies of everything in order to be sure of ‘getting in’. But ‘getting in’ did not mean you actually could ‘get in’ to the U.N. North Lawn building where most intergovernmental meetings and high level panels were held.

No. You had to queue each day for the one additional ticket per each NGO for a morning and an afternoon session on the following day. Then, for specific meetings organised by governments or the EU, say, you needed a ticket from that organiser. I attended an excellent panel run by the Bangladeshi U.N. Mission launching work on a Human Right to Peace which is thoroughly gender-aware.

These tickets had to be picked up in person within the hour beforehand. So if you were attending something else – most likely an NGO event outside the building – you would have to leave it or miss it to get the ticket. And when one did get in, there was no room to sit, except on the floor which in one’s seventies is no mean accomplishment.

I would rather not have to invent my self-worth as measured by this particular accomplishment. Rather, I would like to have been able to see the faces of the remarkable panellists especially when their mother tongue was not English.

We, women’s organisations based in the UK, were particularly concerned about this year – the first in 41 years – when we have not had the Women’s National Commission (WNC) able to act as liaison for us with the official UK government delegation, and, via them, to the voice of the EU, for, at CSW, the EU speaks with one voice through its Presidency – Hungary this year.

In an act which I have described as vandalism, the coalition government in the UK has abolished the WNC and taken over some of its functions by transferring them to the Government Equalities Office (GEO). This was part of the government’s austerity measures – to reduce expenditure on advisory bodies known as quangos – and also because its ideal includes a smaller State and much greater localism.

Alas, some of the good went out with the less necessary and in the view of every women’s organisation I know, the WNC, whatever its faults and nothing is perfect, is a great loss to us.

We are urging each other to view this as an opportunity and the Geo has instituted a couple of really helpful new ways of communicating – through a newsletter just for those attending CSW and with a special CSW email address.

One of our number, Jan Grasty, the president of the body which has taken over from UNIFEM (UK) called U.N. Women (UK National Committee) led the liaison while Zarin Hainsworth of the Baha’i was instrumental in providing space for morning meetings of UK NGOs and also much meeting space for our side-events in their international offices right beside the U.N.

The UK’s Ambassador to the U.N. hosted a reception as usual for us and the mission also welcomed us to evening briefings with expert UK government representatives willing to talk to us.

However, there is a steep learning curve both for the GEO and for us as a less coherent body and we learned much less than usual about the content of what was happening on the text and within the EU.

This year’s main theme was on education with a special interest in science, engineering and technology and women’s access to decent work. It is difficult to provide helpful suggestions as to how the language might be changed if we do not know where the hang-ups are.

Since we were also so restricted as to which intergovernmental sessions we could attend, we were not able to sit in on negotiations and that changes the character of the relationship between governments and NGOs. During the second week, the few remaining women from the UK met in the hotel room of one of their number to work together – I was not there but clearly new mechanisms are being created!

Anything that reduces the access of civil society, in this case women’s organisations, to meetings that are making decisions that fundamentally concern us, is a matter for distress and campaigning. Any action that prevents women’s organisations from being a vital influence at the U.N., flaunts the hopes and the rationale of the system established by Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945.

But, two brilliant things happened: the launch of U.N. Women; and side events put on by a ‘Youth Caucus’ of which 16 young women and men with an average age of 16+ were accredited from the UK (7 by my organisation, NAWO, the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations, and others by Widows Rights International) and this was organised by the brilliant Zarin Hainsworth.

Next time I am forced to sit though some conference where a speaker turns her or his back on the audience, cannot be heard because they haven’t a clue how to use a microphone, read the text of interminable and illegible, boring, non-pictorial overheads, I will ask that they get a sixth-former please to teach them how to present.

These young people had done their research, created their presentations – mostly without power points which was just as well since the system broke down – rehearsed them and stuck precisely to time. You could hear everything they said and they were a joy to watch. They also did some dramatic roles which were terrifyingly good – especially ones showing violence against girls in a session it was my pleasure to chair, Say No Now.

And finally there was U.N. Women! It was such a thrill to sit in our accustomed NGO gallery above the great General Assembly and watch the videos and listen to the amazing line-up of speakers all completely committed to the vision and the implementation of this U.N. initiative which has the capacity to create a really different, more equal, more just world for women and for men, boys and girls.

And it was heartening that here at least the role of NGOs was seriously understood and recognised. And thanked. We who had been in at the beginning all knew what the GEAR campaign (Gender Equality Architecture Reform) had accomplished – we knew we would not have been sitting there at this launch without it.

Led by women in New York, the GEAR campaign had reached out across the globe and had regional networks all involved. In Europe, our own European Women’s Lobby was the recognised network and NAWO and our sister organisations in the devolved countries of the UK had signed up to it at the ‘off’.

No better Chief Executive than Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s woman President, and no better president of the new U.N. Women board, Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, a rare female foreign secretary, could have been chosen to be in the driving seats.

With Ban Ki-Moon, secretary general of the U.N., behind it because: “It is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.”

It remains for us to get our governments to fund it so it can work on the ground to transform the lives of the poorest women, and at the highest levels of international government to transform cultural attitudes that exclude women from the tables where global decisions are made.

http://www.trust.org/trustlaw/blogs/100-years-of-international-womens-day/un-women-out-of-the-chaos-a-new-order-emerges/

More specific programmes for the protection of women journalists should be established, recommended press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) following the findings of a new report.

The report, titled ‘News Media: A Men’s Preserve That is Dangerous For Women,’ was released by RSF to mark International Women’s Day today.

In the document the press freedom organisation highlights the problems facing women across the world who work as journalists, from difficulties in reaching higher levels in the newsroom to cases of segregation and violence.

Other recommendations outlined by RSF in the report are that cooperation between women’s rights organisations and press freedom groups should be reinforced and that there should be greater support for bodies providing journalism training specifically for women.

The report contains a number of accounts by female journalists from around the world, including French war correspondent, Anne Nivat, who claimed that Afghanistan in particular continues to be a place where “women do not have the right to speak”.

But, she later adds, her gender can at times be beneficial when working as an undercover reporter.

“It has been easier for me as a woman to do my work because women count for nothing in Iraq and Afghanistan and no one pays them any attention. You can see without being seen. Unlike our male colleagues, a woman journalist can pass relatively unnoticed. She can get through checkpoints. No one mistrusts her. But it is all to do with my method of working, total immersion in the local population.”

While certain countries are flagged up by RSF as places where women journalists face the possibility of violence or imprisonment, such as Rwanda, Eritrea or Uganda, others including the Philippines and Cuba are highlighted as places where women journalists are making “significant progress”.

Philippine writer and journalist Marites Dañguilan Vitug, who heads the board of online news magazine Newsbreak, is quoted in the report as claiming that as a woman she has a “certain facility for doing this job”.

“People trust me more readily, I get information more easily than I think my male colleagues do. But it was hard starting out.”

Other research released in the UK to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day showed that nearly three quarters of national news journalists are men.

The research, which was commissioned by the Women in Journalism group and called “A Gendered Press?”, surveyed the top 28 national newspapers by circulation size.

It also found that just 4 per cent of sports journalists are women while so-called ‘soft topics’ are also heavily covered by men, with 49 per cent of lifestyle reporters and 70 per cent of arts reporters being male.

http://www.journalism.co.uk/news/reporters-without-borders-calls-for-greater-protection-for-women-journalists/s2/a543112/

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
Blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad, his Kin, and his Companions

PRESS RELEASE TO THE BRAVE WOMEN OF LIBYA
Tuesday 8th March 2011

On the occasion of International Women’s Day (March 8th 2011), we celebrate and congratulate Libya’s brave women who have so greatly contributed to the great revolution of February 17th 2011.

We have witnessed women of all ages march and fight for Libya’s freedom and for the human rights of all Libyans, women and men. We have witnessed Libyan mothers selflessly offering their children to fight, and if necessary be martyred, for a future of freedom and dignified living. We have witnessed women doctors and nurses attend to the thousands of wounded. We have witnessed women working tiressly in the media, and on the political, legal, economic and social fronts. We have learned so much from our fellow women scholars in this very Network of Free Ulema.

We celebrate your heroic political, social, scholarly and economic achievements. We congratulate you, and promise you that all of us, women and men, will work together towards a Libya of equality and fairness for all.

Our Network shares the declared UN goal for 2011 of equal access to education and training, and shall ask the Interim Transitional National Council that represents all Libyans to make it a clear goal in its agenda for this year and beyond.

May the significance of this special day, become an inspiration for a New and Free Libya.

NETWORK OF FREE ULEMA

ABOUT THE NETWORK OF FREE ULEMA – LIBYA

We are a network of some of Libya’s most senior and most respected Muslim Religious Scholars with various specializations and tribal backgrounds from across our beloved Libya. Our network also includes some of the most respected Sufi Teachers in our country. Some top Judges, Lawyers, Doctors, Engineers, University Professors and Intellectuals, as well as Writers and Poets, are also members. Our network includes both men and women, old and young, locally educated and educated- abroad. We are not a political party, and our only agenda is that of upholding the highest religious, spiritual, moral, and human values, and the service of our beloved Libya. We are diverse groups of different schools and outlooks, and we believe in the richness of plurality, and the wisdom of dialogue and communication with all other faiths and cultures. Our network is only one dimension of Libya’s very rich and sophisticated Civil Society, which has always been there, but has had to go clandestine for many years because of the regime’s repressive policies. In the New Libya, all these seeds will sprout into a rich and vibrant culture, unified, and mutually respectful. For the time being, security conditions do not allow us to publish a list of members. We will publish such a list as soon as we can.

http://www.tahrirsquared.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/12_NFUPressRelease_WomensDay_08_03_11.pdf

See also:
* Network of Free Ulema – Libya http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_of_Free_Ulema_%E2%80%93_Libya
* Thousand attend International Women’s Day rally in Libya
http://framework.latimes.com/2011/03/09/libya-thousand-attend-international-womens-day-rally-in-libya/#/0

Over the week of International Women’s Day MAP Foundation organised a gathering for migrant and refugee women from Burma in Chiang Mai, Thailand, supported with a modest contribution from No Sweat.

Many of the women who attended work in sweatshop conditions in the garment factories in Mae Sot.

To the great surprise and delight of the participants a video was shown of a personal message of solidarity for International Womens Day from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

See the full video, with English subtitles, and visit the MAP Foundation at http://www.mapfoundationcm.org/map_2010/multimedia/videos.html?task=videodirectlink&id=16

Source http://www.nosweat.org.uk/story/2011/03/15/aung-san-suu-kyi-message-migrant-and-refugee-women-burma-international-womens-day

To mark a century of International Women’s Day the BBC brings you a portrait of the revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. Feminist icon, writer and theorist – Lenin called her the Eagle of the Revolution.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00f32rc/Witness_Rosa_Luxemburg/

International Women’s Day is celebrated throughout the world by numerous organizations and women in a large variety of ways. Sort of like Christmas. As we’ve noted for the last several years, it is truly objectionable that the corporate-run InternationalWomensDay.com website bills itself as ‘the’ International Women’s Day website. Yes it provides some good resources, but so do a lot of other sites and because of the decentralized global nature of IWD, there simply is no such thing as an official site and it is misleading to claim to be such.

The site’s founder, Glenda Stone, took the usurpation to new levels with a press release about the website being hacked, referring to the site as “the global hub” for International Women’s Day. To be very clear, FPN is opposed to anyone’s site being hacked, and if in fact it was done deliberately on IWD (which Ms. Stone asserts but does not back up with facts), it is worrisome. We’ve been on the receiving end of that and it is expensive, time-consuming and no fun to recover from and not a productive tactic for fostering dialog or change.

But that does not change the fact that it is absolutely wrong to presume that a private site is so central to IWD. It isn’t and I feel quite sure we would all carry on with our observances without the site, just as we did before the site existed.

I also become aware for the first time that there is an InternationalWomensDay.org website, run by the Women’s Information Network, and yes, you guessed it, it is also a private venture organized by motivational speaker Dr Paula Fellingham. The website seems to be geared towards getting participants to attend events that cost $35 per ticket. And why would you pay that? Because the program included a “Buns of Steel” star talking about “How to Have the Body Your Body Wants to Be” and a soap opera star was on the agenda as well. And move over Bread and Roses, they have an original IWD theme song.

It is truly unfortunate that a responsible organization, such as the U.N., did not safeguard these urls, and even more unfortunate that they have been callously taken over by private parties. While wishing Ms. Stone and Dr. Fellingham the best in their personal ventures, FPN urges both of them to do the right thing and quit using these sites in privately directed ways. Well intentioned though they may, at least in part be, both sites are self-serving and a true disservice to the women of the world.

http://www.feministpeacenetwork.org/2011/03/09/officially-there-is-no-official-international-womens-day-website/

See alsofrom 2010: InternationalWomensDay.com Is NOT The “Official” IWD Website!


red women's symbold with continents superimposed repeatd 5 times

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