Subject: [fem-women2000 199] CSW44 -Weekly News - 13th March 2000
From: "takasaki.ayako" <>
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 10:55:48 +0900
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Subject: [B5NGONEWS] Weekly News - 13th March 2000 - English

Weekly News - 13th March 2000 - English 

The effects of globalization of the economy and financial speculation
permeate all sectors. The area of communication and information is a good
example of this. The ongoing mergers between the same huge multinationals
is putting the control of broadcasting networks and their contents,
programmes, media, television, periodicals, radio and the Internet into
the same few hands. Everywhere in the world, our choices are narrowing: we
are offered the same film, fed the same "cautiously selected" information,
inundated with the same ads on our TV screens and in web sites. By and
large, women's real life is excluded; we are considered only as potential
consumers. In consequence, we have only one option: to make communications
technologies our own, be they written, audiovisual, electronic, and to
take the initiative of producing our own broadcasts, periodicals and
Internet sites. In this way, we'll be able to make our struggles and hopes
more visible, and to oppose a globalization whose primary goal is monetary
gain, a fact that impoverishes the majority of peoples.  Our solidarity
must cross frontiers and lead us to combine our forces, our actions. This
idea is at the core of Women Action.
WomenAction 2000

Appropriate ICTs

Women's Libraries making information accessible

The International Information Centre and Archives for the Women's Movement
(IIAV) has developed a women's thesaurus of terms to use in categorising
publications, and works with other European women's libraries to keep this
up-to-date. This year, the IIAV hopes the thesaurus will become a basis
for an online library. A user can type in a term in her own language in an
online catalog and the term will be automatically translated into other
languages. This will make it possible for users to find information in
libraries throughout Europe.  Discussions are taking place to increase the
potential participants in Europe. In Argentina, the Women's Continuing
Education Resource Center has a cybercaf in the Women's Library, which
functions within the Center.  The cybercaf offers Internet access as well
as training on how to find information and access major documents on
topics important to women. 

In Montreal, the Resource Center on Adult Education and Status of Women
(CDEACF) has published catalogs of its collections on line, giving a new
visibility to thousands of reports, reference documents and archives
produced and collected by NGOs, a sort of living memory of the women's
movement.  The CDEACF's NetFemmes network  is now publishing the full text
of important francophone women's NGO documents on the Web.	


NGO process 

"The NGO process at this CSW was initiated at the 43rd session, with large
meetings in which NGOs brainstormed on process. Out of that came the
decision to have no NGO forum at the 44th session, but to create a working
session. " Sudha Acharya, representative of the All India Women's
Conference and Beijing +5 focal point for CONGO, explains the present
organization of work at the PrepCom. "The NGOs decided to create an
inclusive, representative coordinating committee, comprising the 5 UN
regions, representatives of the communications network, representatives of
the large networks, of Indigenous Women and of CONGO and its 3 committees
on the Status of Women. Representatives from the UN regions are chosen by
the regions - NGOs in the regions can approach these representatives to
input into the process. It is important that people work together." There
is a small organizational sub-committee in New York dealing with day to
day issues, and the secretariat is CONGO. Ms Acharya is very pleased with
the quality of information being presented through the Internet, by
WomenWatch, WomenAction 2000 and CONGO. "The next step is to work out how
to use these and to take advantage of these sources of information.
Information sharing works in the North, where there is more access to
Internet. Those who know how to get the information will have to find ways
to pass it on to others that don't have access. Each organization has a
task in that." What about access to UN documents not yet published, but
needed for NGO preparations for major meetings? "So-called 'non-papers'
cannot be made public officially, but there are ways of getting access to
them."  And if the CSW does not manage complete discussions next week?
"CONGO will make sure information on the intersessionals is posted." 
Lin Pugh

Amidst the dizzying pace and complexities of all these processes, Ms
Acharya is appealing to all NGOs to observe the rules and to maintain
courtesy with each other.


European Union caucus

In view of the meeting with the Portuguese presidency of the EU, the
caucus discussed which issues to raise. The European Women's Lobby
stressed the importance of ensuring women's sexual and reproductive
rights, to take actions against all forms of violence against women
(including prostitution and trafficking), to make a commitment to sign
and/or ratify the CEDAW optional protocol and the Statutes of the
International Criminal Court, and the need to use the concept of 'equality
of gender and ethnicity'. Other priorities raised by the caucus were: the
need to recognize gender-based persecution as a basis for asylum; the need
to ask about the EU's standpoint on macro-economic, micro-economic and
trade policies in the negotiations; support for youth participation and;
to urge the EU to support an increased use of time-bound targets in
section IV of the Outcome document. 

African Caucus

For the 2000 CSW meeting and the Beijing Plus Five Review Process, the
African Caucus was facilitated by a task force of African non-governmental
organisations and networks.The task force has worked on disseminating
information about the Beijing Plus Five Review Process since the 1999 CSW
meeting.  Apart from its members' newsletters, in partnership with the
Association of Progressive Communicators (APC) Africa Women's Programme
and Women'sNet in South Africa, the task force has established an African
women's bilingual (English and French) web site on the Beijing Plus Five
Review Process in Africa: 

Priority issues for Latin American women

The coalitions of Latin American women's groups involved in monitoring the
implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action have agreed that
following are the priorities supported by the region:

Sexual and reproductive rights - establishing strategies to confront the
hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the region that stops women's access
to their sexual and reproductive rights. They will also go on struggling
so that there is a change in the present status of the Vatican within the
UN and against the incrimination of abortion.

The right to cultural diversity - to support the recognition of different
life styles and the need to work on public policies against discrimination
of indigenous people, African Latin American communities, lesbians, etc.

The struggle against racial and ethnic discrimination

The strengthening of democracy - to advocate for democracy in media, to
support women's participation in local governments and to denounce legal
systems that do not take into account women's needs and rights.  Latin
American women also have priorities that they share with women in all
parts of the world:

Inequity, poverty and development - feminization of poverty and gender
inequity in the economic distribution; the increase of AIDS victims in the
region; the overexploitation of natural resources and the decrease of
international funds for development in the last years.
Democracy and women's political participation - the lack of mechanisms to
support women's participation in politics. 
The coalition is lobbying so that official delegates take these points
into account.
Dafne Sabanes Plou
NGO Caucus

'The silence has been broken about HIV/AIDs and young girls, but the
support is just not there. 
This was on of the main themes of a  workshop called Girls and HIV/AIDS:
How to Respond, held on March 8 at the UN. Young people and a wide range
of NGOs voiced their convictions that HIV/AIDS is a growing problem among
young girls that is not yet being addressed. It can be prevented .We need
a global campaign that includes the political and financial commitment of
governments, NGOs and youth themselves. Two young women  from WAGGGS
pointed out that peer pressure can be extremely positive - as well as
negative. They described the WAGGGS international peer education programme
on the prevention of AIDS, in schools and reaching 20,000 young people in

Prostitution and trafficking amongst very  young girls is growing due to
poverty, the desire for "easy money" and the  ignorance about the danger
of HIV/AIDs that drives families in Asia and Africa to push their girls
often unknowingly into dangerous situations.  To make matters worse, it
was pointed out that many people - women as well as men - believe that
AIDS is  a myth. Goverments, such as those in Bangladesh  and Mexico do
not want to deal with this epidemic and they ignore the reality. Some
other key points that emerged:
In rural and indiginous areas of  Mexico and Guatemala, virginity is
prized so that men perpetrate anal sex on young girls.
Hondurans  represent 17 % of  Central Americans, but account for 65
percent of its AIDS cases.

More campaigns are needed like the one on Air France  flights where
commercials for duty free products  end with a picture of a young girl
with the text: "She is not for sale."  Men must be partners in the
solution. When the panel moderator asked how many men were in the room of
over 150 people - only two stood up.  The workshop was organized by the
Working Groups on Girls, UNICEF and WAGGGS.

Women in politics

The Caucus on Women, Power and Decision Making organized a panel on March
10, to discuss how women get into power in different countries in the
world. At present, only 12.7% of all members of parliament in the world
are women, there are only 10 women heads of state and in the cabinets of
ministers, women are 7.4% of their members. In the subministerial levels
of decision-making, women's representation is 11%. 
The panel members - Penelope Beckles (former Senator in Trinidad &
Tobago), Ranyana Kumari (human rights activist from India), Maria Jose
Lubertino (politician from Argentina) and Lia Nadaraia (president of the
Feminist Club in Georgia) - discussed the situation in their own countries
and the need to recognize that the quota systems implemented in several
countries around the world, in the last decade, have become an effective
tool, not only to increase the number of women members of parliament  in
the local, provincial and national levels, but also the fact that because
there are more women in the chambers, women's issues are more likely to be
taken into account when discussing a bill.

The panelists considered that "women can change the nature of power" and
that "quantity is not equal to quality, but it can help to achieve
quality". In India, the access of one million women to local governments,
thanks to a quota system of 33.3%, has allowed women from all social
sectors to contribute in their communities. In Argentina, for example,
where the quota is 30%, women have been able to overcome their party
divisions when discussing the bill on violence against women.
Nevertheless, the panelists agreed that it would be important that women
politicians work with a gender perspective. That aim is yet to be reached. 

Gender equality is on the agenda for young women

Interview with Franziska Brantner, one of the initiators of the Youth 
Caucus, March 8

The purpose of the Youth Caucus here at the CSW and during the whole
Beijing+5 process is to show that feminism and gender equality is also a
topic for the young generation. There might be countries that have a
better standard in the field of women's issues but young women want to
maintain and respect the achievements of their mothers and grandmothers.
This also means helping women in other regions of the world to improve the
status of women. That is why the youth caucus brought young women from
more than 60 countries together. The main goal is to give young women the
chance and skills to get involved in NGO work and continue the Beijing+5
process with the younger generation. Young women also recognize the
differences between countries, discussion groups provide translation,
rotate the chairing of discussions to ensure democracy and representation.
Regional youth networks already exist and the idea is to bring them
together for common work toward the Special Session in June and beyond.
The reaction of the older generation has been positive, although not
necessarily resulting in concrete support. Young women do not want to
separate themselves but be part of the process and include their
experiences in it. 

Young women organized a visible event on the 8th of March. This was to
demonstrate the progressive attitudes of young women: "motherhood yes, but
far beyond". On the 8th of March you would have seen young women wearing
yellow T-shirts and buttons with the logo of their network built here
during the CSW. They also organized the performance of a play. The message
of this event was: the Youth Caucus is progressive, i.e. against
discrimination, for diversity, reproductive and sexual rights, safe
abortion, access to contraception, access to information.  Although they
are focusing on sexual and reproductive rights, the Youth Caucus intends
to propose good and inventive ideas for all areas of concern of the PFA.
Lenka Simerska, 

Widows' Invisibility in the Platform For Action    

The language of the Beijing+ 5 documents permits little scope for
representing the complex issues of widowhood. The issues relating to
widowhood cut across every one of the 12 critical areas of the Platform,
but there is little acknowledgement of the human rights abuses that widows
of all ages experience. A meeting on Widowhood held on March 8th, resulted
in a proposal for textual amendments. The proposals have gone to all the
regional groups and issue caucuses. But it is not too late to lobby
governments on this topic.

It is hoped that the regions will incorporate at least some of the
suggested amendments, but even these will not be adequate to draw the
attention needed to this hidden aspect of women's oppression. For more
information, contact :	 Margaret Owen

Cross Cutting

On its 4 th day GKII received inputs from 4 crosscutting tracks: women;
youth; media and indigenous/local knowledge.  Women's Forum has produced
an action plan.  However Rosemary Kalapurakal of UNDP suggests that the
action plan mainly  consists of 'issue areas rather than specific
project/initiatives.'  She also commented that there was a positive side
to the conference, 'gender issues and women have been everywhere'.
Another highlight of the Forum was a speech given by Professor Swasti
Mitter.  She spoke of the 'challenges and opportunities' faced by women in
the information age.  She highlighted the need for 'targeted' rather than
'universal' access.  Another important issue was that of 'women in the
realm of production and innovation', which involves the need for women to
become visible in the software development community, with reference to
Linux as an example of emerging affordable technology which can help to
achieve this.

There were three key mechanisms for mainstreaming gender issues:
addressing the question of women; striving for gender balance; and that
the impact on women is addressed as a criterion for measuring the success
or failure of GKII.  

Professor Robin Mansell also spoke at the Women's Forum, highlighting the
danger that without action 'women in greater numbers than men will be
'locked out' of important activities in their economies and societies.'
For more information visit

Institutional Processes

June Special Session of the General Assembly

The vice-chair of the CSW, Patricia Flor, recapitulated and explained the
PrepCom process at Friday's NGO briefing.  For the June special session of
the General Assembly, the PrepCom will try to  integrate other
institutions of the UN system, such as the World Bank and the IMF.
Moreover, side events in the form of panel-discussions will be held, in
which NGOs possibly will be included.  The outcome of the panel
discussions will be circulated as UN documents.  

PrepCom progresses on Section IV

Concerning the ongoing meeting Patricia Flor explained that the
governments had not yet agreed on the political declaration. There are
still disagreements on development policies, and on how to ensure a
coordinated, integrated follow-up. For section IV of the Outcome document
- further actions- the negotiations are in process, and advancing somewhat
quicker than expected. In answer to a question about what would happen if
the PrepCom does not finish with the Outcome document, a quite vague
answer was given explaining that plans for 'emergency arrangements' always
were made, but that the PrepCom was hoping to finish by 17 March. 
Malin Bjork

The Insiders' Viewpoint

Word is getting around that the PrepCom will not get through part IV of
the Outcomes document-
Actions and initiatives to overcome obstacles and to achieve the full and
accelerated implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. Talk is
that governments are stalling the process. WomenAction is conducting
random interviews with members of official delegations and this is what
they have to say:  

"The North-South divide is coming out very strongly, particularly in the
assessment of globalisation. Delegates from the North are talking of the
positive impact while those from the South are talking of the negative
impact on women - not just of globalisation but the Structural Adjustment
Programmes as well." 

"It is still very early to say what the outcome will be. We spend so much
time and efforts on the documents while there is very little to support
national efforts on implementation. We need to address the issues at our
---Shagufta Alizai, Pakistani delegation  

"We will certainly have [the Outcome] document by June. Whether this will
adequately  the critical areas of concern is another matter. At the end of
the day, it's not about women's issues, it's about politics. " 

" I still see the value in what NGOs are doing. They just have to come
down to what exactly the 'non-negotiables' are.  The coalition document as
it is now is very wordy."  --- an NGO representative to an official
delegation that is part of G77.  Her name is withheld upon request.


Women's issues at the UN General Assembly

This year the Assembly has discussed a number of resolutions dealing with
the position of women: High-level Political Signing Conference for the
United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime;
Traditional or Customary Practices affecting the health of women and
girls;  Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination
Against Women; preparations for a Special Session of the General Assembly
entitled "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the
twenty-first century"; The Girl Child; Effective promotion of the
Declaration of Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic,
religious and Linguistic Minorities; Protection of Migrants; International
Trade and Development; Women in Development; Role of the United Nations in
Promoting Development in the Context of Globalization and Interdependence;
Implementation of the first United Nations Decade for the Eradication of
Poverty. These papers are available at the UN.

Fiji Women

The Fiji Women Crisis Center now has its own website. Check it out for the
latest information on the work of this center and the Pacific Women's
Network Against Violence Against Women:

WomenAction 2000 is a global information, communication and media network
that enables NGOs to actively engage in the Beijing+5 review process with
the long-term goal of women's empowerment, with a special focus on women
and media. M Bjork, S Boezak, M Cabrera-Balleza, B Finke, S Hackett, I
Leon, D Plou, L Pugh, L Simerska, I Massu,  M Dessenne.


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