Subject: [fem-women2000 298] 6/3 UNRISD Workshop: Registration deadline Monday 29 May
From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Sat, 3 Jun 2000 03:35:20 +0900
Seq: 298

>Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 18:25:28 +0200
>Subject: [B5NGONEWS] UNRISD Workshop: Registration deadline Monday 29 May



-------------------REGISTRATION DEADLINE MONDAY 29 MAY-----------------

UNRISD workshop on Gender Justice, Development and Rights: Substantiating Rights
in a Disabling Environment, Saturday 3 June 2000 (10:00-17:30), Henry Labouisse
Hall, UNICEF House, 3 United Nations Plaza, New York*

The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) is
organizing a one-day workshop in New York to coincide with Special Session of
the General Assembly: WOMEN 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the
21st Century. The purpose of the event is to examine the "right-based approaches
to development", particularly from a gendered perspective. Below is a summary of
some of the issues that will be explored during the workshop.

If you would like further information regarding the event, please visit UNRISD
website or contact Caroline Danloy, UNRISD, Palais des Nations,
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland, fax (+41 22) 917 0650, e-mail:

*Important: please note that persons without UN security passes planning to
attend should register with UNRISD prior to the event. If you wish to register,
visit our website

--------------------REGISTRATION DEADLINE MONDAY 29 MAY----------------------

Keynote Address: Maxine Molyneux (University of London, UK)

Chairperson: Gita Sen (Indian Institute of Management, India)
Speakers: Rosalind Petchesky (Hunter College, City University of New York, USA);
Veronica Schild (University of Western Ontario, Canada); V.K. Ramachandran
(Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta, India)

Chairperson: Yakin Erturk (DAW, New York, USA)
Speakers: Afsaneh Najmabadi (Barnard College, USA); Shireen Hassim (University
of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)

Chairperson: Jennifer Klot (UNIFEM, New York, USA) (to be confirmed)
Speakers: Aida Hernandez Castillo (CIESAS, Mexico); Aili Mari Tripp (University
of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)

The United Nations General Assembly Special Session for the Beijing + 5 review,
Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century, is
taking place in a markedly different ideological environment from that of the
1995 World Conference on Women.  In the wake of the recent financial crises the
neo-liberal consensus is in considerable disarray. At the same time, human
rights are seen as an inseparable part of the quest for stable democratic rule,
and a significant number of the world's governments have made a commitment to
observe them. These political changes, as well as new legal instruments, have
provided opportunities for civil society organizations to press for the
implementation of formally acquired rights. They have also led to a shift in the
priorities and practices of many NGOs. One example of this shift has been the
widespread adoption of rights-based strategies and discourses.  

Yet at least one important question remains open: What institutional and
political arrangements are conducive for ensuring the fulfilment of human
rights?  Despite the dynamism of the human rights movement, a wide gulf remains
between the articulation of global principles and their application in many
national settings. And much the same can be said of democratization. The gap
between global principles and on-the-ground outcomes is particularly glaring in
the case of women's rights.  

In order to explore both the consequences of these ideological shifts for
women's political mobilization, and the diverse factors affecting the promotion
of democracy and human rights that embraces gender justice, UNRISD is focusing
its contribution to Women 2000 on three related dimensions of "rights-based"
development. These are: (1) "basic needs" and "social rights": the changing face
of social service provisioning, (2) women in contemporary democratization, and
(3) multiculturalism and universalism. Ten papers have been commissioned for
this purpose.  Two of the commissioned papers are theoretical, while the other
eight will be based on specific national experiences. Some of the issues that
will be explored are outlined below.

First, as was noted above, in a significant number of countries the formulation
of formal rights has not been matched by substantive rights, or by an
improvement in the quality of life of the majority. Recurrent financial crises
have stalked the 1990s and the growing gap between rich and poor countries and
peoples casts a shadow over the visions of the decade.  Of particular
significance in some cases is the abdication by national governments of their
responsibility to provide social services such as health care and education.
Often this coincides with a tendency by diverse actors without political
accountability such as charitable groups, commercial interests and NGOs,
including women's NGOs to fill the gap. In assuming this role in social
service provisioning, are women's NGOs abetting privatization, as some critics
allege?  What mechanisms of public scrutiny and accountability are needed to
ensure equality of access, quality of service and adherence to human rights
norms in social service provisioning?  Such mechanisms are essential if women in
particular are to emerge as right-bearers vis-vis the heterogeneous actors
(private, charitable, public, etc.) now providing social services. Does NGO
"partnership" with the government and the private sector compromise NGOs'
capacity to advocate on behalf of those whose voices are not heard?

Second, while many of the problems afflicting the new democracies (such as lack
of intra-party democracy, the failure of the state to guarantee civil and
political rights or make a significant dent in poverty) affect all citizens,
they are experienced in gender-specific ways. Women's persistent exclusion from
political office, in particular, raises a number of specific questions about how
to reform democratic institutions, since these institutions are not
automatically gender-equitable. In many countries women's organizations and
female members of political parties have vigorously lobbied to increase women's
representation, through quotas in particular.  This pursuit of numerical
representation ("getting women in") does, of course, beg many further questions.
Are the "representatives" accountable to their constituents? Who are their
constituents? Are the representatives effective in promoting gender-equitable
change?  While some women representatives may have neither the ability nor the
inclination to address gender inequalities, their cumulative weight does seem to
impact on deliberations in national assemblies. Moreover in some countries where
women have registered electoral gains, the initial concern with women's
numerical representation has matured into concerns about the quality of women's
representation, and about representatives' accountability to women's interests.

Third, although women's civil society organizations have shown their collective
ability to win recognition of gender perspectives and human rights in
international rhetoric and policy, they have come up against powerful
conservative forces. Ironically, some of those who have opposed globalization
have done so in the name of values and traditions that strongly oppress women.
These conservative groups have been very vocal at the international level. In
the global conferences of the 1990s they sought to present themselves as
champions of the South, defending the "needs" of Third World women, while
systematically opposing women's self-determination and the women's rights
agenda.  This presents a challenging scenario for women's groups. How can they
bridge the divide that some countries and groups have tried to create between
economic justice and gender justice? What kinds of strategies and alliances are

A related, and perhaps the most politically sensitive, issue surrounding
rights-based strategies is whether and how such strategies might find a
universal application without denying cultural specificity. While the language
of rights and citizenship has a broad appeal, and is politically acceptable and
effective in some countries, others may respond to it with suspicion. This
raises particular problems for women. Women have often served as signifiers of
cultural difference and as guardians of traditional cultural practices. Where
this infringes on their rights and contradicts their self-identity, tensions
have arisen between those who define such cultural practices as necessary and
those who are expected to comply. What traditions are essential to preserve the
integrity and sovereignty of nations and cultures? Is there some way of
reconciling such traditions with a quest for gender equality?

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