Subject: [fem-women2000 348] [B5NGONEWS] Daily Newspaper, Edition 4 : 9 June 2000
From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Fri, 09 Jun 2000 10:22:19 -0500
Seq: 348

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 From: "liz" <>
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 Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2000 15:35:20 +0200
 Subject: [B5NGONEWS] Daily Newspaper, Edition 4 : 9 June 2000

*102 year old activist at the Special Session
*Government on our own! - Women in the Czech Republic
*Women and Children raise their voices for peace

102 year old activist at the Special Session

Esther Hyme, a 102 years old activist in the women's movement worldwide,
took part today in the activities of the Beijing+5 Special Session. She
visited WomenAction premises in the Church Centre and was interviewed by Les
Penelopes. In the interview, Esther talked about her experiences in women"s
struggles in the late forties and early fifties and said that "women"s
dignity is still far from being respected".

Esther Hyme, de 102 a-os de edad, y quien fuera una activista reconocida en
el movimiento de mujeres , particip- ayer de la Sesi-n Especial de la ONU.
Visit- los estudios y oficinas de WomenAction en el Church Centre y fue
entrevistada por Les Penelopes para su programa en el canal web. Esther
habl- sobre sus experiencias en las luchas que llevo adelante el movimiento
de mujeres en el periodo de la posguerra y se-al- que todav'a dista mucho
para que la dignidad de las mujeres sea respetada de manera plena.

Interview to Esther Hymes on the net, tomorrow at 1.30 pm and Saturday at 9

Government on our own! Women in the Czech Republic don't want to wait to be
given the space in politics

by Lenka Simerska The Czech social democratic party won the election and
came into power after 8 years of being in opposition. It is the only Czech
political party that applies an internal quota for women of 35% in all party
bodies and has a women's section within the party. In spite of all
expectations, in the first government formed by the social democrats in 1998
there was no woman appointed to a ministerial position. The Prime Minister
explained this surprise with: 龝his government has a very difficult task
ahead of it - it will be the government of suicidal people and women should
not be exposed to such difficult work.

One year later the Prime Minister shuffled his cabinet and once more there
was no woman in the cabinet. The Prime Minister's explanation this time was
that he had considered all the possible male and female candidates, the male
ones appeared to be better experts.

At this point women lost their patience. Jana Volfova, social democratic MP
and chairwoman of the party's women's organisation, formed an alternative
government of women only! Together with another member of the women's shadow
cabinet Michaela Marksova-Tominova (director of the Gender Studies Centre in
Prague) Jana Volfova are here at UNGASS as members of the official Czech
delegation. WomenAction used this unique opportunity to ask how women can
get their space in politics.

Jana: "When the Prime Minister said he was not able to find any woman expert
enough for his Cabinet, we took it as a challenge. I decided to find such
women and form a shadow women's cabinet. We also want to show that women
would pay attention to different topics while forming the ministries. We
don't have a ministry of military/defence in our governmental structure, we
have replaced it with ministry for family and women. We also introduced a
ministry of human rights." Michaela: "When I heard about this, I was excited
and agreed immediately to become a member, although the whole thing was
considered to be quite controversial. But who else should not to be ashamed
to became a member of a women's shadow cabinet than me who is working for a
women's NGO/is a women' s/feminist activist?"

Jana: "People asked why we hadn't appoint a Prime Minister. Our main task
was to show that specialists do exist in this country, not to distribute
posts among ourselves. The Prime Minister is a manager and we women don't
need to be managed by somebody, we can manage ourselves!"

Michaela: "But there was one thing which disappointed me: at the press
conference, when the shadow government was introduced to the public - I
wasn't there because I was participating in the March PrepCom - the speaker
[a Czech actress] announced that none of the women considered herself a
feminist and none of them felt oppressed by men. This wasn't true, but the
media picked it up and criticized the shadow government as a step back."

Jana: "The problem was that most of the 'ministers' are real specialists in
their fields and have no idea about what feminism really means; but they do
believe in cliches like social majorities. Our next task is to teach the
shadow government. It was very amusing to watch Prime Minister's face
shaking hands with all the female specialists who he said did not exist!"

Michaela: "The cabinet now has meetings with the 'real' ministers. In two
weeks we will introduce our cabinet proclamation." Jana: "We followed the
structure of the 'real' proclamation but escaped some issues and described
others in depth, mainly those concerning women. In the future, if new
legislation is introduced we will organise a press conference."

Women and Children raise their voices for peace

By Juliet Were Oguttu

In situations of armed conflict, women and children bear the biggest
brunt.Of the 30 million persons displaced in war torn areas, 80 percent are
women and children, reported Olara Otunnu, Special Representative of the
United Nations Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, in a forum
here at the ongoing UN General Assembly Special Session on Women 2000. He
said that the changes in the social and economic situation have drastic
effects on women and children in war-torn areas and in areas of armed

The women and children are forced to stay in refugee camps where resources
and essential services are very limited, he said.Women build improvised
shelters using sacks and cardboard. Relief distribution is not well planned
and in most times leaves the children and women with very little to live on.
In the absence of basic resources, they are forced into prostitution and
sexual slavery.

Rapes committed during war seem to be increasing and have received more
attention in recent years, according to International Alert, a London-based
NGO dedicated to peace issues.But women and children, encouraged by peace
and citizens organizations, have not given up. In Sierra Leone, women NGOs
formed a forum to advocate for the needs of displaced women and children.
They mobilized and marched to the residence of the head of the rebel group
and protested and civil society also followed suit, which forced him to
flee. This is a beginning of women's resistance to conflict and the struggle
for peace.

In Colombia, the children have organized themselves as peace advocates.
Fifteen-year-old Gloria Luz Gomez, of the Children's Movement for Peace
narrated during a session at the ongoing conference here, "Many children
have lost their parents and no longer have homes. Children are helping other
children but we also want to be like other children, we want peace and will
not give up. We dream of a country and world that is different and

International Alert said that new and emerging issues in the concerns of
women and children caught in war include the need to provide physical and
psychological care to survivors of sexual violence and rape, and to explore
the creation of a permanent women's assembly to address conflict resolution.

In several discussions here, participants have noted that the nature of
warfare has changed over the years, and it is becoming increasingly more
difficult for women to choose between being neutral victims or active
participants.In one caucus, participants proposed a drastic reduction of
military spending five percent for the next five years -- as war is
maintained through massive investments and preparation.

The proposal will just be a starting point, and is estimated to free up to
half a billion dollars per day, money which could be spend for social and
economic justice and peace programs."Five percent a year does not sound too
painful," said a participant to the forum.The women here have also cited the
need to address "gender-based" violence during times of war, which include
systematic rape and forced pregnancy.

"The failure of governments to commit themselves to this process also
encourages non-state actors such as paramilitaries, mercenaries and other
groups to continue violating human rights," said a coalition of women NGO
participants.The NGOs have been meeting to draft proposals for the "Outcome
Document" that member-states will sign when the Women 2000 conference ends
on Friday, June 9. The document aims to reaffirm the commitment of the UN
member nations during the Beijing Platform of Action passed during the
Fourth International Conference on Women held in the Chinese capital in


Staff: Dafne Sabanes Plou (editor), Sonja Boezak, Mavic Balleza, Irene Leon,
Anne Walker, Lenka Simerska, Malin Bjork, Thais Aguilar, Sonia del Valle,
Maria Eugenia Miranda, Cheekay Cinco
Translators: Sharon Hackett, Nicole Nepton, Roxanna Sooudi
Photographers: Lin Pugh, Anoma Rajakaruna, Maria Suarez
Design and layout: John Napolitano

Editorial Policy: WomenAction is a global information network with the long
term goal of women's empowerment, with a special focus on women and media.
This is an independent trilingual newspaper that critically reflects on the
activities at UNGASS 2000 with the intention of expressing opinion and
stimulating debate.

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