Subject: [fem-women2000 379] WA : June 6 : Daily Newspaper, Edition 1
From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 06:45:46 -0500
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 From: "liz" <>
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 Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 19:24:54 +0200
 Subject: [B5NGONEWS] WA : June 6 : Daily Newspaper, Edition 1

Without information no participation

Lin Pugh

Monday 6 June: Hundreds of women from all over the world who came to New
York to review with the world's government's progress on the Platform for
Action, cannot access the meetings. Some of us, with ECOSOC status, can be
inside the building but not in any meeting at which security is on guard.
Others of us, with Beijing status, cannot even enter the building. We are
the people without the special entry card. (And without mobiles, to call up
our colleagues inside to discuss the possibility that they leave the
building so we can get in). UN security will allow only two persons per
organization in the UN building at one time. An exception to the rule is
speakers at an event being held in the UN. They can get a special half-day
pass. Even media passes will not ensure access to the Special Session, as
one WomenAction 2000 reporter who was sent away discovered. We can watch the
proceedings at off-site live video locations, but can we access our
delegates, feed them with vital information they need in their
deliberations? Or experience the freedom of the press to interview them? To
be frank, we came to New York to review progress on the Beijing Platform for
Action. The Platform for Action, a handsome document of which we are all
proud, has not been fully implemented. The sex slave trade in Eastern Europe
is becoming endemic. AIDS, the greatest killer of women in Africa, is still
spreading like wildfire and governments are responding inadequately. And
while the industrialized world is getting greater and faster access to
information and communication technologies, communities in the South are
increasingly being affronted by wars and lack of access to such basic needs
as clean water. Where are the women peacekeepers? Where are the women in
water management? Where is the free access to information, around the globe?
Throughout the Outcomes document process; a lot of language has been removed
concerning access to information. In Uganda, a local phone call costs about
US 33c. Few households can afford to be connected to Internet - few NGOs can
afford to be connected. In parts of the industrialized world, one in every
two or three households can access Internet. The information divide between
North and South is growing and that concerns us. In the post-Beijing+5
period a challenge to women's NGOs will be to work out how to create
structures to improve our access to UN processes. Based on transparency and
access to information, we can develop ongoing caucuses to monitor, invoke
and inspire governments to implement the changes needed. These
democratically governed caucuses can be based on the transparency and access
to information we want to see reflected in the UN itself. To access
information we need training and infrastructure, and we need to ensure that
new technologies do not only meet the requirements of the commercially
propelled, but also to fulfill article 19 of the Declaration of Human
Rights: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this
right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek,
receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of


The Special Session of the General Assembly of the UN has commenced its
evaluation of the process that started with the implementation of the
Platform of Action in Beijing in 1995. Both the Secretary General of the UN,
Kofi Annam, and the president of the General Assembly, Theo Ben Gurirab,
acknowledged in their inaugural speeches women's achievements of the past
five years, but they also mentioned the obstacles that they have to overcome
in order to achieve equal opportunity and treatment, as well as the full
recognition of their human rights and the possibility to participate with
equality in making decisions in their own countries. It is affirming that
these issues are considered in an international forum because there is no
question that discussion of these topics at this level takes on a particular
importance in a moment when women demand a participatory role in the search
for solutions to end gender discrimination and in the actual decisions that
must be taken to achieve these solutions. The conference in Beijing was
called the "conference of commitments". Official delegates from 189
countries signed specific pledges in favor of gender equality, and also
signaled their desire to mobilize human and financial resources such that
the agreement could concretely be implemented. But at five years, we find
that the representation of women in political and economic spaces continues
to be low; this is also true at the international level, where we see very
few women in decision-making positions in organizations such as the UN. Do
women have allies in this fight? The president of the General Assembly
mentioned a few. But there is no doubt that the great allies in the feminist
and women's movement continue to be non-governmental organizations, which,
with their militants male and female, play a consistent role in the
mobilization of all of civil society, and awaken consciousness of the
importance in achieving the justice of gender as part of global justice.
Certainly during this meeting, the alliances will strengthen and new
agreements will materialize such that the voice and presence of civil
society in international spheres continue to grow and strengthen itself.

Women Making the News: the Global Women's Media Team

By Mavic Cabrera-Balleza

'Extraordinarily tight security and local policing'; 'Beggars and vagrants
on the streets of Beijing rounded up'; 'Hillary Clinton in Beijing';
'China's human rights violations criticized'; 'Lesbians parade topless in

These were the kind of headlines that saw print during the Fourth World
Conference on Women held in Beijing, China in 1995. Five years later, not
much has changed. At the United Nations General Assembly Special Session to
review the progress made since Beijing, the international media is
conspicuous by its absence.

In New York today are delegates from 188 countries, 3,000 NGO delegates
representing 1,250 organizations. However, the number of media people who
have registered to cover the event is far from proportionate. In addition,
quite a few of these journalists have come here because of their own
interest in women's issues-and not with the active support of their media

In Beijing, the issue of women and media was addressed as a critical area of
concern, but it seems to have made no impact on mainstream media's coverage
of women and women's issues. Women are still ignored until they are raped,
murdered or massacred.

It is for these reasons that Isis International-Manila initiated the Global
Women's Media Team Project for UNGASS. Women need to take control of media
coverage about themselves and their lives. They need to stop being passive
subjects and become active purveyors of news.

Under this project, 13 NGO women from all over the world have come together
to intensively cover the conference and be trained onsite in the nitty
gritties of mainstream media coverage. With their knowledge and experience
as women activists, they will bring to their writing a sensitivity so far
lacking in writing on women's issues. They will also, perhaps, more
successfully convey to readers/viewers/listeners the crucial nature and the
overwhelming importance of the decisions that will be taken at the UN over
the next four days.

The Global Women's Media Team is composed of Beverleigh Kanas Liu from
Vanuatu, Ely Suyapa Melendez from Honduras, Maria Eugenia Miranda from
Argentina, Odonchimeg Puntsag from Mongolia, Kavitha Koshy from India,
Babita Basnet and Nirmala Dhungana from Nepal, Cholpon Akmatova from
Kyrgyztan, Kristina Mihalec from Croatia, Dianthus Saputra from Indonesia,
Ann Loreto Tamayo from the Philippines, Juliet Were from Uganda and
Gabrielle le Roux from South Africa. Two mainstream journalists, Divina
Paredes-Japa from the Philippines and Anjali Mathur from India serve as
editors and trainers. Mari Luz Quesada-Tiongson and Mavic Cabrera-Balleza of
Isis International-Manila serve as administrative staff and project
coordinator respectively.

The team members will have hands-on training in gathering, writing and
disseminating through mainstream media outlets news and stories related to
the BPFA Review process. They will be tasked to prepare daily press releases
and making live reports to their home countries via radio phone patches
throughout the five days of the UNGASS meeting.

To be written and broadcast in English, Spanish, Nepali, Russian, Croatian
and Bahasa Indonesia, the stories that the team will generate will be
disseminated through national, sub-regional, global mainstream and
alternative media outlets to bring news in a flash to women worldwide.

Other post-Review media activities, such as report-back press conferences,
radio and television guestings will likewise be undertaken by the team

An added feature of the media team project is a crash course on radio
programming on the Internet which will be conducted by the Feminist
International Radio Endeavour.

This initiative, with a post-Review online training component, ultimately
aims to enhance women's skills in future media campaigns and advocacy that
their organizations might undertake.


NGOs voicing their dissatisfaction with the Beijing+5 process so far

At the NGO briefing on Monday 5 June, a statement to which NGOs could sign
up to was launched, calling on governments to successfully deliver an
outcome document that enables a speedier implementation of the BPFA. The
statement is published in its entirety next to this article. Although the
NGO participation for the Beijing+5 UNGASS is severely limited, women's NGOs
have arrived in great numbers to monitor the negotiations and to support the
adoption of a strong Outcome document. As the process is being stalled there
is a growing frustration and feeling among NGOs that the governments 'are
not doing their job' in this process. At the start of the UN General
Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) only 59 out of 261 articles of the Outcome
document had been agreed to.

Besides the serious threats of attempts to backtrack on the BPFA, the
disagreements on the Outcome document shows that there are still words that
are perceived as 'dangerous' to some governments. The texts on women with
disabilities are threatened as are wordings strengthening women's sexual-
and reproductive rights.

Furthermore, the disagreements on the Outcome document are also highly
present on the issues of poverty, development and the negative effects of
economic globalization. It seems as if the delegations insisting on these
issues tend to be conservative governments joined by the Holy See - in part
these are the same delegations that are blocking a strengthening of women's
sexual and reproductive rights. The women's NGO community shows, with the
statement launched yesterday, that there is no acceptance to women's human
rights being held hostage - the issues of women's human's rights and the
issues of globalization and poverty cannot be held against each other.

Statement to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on further
actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and the
Platform for Action
As the general assembly convenes in Special Session it is time to bring the
preparatory negotiations to a successful conclusion with a strong Outcome
document - a document with specific, bold actions to speed up the
Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. It is clear that the
majority of countries are here jus to do that. They have repeatedly made
their forward-looking positions clear on all 12 Critical Areas of Concern in
the Platform. However, a few countries are intent on watering down the

In Beijing, women helped to secure the commitment of 187 governments to
advance women's human rights, gender equality and women's empowerment. Since
1995, we have worked in partnership with governments at home in our
communities, and at the national and international levels, to turn the words
of the Beijing Platform into concrete actions. These actions have made real
difference in the lives of many women. But there is still much to be one.

In the halls of the United Nations and at home in our countries, women
worldwide are monitoring these deliberations. We now call on you to stand
behind your Beijing commitments and together with NGOs accelerate our
efforts to improve women's lives.

What political participation are we talking about?

By Irene Leon and Daphne Plou

Too empowered to recognize that the UN was closing the doors in their faces,
women from NGOs accepted somewhat disconcertedly when they were told without
any explanation that only fifty of them would be given the opportunity to
assist the Special Session of the General Assembly. If they raised their
voices, though, it was only to question this act rather than to protest it.

The political participation, however, can be found in the key words of the
women's speeches, and, in some cases, among the actions' priorities. But in
the majority of cases, this priority is circumscribed at the national level
and at the local level; while at the international level - just like
international politics - these priorities are considered "new" issues in
which many times, even empowered women slip outside of their contexts and

Participation forms an inherent part of democracy, and in its absence
authoritarianism lures and bureaucratic structures intensify. But no one
rules alone, and power works on individuals, that is, the limits of power
are established to the extent that certain dynamics allow them to do so; or
power gets overturned when the rules of the game are subverted. The latter
is what happened with gender relations in the last century: the women's
movement changed everything, almost.

It is well known that in the last 25 years, women have procured powerful
positions at the local level, and of those, many proceeded to influential
international institutions. But power does not participate and exercise
itself simply from political parties - which continue to diminish in
meaning - or even from institutions. Power also manifests itself from the
collective force of movements that, on the one hand, oppose the arbitrary
decisions and actions of the powers-that-be, while on the other hand,
endorse improved societals, like those that have supported the women's
movement at the UN.

Access comprises another crucial aspect of a functioning democracy. That is,
access to information, of course, but also simple, physical and material
access, to spaces of power, such as the General Assembly, from which many
women were effortlessly excluded yesterday. What danger do hundreds of woman
pose listening to boring speeches, in a special gallery of a room of the UN?
What risk do the governmental organizations run with the women's NGOs in
attendance, armed with proposals for social advancement?

It is not so much a question of going to the show of governmental speeches,
but rather an issue of having first-hand access to the information in the
moment in which the pronouncement is made. This issue relates directly to
the right to communication and a right to information. To be present at the
General Assembly represents a symbolic issue: it signifies the possibility
of moving in and through powerful spheres, especially those associated with
men's power.

Another topic is that of producing opinions and ideas and circulating them.
Again, this forms a dimension of the right to communication, a particular
challenge in a space that is considered exclusive, where international
politicians and experts, without movements, without women, with a formal
CONGO that, rather than assisting NGOs, ensures that new presences do not
make NGOs with status feel threatened.

It is also a question of freedom of thought and expression, in which a good
number of the NGOs that attend the session look to express their points of
view, that they communicate these to the international community through
lobbying, contacts and others of importance, especially in cases where
individuals are unable to do this in their own countries.

In light of its exclusion, what can a whole movement do outside the infamous
sessions of the UN? When exclusion becomes exactly the opposite of social
integration, an icon of the propositions for participation and democracy
directed by women to the UN, what symbol of tradition collapses when women
get to the international arena, even if it is only to listen to speeches?
Some countries critique other countries for having separated spaces, of
dividing them up into, on the one hand, men associated with power, and on
the other, women associated with domesticity: is it possible that the UN
follows an example that the majority of its members critique?

Is There Hope For Indigenous Women in the United Nations?

By Victoria Tauli-Corpuz Convenor, Asia Indigenous Women's Network

Why do indigenous women come here to New York to participate in this Beijing
Plus Five Review? Do we see any hope in the UN and its various processes?
Are our cries for economic justice and restorative justice going to be
heeded by the United Nations?

For this Beijing Plus Five Review, we looked at the Beijing Platform for
Action and identified which program points have references to indigenous
women. The Beijing Declaration of Indigenous Women which came out of the
Indigenous Women's Tent in Huairou in l995 was affirmed as key document
which unites us. It was observed that the analysis, issues and proposals in
this Indigenous Women's Declaration are still very relevant and therefore
should be used as a tool for lobbying, education and mobilization. Whilst
these gains in the international arena are recognized, we are also realistic
in terms of expectations from the UN. It was clear to us that our
empowerment as women is not principally determined by UN Conventions,
Agreements or Declarations. This will mainly come from our efforts to
strengthen our organizations, nations, clans and NGOs on the local and
national level. The experiences of resistance mounted by our women and men
against the attempts to drive us away or deprive us of our lands and
resources is a source of strength. The growing efforts to organize
indigenous women on the ground and the networking being undertaken on the
national, regional and international levels are sources of encouragement.
The capacities of indigenous women to protect and strengthen indigenous
economic systems which are sustainable and to transmit indigenous knowledge
on health, agriculture, etc. to the younger generations should be

Our participation in the UN processes, undoubtedly has change some of the
debates on how human rights should be addressed. The balance between
individual and collective rights, the balance between civil and political
rights and economic, social, and cultural rights, among others are sharply
addressed when rights of indigenous peoples come into the picture. We agree
that racism and racial discrimination still remain as major factors causing
many of our problems. Therefore we resolved that we should play a more
active role in the forthcoming World Conference on this issue. We support
the Beijing Platform of Action but we regret that there seems to be a
backsliding by governments in meeting their commitments in Beijing. This
speaks for both the governments of the north and the south. Our elder,
Lorraine Canoe, reminded us that we should not put our faith in the UN
system because this is still run by governments which colonized us and still
are re-colonizing us. We should rely on ourselves, the wisdom of our elders,
the energies and visions of our youth, and our spiritual relationship with
the Earth and all creation.

Latin America - All Rights - All of them

Latin American and Caribbean women stand for the building of plural
societies, ready to overcome discrimination of any kind. But in order to
work towards this aim, women need to exercise the right to freedom of
expression and the right to information. Women from this region stand for
political and economic democracy as well as democracy in the cultural and
private spheres.

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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