Subject: [fem-women2000 611] Onsite Report from 45th Session of the UNCSW - No. 3
From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Fri, 09 Mar 2001 09:36:51 +0900
Seq: 611

---------------- Original message follows ----------------
 From: kathy clarin <>
 Date: Thu, 08 Mar 2001 15:44:54 +0800
 Subject: [apwomen2000] Onsite Report from 45th Session of the UNCSW  - No. 3

Distributed by Isis International-Manila - linking women, sharing
knowledge, engendering change
Subject: Onsite Report from 45th Session of the UNCSW  - No. 3
source:   Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, Isis International-Manila 
<> <>
date: 03.08.01

Here are two reports on the 45th Session of the UNCSW for the day--07 March 
2001. Please note that there are two stories for today.

Thank you,

07 March 2001
Onsite report from the 45th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, 1

Covering herself with the chadari (or Bunqa in Afghanistan, a veil that 
completely covers a woman's body, with only a net patch for the eye area, 
that the Talibans require Afghan women to wear), Nasrine Gross of 
NEGAR-Support of Women of Afghanistan called attention to the plight of 
Afghan women under the ruling of the Talibans.

Speaking in today's NGO briefing prior to the official session, Ms. Gross 
referred to the regime of the Taliban militia as an example of an extreme 
violation of human rights.  According to her, the Talibans have officially 
taken away Afghan women's right to education, work, health, and freedom of 
movement  rendering them practically prisoners in their own homes. Afghan 
women are not allowed to leave their homes unless accompanied by their 
husbands or other male relatives.In the most extreme situation, Afghan 
women are thrown to material and moral destitution.

Gross likewise presented the Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan 
Women, which is an outcome of the meeting of several hundreds of Afghan 
women on 28 June 2000 in  Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The Declaration affirms the 
rights of Afghan women spelled out in the Afghan constitution as well as in 
numerous international conventions and declarations. She emphasized that 
Afghan women reject the false assertions of the Taliban militia that these 
rights are in contradiction with the religion, culture and traditions of 
Afghan society.

A number of NGO delegates made interventions on the floor to express strong 
support to the struggle of Afghan women. The NEGAR-Support of Women of 
Afghanistan may be contacted at: BP 10, 25770 Franois, France. Tel: (0148) 
350-756; Fax: (0381) 590-439; E-mail: <>

07 March 2001
Onsite report from the 45th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, 2

"Contemporary racism is often characterised by denial of existence of 
racism,' thus stated Elize Delport of the Commission on Gender Equality in 
South Africa in her presentation at the Panel Discussion and Briefing on 
the World Conference Against Racism.

According to Delport, some of the most common questions that women 
activists asserting gender perspective in the Racism discourse are often 
accused of dividing the movement against racism. A fact that she says 
should not go unchallenged since failure to respond to discrimination at 
the intersection of race and gender has serious consequences.

Delport identified the following experiences of African women that 
highlight the intersectionality of race and gender issues:

Harmful traditional practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which 
was first brought to the attention of the World Health Organisation in 
1958. However, WHO rejected the request of the UN Economic and Social 
Council on the grounds that "the ritual operations in question are based on 
social and cultural backgrounds, the study of which is outside the 
competence of
WHO." Nothing happened for 20 years and FGM as a health hazard , was only 
addressed again in 1979 when the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern 
Mediterranean conducted a seminar on "Traditional Practices Affecting the 
Health of Women and Children."

Another traditional practice that serves a barrier to African women's full 
enjoyment of their human rights is virginity testing. Support for this 
practice is premised on the desire to reject Western culture; the 
prevention of the further spread of HIV/AIDS; the prevention of teenage 
pregnancy; the promotion of morality; detection of cases of sexual abuse 
and incest;  and the preservation of virginity before marriage.

Health - the most glaring example of this is the disproportionately high 
rate of HIV/AIDS amongst African women. Another is the high incidence of 
malaria and cholera. Gender bias against African women is evident in 
government policies, programmes and practices.  Forced sterilization and 
other coercive measures on reproduction have also targeted women of 
particular racial groups. In South Africa for instance, reports have been 
received that some Black women  were being forced by their employers to use 
experimental reproductive technology such as Depo Provera.

Education - Delport cited  a UNIFEM report that said: "Women's education 
and training are  intimately linked to women's experience of poverty. UN 
treaties and declarations establish the right to education, including the 
right to educational opportunities. Despite these guarantees, a race and 
gender analysis indicates that    women from certain disadvantaged racial, 
ethnic, immigrant and indigenous communities have lower rates of literacy, 
secondary school attendance and graduation, access to higher education , 
and enrolment in scientific and other training programmes that cultivate 
skilled workers."

Violence Against Women - Delport stressed that while various human rights 
instruments  prohibit state-sanctioned violence against individuals, the de 
facto position of African women has remained largely unchanged. Violence 
against women is rife, and the silence appears not to have been broken as 
successfully as elsewhere in the world.   She cited the UNIFEM background 
paper on "Integrating Gender into the Third World Conference Against 
Racism" that reported: "In some cases where gender and race converge to 
make women of disadvantaged racial groups amongst the most powerless in 
society, rates of violence are particularly high. As an example, due to the 
lingering effects of apartheid  and colonialism in South Africa, there is a 
high  incidence of sexual violence by White male farmers who prey on 
African women farm workers who work on their lands.

Aissata De Diop, another panelist underscored the fact that racism is not a 
scientific theory but rather a collection of opinions without logical 
conclusions and more or less precise biological data. She also added that 
neither biological superiority nor psychological difference have been 
proven by scientific research. De Diop also presented this definition of 
racism: "a generalised and definitive valorization of biological 
differences, whetehr real or imagined, favorable for the racist, 
devaluating the other, with the aimn to justify an aggression or privilege."

The other panelists were Jane Real from the Asia-Pacific Women and Law and 
Development network and Yayori Matsui from the Violence Against Women 
Network.  Real emphasized the Asia-Pacific women's position of bringing 
back gender into the Racism debate. She also drew attention to groups of 
women who are most vulnerable to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia 
and related intolerance  such as women in situations of armed conflict; 
indigenous women; refugees and displaced women, women of certain religious 
groups; women in migration and trafficked women. Matsui, for her part, 
pointed out to the racism as manifested in the crimes committed by American 
soldiers stationed in US bases in Asia. According to her, crimes such as 
the rape of Korean women by American soldiers stationed in US military 
bases in Korea are an impossible occurrence in US military bases in 
Europe.  In addition, Matsui shared some of the outcomes of the Tokyo 
International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women that took place in Japan in 
December 2000.

The panel discussion was organised by the Women in Law and Development in 
Africa and FEMNET as a side event on the second day of the 45th Session of 
the UN Committee on the Status of Women.

Prepared by Mavic Cabrera-Balleza
Isis International-Manila
07 March 2001, New York

Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at

APWOMEN2000 is a general announcement list created to facilitate
information and  resource sharing for the NGO review process in Asia
and the Pacific for the Beijing Platform for Action. Send postings to
<>. APWOMEN2000 is archived at:

 _________________________________________________________________________ for Women 2000, UN Special Session on Beijing+5
 Searcheable Archive
 visit fem-net HomePage for other mailing lists

Return to Index
Return to fem-women2000 HOME