Women & Child

 

Call for Renamed "Comfort women"

 

"Comfort women" is an incorrect term to use today. It is a translation from the Second World War Japanese military terminology . During World War II, the Japanese army forced women, largely from areas occupied or under colonial rule such as Korea and Taiwan to have sexual relations with Japanese soldiers. Most armies have army-run brothels, and the Japanese army was littler different from the army-run brothels of other countries. What was exceptional about the Japanese army action was the very long period after the war when the army denied the facts.

 

The Association of World Citizens was the first NGO to raise the issue in the UN Human rights bodies. My information cane trough then recently opened Japanese archives. I had long discussions with the Japanese diplomats to the UN in Geneva and so recall well all the steps in making the situation public. The first line of defense of the Japanese government was to say that it had not happened. However, the archives were clear as to the facts. The second argument was to say "Yes, it happened but it was not organized by the army but by private merchants. My reply was that nothing happened in Japanese-occupied areas that was not run by the army. There were no Japanese NGOs during the Second World War. The third line of the Japanese government was "OK, the army did do it, but the San Francisco Peace Treaty ending the Second World War put an end to any claims for damages against the Japanese government. To which my answer was "OK, the women are not asking for money but to have their loss of honor recognized." The discussions went on with no advances; in part because the Japanese government was afraid that English and Dutch military who had been forced to work during the Japanese occupation would also make demands and that they were interested in monetary compensation. The issue became a factor in Japanese-South Korean trade relations. The Japanese government has agreed to pay some monetary compensation to South Korean women, but for the moment there is no similar agreement to women in Taiwan, Indonesia and Philippines.

 

We must call events by their true names, and "sex slaves" is the more accurate title. The history of the US Army-run brothels during the Korean War has been largely overlooked. As advocates of human dignity, world citizens work constantly for full respect of each person, and we work to prevent the recurrence of sexual slavery.

 

Ying-chi Ngan / Rene Wadlow

 

呼籲為"慰安婦"重新命名

 今天使用" 慰安婦"是不正確的術語,它是從第二次世界大戰日本軍事術語翻譯。在二次世界大戰期間日軍強迫婦女,很大程度上從佔領的地區或殖民統治時期如韓 國、 臺灣與日本士兵發生性關係。大多數的軍隊有軍隊經營妓院,和日本的軍隊是沒有什麼不同于其他國家的軍隊經營妓院。戰後很長一段時間,日本軍方仍然否認事實。

 世界公民總會是第一個非政府組織向聯合國人權機構提出此問題。然後我們翻查最新的日本檔案。我們曾長時間與日本外交官駐聯合國日內瓦辦事處的討論,所以記得在公開情況的所有步驟。最初日本政府是說議論它沒有發生。然而,檔案巳被清楚記錄的真相。第二個議論是說"是' ,發生了但並不是軍隊組織的, 而是有私營商人經營。我們的發問是什麼時候發生在日本佔領的地區,你們說不是軍隊,但在第二次世界大戰期間日本沒有非政府組織。日本政府的第三個議論是軍隊巳参與了,但舊金山和平條約結束了第二次世界大戰對日本政府賠償的索賠要求。我們的答案為"OK",婦女並不要求為了金錢,而是認可的榮譽損失。討論了與沒有進展的部分原因是日本政府害怕英國和荷蘭軍方誰被迫在日本佔領期間工作也提出要求,他們感興趣的是貨幣補償。這個問題成為日本與韓國貿易關係的一個因素。日本政府已同意向韓國婦女,支付一些貨幣補償,但目前在臺灣、印尼和菲律賓的婦女還有沒有類似的協定。

我們必須呼籲為"慰安婦"重新命名,和更準確的標題是"性奴隸"。在朝鮮戰爭期間美國陸軍經營妓院的歷史基本上被忽視了。作為人的尊嚴的宣導者,世界公民為充分尊重每一個人,不斷地工作,我們努力防止再次發生的性奴役。

Ying-chi Ngan / Rene Wadlow

Many Forms of Violence against WomenMany Forms of Violence against Women
by Rene Wadlow
2016-11-25 12:16:39

stop_en_0030_40025
November is the day designated by the United Nations General Assembly
as the "International Day for the Elimination of Violence against
Women." Violence against women is a year-round occurrence and continues
at an alarming rate.  Violence against women can take many different
forms. There can be an attack upon their bodily integrity and their
dignity.  As citizens of the world, we need to place an emphasis on the
universality of violence against women but also on the multiplicity of
the forms of violence. We need to look at the broader system of
domination based on subordination and inequality.  The value of a
special Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is that the
day serves as a time of analysis of the issues and a time for a
re-dedication to take both short-term measures - such as the creation of
a larger number of homes for battered women - and longer range
programs.

Both at the
international UN level and at the national and local level, there have
been programs devoted to the equality of women and to the promotion of
women in all fields. Thus, it is important to stress that women are not
only victims in need of special protection but also that women should
participate fully and effectively in all aspects of society.

Nevertheless, women
have largely remained invisible and inaudible by being allowed to have a
key role in the "informal sector" - those sectors of the economy that
are the least organized and are often left out of the statistics of the
formal economy as if the informal sector did not count.  Women have
turned to the informal sector - or have been pushed into it - as a way
of sustaining a livelihood for their families.

wc00In
the informal sector, women survive and often have a major
responsibility for the economy of the whole family. Fathers are often
absent by need or by choice.  Some women do well in the informal sector
and serve as a model - or a hope - as to what others can
accomplish.  Self-employed women are increasingly helped by micro-credit
programs. Micro-credit loans are useful but rarely do such loans allow a
person to move outside the informal economy.

Women's work in the
informal sector accounts for a large proportion of total female
employment in most developing countries of Africa, Latin America and
Asia.  Women work as food producers, traders, home-based workers,
domestic workers, prostitutes and increasingly are engaged in drug
trafficking - anything to earn an income to feed their children.  The
informal sector is their last hope for economic and social survival for
themselves and their families.

Gender inequality
and the walls built around the informal sector are the marks of the
"silent violence" against women. Amartya Sen defined the major challenge
of human development as "broadening the limited lives into which the
majority of human beings are willy-nilly imprisoned by the forces of
circumstances".  On 25 November, this day for the elimination of
violence against women, we need to look closely at the many social,
cultural and economic wall which imprison.

 ****************************************************

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

Yazidi Freedom of Thought HonoredYazidi Freedom of Thought Honored
by Rene Wadlow
2016-11-28 08:26:35

The Yearly
Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought awarded by the European Parliament
has been given on 27 October 2016 to Nadia Mourad Bassi Taka and to
Lamiya Aji Bachar both Iraqi Yazidi. Both had been taken captive by the
Islamic State (ISIS) forces in August 2014 and then sold into sexual
slavery and forced marriage.  Both were recently able to escape from
bondage and went to Germany as refugees. Both have become spokespersons
for the Yazidi, especially those Yazidi women who are still being held
in sexual slavery. The United Nations has appointed Nadia Taka as
Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.

rene02_400_02There
were probably some 500,000 Yazidi, a Kurdish-speaking religious
community living in northern Iraq, many in the Mosul area. Iraqi
demographic statistics are not very reliable, and Yazidi leaders may
give larger estimates by counting Kurds who had been Yasidis but who had
converted to Islam. There were also some 200,000 Yazidi among the Kurds
of Turkey but now nearly all have migrated to Western Europe, primarily
Germany, to Australia, Canada, and the USA. There are also some Yazidi
among Kurds living in Syria, Iran and Armenia.  The Yazidi do not
convert people, and so the religion continues only through birth into
the community.

The structure of the
Yazidi world view is Zoroastrian, a faith born in Persia proclaiming
that two great cosmic forces, that of light and good, and that of
darkness and evil are in constant battle. Man is called upon to help
light overcome evil.

However, the strict
dualistic thinking of Zoroastrianism was modified by another Persian
prophet, Mani of Ctesiphon in the third century CE who had to deal with a
situation very close to that of ours today.  Mani tried to create a
synthesis of religious teachings that were increasingly coming into
contact through travel and trade: Buddhism and Hinduism from India,
Jewish and Christian thought, Hellenistic Gnostic philosophy from Egypt
and Greece as well as many smaller, traditional and "animist"
beliefs.  Mani kept the Zoroastrian dualism as the most easily
understood intellectual framework, though giving it a somewhat more
Taoist (yin/yang) flexibility, Mani having traveled in
China.  He   developed the idea of the progression of the soul by
individual effort through reincarnation - a main feature of Indian
thought combined with the ethical insights of Gnostic and Christian
thought.  Unfortunately, only  the dualistic  Zoroastrian framework is
still attached to Mani's name - Manichaeism.  This is somewhat ironic as
it was the Zoroastrian Magi who had him put to death as a dangerous
rival.

Within the
Mani-Zoroastrian framework, the Yazidi added the presence of angels who
are to help man in his constant  battle for light and good, in
particular Melek Tawis, the peacock angel.  Although there are angels in
Islam, angels that one does not know could well be demons, and so the
Yazidi are regularly accused of being "demon worshipers"(1)

If one is to take
seriously the statements of the ISIS leadership, genocide -
the  destruction in whole or in part of a group - is a stated aim
concerning the Yazidi.  The killing of the Yazidi is a policy  and not
"collateral damage" from fighting. The 1948 Convention for the
Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide allows any State
party to the Convention to "call upon the competent organs of  the
United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United
Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression
of acts of genocide."  
Thus  far no State has done so by making a formal proposal to deal with the Convention.

rene01_400_06The
Yazidi  have always been looked down upon by both their Muslim and
Christian neighbors as "pagans".  The government of Saddam Hussein was
opposed to them not so much for their religious beliefs but rather
because some Yazidi played important roles  in the Kurdish community,
seen as largely opposed to the government. The Yazidi also had some old
ownership claims on land on which oil reserves are found in northern
Iraq which makes them suspect in the eyes of the current leadership of
the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq.  The government of the Kurdish
Region has accepted the Yazidi refugees but has done little to help
their socio-economic development  perhaps fearing competition with the
Kurdish families now in control of the government. In all fairness, the
government and the civil society of the Kurdish Region are stretched
well beyond their means to deal with the refugees and displaced.

The current fighting
in both Iraq and Syria overshadows concerns for the freedom of thought
as the ability to live is in question. However the Sakharov Prize may
serve as a reminder that the quality of life is also measured by the
ability to think and to hold on to ones convictions.

 ***********************************************

Note

(1) A Yazidi website
has been set up by Iraqis living in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. The website
is uneven but of interest as a self presentation: www.yeziditruth.org

 

 ***********************************************

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 wc00

International Day of Women: The Goddess of March

Rene Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

“Be ever watchful, wanderer, for the eyes that gaze into yours at the bend of the road may be those of the goddess herself.” — Oracle at Delphi

March 8 is the International Day of Women and is placed under the sign of the goddess of the month of March — Minerva. Minerva derives her name from the Latin mens (mind), and so she has a special relation to teachers and artists. Tradition has it that Minerva is a transformation of an earlier Etruscan and Sabine goddess taken over when Rome was established. She has also taken symbols and meanings from the Greek Athene, especially the owl as a sign of seeing in the dark, seeing what is usually hidden or instinctive. Minerva is she who brings ideas from the darkness into the light.

Minerva symbolized Rome as Athene, Athens. Minerva’s face was put on Roman coins and as such she travelled to the Roman provinces, becoming Britannia in England. She has come down through the centuries as the goddess of learning. In the US Library of Congress Great Hall, she holds a scroll on which are inscribed “Agriculture, Education, Commerce, Government, Economy” — all these are gifts from Wisdom’s store.

Minerva’s essential gift is understanding the relation between mind and matter. Minerva’s owl, creature of the night and symbol of the goddess’s dark and underworld power which see can see at night is also related to the reasonableness of day.

It is this ability to bridge the dark and the light that is so frightening to men. They have in the Middle East and the Westernized world banished the goddesses to be replaced by a less multi-form male god. This is the thesis of Johann Jakob Bachofen, a 19th century Swiss scholar from Basle, working largely alone and drawing on Greek and Roman mythology. He held that the myths showed clearly that there had been an earlier period of social organization that was a matriarchy, a time when society was founded on family, equality and peace whose defining characteristic was love of the mother, and the most heinous crime was matricide.

Then came patriarchy, which found the earlier system so intolerable that its memory was repressed to the subconscious where, Bachofen thought, the memories live on in myth and dreams. See: J.J. Bachofen Myth, Religion and Mother Right (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967).

C.J. Jung knew of the work of Bachofen and used some of Bachofen’s reproductions of symbols in his own writing on the feminine — the anima. For Jung, the life energy takes on a myriad of feminine forms: now young, now old, now mother, now maiden, now a good fairy, now a witch, now a saint, now a whore. She draws man into life with her Maya (power of illusion in Hinduism), and as Sophia, she “leads the way to God and assures immortality. She is the archetype of life itself.”

It is this ‘saving role’ of the feminine which makes uneasy the religions whose prophets are all men. In the current, fundamentalist form of Islam, the woman must be covered, isolated, accompanied by a male relative. Women are not the symbol of learning. In fact, they should not go to school at all. These reactions which can take the extreme forms of ‘honor killings’ and the closing of schools for women are a rising tide among the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan and others who share the same fears.

These fears have deep causes and are not limited to the Islamic world. To transform fears into rational knowledge is not an easy task, but Minerva in some early representations, had thunderbolts in her hand (a symbol usually associated with Jove.) Thus transformation will not come without conflict. The aims of the International Day of Women were well set out by Bella Abzug, then a member of the US Congress and political feminist, in her talk to the UN World Conference on Women (1995)

“Change is not about simply mainstreaming women. It’s not about women joining the polluted stream. It’s about cleaning the stream, changing stagnant pools into fresh, flowing waters.

“Our struggle is about resisting the slide into a morass of anarchy, violence, intolerance, inequality and injustice.

“Our struggle is about reversing the trends of social, economic and ecological crisis. For women in the struggle for equality, there are many paths to the mountain top. Our struggle is about creating sustainable lives and attainable dreams. Our violence is about creating violence-free families. And then, violence-free streets. Then, violence-free borders.

“For us to realize our dreams, we must keep our heads in the clouds and our feet on the ground.”

_______________________________________
René Wadlow, President and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

 

 

Call for Renamed "Comfort women"
 

“Comfort women” is an incorrect term to use today. It is a translation from the Second World War Japanese military terminology . During World War II, the Japanese army forced women, largely from areas occupied or under colonial rule such as Korea and Taiwan to have sexual relations with Japanese soldiers. Most armies have army-run brothels, and the Japanese army was littler different from the army-run brothels of other countries. What was exceptional about the Japanese army action was the very long period after the war when the army denied the facts.
 
The Association of World Citizens was the first NGO to raise the issue in the UN Human rights bodies. My information cane trough then recently opened Japanese archives. I had long discussions with the Japanese diplomats to the UN in Geneva and so recall well all the steps in making the situation public. The first line of defense of the Japanese government was to say that it had not happened. However, the archives were clear as to the facts. The second argument was to say “Yes, it happened but it was not organized by the army but by private merchants. My reply was that nothing happened in Japanese-occupied areas that was not run by the army. There were no Japanese NGOs during the Second World War. The third line of the Japanese government was “OK, the army did do it, but the San Francisco Peace Treaty ending the Second World War put an end to any claims for damages against the Japanese government. To which my answer was “OK, the women are not asking for money but to have their loss of honor recognized.” The discussions went on with no advances; in part because the Japanese government was afraid that English and Dutch military who had been forced to work during the Japanese occupation would also make demands and that they were interested in monetary compensation. The issue became a factor in Japanese-South Korean trade relations. The Japanese government has agreed to pay some monetary compensation to South Korean women, but for the moment there is no similar agreement to women in Taiwan, Indonesia and Philippines.
 
We must call events by their true names, and “sex slaves” is the more accurate title. The history of the US Army-run brothels during the Korean War has been largely overlooked. As advocates of human dignity, world citizens work constantly for full respect of each person, and we work to prevent the recurrence of sexual slavery.
 

Sincerely yours,
Ying-chi Ngan / Rene Wadlow

 

 

  Khalil Gibran : Spirits Rebellious
by Rene Wadlow
 

Khalil Gibran, born 6 January1883, is one of the most quoted prose poets, especially his 1923 work The Prophet.  In The Prophet, we are told that Almustafa, a holy man, has been living in exile, in a city called Orphalese for twelve years.  A ship is coming to take him home to the island of his birth.  People gather and ask him for his final words of wisdom — on love, on work, on joy, on children.  The book has become bedside reading for all those who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious”.

But there is also an earlier Gibran writing in Arabic, a critic of the political and religious conditions of his day — a set of four short stories bound together as Spirits Rebellious. (1) Soon after the publication of the original Arabic version of Spirits Rebellious  in 1908,  considerable agitation developed.  The book was publicly burned in the Beirut market place by Maronite Church and Ottoman State officials who judged it fiercely dangerous to the peace of the country.  Gibran’s bitter denunciation of both religious and political injustice brought his anticipated exile from the country.  As he was already living in Paris to study art at the time, it meant not returning to Lebanon rather than having to leave. However, he was also excommunicated from the Church, which can be considered serious in a country where much civil identity and justice was based on religious membership — not to mention the popular idea that God did not allow excommunicated souls into his Heaven.

It was the short story “Khalil the Heretic” that set off the religious and political authorities.  It is not easy when reading the story today, to see why the authorities got upset, but all book burning needs to be seen in the context of the day.  Even today, writings or poems which would pass unnoticed in one country can provoke jail in another.  So “Khalil the Heretic” is worth reading today, both as an example of the early Arabic writing of Gibran and of what attacks on church and state at the same time may cost.  It is better to attack one at a time, not both together.

 “Khalil the Heretic” has some of the same structure as the later and better–known The Prophet: a person asks questions of the key figure who replies.  In The Prophet, the answers are those of a mature man who reflects on his life experience in a calm voice. In “Khalil the Heretic”, the heretic figure Khalil is first asked by a young women, Rachel, why he has left the monastery where he was working, and later is questioned by a Sheik in a hostile confrontation. The spirit of the exchanges is more heated and bitter than in The Prophet but follow the same pattern:

            Rachel “How ventured you, brother, to leave the convent on such a terrible night, when even the beasts do not venture forth?”

            Khalil “The animals have their caves, and the birds of the sky their nests, but the son of man has no place to rest his head”.

            Rachel retorted “This is what Jesus said about himself.”

            And the young man resumed “This is the answer for every man who wants to follow the Spirit and the Truth in this age of falsehood, hypocrisy and corruption.”

            Rachel “Is there any light, other than the sun, that shines over all the people?  Are human beings capable of understanding the Truth?”

            Khalil returned, “The true light is that which emanates from within man, and reveals the secrets of the heart to the soul, making it happy and contented with life.  Truth is like stars; it does not appear except behind obscurity of the night. Truth is like all beautiful things in the world; it does not disclose its desirability except to those who first feel the influence of falsehood. Truth is a deep kindness that teaches us to be content in our everyday life and share with the people the same happiness…Vain are the beliefs and teachings that make man miserable, and false is the goodness that leads him into sorrow and despair, for it is man’s purpose to be happy on this earth and lead the way to felicity and preach its gospel wherever he goes.  He who does not see the kingdom of heaven in this life will never see it in the coming life.  We came not into this life by exile, but we came as innocent creatures of God, to learn how to worship the holy and eternal spirit and seek the hidden secrets within ourselves from the beauty of life.”

In the short story, Sheik Abbas is the symbol of the political authority and Father Elias the Church. They are united to share power among them for, as Gibran writes “In Lebanon, that mountain rich in sunlight and poor in knowledge, the noble and the priest joined hands to exploit the farmer who ploughed the land…Since the beginning of the creation and up to our present time, certain clans, rich by inheritance, in cooperation with the clergy, had appointed themselves the administrators of the people.  It is an old gaping wound in the heart of society that cannot be removed except by intense removal of ignorance.”

Of this State-Church alliance, he said “Through their wickedness we were divided amongst ourselves; and the better to keep their thrones and be at ease, they armed the Druze to fight the Arab, and stirred up the Shiite to attack the Sunnit, and encouraged the Kurdish to butcher the Bedouin, and cheered the Mohammedan to dispute with the Christian.  Until when shall a brother continue killing his own brother upon his mother’s bosom? Until when shall the Cross be kept apart from the Crescent before the eyes of God?”

Khalil ends his speech to the Sheik with a call for liberty. “Oh Liberty, hear us, and speak in behalf of but one individual for a great fire is started with a small spark.  Oh Liberty, awake but one heart with the rustling of they wings, for from one cloud alone comes the lightning which illuminates the pits of the valleys and the tops of the mountains.”

By the time Khalil Gibran died in 1931, he had lived most of his life in the USA in Boston and then New York,  and wrote in English. The Prophet had been first published in 1923 and has always remained in print — read at countless weddings and funerals and translated into some 50 languages. By 1931, the Ottoman Empire had been  broken, and Lebanon was part of greater Syria.  Gibran had been taken back into communion with the Maronites who did not want to leave the best-known Lebanese poet out in the cold.  But Gibran was never a very orthodox Catholic. He was attracted to the person and sayings of Jesus but not to the organization. He had a knowledge of Arabic Sufi literature. He also knew Buddhist literature and appreciated it for the same reason: useful advice on how to live.

 ****************************************************** 

Quotations from Spirits Rebellious are from the translation by A.R. Ferris and published by Philosophical Library (New York, 1947, 121pp.)

 ******************************************************

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

25 November: Silent Violence Against Women

 

Rene Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

René Wadlow

“How many victims of silence there are, and at what cost! Silence has its laws and its demands… Silence demands that its enemies disappear suddenly and without a trace. Silence prefers that no voice of complaint or protest or indignation disturb its calm. And when such a voice is heard, silence strikes with all its might to restore the status quo ante – the state of silence.”
Ryszard Kapuscmski in The Soccer War

25 November is the UN-proclaimed International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Violence against women is a year-round occurrence and continues to an alarming degree. Violence against women is an attack upon their bodily integrity and their dignity. We need to place an emphasis on the universality of violence against women, the multiplicity of its forms and the ways in which violence, discrimination against women, and the broader system of domination based on subordination and inequality are inter-related. The value of a special ‘Day’ is that it serves as a time of analysis of the issue and then of re-dedication to take both short-term and longer-range measures.

Pierre Spitz, a former Geneva colleague, had coined the term “silent violence” for policies which not only perpetuate the existing system but in some cases reinforce it by forestalling the development of a political consciousness which might degenerate into social disorder. (1) In this spirit, we can speak of “silent violence” against women. Both at the international UN level and at the national level, there have been programmes devoted to the equality of women and to the promotion of women in all fields for some time. However, only recently has there been growing attention to physical violence against women and to the trafficking of women. When the issue of violence against women has been raised by NGO representatives in the UN human rights bodies, the government representatives replied that violence against women exists but is very rare in their country and that “domestic violence within the family” is a subject they cannot deal with unless action is taken by the police. Thus, there has been just enough attention given to violence against women to prevent “the development of a political consciousness which might degenerate into social disorder.”

Yet as Susan George, another former Geneva colleague, has written “That all governments are concerned for, and are representative of, the majority of their people is patent nonsense. Plenty of governments are most concerned with enriching those who keep them in power. Human rights, including the right to food, run a poor second.” (2).

At the national level in many countries, women have largely remained invisible and inaudible by being allowed to have the key role in the “informal sector” — those sectors of the economy that are the least organized, often left out of the statistics of the formal economy as if it did not count. Women have turned to the informal sector — or have been pushed into it — as a way of sustaining a livelihood for their families. Women’s work in this sector accounts for a large proportion of total female employment in most developing countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia. The informal sector, though often considered marginal in economic planning, tends to account for a significant proportion of total employment.

In this informal sector, women work as food producers, traders, home-based workers, domestic workers, recyclers of waste, prostitutes, and increasingly engage in drug trafficking — anything to earn an income to feed their children. The informal sector is their last hope for economic and social survival for themselves and their families.

In the informal society, women survive and often have a major responsibility for the economy of the whole family. Fathers are often absent by need or by choice. Some women do well in the informal sector and serve as a model — or a hope — as to what others can accomplish. Self-employed women are increasingly helped by micro-credit programs. These are useful but rarely do such loans allow a person to move outside the informal economy. There has been a good deal of research on women’s role in agriculture, on women’s informal-sector employment, and increasingly on women’s entrepreneurship. Researchers in different world regions have pointed to the handicaps faced by women to obtain credit and in getting access to new agricultural technologies. However, research has rarely been brought into the mainstream of global or national decision-making.

Inequality and the walls built around the informal sector are the marks of the “silent violence” against women. Amartya Sen defined the major challenge of human development as “broadening the limited lives into which the majority of human beings are willy-nilly imprisoned by the forces of circumstance.” On 25 November, this day for the elimination of violence against women, we need to look closely at the social, cultural and economic walls that imprison.

NOTES:

(1) Pierre Spitz. “Silent violence: famine and inequality” International Social Science Journal Vol. XXX (1978)

(2) Susan George. Ill Fares the Land (Washington, DC: Institute of Policy Studies, 1988).

______________________________

René Wadlow, is president and a U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment

.


         
         
           

Convention on the Rights of the
                Child: The Vital Role of NGOs
              by Rene Wadlow
             
             

             

When the Convention
                      on the Rights of the Child
was unanimously
                    adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20
                    November 1989, governments took a major step forward
                    in establishing a framework of world law to protect
                    the basic dignity and rights of children in all
                    parts of the world.  Thus on 20 November, we
                    remember with gratitude those who worked to develop
                    the concepts and reality of the Rights of the Child
                    but also to measure the tasks that are before us,
                    especially as members of non-governmental
                    organizations (NGOs).  This universal framework is
                    based on the principle that each child should have
                    the possibility to develop into an active and
                    responsible member of society. The way in which a
                    society treats its children reflects not only its
                    qualities of compassion and protective caring, but
                    also its sense of justice, its commitment to the
                    future and its urge to better the human condition
                    for continuing generations.


             

The effort to create a legal
                  framework for the welfare of the child began early in
                  the League of Nations efforts with the Geneva
                    Declaration of the Rights of the Child
of 1924
                  which was largely based on a text written by the then
                  newly-established NGO "Save the Children International
                  Union".  Child
                  welfare has always been a prime example of cooperative
                  efforts among governments, scholars highlighting the
                  conditions of children, and NGOs working actively in
                  the field.  The
                  Geneva Declaration served as the basis for
                  the UN General Assembly resolution on the Declaration
                    of the Rights of the Child
adopted also on 20
                  November 1959.  The
                  1959 Declaration was followed with more specific
                  provisions of the Declaration on Social and Legal
                    Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of
                    Children, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the
                    Administration of Juvenile Justice,
and the  Declaration
                    on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency
                    and Armed Conflict.


             

In 1978, some
                  representatives of both governments and NGOs in the UN
                  human rights circles in Geneva felt that it was time
                  to bring together these different declarations and
                  provisions into a single text that would have the  legal force of
                  a UN convention.  The

                  Polish delegation to the UN Commission on Human Rights
                  took the lead in this effort, but some governments
                  felt that the different declarations needed to be
                  closely reviewed and measured against changing
                  realities.  Thus
                  a Special Working Group on the Rights of the Child was
                  created in 1979  under
                  the chairmanship of the Polish representative, the
                  legal specialist Adam Lopatka. Government and NGO
                  representatives worked together from 1979 to 1988 for
                  a week each year.  There

                  was a core group, including the Association of World
                  Citizens, which worked steadily and which represented
                  a wide range of different beliefs, values and
                  traditions, as well as a wide range of socio-economic
                  realities.


             

As a result of
                  serious discussions, the  Convention covers
                  a wide range of human rights which can be summarized
                  as the three "Ps": provision, protection and
                  participation.  Each
                  child has the right to be provided with
                  certain things and services, such as a name and a
                  nationality, to health care and education.  Each child has
                  a right to be protected from certain acts
                  such as torture, exploitation, arbitrary detention and
                  unwarranted removal from parental care.  Each child has
                  a right to participate in decisions
                  affecting their lives as well as in community life.


             

The Working Group managed to
                  come to a consensus on the final version in time for
                  the General Assembly to adopt it on 20 November 1989,
                  the anniversary date of the Declaration.  The Convention
                    on the Rights of the Child
is meant to provide
                  guidance for governments to review national
                  legislation and policies in their child-related
                  initiatives.  It
                  is by examining national law and policy and the
                  effectiveness of government structures and mechanisms
                  that progress can be measured. The Convention also
                  provides a framework of goals for the vital activities
                  of NGOs.  NGOs
                  work on two lines simultaneously: to remind
                  governments of their obligations through approaches to
                  ministries, elected officials and the media and to
                  undertake their own operational efforts.


             

To help governments to
                  fulfill their obligations and to review national
                  practices, a Committee on the Rights of the Child was
                  created as called for in article 43 of the Convention.
                 
The Committee is composed of 10 independent
                  experts elected for a four-year term by the States
                  which have ratified the Convention. The
                  Committee usually meets three times a year for a month
                  each time in Geneva to review and discuss reports
                  submitted by governments, once every four years. The
                  sessions of the Committee are largely carried out in a
                  non-confrontational dialogue with an emphasis on
                  "unmet needs".The discussion usually lasts six to nine
                  hours for each country. The Committee members have
                  received information and suggestions from NGOs in
                  advance.  The
                  Committee members ask many questions and based on the
                  government's responses, make suggestions for improving
                  the promotion and protection of children's rights in
                  the country.


             

By creating a common legal
                  framework of world law, the Convention on the
                    Rights of the Child
has increased levels of
                  governmental accountability, bringing about  legislative and
                  institutional reforms, and increasing international
                  cooperation.  As
                  James P. Grant, then UNICEF Executive Director said "Transcending

                    its detailed provisions, the Convention on the
                    Rights of the Child embodies the fundamental
                    principle that the lives and the normal development
                    of children should have first call on society's
                    concerns and capacities and that children should be
                    able to depend upon the commitment in good times and
                    in bad, in normal times and in times of emergency,
                    in times of peace and in times of war, in times of
                    prosperity and in times of recession."


             

 **************************************************


             

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

 

Woman as Peacemakers: A 31 October Anniversary

 
     

Rene Wadlow -


      
     

Seeing with eyes that are gender
          aware, women tend to make connections between the oppression
          that is the ostensible cause of conflict (ethnic or national
          oppression) in the light of another crosscutting one: that of
          gender regime. Feminist work tends to represent war as a
          continuum of violence from the bedroom to the battlefield,
          traversing our bodies and our sense of self. We glimpse this
          more readily because as women we have seen that 'the home'
          itself is not the haven it is cracked up to be. Why, if it is
          a refuge, do so many women have to escape it to 'refuges'? And
          we recognize, with Virginia Woolf, that 'the public and
          private worlds are inseparably connected: that the tyrannies
          and servilities of one are the tyrannies and servilities of
          the other.
Cynthia Cockburn Negotiating Gender and
          National Identities


     

October 31 is the anniversary of the
        U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 which calls for full
          and equal participation of women in conflict prevention, peace
          processes, and peace-building, thus creating opportunities for
          women to become fully involved in governance and leadership.
This
        historic Security Council resolution 1325 of 31 October 2000
        provides a mandate to incorporate gender perspectives in all
        areas of peace support. Its adoption is part of a process within
        the UN system through its World Conferences on Women in Mexico
        City (1975), in Copenhagen (1980), in Nairobi (1985), in Beijing
        (1995), and at a special session of the U.N. General Assembly to
        study progress five years after Beijing (2000).


     

Since 2000, there have been no
        radical changes as a result of Resolution 1325, but the goal has
        been articulated and accepted. Now women must learn to take hold
        of and generate political power if they are to gain an equal
        role in peace-making. They must be willing to try new avenues
        and new approaches as symbolized by the actions of Lysistrata.


     

Lysistrata, immortalized by
        Aristophanes, mobilized women on both sides of the
        Athenian-Spartan War for a sexual strike in order to force men
        to end hostilities and avert mutual annihilation. In this,
        Lysistrata and her co-strikers were forerunners of the American
        humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow who proposed a hierarchy
        of needs: water, food, shelter, and sexual relations being the
        foundation. (See Abraham Maslow The Farther Reaches of
          Human Nature)
Maslow is important for conflict
        resolution work because he stresses dealing directly with
        identifiable needs in ways that are clearly understood by all
        parties and with which they are willing to deal at the same
        time.


     

Addressing each person's underlying
        needs means you move toward solutions that acknowledge and value
        those needs rather than denying them. To probe below the surface
        requires redirecting the energy towards asking 'what are your
        real needs here? What interests need to be serviced in this
        situation?' The answers to such questions significantly alter
        the agenda and provide a real point of entry into the
        negotiation process.


     

It is always difficult to find a
        point of entry into a conflict, that is, a subject on which
        people are willing to discuss because they sense the importance
        of the subject and all sides feel that 'the time is ripe' to
        deal with the issue. The art of conflict resolution is highly
        dependent on the ability to get to the right depth of
        understanding and intervention into the conflict. All conflicts
        have many layers. If one starts off too deeply, one can get
        bogged down in philosophical discussions about the meaning of
        life. However, one can also get thrown off track by focusing on
        too superficial an issue on which there is relatively quick
        agreement. When such relatively quick agreement is followed by
        blockage on more essential questions, there can be a feeling of
        betrayal.


     

Since Lysistrata, women, individually
        and in groups, have played a critical role in the struggle for
        justice and peace in all societies. However, when real
        negotiations begin, women are often relegated to the sidelines.
        However a gender perspective on peace, disarmament, and conflict
        resolution entails a conscious and open process of examining how
        women and men participate in and are affected by conflict
        differently. It requires ensuring that the perspectives,
        experiences and needs of both women and men are addressed and
        met in peace-building activities. Today, conflicts reach
        everywhere. How do these conflicts affect people in the society
        - women and men, girls and boys, the elderly and the young, the
        rich and poor, the urban and the rural?


     

There has been a growing awareness
        that women and children are not just victims of violent conflict
        and wars −'collateral damage' − but they are chosen targets.
        Conflicts such as those in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia have
        served to bring the issue of rape and other sexual atrocities as
        deliberate tools of war to the forefront of international
        attention. Such violations must be properly documented, the
        perpetrators brought to justice, and victims provided with
        criminal and civil redress.


     

I would stress three elements which
        seem to me to be the 'gender' contribution to conflict
        transformation efforts:


     


  1.        
  2. The first is in the domain of analysis, the contribution of
              the knowledge of gender relations as indicators of power.
              Uncovering gender differences in a given society will lead to
              an understanding of power relations in general in that
              society, and to the illumination of contradictions and
              injustices inherent in those relations.

  3.        
  4. The second contribution is to make us more fully aware of
              the role of women in specific conflict situations. Women
              should not only be seen as victims of war: they are often
              significantly involved in taking initiatives to promote peace.
              Some writers have stressed that there is an essential link
              between women, motherhood and non-violence, arguing that those
              engaged in mothering work have distinct motives for rejecting
              war which run in tandem with their ability to resolve
              conflicts non-violently. Others reject this position of a
              gender bias toward peace and stress rather that the same
              continuum of non-violence to violence is found among women as
              among men. In practice, it is never all women nor all men who
              are involved in peace-making efforts. Sometimes, it is only a
              few, especially at the start of peace-making efforts. The
              basic question is how best to use the talents, energies, and
              networks of both women and men for efforts at conflict
              resolution.

  5.        
  6. The third contribution of a gender approach with its
              emphasis on the social construction of roles is to draw our
              attention to a detailed analysis of the socialization process
              in a given society. Transforming gender relations requires an
              understanding of the socialization process of boys and girls,
              of the constraints and motivations which create gender
              relations. Thus, there is a need to look at patterns of
              socialization, potential incitements to violence in childhood
              training patterns, and socially-approved ways of dealing with
              violence.

  7.      

     

There is growing recognition that it
        is important to have women in politics, in decision-making
        processes and in leadership positions. The strategies women have
        adapted to get to the negotiating table are testimony to their
        ingenuity, patience and determination. Solidarity and
        organization are crucial elements.   The path may yet be long
        but the direction is set.


     

______________________________________


     

René Wadlow, a member of the
          Fellowship of Reconciliation and of its Task Force on the
          Middle East, is president and U.N. representative (Geneva) of
          the Association of World Citizens
and editor
          of Transnational Perspectives
. He is a member of the
       
TRANSCEND Network
            for Peace, Development and Environment

 

.
     

 

 

 

Women at the Peace Table

Rene Wadlow

 

 

On 31 October 2002, the UN Security Council adopted unanimously Resolution 1325 urging “Member States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.” Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was the first time that the UN Security Council acknowledged that women play a key role in promoting sustainable peace and stressed the participation of women in peace processes from the prevention of conflict, to negotiations, to post-war reconstruction and reconciliation.

 

Work for such a resolution in the Security Council had begun at least five years earlier at the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women with its Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and especially at the non-governmental forum which had been held just outside Beijing, where peacemaking was an important theme.

 

In January 2000, to mark five years since the Beijing Conference, there was an important meeting of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) along with governmental observers, at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. With more than 650 participants from 51 countries, there was a broad cross section of views. It was the first such NGO conference since the 1990 end of the Cold War. Thus there were a large number of representatives from Russia, other states of the former Soviet Union as well as Eastern Europe.

 

The report of the Conference stressed in particular that “It is necessary that women participate politically in all decisions which influence their lives, especially at conception, execution and evaluation of development programmes and of official peace negotiations. Participation in economic decisions should be guaranteed at all levels of decision-making. Consideration must be given to women’s diversity: particularly young and older women must be fully integrated in decision-making and the policy process. In order to assume women’s equality and participation at all levels of public life, governments must recognize NGOs as an essential factor of democracy.”

 

A good number of the participants both women and men, including myself, had had long experience with the UN system. We thought that a resolution by the UN Security Council would have the most impact since it rarely discussed social issues. There had been numerous resolutions of the UN Economic and Social Council or the UN Commission on Human Rights dealing with the equality and importance of women. However such resolutions had had limited impact on national governments’ policy or UN agencies. A UN Security Council resolution would get more attention and indicate a link between the security of States — the chief mandate of the Security Council — and what was increasingly called ‘human security’ — that is, the security of people. Thus following the Geneva meeting, there was a need to convince the members of the Security Council, which meets in New York, that such a resolution was needed.

 

Intense contacts were made between NGO representatives in New York and Security Council members, as well as with Foreign Ministry officials. It would be too much to say that there was enthusiasm for such a resolution among government representatives but there were few governments which wanted to say publicly that women are not important. Moreover the 1990s had been a decade of intrastate conflicts especially in former Yugoslavia, the former USSR, and Africa. The fate of women and children was on the minds of many governmental delegates, and so the resolution called attention to the “special needs of women and girls during repatriation and resettlement and for rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction.” The skills women bring to their leadership positions can enhance their capacity to handles conflicts constructively. This includes the ability to develop empathy, especially by sharing personal experiences, the capacity to nurture connections and to create personal networks, the tendency to form coalitions across conflict lines, the willingness to address emotional issues constructively, and persistence in striving to increase mutual understanding.

 

It was also important to find the balance between calling attention to the special needs of women and children in times of conflict and yet not reinforce the stereotype of women as victims only. Thus, there was a need to stress the important positive role that women play as peace-builders and their potential role in peace processes and negotiations.

 

NGO representatives and then friendly governments on the Security Council took up the issue. Government representatives saw that NGOs would deal with such a resolution in a positive way and make efforts to inform women of the resolution and train women to move to action. The planning of the Security Council meetings was such that the resolution was adopted on 31 October — a day which is marked in the USA as Halloween. At Halloween, children dress up in costumes such as ghosts and witches. This led to some unkind but private remarks concerning the large number of women in the public section of the Security Council chamber that “the witches are out tonight.”

 

Resolution 1325 is an important building tool for the role of women in peacemaking. The resolution, by itself, has not changed things radically. There are still few women at the table when serious peace negotiations or re-construction planning is undertaken. However, Resolution 1325 sets out the guidelines, and now NGOs, governments, and UN agencies can work to transform these guidelines into practice. The major problem is that there are very few “peace tables” around which negotiations can take place. There are neither men nor women negotiating on the armed conflicts and tensions of the Middle East, Ukraine, and Africa − Libya, Mali, Darfur, South Sudan, Central African Republic. There was an effort by NGOs to have more women involved in the four-day effort of negotiations of the conflicts in Syria held at the UN's Palais des Nations in Geneva. The government and the Syrian opposition refused to meet in the same room or to set an agenda for issues that could be discussed in the future, leading to the resignation of the UN/League of Arab States mediator.

 

There is a role for NGOs and academic institutions to train more women in negotiating and conflict resolution skills. However, the real effort must be to prepare the parties for negotiations by an analysis of conflict issues and seeking common ground for compromise.

 

 

Cynthia Cockburn

The Space Between Us : Negotiating Gender and National Identities in Conflict

(London: Zed Books, 1998, 247pp.)

 

 

 

“Maybe if women would only gain the determination to represent publicly what they have always stood for privately in evolution and history (realism of householding, responsibility of upbringing, resourcefulness in peacekeeping, and devotion to healing), they might well add ethically restraining, because truly supranational, power to politics in the wider sense.”

                                                                            Erik Erikson Identity, Youth and Crisis

 

    “Seeing with eyes that are gender aware, women tend to make connections between the oppression that is the ostensible cause of conflict (ethnic or national oppression) in the light of another crosscutting one: that of gender regime. Feminist work tends to represent war as a continuum of violence from the bedroom to the battlefield, traversing our bodies and our sense of self. We see that the ‘homeland’ is not, never was, an essentially peaceful unitary space. We glimpse this more readily because as women we have seen that ‘the home’ itself is not the haven it is cracked up to be. Why, if it is a refuge, do so many women have to escape it to ‘refuges’? And we recognize, with Virginia Woolf, that ‘the public and private worlds are inseparably connected: that the tyrannies and servilities of one are the tyrannies and servilities of the other.”

 

    With her gender aware perspective, Cynthia Cockburn studies three women’s groups working for peace in the middle of tense conflict situations, each with its own distinctive aspect. The Women’s Support Network in Belfast was formed to give women from the city’s poorer districts a unified voice to express their common interests in the wider political world. In Israel, Bat Shalom brings Jewish and Arab Israeli women together to take a public stand for peace and justice. Medica came into being in a time of brutal aggressions in Bosnia to provide social, psychological and medical support to raped and traumatized women and their children . “But they are alike in having chosen cooperation between women of polarized ethno-national groups, contradicting the norm in their countries, where those identifications have been mobilized for war.”

 

    In times of tension and conflict, as Cockburn points out “Nationalist rendering of the nation are highly selective histories that delete everything that does not contribute to the story of a unitary people (always already ‘the same’, identical to itself across time). The ‘people’ have a common origin, are like each other and different from others, march together along a given road, travelling toward a shared destiny. All the divergences and convergences of real historic social time, the departures of some and the arrivals of others, the mixing and splitting, the dryings out and the illegitimate births, are ignored.

 

    “Those who govern us use identity processes to do so. Dominant groups maintain hegemony for the most part by discursive means rather than direct force, mobilizing consent by inclining us toward particular identifications. But without doubt it is those social groups that drive competitive nationalist movements that are the master spinners of identity tales designed to make some of us feel part of their imagined community, and others quite clear we are not so favoured. They fix, eternalize and essentialize the identities that are the vehicles of their control: our primordial nation,, man and women as nature intended.”

 

    To go against this nationalist effort of an imagined national self, one needs a strong sense of personal identity, one that is deeper and more complex than the ready-made images which come out of nationalist moulds. As C.G. Jung has stressed in his writings “ If you lack a secure self, are caught up in inner conflict, you are likely to disown the hated or feared parts of yourself and project them onto the unknown ‘other’… Many (sometimes it seems most) identity processes are coercive. We are labelled, named, known by identities that confine us, regulate us and reduce our complexity. The subtleties in our sense of self are difficult to convey in the terms available to us. We often feel misunderstood and misrepresented. And these processes are the more painful because they exploit our irreducible need to belong, our happiness in belonging. When war breaks out between national collectives, extraordinary pressures descend on people that force them to rethink who they are in relation to collective identities.”

 

    Thus, one of the functions of groups and centers as those studied by Cynthia Cockburn is to provide a ‘safe space’ in which to develop and strengthen a sense of personal identity. It is not that everyone in the groups will find the same identity but rather that each person will find the time and space to grow.

 

    At the end, Cynthia Cockburn summerises her findings in six aspects they have in common: the best tools they have, the tools they share, are identity processes.

 

    “First, at their best, the projects affirm difference. They resist the temptation of erasing it, of collapsing mixity into mere heterogeneity or, worse, a pretended homogeneity. Sometimes, of course, they make the error of not acknowledging politicized differences openly enough. Sometimes (as in Bat Shalom) the differences are so clear cut that they structure the group uncomfortably into two halves. But it is an important principle in all these projects that difficult differences ‘don’t have to be left outside the door in order for us to work together.’

 

    Second, an important corollary, the projects are on the whole good at nonclosure on identity. They do not essentialize identities and therefore do not predict what might flow from them.

 

    Third, the projects have found useful ways of reducing polarization by emphasizing other differences. Of course, the single most important feature of their alliances is that by organizing around political interests shared with women, yet framing differences from men in nonessential terms, they reduce the significance of ethnic differences… They look beyond the divided community, putting communal boundaries into softer focus, by stepping outside and looking back at them from an international vantage point. In this sense, all the projects gained strength from their involvement in a global feminist movement and its networks.

 

    The fourth tool that the projects bring to bear in alliance building is an acknowledgement of injustices. In none of these three countries are ethnic differences the differences of equals. These regions are not just sites of war between peoples who for some inexplicable reason hate each other. They are societies founded on terrible wrongs. Creating an alliance is therefore not just a matter of mutual opening. It involves a willingness to face ethical issues, to dig deep into layers of advantage, exploitation and oppression. It is a painful process…Nevertheless, the projects operate well as alliances only when they do recognize and make explicit this ethical asymmetry. They cannot move any distance toward peace without facing issues of right and wrong.

 

    A fifth and further way, the women put to use what they have learned about identity pain and identity work is in defining the agenda of the projects, those matters on which it is safe to engage with each other, those that should be avoided if the group is to hold together and, most importantly, those that become possible as the group gains in ability to deal creatively with difference, or cease to be possible as violence closes in.

 

    The sixth and final tool is group process…to ensure that all voices are heard, that all are given equal weight and that decision-making is fully shared…In a situation where everyone speaks, in a safe context where defensive masks can be set aside, each person can afford to be more herself. Less projection occurs, and the group coheres.”

 

    Many of the insights of Cynthia Cockburn’s study could also be true for mixed men-women groups. She is the author of a study In the Way of Women: Men’s Resistance to Sex Equality in Organizations (Macmillan) where she has analyzed  some of the difficulties of popular participation and the creation of safe space in mixed organizations. The Space Between Us is very useful and merits to be widely known.

 

René Wadlow

 

 

 

Women as Peacemakers

 

 

On 31 October 2002, the UN Security Council adopted unanimously Resolution 1325 (2000) urging “Member States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.” Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was the first time that the UN Security Council acknowledged that women play a key role in promoting sustainable peace and stressed the participation of women in peace processes from the prevention of conflict, to negotiations, to post-war reconstruction and reconciliation.

 

Work for such a resolution in the Security Council had begun at least five years earlier at the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women with its Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and especially at the non-governmental forum which had been held just outside Beijing, where peacemaking was an important theme.

 

In January 2000, to mark five years since the Beijing Conference, there was an important meeting of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) along with governmental observers, at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. With more than 650 participants from 51 countries, there was a broad cross section of views. It was the first such NGO conference since the 1990 end of the Cold War. Thus there were a large number of representatives from Russia, other states of the former Soviet Union as well as Eastern Europe.

 

The report of the Conference stressed in particular that “It is necessary that women participate politically in all decisions which influence their lives, specially at conception, execution and evaluation of development programmes and of official peace negotiations. Participation in economic decisions should be guaranteed at all levels of decision-making. Consideration must be given to women’s diversity: particularly young and older women must be fully integrated in decision-making and the policy process. In order to assume women’s equality and participation at all levels of public life, governments must recognize NGOs as an essential factor of democracy.”

 

It was thought that a resolution by the UN Security Council would have the most impact since the Security Council rarely discussed social issues. There had been numerous resolutions of the UN Economic and Social Council or the UN Commission on Human Rights dealing with the equality and importance of women. However such resolutions had had limited impact on national governments’ policy or UN agencies. A UN Security Council resolution would get more attention and indicate a link between the security of States — the chief mandate of the Security Council — and what was increasingly called ‘human security’ — that is, the security of people. Thus following the Geneva meeting, there was a need to convince the members of the Security Council, which meets usually in New York, that such a resolution was needed.

 

Intense contacts were made between NGO representatives in New York and Security Council members, as well as with Foreign Ministry officials. It would be too much to say that there was enthusiasm for such a resolution, but there were few governments which wanted to say publicly that women are not important. Moreover the 1990s had been a decade of intrastate conflicts especially in former Yugoslavia, the former USSR, and Africa. The fate of women and children was on the minds of many governmental delegates, and so the resolution called attention to the “special needs of women and girls during repatriation and resettlement and for rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction.”

 

It was also important to find the balance between calling attention to the special needs of women and children in times of conflict and yet not to reinforce the stereotype of women as victims only. Thus, there was a need to stress the important positive role that women play as peacebuilders and their potential role in peace processes and negotiations.

 

NGO representatives and then friendly governments on the Security Council took up the issue, especially when government representatives saw that NGOs would take up such a resolution in a positive way and make efforts to inform women of the resolution and train women to move to action.

 

Resolution 1325 is an important building tool for the role of women in peacemaking. The resolution, by itself, has not changed things radically. There are still few women at the table when serious peace negotiations or re-construction planning is undertaken. However, Resolution 1325 sets out the guidelines, and now NGOs, governments, and UN agencies can work to transform these guidelines into practice.

 

 

 

Citizens of the World Call for Increased Action and Cooperation in the Struggle Against Trafficking in Persons

 

 

 

The old structures of oppression are crumbling — those of caste, class, gender, and ethnicity. They are being replaced by the values of equality, respect and cooperation with an emphasis on popular participation and people-centred development.

 

One of the most destructive forms of oppression is that of trafficking in persons. Such trafficking is done in total disregard for the dignity of the person and of his welfare. The recent increase in the scope, intensity and sophistication of crime around the world threatens the safety of citizens everywhere and hinders countries in their social, economic, and cultural development. The dark side of globalization allows multinational criminal syndicates to broaden their range of operations from drug and arms sales to trafficking in human beings.

 

The smuggling of migrants and the trafficking of human beings for prostitution and slave labour have become two of the fastest growing worldwide problems of recent years. From Himalayan villages to Eastern European cities — especially women and girls— are attracted by the prospect of a well-paid job as a domestic servant, waitress or factory worker. Traffickers recruit victims through fake advertisements, mail-order bride catalogues, casual acquaintances, and even family;

 

The lack of economic, political and social structures providing women with equal job opportunities has also contributed to the feminization of poverty, which in turn has given rise to the feminization of migration, as women leave their homes to look for viable economic solutions. In addition, political instability, militarism, civil unrest, internal armed conflict and natural catastrophes increase women’s vulnerability and can contribute to the rise of trafficking.

 

However, trafficking in human beings is not confined to the ‘sex industry’. Children are trafficked to work in sweatshops, and men to work in the “three D jobs” — dirty, difficult and dangerous.

 

Citizens of the world have constantly called upon the United Nations, National Governments and civil society organizations to cooperate better together to halt this trade, destructive of the dignity of the person and of mutual trust within society.

 

We must not underestimate the difficulties and dangers which exist in the struggle against trafficking. It is a task which requires participatory action to change attitudes, overcome apathy and root out deep-set corruption. Citizens of the World with their broad view of a just world society can play an important role in this common effort.

 

 

 

Citizens of the World Welcome the UN Security Council Resolution against Rape as a Weapon of War

 

In a message to the President of the UN Security Council, the Ambassador of Great Britain, Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens, welcomed the Council’s unanimous resolution on 24 June 2013 demanding the complete and immediate cessation of all acts of sexual violence by all parties in armed conflict. He stressed that “It is time that the United Nations takes a clear and strong stand against rape as a weapon of war and works to monitor sexual violence in armed conflict. The Association of World Citizens welcomes the resolution as an important signal to perpetrators that their acts will no longer be tolerated and that they will be held accountable. Even after a war ends, the effects of sexual violence continue in the form of unwanted pregnancies, sexually-transmitted infections, discrimination and ostracizing of victims and often lasting psychological damage.”

 

As Meredeth Turshen and Clotilde Twagiramariya point out in their book What Women Do in Wartime: Gender and Conflict in Africa (London: Zed Press, 1998, 173pp.) “There are numerous types of rape. Rape is committed to boast the soldiers’ morale, to feed soldiers’ hatred of the enemy, their sense of superiority, and to keep them fighting; rape is one kind of war booty; women are raped because war intensifies men’s sense of entitlement, superiority, avidity, and social licence to rape; rape is a weapon of war used to spread political terror; rape can destabilize a society and break its resistance; rape is a form of torture; gang rapes in public terrorize and silence women and force them to flee homes, families and communities; rape targets women because they keep the civilian population functioning and are essential to its social and physical continuity; rape is used in ethnic cleansing; it is designed to drive women from their homes or destroy their possibility of reproduction within or “for” their community; genocidal rape treats women as “reproductive vessels”, to make them bear babies of the rapists’ nationality, ethnicity, race or religion, and genocidal rape aggravates women’s terror and future stigma, producing a class of outcast mothers and children — this is rape committed with consciousness of how unacceptable a raped woman is to the patriarchal community and to herself. This list combines individual and group motives with obedience to military command; in doing so, it gives a political context to violence against women, and it is this political context that needs to be incorporated in the social response to rape.”

 

The Association of World Citizens first raised the issue in the UN Commission on Human Rights in March 2001 after the judgement of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia sitting in the Hague on 22 February 2001 in the case of Kumarac, Kovac and Vukovic. The Tribunal maintained that there can be no time limitation on bringing an accused to trial. The Tribunal also reinforced the possibility of universal jurisdiction — that a person can be tried not only by his national court but by any court claiming universal jurisdiction and where the accused is present.

 

The Association of World Citizens stressed the use of rape as a weapon of war in the Special Session of the Commission on Human Rights on Human Rights Violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has repeatedly drawn attention to the issue there since.

 

Wartime rape is a dramatic example of violence against women, but we must keep in mind that world-wide, girls and women, across lines of income, class and culture, are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Violence can take many forms including rape, genital mutilation, “honour” crimes, and sexual trafficking.

 

However, women should not only be seen as victims of war. They are often significantly involved in taking initiatives to promote peace and finding alternatives to violence. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (31October 2000) called for full and equal participation of women in conflict prevention, peace processes and peace-building, thus calling for women to be fully involved in governance and leadership

 

We need to have a peace-building approach which asks how does political conflict degenerate into pervasive mass violence, generating new crises and new forms of violent conflict in the future. How does a community pull itself out from the cycle of violence and set up sustainable ways of living in which different categories of people are able to contribute?

 

The Association of World Citizens along with governments and other civil society groups will build upon the Security Council’s new resolution on rape as a weapon of war to help create new awareness, new attitudes, and new institutions of conflict resolution to promote human dignity.

 

 

 

Challenges of Gender Equality in the Context of Economic and Financial Changes

 

In September 1995, the United Nations held the World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, with the theme: Action for Equality, Development and Peace. Along side the official Conference in which government representatives and Non-governmental organizations in consultative status with ECOSOC participated, there was a Forum in which many groups and associations were active.

 

Representatives of non-governmental organizations such as the Association of World Citizens (AWC) were active in the three-year preparatory process which led to the Conference. Non-governmental organizations have played an important advocacy role in advancing legislation or mechanisms to ensure the promotion of women. They have also become catalysts for new approaches to development. A review of a book by Anna Snyder traces the preparatory process of both the governmental Conference and the Forum.

 

In 2015, the United Nations system of which ESCAP is an important part will be reviewing the recommendations of the Beijing Conference to see what advances have been made and where new efforts must be undertaken.

 

A major strategic objective set out by the Beijing Declaration was “to Promote peaceful conflict resolution and peace, reconciliation and tolerance through education, training, community actions and youth exchange programmes in particular for young women.”

 

AWC statement “Women as Peacemakers” is posted below.

 

The Beijing Declaration “reaffirmed that rape in the conduct of armed conflict constitutes a war crime and urges governments to take all measures required for the protection of women and children from such acts and strengthen mechanisms to investigate and punish all those responsible and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

 

The AWC text “Citizens of the World Welcome the UN Security Council Resolution against Rape as a Weapon of War” is posted below.

 

The Beijing Declaration stated that “ The effective suppression of trafficking in women and girls for the sex trade is a matter of pressing international concern. The use of women in international prostitution and trafficking networks has become a major focus of international organized crime.”

 

The AWC text “Citizens of the World Call for Increased Action and Cooperation in the Struggle Against Trafficking in Persons” is posted below.


 

 

 

Citizen Diplomacy of Women : The New Cycle Begins
Rene Wadlow
 
            On 31 October 2002, the UN Security Council adopted unanimously Resolution 1325  (2000)  urging “Member States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.”  Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was the first time that the UN Security Council acknowledged that women play a key role in promoting sustainable peace and stressed the participation of women in peace processes from the prevention of conflict, to negotiations, to post-war reconstruction and reconciliation.
 
            Work for such a resolution in the Security Council had begun at least five years earlier at the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women with its Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and especially at the non-governmental forum which had been held just outside Beijing, where peacemaking was an important theme.
 
            In January 2000, to mark five years since the Beijing Conference, there was an important meeting of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) along with governmental observers, at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.  With more than 650 participants from 51 countries, there was a broad cross section of views.  It was the first such NGO conference since the 1990 end of the Cold War.  Thus there were a large number of representatives from Russia, other states of the former Soviet Union as well as Eastern Europe.
 
            The report of the Conference stressed in particular that “It is necessary that women participate politically in all decisions which influence their lives, specially at conception, execution and evaluation of development programmes and of official peace negotiations.  Participation in economic decisions should be guaranteed at all levels of decision-making.  Consideration must be given to women’s diversity: particularly young and older women must be fully integrated in decision-making and the policy process.  In order to assume women’s equality and participation at all levels of public life, governments must recognize NGOs as an essential factor of democracy.”
 
            A good number of the participants both women and men, including myself, had long experience with the UN system.  We thought that a resolution by the UN Security Council would have the most impact since it rarely discussed social issues. There had been numerous resolutions of the UN Economic and Social Council or the UN Commission on Human Rights dealing with the equality and importance of women.  However such resolutions had had limited impact on national governments’ policy or UN agencies.  A UN Security Council resolution would get more attention and indicate a link between the security of States —  the chief mandate of the Security Council — and what was increasingly called ‘human security’ — that is, the security of people.  Thus following the Geneva meeting, there was a need to convince the members of the Security Council, which meets usually in New York, that such a resolution was needed.
 
            Intense contacts were made between NGO representatives in New York and Security Council members, as well as with Foreign Ministry officials. It would be too much to say that there was enthusiasm for such a resolution, but there were few governments which wanted to say publicly that women are not important.  Moreover the 1990s had been a decade of intrastate conflicts especially in former Yugoslavia, the former USSR, and Africa.  The fate of women and children was on the minds of many governmental delegates, and so the resolution called attention to the “special needs of women and girls during repatriation and resettlement and for rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction.”
 
            It was also important to find the balance between calling attention to the special needs of women and children in times of conflict and yet not to reinforce the stereotype of women as victims only.  Thus, there was a need to stress the important positive role that women play as peacebuilders and their potential role in peace processes and negotiations.
 
            NGO representatives and then friendly governments on the Security Council took up the issue, especially when government representatives saw that NGOs would take up such a resolution in a positive way and make efforts to inform women of the resolution and train women to move to action.  The planning of the Security Council meetings was such that the resolution was adopted on 31 October — a day which is marked in the USA as Halloween.  At Halloween, children dress up in costumes such as ghosts and witches.  This led to some unkind but private remarks concerning the large number of women in the public section of the Security Council chamber that “the witches are out tonight.”
 
            Resolution 1325 is an important building tool for the role of women in peacemaking.  The resolution, by itself, has not changed things radically.  There are still few women at the table when serious peace negotiations or re-construction planning is undertaken.  However, Resolution 1325 sets out the guidelines, and now NGOs, governments, and UN agencies can work to transform these guidelines into practice.  In many cultures and spiritual traditions, there is the idea of the significance of seven-year cycles.  We can see the first seven years of Resolution 1325 as the planting of the seed.  Now, seven years later, the plant may be ready to give fruit.  A new cycle begins.

 

 

 

 

Protecting Women Migrants :
Finding the Balance
 
Rene Wadlow*
 
 
            The UN General Assembly has proclaimed 18 December as International Migrants Day to mark the date in 1990 when the Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. (Resolution 45/58)
 
            For the moment, migration policy and legislation is made largely at the national level.  The European Union has tried to develop a single European immigration and refugee policy at the Tampere Summit of 1999.  Yet in practice, the EU policy has focused on the ‘security of borders ‘— a very limited vision.  No relationship exists between border security policies and the development of the countries of origin.  This fact was highlighted by the anti-Rom measures carried out in France during 2010 and again in 2012 with a good deal of government-sponsored publicity and more quietly in other countries but with the same aims.
 
 
 
            Since the end of the Cold War in 1990, the pattern of geo-strategic power has shifted in the world, and migration is an issue that is inextricably linked to these changes.  Migration is an issue that spans the globe and is symbolic of the new patterns of power and the post-Cold War conflicts.
 
            The relevant political scale for dealing with and regulating migratory patterns has moved to the world level while implementation remains largely at the national level. Migratory flows have become more diverse, creating more complex and varied routes. Trafficking in persons has become a world-wide business which often entails serious violations of human rights and undermines the dignity of the person. Trafficking flourishes amidst the hardship of the least protected and vulnerable women, men and children.  Human poverty, not only lack of income but also health care, scarcity of food, obstacles to education, inequality of opportunities, including gender discrimination, affect migratory flows.
 
            Trafficking is done in total disregard for the dignity of the person and of his welfare.  The recent increase in the scope, intensity and sophistication of crime around the world threatens the safety of citizens everywhere and hinders countries in their social, economic, and cultural development.  The dark side of globalization allows multinational criminal syndicates to broaden their range of operations from drug and arms sales to trafficking in human beings.
 
            The smuggling of migrants and the trafficking of human beings for prostitution and slave labour have become two of the fastest growing worldwide problems of recent years.  From Himalayan villages to Eastern European cities — especially women and girls — are attracted by the prospect of a well-paid job as a domestic servant, waitress of factory worker.  Traffickers recruit victims through fake advertisements, mail-order bride catalogues, casual acquaintances, and even family.
 
            The lack of economic, political and social structures providing women with equal job opportunities has also contributed to the feminization of poverty, which in turn has given rise to the feminization of migration, as women leave their homes to look for viable economic solutions.  In addition, political instability, militarism, civil unrest, internal armed conflict and natural catastrophes increase women’s vulnerability and can contribute to the rise of trafficking.
 
            However, trafficking in human beings is not confined to the “sex industry”.  Children are trafficked to work in sweatshops, and men to work in the “three D jobs” — dirty, difficult and dangerous.
 
            We must not underestimate the difficulties and dangers which exist in the struggle against trafficking. It is a task which requires participatory action to change attitudes, to overcome apathy and to root out deep-set corruption.
 
            An important challenge is the promotion of the human rights of migrants in the countries of origin, transit and destination.  When the human rights of migrants are ignored or curtailed, their capacity to contribute to the development of their own country and of host societies is undermined.  Thus, as citizens of the world, we call for cooperative action and a true world policy on migrations in which migrants themselves have a say. Migration has become a defining feature of the contemporary world and planning by both governments and civil society is needed at the world level.
           
            Today, women constitute almost half of all international migrants world wide, some 95 million persons.  Yet, despite their contribution to poverty reduction, it is only recently that national governments and the UN system have begun to grasp the significance of what migrant women have to offer.
 
            While the great majority of those who move are still internal migrants, that is, individuals or families who migrate within their own country, the number of international migrants is substantial.  For a long time, the issue of women migrants has been low on the international policy agenda.  Now, things are starting to change as there is growing recognition of the human rights of women and the need for gender equality.
 
            Women are migrating and will continue to do so.  Many people are increasingly looking to migration as a way to provide for their families.  The remittances, that is, the earnings which migrants send home, are often needed to meet the daily needs of the family as well as for education and health.  Women migrants are among the most vulnerable to human rights abuses — both as migrants and as women. Their hard work deserves recognition, and their human rights deserve protection.
 
            There is a need for action at the national level but with a world vision. This is a prime task for world citizens to highlight the world dimension of issues as they arise at the national level and to stress that all persons within the world community be treated with dignity and respect
           
Rene Wadlow, President and representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens