In this section of the site we will provide links to news articles of interest.
Why Have a UN World Conference on Women?
22 October 2014 –Given that women make up half of humanity and given the importance and relevance of women’s issues for global progress, it is high time that such a world conference be convened.” These are the words of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the president of the General Assembly in a Joint Statement International Women’s Day, March 8, 2012 as they urged the General Assembly to convene a Global Conference on Women. The last was held in Beijing in 1995. In their statement, they noted that this conference could tackle emerging issues since Beijing, which would include implementing UN Security Council Resolution #1325 (2000), equal access to decent work, aid effectiveness, food security, trafficking, drugs, migration, environment, climate change and information technology, all of which impact on women.
The Secretary General’s request for a Fifth World Conference on Women (5WCW) has not been withdrawn, nor has it been taken up. One member state can bring it to the table again. Our hope is that India be that member state. On India's Independence Day, in his first major address (August 14, 2014), Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of stopping violence against women and India's rape culture. For him to take the lead and propose that 5WCW be held in New Delhi in 2018, would support his words and the women of India.
Historical gains made by women the world over, demonstrate a principle that recent research strongly validates: women gain rights in a world where power is held mostly by men only when those at the top are motivated by feminist movements that come from the bottom up. In India, when women took to the streets to protest police disregard of rape, it generated the political will to make and enforce laws to protect women. A study of four decades (1975 -2005 of data collected in seventy countries (Htun and Weldon, 2012) found that it was grassroots feminist movements -- not liberal politics, not women's representation in government, not national wealth,that makes a difference: only strong feminist movements are able to voice and organize around their top priorities as women. Otherwise, women are sidelined or subordinated to men's needs or to the priorities of institutions or political parties.
Why hold 5WCW in India?
22 October 2014 –India has the most active grassroots women's movement in the world now and a new government whose prime minister has made stopping violence against women a priority. Holding 5WCW and Forum in New Delhi would provide information, inspiration and effective ways of stopping violence and empowering women that would spread worldwide. An estimated 100,000 women would attend, and their spending would be a boost to India’s economy. 40,000 women came to Beijing for the Forum, they learned from each other, networked, formed friendships, mentorships, and political alliances. Relationship is the basis on which women empower and inspire each other, the means through which women's organizations and movements grow.
Plans through 2030 call for high-level and regional meetings to review the Beijing Platform for Action and Millennium Development Goals, create new documents and goals. None will be able to mobilize grassroots women, or provide the emotional and political impact of a 5WCW and Forum, which is essential to implement goals to do with women. It has to be UN sponsored for many attendees to get visas, and it needs to inspire individuals and organizations with the financial means to recognize and support young women leaders and honor elders from developing areas. Like a scholarship or fellowship, the equivalent would honor altruism, and activism-- "sisterships" through which young women would have financial and relationship support to attend. It could bring together councils of wise women-elders, NGOs concerned with similar problems would find individuals in them share values and visions. The result would be development of grassroots leaders. Women understand "mother's agenda," to provide for every child, what each mother wants for her own child. Research found that women have a “tend and befriend,” response to stress, an oxytocin or bonding hormone response as they talk over the situation and possible solutions, while men do “flight or fight,” and isolate or become aggressive, which is an adrenaline + testosterone response. To stop violence against women and the ripple effect from home to neighborhood to world, requires mobilizing grassroots women and political will of the leadership at the top. If India offers to host a UN 5WCW and the General Assembly authorizes the conference Bottom up and top down activism will come together in New Delhi within three years.
I will be joined in Geneva by India Supera and Winter Safronoff who will be bringing the brochures and letter with the text to hand out in Geneva. A Hindi translation is also being prepared and printed for India Supera and Jane Wieland to take with them. They will be in India during the winter months, and want to meet NGO and government officials in New Delhi. If a proposed meeting with Prime Minister Modi materializes, I will also travel to New Delhi in December.
As large a country as India is, I'm told that people who can make things happen are one to two degrees of separation from each other. May all of you receiving this want 5WCW to happen in New Delhi, and with the help of synchronicity--May it be so! Click Here to view or download the full 5WCW brochure.
Women’s participation, leadership crucial to peace processes – UN Security Council
18 October 2013 – The United Nations Security Council and senior UN officials today issued a strong call on the international community to strengthen its commitment to ensuring that women play a more prominent role in conflict prevention, resolution and in post-war peacebuilding.
Unanimously adopting a new resolution this morning, the Security Council reaffirmed that sustainable peace hinges on an approach that integrates “political, security, development, and human rights, including gender equality,” concerns and urged Member States and UN entities to ensure women’s full and meaningful participation in peace and security issues, and committed to increase focus on their adequate access to justice in co nflict and post-conflict settings. (read full article here)
UN Headquarters, New York, 6 September 2013
Address at High Level Segment by the Special Guest:
AMBASSADOR ANWARUL K. CHOWDHURY
Chair of the General Assembly drafting committee for the
United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action on Culture of Peace (1998-1999)
I am deeply honored to be invited as the special guest to address today’s High Level Forum on The Culture of Peace convened by the General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic. It is under his presidency that the Assembly adopted last December by consensus its resolution 67/106 which mandated the President to convene the Forum devoted to the implementation of the Programme of Action on Culture of Peace on the occasion of the anniversary of the adoption of the Programme. President Jeremic deserves to be commended for convening this Forum. I would like also to pay tribute to his predecessor Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser for his pioneering initiative to hold the first-ever forum on the culture of peace last year. The assertion by Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson that “the culture of peace permeates the work of the United Nations” is welcomed by all of us. Let me also take this opportunity to welcome the presence of my dear friend former UNESCO Director General Federico Mayor whose inspiring leadership gave the concept of the culture of peace a unique prominence and profile around the world.
Holding of the Forum at this time is very significant as the drums of war are being sounded now. Peace-loving peoples of the world are holding their breath and praying intensely so that another avoidable war does not break out.
It is my faith that the values of non-violence, tolerance and democracy which augment the flourishing of the culture of peace will generate the mindset that is a prerequisite for the transition from force to reason, from conflict and violence to dialogue and peace.
My work took me to the farthest corners of the world. From Sierra Leone to Sri Lanka, from Mongolia to Mauritius, from Paraguay to the Philippines, from Kosovo to Kazakhstan, from Bhutan to the Bahamas to Burkina Faso, I have seen time and again how people – even the humblest and the weakest – have contributed to building the culture of peace in their personal lives, in their families, in their communities and in their countries.
One lesson that I have learned from this is that we should never forget that when women – half of world’s seven billion people - are marginalized, there is no chance for our world to get sustainable peace in the real sense.
While women are often the first victims of armed conflict, they must also and always be recognized as key to the resolution of the conflict. It is my strong belief that unless women are engaged in advancing the culture of peace at equal levels with men, sustainable peace would continue to elude us.
I believe with all my conviction that when their equality is not established in all spheres of human activity, neither the human right to peace is possible, nor the culture of peace is worthwhile. As has been rightly said, without peace, development is impossible, and without women, neither peace nor development is possible. [Emphasis added]
In recent times, we have seen new conflicts breaking out in different parts of the world.
Obviously, we have to find better ways to establish peace. We need to remember that in the hate and violence filled 20th Century, we have seen the power of non-violence in the sacrifices of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Forces of hatred and intolerance claimed their lives…but not their souls, not their ideals.
We should not isolate peace as something separate or distant. We should know how to relate to one another without being aggressive, without being violent, without being disrespectful, without neglect, without prejudice. It is important to realize that the absence of peace takes away the opportunities that we need to better ourselves, to prepare ourselves, to empower ourselves to face the challenges of our lives, individually and collectively.
Here let me also express my concern that continuing and ever-expanding militarism is impoverishing and maiming both the Earth and the humanity.
As the living apostle for peace Daisaku Ikeda particularly emphasizes the positive, active pursuit of peace as opposed to the absence of war what he calls "passive peace". His focus on the culture of peace – peace through dialogue - peace through non-violence has been very inspiring to millions. The culture of peace should be the foundation of the new global society. In today’s world, more so, it should be seen as the essence of a new humanity, a new global civilization based on inner oneness and outer diversity.
In this context, a critical dimension is worthy of our particular attention. Poverty and lack of opportunities deprive people of their dignity as human beings, leaving them hopeless and incapable of pursuing the kind of life they may deserve. I have seen this from close quarters as I traveled extensively in the poorest and the most vulnerable countries of the world championing their cause in my last responsibility with the United Nations. We must not forget that it is not only morally unsupportable but also practically unrealistic to achieve sustainable peace without addressing squarely the crushing problems of poverty and human insecurity. There will be no development without peace, and no peace without development.
Another pre-eminent concern that should get our attention is that the concept of security has for too long been interpreted narrowly: as security of territory from external aggression and has been related to the concept of nation-states than to people. End of cold war has brought to the forefront very clearly that many conflicts and their causes are within nations rather than between nations. For most people of the world, a sense of insecurity comes not so much from the traditional security concerns, but from the concerns about their survival, self-preservation and wellbeing in a day-to-day context. It is, therefore, absolutely essential that human security in a broader sense should receive priority attention of the international community. “Peace does not mean just to stop wars, but also to stop oppression, injustice and neglect”.
How can we build the culture of peace? In 1999, the United Nations adopted the Declaration and Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace, a monumental document that transcends boundaries, cultures, societies and nations. It was an honour for me to Chair the nine-month long negotiations that led to the adoption of this historic norm-setting document. Identifying eight specific areas, it encourages actions at all levels – the individual, the family, the community, the nation, the region and, of course, the global level. Though this landmark Programme of Action is an agreement among nations; governments, civil society, media and individuals are all identified in this document as key actors. The Global Movement for The Culture of Peace, an organizing partner of this Forum, is the frontrunner in that endeavor.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asserted at the inaugural High Level Forum on The Culture of Peace last year that “A key ingredient in building culture of peace is education. We are here to talk about how to create this culture of peace. I have a simple, one-word answer: education. Through education, we teach children not to hate. Through education, we raise leaders who act with wisdom and compassion. Through education, we establish a true, lasting culture of peace.” These words reflect what the Programme has articulated by putting “education” as the first among its eight action areas. The Secretary-General’s new global initiative known as “Education First” is aimed at giving every child the chance to attend school, to have quality lessons and to strengthen their core values and thereby, building the culture of peace. I believe strongly that to be worthwhile, this global initiative needs to focus on building the culture of peace through appropriate education to the young of today.
All educational institutions need to offer opportunities that prepare the students not only to live fulfilling lives but also to be responsible and productive citizens of the world.
Indeed, this should be more appropriately called “education for global citizenship”. Such learning cannot be achieved without well-intentioned, sustained, and systematic peace education that leads the way to the culture of peace.
Let me conclude by urging all of you most earnestly that we need to encourage our youth to be themselves, to build their own character, their own personality, which is empowered with understanding, tolerance, respect for diversity and sense of solidarity with humanity. I believe that to be very important, and we need to convey that to the young people. This is the minimum we can do as adults.
Albert Einstein once said, "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."
Let us not sit back any more.
The time to act is NOW.
Let us send a strong, loud and clear message from this Forum that there is no place for war in our world.
Let us embrace the culture of peace for the good of humanity, for the sustainability of our planet and for making our world a better place to live.
Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury is a member of the Summer of Peace Wisdom Council. He is an inspirational champion for sustainable peace and development and ardently advances the cause of the global movement of the culture of peace. He served from 2002 to 2007 as the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations.
New York, 10 July 2013
Address at High Level Segment by the Special Guest:
AMBASSADOR ANWARUL K. CHOWDHURY
Chair of the General Assembly drafting committee for the
United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action on Culture of Peace (1998-1999)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka from South Africa as the new Executive Director of UN Women, the organization leading UN’s work on advancing gender equality and women’s rights.
The announcement was made through the Spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General at today’s news briefing. The statement says: “Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka brings to this position, a wealth of experience in advocating for women’s issues with a combination of strategic leadership, consensus building and hands-on management experience. She was the first woman to hold the position of Deputy President of South Africa from 2005 to 2008. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka initially became a Member of Parliament in 1994 chairing the Public Service Portfolio Committee. She was Deputy Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry (1996-1999), Minister of Minerals and Energy (1999-2005) and briefly served as acting Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology in 2004.
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka was Young Women’s Coordinator for the World Young Women’s Christian Association in Geneva (1984-1986) and served as the first President of the Natal Organization of Women, an affiliate of the United Democratic Front, when it was formed in December 1983. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka established Umlambo Foundation in 2008 to provide support to schools in impoverished areas in South Africa through mentorship and coaching for teachers and in Malawi through school improvements with local partners.
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy in Educational Planning and Policy from the University of Cape Town (2003) and a BA in Education from the University of Lesotho (1980). In 2003, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Western Cape.
Born in 1955, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka is married with three children.”
New York, 8 March 2013
Joint announcement by the President of the General Assembly and the
United Nations Secretary-General on the occasion of the International Women's Day
The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations would like to jointly propose the convening of a Global Conference on Women by the United Nations in 2015, 20 years after the last women’s summit in Beijing.
Given that women make up half of humanity and given the importance and relevance of women’s issues for global progress, it is high time that such a world conference is convened. It is all the more important because of the enormous changes the world is going through, with both positive and other implications for women.
The President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General feel confident the international community will welcome this joint initiative. They also hope that the Member States, who have the final authority to convene the proposed conference, could take the necessary steps during this 66th session of the General Assembly.
They believe that the high point that the United Nations reached with the establishment of UN Women in 2011 can be meaningfully substantiated with a global programme focusing on women that can be articulated at the Fifth Conference.
The Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, in 1995, adopted the current Forward-Looking Platform of Action. The Beijing summit was preceded by three world conferences, beginning in 1975 in Mexico City, and followed by Copenhagen in 1980 and Nairobi in 1985.
The enthusiasm of civil society, particularly women’s organizations, for such a conference has added extra strength to the general support expected for today’s proposal.
The President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General believe that a world conference on women could review the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. They also believe it could tackle emerging issues, in particular those relating to women and political participation, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 that deals with women and peace and security, equal access to decent work and to decision-making and the involvement of rural women and girls. It could also cover aid effectiveness, food security, trafficking, drugs, migration, environment, climate change and information technology, all of which make an impact on women, and on nations and societies as a whole.
In all these matters, the role and involvement of young people, particularly women, would add an important dimension that was not properly reflected at earlier conferences.
MARCH 5, 2012: MOMENTUM GROWS FOR A UN 21ST CENTURY WOMEN’S CONFERENCE
First since Beijing 1995. Would utilize internet technology. Simultaneous satellite conferences could be held worldwide. Would energize global women’s moment.
Growing support for a UN 5th World Conference on Women (5WCW) was evident in the numbers of NGO delegates wearing large blue 5WCW buttons, and in speeches and panels during meetings of the 56th Commission on the Status of Women (February 27-March 9, 2012). This grassroots campaign for) begun in 2002, led by activist-author Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD, backed by four prominent ECOSOC Consultative Status NGOs, was joined by Ambassador Gertrude I. Mongella, Secretary-General of the Beijing Conference and first president of the Pan-African Parliament who came to New York specifically as a 5WCW advocate, and in the address by Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, former president of the Security Council, whose efforts led to the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1325, the Women, Peace, and Security resolution.
Both respected leaders emphasized that new issues deeply concerning women have arisen since 1995: the rise of terrorism, climate change, food scarcity, lack of safe water, economic recession and its effect on women and girls. And that fears for undoing the Beijing Platform for Action, some of whose goals have been opposed by fundamentalist religious leaders should not stand in the way of all the benefits: inspiring a new generation of women leaders, energize the global women’s movement, reach people worldwide through technology to raise awareness of problems to women, new and available solutions.
A large delegation from San Francisco birthplace of the UN where the UN charter was signed, came to lobby for San Francisco as the host-city, which while premature until the UN General Assembly supports a 5th World Conference on Women, added to the momentum. A petition in support of 5WCW now has over 13,000 signatures.
To sign petition go to; http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/5wcw.html
JUNE 22, 2011: Qatari diplomat elected as President of next session of General Assembly
An experienced Qatari diplomat who has served as his country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations for more than a decade was today chosen by the world body’s 192 Member States to be the next President of the General Assembly. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, 57, who was elected this afternoon by acclamation, will succeed Joseph Deiss of Switzerland when he takes over the presidency in mid-September as the 66th session of the General Assembly begins.
Mr. Al-Nasser has been Qatar’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York since September 1998 and during that period he has served as Chairman of the so-called Group of 77 and China at the UN, as well as a stint in 2002-03 as Vice-President of the General Assembly and a separate stint as President of the Security Council in December 2006.
March 23, 2011: San Francisco began vying to become the host city of UN 5WCW through the initiative taken by Emily Murase after she returned from participating in the UN CSW parallel events. After impressive wherases, the resolution (3/23/11) states: “The San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women supports most enthusiastically the hosting of the United Nations 5th World Conference on Women 2015 in San Francisco and urges our Congressional Delegation and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to work with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice so that she may secure the necessary support among UN Member States to bring the landmark conference to San Francisco.” Lobbying now commences through very savvy women with Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. (link to SFCOSW resolution)
United Nations, New York: In a meeting chaired by US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton on September 30, the United Nations Security Council unanimously
adopted a resolution that specifically mandates peacekeeping missions to
protect women and children from sexual violence during armed conflict.
The Security Council also requested the UN Secretary-General to appoint
a Special Representative to provide coherent and strategic leadership to
address the issue.
Read story here.
Petition initated in support of a
5th World Conference on Women (Oct. 12, 2009)
UN Security Council Requests the Appointment of a Special Representative
to Address Sexual Violence in Conflict (October 1, 2009)
UN Security Council Adopts 2nd Resolution
on Sexual Violence - SCR 1888 (September 30, 2009)
General Assembly authorizes formation
of a UN women’s “super agency”
after a 3-year effort by over 300 international NGOs
(non-governmental organizations that help women).
(September 14, 2009)
(See Thalif Dean article September 5, 2009).