Membership is open to all liberal groups, parties and organisations, as well as individual persons, who support INLW aims.
The activities of INLW are inspired also on the principles of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. INLW performs these principles which are the basis of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against women (CEDAW).
This year the UN CSW was set with the title “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”.
Several members of our INLW board were present. Margaret de Vos, Lysbeth van Valkenburg and Ruth Richardson were present during the opening ceremony, as well as Joaquima Alemany.
The new Chair, Ms Geraldine Byrne Nason (from Ireland) opened the 62nd CSW. She stated: “I am proud to be here in St Patrick’s week. We must promote the instruments to help girls in rural areas. I know from my own home country, Ireland, that especially women and girls can help build peace and help development in the rural parts. Girls and women must come to the decision-making table, we must leave no one behind and work on this for 2020!”. A quote from Irish Murdoch: “I think being a woman is being Irish, you are nice but second place”.Read more
Ending of discrimination is one of the main points, all men should recognize gender equality and we must all work on that together. The discussion on “Me Too” has helped the awareness and has resulted in more acceptance of gender equality and in more stopping of violence against women, which has been stipulated in laws, but these must also be implemented. Measures and legislation must be extended to the new possibilities of the Internet as much violence is on-line nowadays.
Hereafter the Secretary General, António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, from Portugal committed himself to the fight against gender inequality and to promoting women in important decision-making positions.
After the general opening all the various workshops and parallel events started. One of the themes was; the Division of care and work in a European perspective: what works and what can be improved?
First, women should not feel guilty about working, in any situation it is a good thing to have men and women working together. So, it must be part of any business to mix your workers and try to get a balance with men and women present.
What is seen all over the world is that women choose to take up the maternity leave and most of them are not prepared to share this leave year with their partners (often seen in the Northern countries such as Denmark and Sweden). In the USA women very often choose to work less once they have children and there is also a trend for women to choose older men. In many countries the childcare is paid for by the government that makes it easier for some women to work fulltime.
For more women working full time day care improvement is essential
Also, role models can show that a fulltime job is possible while still being a good mother. Employers must help to find solutions when women are working fulltime, it must no longer be the problem for women it must be a general problem for all people who are working whether they are a man or a woman, with or without children. The responsibility lies with the employer and the employee and society in general to get a different attitude towards work.
In rural areas we also find that many women work on their partner’s farm or business and often are not paid and certainly not seen as employee with all the insurances that are normal for working people. So, when the partner suddenly dies these women very often are suddenly destitute because no one has ever considered what to do with their position and input as partners in the business. Here the problem is mostly not how to get childcare and work combined but much more how to be a real and important recognized worker for the business. And how to get ownership as a woman.
In any of these situations the attitude towards working women being an asset to any work and a valuable partner for a business, is still very often not appreciated positively enough. Men and women must work on that together.
During the week there were many interesting events that we followed. We were asked to support a rally for Women Human Right Defenders from the Philippines for international solidarity towards their defenders who are seen as terrorists. Often, they are thrown into prison.
With the slogan” Activism is not terrorism” we supported them during the morning in the freezing cold of New York at the Philippine embassy on 5th Avenue.
Our president, Margaret de Vos, was one of the speakers during the event of the Taiwan mobility research centre about “How do women make cities smarter” and women’s political empowerment in this perspective. (read more in the separate article)
Liberal International, the National Democratic Institute and INLW together organised an event about “Pushing back: strategies for combatting violence against women in politics”. (read separate article). Liberal International president Juli Minoves and the UN special rapporteur were both speakers during this session. Denise Robinson MP from South Africa, Democratic Alliance spoke on behalf of INLW.
During the second week progress was made by government delegations with the text of the agreed conclusions. We are happy to say that this year it was possible to conclude the conference with the acceptance of the agreed conclusions.
Overall, we are relatively positive about the results. We are happy to note that they agreed on the importance of the Beijing Declaration and also the implementation of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development as well as the Paris Climate Change Agreement on the actions that have to be taken to address Climate Change all in relation to the importance of these agreements for the position of women and girls.
In paragraph 29 the Commission stresses the need to recognize measures to reduce and retribute household work and domestic responsibilities must be adjusted between women and men and boys and girls. This is also a prerequisite for equal education between boys and girls.
In paragraph 35 the Commission stresses the importance of having women and girls in political and other civil society decision making positions.
In the paragraphs d and e on strengthening legal frameworks, they advise on reforms for realizing legislation on land rights, registration and title certification for women regardless of their marital status.
Liberal International, the National Democratic Institute and INLW organized an event about: Pushing Back, strategies for combatting violence against women in Politics.
Teaming up with Madeleine Albright’s National Democratic Institute (NDI), LI and INLW asked NDI, for the occasion of two-year anniversary of the #NotTheCost campaign to end violence against women in politics, to organize a side-event on the fringes of the 62nd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York, raising the profile of this global cause.
Under the theme Pushing Back: Strategies for Ending Violence against Women in Politics (VAW-P) and in partnership with the International Network of Liberal Women (INLW), the event aimed to showcase best practice solutions by exploring lessons learned from around the world and providing participants with tested tools to push back on violence against women in politics both preemptively and proactively.Read more
Addressing more than 100 delegates, LI President Dr Juli Minoves insisted that the abuse women in politics suffer is not only physical or sexual but psychological and liberals in government and opposition around the world are leading the efforts to offer solutions and strategies to end gender-based violence, especially violence against women in politics. “Something that happens with Violence Against Women-Politicians is that there is very little self-acknowledgement that this is happening in society and that it goes much beyond physical violence, the internet abuse is getting more and more intense” he said.
Speaking on behalf of INLW, Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament Denise Robinson, emphasized that “stronger legislation needs to go hand in hand with stronger implementation and monitoring when it comes to ending violence against women including violence against politically active women.” Even within liberal parties this attitude occurs and must be addressed.
The panel was moderated by NDI’s director for Gender, Women and Democracy, Sandra Pepera and featured United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Ms. Dubravka Šimonović, and NDI Senior Program Manager (Elections and Political Processes), Michael McNulty.
Liberal International has been at the forefront of the issue. Most recently, LI HRC Member Marina Schuster (FDP) participated in a closed expert hearing meeting with H.E. Dubravka Simonovic where she highlighted efforts of liberals in government and opposition to support women in politics and end all forms of discrimination and abuse against politically active women.
Special rapporteur Dubravka Simonovic is compiling an important report on the situation in the world concerning violence against women involved in politics. INLW is encouraging its members to file their own experiences and send this via NDI to the Special Rapporteur. This fall the report will be presented at the UN.
For information on how to file your experiences for the Rapporteur, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The conclusion of all the participants on the panel was, that there is still a lot of important work all around the world needed, to change the attitude towards women in politics.
On Wednesday March 14th, 2018 at 10.30 am Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk president of INLW, was invited to deliver a speech at the Parallel Event at CSW62. This Parallel Event was sponsored by “The Urban Diversity and Mobility Research Center of Taiwan (UDM)”. She was asked to give her opinion and ideas about “Women’s political participation” in the future.
Other speakers were the Member of Parliament Mrs. Lin Ching-Yi who spoke of the situation in Taiwan for women. Also, Mr Shih, Mu-Min Ph.D. candidate University of Department of Asian Studies, Texas at Austin spoke of the gender progressiveness but very much with the eyes on the past. Gender is a word that does not exist in Taiwanese and so very often sex is put in its place which has a different meaning that is often overlooked in the policy papers and and discussions.
“How women make Cities smarter? Education, Empowerment and Policies. Through the improvement of education and more political participation of women we can see a change. Now there are 38% women in parliaments all over the world. Locally we find even more women in city councils and as aldermen. The females are more supportive of points such as gender equality and the endorsement of it. The gender equality is now integrated in the curriculum of health and physical education. Many school text books must be changed so that the existing gender stereotyping is taken out. They should for instance be illustrated in a gender equality friendly fashion.Read more
Mrs Chang, Yuan-Ting, Alternate Director, Urban Diversity and Mobility Research Center and Mr Chen, Chih-Wei who resides in London from the UN Sustainable Development Goals Advisory Council of Taiwan also spoke briefly. He was emphasizing connecting people and stressed the importance of conversation between men and women.
In Taiwan although many girls do get educated there is still the notion of Motherhood which prevails, and which monopolizes Femininity. 1988 the Gender equality was introduced in education.
Confucianism is still in the minds of Taiwanese people whereby women should be mothers and should not give that task to immigrant women. There is a prejudice towards immigrant women.
Margaret de Vos spoke of the importance of empowering women to participate in politics and economy. Without their participation we can’t build a sustainable world and sustainable cities. More than half the population in every country is female. It is important to use this latent working force and intellect. She gave answers to questions such as `What reasons are there to empower women to take part. What do you miss if they don’t participate`.
First, no person may be excluded the right to represent the people. Socially inclined reasons for diversity in political bodies are that the people should recognize themselves in those representing them in democratic bodies. It is not only important to have men and women, but also for instance ethnical diversity is important, so that people FEEL they are represented.
Second a more diverse parliament or government will address more of the concerns that apply especially to women. Diversely composed town councils and parliaments also know better what is going on in society. And likewise, the political agenda will reflect the questions which civil society finds important. SO, it often takes women to bring changes into legislation in favor of women and society. Political representation by women is also important to get rid of obstacles there are to get women elected. Also, for the knowledge they bring along in relation to themes which concern especially women or related to emancipation themes. Changes are necessary, but this means that if you want changes made you better change those who take the decisions as well. There is a critical mass needed to be able to make a difference and a change and that is 30 %.
Mrs. De Vos also raised the question if political parties do better if they have women on the ballot list. She called upon this to be researched.
Have more working women changed cities? Active women in cities has changed the way of life in many cities. Just look at the burst of new restaurants in towns, where couples eat out very much more than in the past where the women were always at home preparing and cooking the meals. Empowerment of women and diversity in decision making is important to use all available talent.
Albert Einstein: “The significant problems we face today cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them”. She mentioned that the brain architecture of men and women is different: Women think in web style and men in step thinking. Women considering more options to a problem and men, in general of course, thinking more via a linear causal path. Other positive traits can be intuition, mental flexibility, long term planning, creativity and keen imagination as well as other views on power. Working towards better decisions, while showing more patience, more listening qualities and showing more empathy, women tend to show a different kind of leadership. With all these positive reasons why are Women still not so empowered?
Mrs. De Vos went on to explain that women often wait to be asked or are triggered only after being encouraged. There is a social, political and practical necessity to have women on board in representative bodies like Town Councils and Parliament. How to get more women there? Get them over their modesty, teach them to present themselves with more confidence, while learning to exaggerate a little at least. Build up a network and within political parties learn to ignore any biased comments and use the competitive atmosphere for your own good.
Get to share the tasks in the household with the partner to be able to take on the extra work. And make sure you get women and especially also men to promote your candidacy. Go for it with a personal campaign. Think as party that 50% of the voters are women. So, widen the campaign with slogans and media presentation on subjects that appeal to women and present good solutions for these topics. Parties must give exposure to the women candidates! With the female vote one can win 50% of the voters! In Mrs. De Vos ’s experience in the Netherlands there are many women who only vote for women. So, you better have women on your lists!
She concluded: “We must use all capacities, talents, creativity and knowledge of half of the population. Women then become more engaged in public decision making and it is a means of ensuring better accountability to women and making more and better decisions which will be beneficial for the country and towns! Diversity and empowerment of women is a question of common sense! The message is that Democracy without women is incomplete. Women’s adequate political participation is a fundamental prerequisite for gender equality and genuine democracy. Without the representation of women there is no Democracy”. Before the time was up a few questions were able to be asked, resulting is a discussion on whether women should help each other more instead of sometimes showing actions of jealousy and where Margaret found her information. The answer was: yes women should be more supportive of each other and promote each other more!
The next day the members of the Board of INLW were invited to the Taiwan building. Here our Board member Maysing Yang was one of the speakers during the evening.
In this new year the Board met at Barcelona in preparation of several events that we are organizing this coming year. Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk-Groeneveld (President), Mireia Huerta Sala (Secretary), Lysbeth van Valkenburg-Lely (Treasurer), Marianne Kallen-Morren (Vice President), Ruth Richardson (Member) and Joaquima Alemany Roca (Past President) were present.
One of the decisions that the Board took was to appoint Vice President for MENA, Khadija El Morabit as Deputy President filling the vacancy of Hakima El Haiti who resigned on becoming Deputy President of LI. The Board decided to have the vacancy of Vice President for MENA filled by Mrs. Loubna Amhair until the next General Meeting.
In March several members of the Board will be attending the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations (11th March – 23rd March) in New York.
There will be a parallel event organized by Liberal International, The National Democratic Institute and INLW on Friday 16th at 2.30 pm with the theme: “Pushing Back: Strategies for Combating Violence against Women in Politics”. One of the speakers will be the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (SRVAW) Mrs. Simonovic, which is a great honor!
THE SRVAW is preparing a report on violence against women in politics, whereby all sorts of violence on women in any political or government situation is relevant. She is calling upon all women who have had a situation either physical or on social media to respond, anonymously if required, through the incident report form which you can find with this link:
incident report form Please forward this to all your political friends who might be interested.
INLW board members will attend the LI executive meeting in spring.
This autumn during our next General Meeting several members of the Board will leave due to the end of their mandate on the board. The General Meeting will be held in Dakar, Senegal, most likely on the 29th of November during the next Liberal International Congress.
The vacancies on the Board are open to all members of INLW; after the summer the Board wil announce the names of the persons that the Board supports for the positions that are going to be vacant.
Consultative Committee of the Board
In Barcelona the Board has decided that on the coming resignation, due to the end of their mandate as members of the Board, Past President, Joaquima Alemany, and Vice President, Marianne Kallen-Morren, will be appointed in the Consultative Committee (consisting of past members of the INLW Board) according to our Constitution (art. 4.5).
This year the ALDE party met at Amsterdam for its congress. The European Liberal Democratic family consists of more than 60-member parties
across the continent and more than 50 members of the European Parliament who are part of the ALDE Group. Hans van Baalen MEP (Member of the VVD) has been president of the ALDE Party since 2015 and was re-elected during the congress.
During the afternoon VVD and D66 organized a debate on Fighting Populism.
In the discussion one of the elements was that many people have the feeling that politicians do not listen and don’t solve problems. Populists talk about fear, and often walk away from responsibilities but still they get voters all over Europe.Read more
It really is a wake-up call for all the parties that democracy is not easy to keep and needs maintenance every day. We as liberals must fix problems. Not try to explain what is wrong but instead give solutions and implement them.
One approach is to address emotion, so provide personality and be authentic.
As Yair Lapid, Chair Yesh Atid from Israel said, “populism was already there in the 4th century according to Socrates”
So, we must learn to find a way to cope with populism in this instable world.
Antonio Roldán, MP from Spain, finds economic populism the most important problem.
His advice was:
- You need “reform champions”
- Equal opportunities for workers
- Pro-market and pro-business attitude
- Gaining sovereignty through Europe
- Communicate well and value emotions
Also Chair Markus Loening, ALDE party Vice President, took the view that more emotion, not the policy, but the plans are important. The authentic attitude is necessary to affiliate with the problems: why, how and what are the words to use for understanding problems. It is important not to get into the frame of others. For many people the love of their country ultimately ending in patriotism is what we see in many parts of Europe. Instead of blind patriotism one can also ask the question that was asked so many years ago by Martin Luther King: what can you do for your country?
The official opening was done by Hans van Baalen MEP
and Party President and Guy Verhofstadt, MEP and ALDE group leader.
The key-note speeches were given by;
Alexander Pechtold MP and Party leader D66
Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, PM Luxembourg.
This was followed by a debate on Renewing Democracy in the 21st Century. Some statements were given by the panel members Alexander Pechtold, Albert Rivera MP, Party leader Ciudadanos, Bart Somers, Alde-Cor-President and Margretha Vestager.
On Saturday Prime Minister Mark Rutte gave a speech (for the various speeches please go to www.aldeparty.eu) and Mark Rutte was one of the members in a panel discussion organized by the Friedrich Neumann Foundation:
“Renewal, Reinvigoration, Reform a Roadmap for a successful Europe to 2019 and beyond”.
Moderator was Corinne Hörst; other panel members were Gwendolyn Rutten, Leader of Open VLD, Belgium,
Nicola Beer, FDP, Germany, Christiaan Lindner MP Party Leader, FDP Germany.
Gwendoyn Rutten said Europe is about the three P’s; Europe belongs to the People, it gives Prosperity with its free market and Europe has given Peace.
Europe has too many laws, so more focus is needed, we share ideas, but the migration problems are cause for chaos. So, a more active policy and a one border policy are necessary. European defense policy must be set up. Migration means that our identity is influenced. But we should recognize that we don’t have one identity but consist of many identities. Europe also has diversity and so many identities. Values, on the other hand, must be taught at school as well as freedom of speech and religion. We must stick up for our values. Values are not negotiable.
The core business of Europe is still: Safety and Jobs! And to invest in people and education.
There were more than 1400 Liberals present from all over Europe at this very interesting ALDE congress. Also, several members of INLW including three members of the Board, Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk (President), Lysbeth van Valkenburg-Lely (Treasurer) and Ruth Richardson (Member).
Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk
Lysbeth van Valkenburg,
INLW Board members Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk and Lysbeth van Valkenburg attended the 199th LI ExCom in Johannesburg.
This year the theme of this LI Executive Committee meeting was “Good Governance”. The theme was explored with discussions on “Results of Better governance on different fields of government” and the influence of that on Local and Global Challenges for the 21st Century.
Our host was the Democratic Alliance (DA) and they had taken upon them to produce a draft for a new Johannesburg Declaration. This declaration was discussed and adopted during the last session of the meeting.
The DA was founded in 2000 although its roots go back much longer. DA is supported by liberals to the right and left depending on the subject. DA is in power in 33 cities now, among them Cape town, Tshwane (Pretoria), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Bay (Port Elizabeth) and Johannesburg. In 2018 there will be Presidential elections. President Jacob Zuma will have had two terms by then. DA leader Mmusi Maimane has started to present DA as an alternative for the ANC. In the beginning of 2018 Maimane will have to be re-elected and as such will be the DA candidate for President during the next elections, where he will hopefully be seen as an alternative for the ANC candidate.Read more
Our other host was the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). FNF works throughout the world in over 50 countries to promote human rights, the rule of law, democracy and the principle of a free market economy. The Foundation has been in Africa since 1963, and has its Sub-Saharan African headquarters in Johannesburg.
For us INLW, it was also interesting to meet members of DAWN, Democratic Alliance Women’s Network. DAWN seeks to address the core issues affecting women and aims to empower women and create a society where dignity of women is recognized. DAWN seeks to combat and address: Rape and Domestic Violence, Maintenance issues, Responsible Parenting, Economic Empowerment and the Recognition of Women’s Rights as Human Rights by concentrating especially on customary law, constitutional law, patriarchy, tribal law and maintenance of families by fathers. In South Africa the educational changes for girls are still inferior to the education for boys. In the rural area’s apartheid is still feared and violence against women and girls such as rape is a big risk. A woman must leave her house once she becomes a widow. All these elements make it a slow process to make life better and to improve the education possibilities for girls.
On Friday the theme of good governance was discussed. With good governance and the right institutions, a country has the means to develop itself and its people. You can only reach sustainable development by a transparent and trustworthy government. Sustainability, anti-corruption steps, transparency, inclusiveness, rule of law and independent justice will ultimately bring equal opportunities, equal education and equal innovation for a country.
During lunch there was the opportunity to hear the country reports. The Brexit was widely discussed at our table among others with Sal Brinton who is a member of the House of Lords and president of the Liberal Democrats. Brexit will have an enormous impact in Great Britain and Europe.
The discussion in the afternoon panel gave us food for thought about “What is social equality in liberal terms?”
- Equality before the law;
- Guarantee the same opportunities, the same starting point to develop the potential of the individual and second chances.
- Inclusive social security, there must be social securities for all;
- Equal education for all children without discrimination;
During the administrative session of the LI Ex Com INLW’s resolution “More Women in local regional, national and international policy making for Good Governance Worldwide” was adopted. Read on.
Friday evening brought us to Sophiatown the MIX in Johannesburg, a historical black cultural hub that was destroyed under apartheid and then rebuilt. During the event the annual African Freedom Speech and Award Ceremony was held. The Zambian opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, who spent time in prison for his beliefs, was given the award for his extraordinary contribution to the cause of Freedom in Africa.
On the Saturday morning several visits were paid to important places in Johannesburg such as Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, Inner city tour.
The panel discussion in the afternoon was about Better Governance: Liberal Answers to Twenty-First Century Challenges.The panel was with the former Prime Minister of Guinea, Cellou Dalein Diallo, the national leader of AND, Edgard Razafindravahy from Madagascar; the Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, Solly Msimanga, Mayor of Tshwane (Pretoria). The discussion was led by our President of LI, Juli Minoves.
For South Africa teaching people in citizenship is important. Too many people need the government, there is too much dependency. Civil society must take the power back from the government and improve the government.
You cannot talk about freedom if you don’t get people to act honestly, there is still too much corruption in this country.
The conclusions were:
Liberal values to be defended, get people to gain control and adapt faster to new developments and show that good governance makes a difference to people’s lives. A big problem is that in SA 60% of the 25% unemployed are youngsters.
Herman Mashaba told us that in his position he tries to work on the corruption, don’t tell lies, get children educated and transform the townships into suburbs with nice tree lined streets and parks. There is a lot to do for any government in SA.
We finished the Executive Meeting with the adoption of the Johannesburg Declaration.
At the closure of the meeting on Saturday evening the Mayor of Midvaal hosted us in Restaurant Moyo in Johannesburg where we had an authentic African experience, inspired by traditions and values from across the African continent.
INLW will participate with a delegation at the next Commission on the Status of Women (62th CSW) at the United Nations in New York from 11th March till 23rd March 2018.
Members of INLW who would like to attend the CSW can approach the INLW President by email to discuss the possibilities. Please email to express your interest.
INLW submitted a resolution during this Committee Meeting:
“More Women in Local, Regional, National and International Policy Making for Good Governance Worldwide” which subsequently adopted by the meeting.
CALD Women’s Caucus Chair Ms. Jayanthi Balaguru on 12-08-17 in her closing speech of the Women’s Caucus of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats Conference called on CALD member-parties to ensure that a “Gender Equality Law” is passed in their respective countries. Continue reading