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 email@example.com
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.
The International Network of Liberal Women, shares this part of the new publication of United Nations about the International Women’s Day:
“Recognizing the critical role and contribution of rural women”
The theme of International Women’s Day 2012 is Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty.
Human rights defenders speak out against abuse and violations including discrimination, exclusion, oppression and violence. They advocate justice and seek to protect the victims of human rights violations. They demand accountability for perpetrators and transparency in government action. In so doing, they are often putting at risk their own safety, and that of their families.
Since the ELDR Congress (the Liberal European Party Congress) was convening in Barcelona, INLW took the opportunity to celebrate a Management Board Meeting on 21 november 2009. INLW president would like to have a survey from liberal women’s organisations all over Europe on the actual accomplishment of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the main theme on the agenda of the 54th Commission on the Status of Women, taken place in March 2010 in New York. Deputy president proposes INLW Vice-presidents to send a report from their regions about this item, so as to have a liberal women’s review worldwide.
It was agreed to update the website and to install a section for Vice-presidents reports from there respective regions and also to urge liberal party leaders belonging to LI to recommend their women members or organizations to become members of INLW.
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).