The International Network of Liberal women and the Liberal Women Netwerk enjoyed a well-attended dinner on September 2nd, 2019 in Rotterdam. Guest speakers were VVD member of Parliament Mark Harbers, he has just returned as a representative to Parliament after resigning from his post as Minister of Migration and ALDE Member of the European Parliament, Caroline Nagtegaal. The ladies were vastly interested in the present works in the European parliament with the upcoming new EU Commission and the difficult position of Great Britain. What is going to happen concerning Brexit?
Caroline Nagtegaal, who has the portfolios, trade, transport and economy, gave us a good insight of the various decisions that must be made in the very near future concerning the EU and its members. In the meantime, we still don’t know what the British will decide on the Brexit issue.
That was the link to Dutch member of Parliament, Mark Harbers who has taken up a new portfolio on Climate Change. That will involve not only Dutch laws and actions but also European coordination and technical development. This will be an interesting challenge for both members of the two Parliaments. They are both eager to face and pick up these new challenges!
I NLW board members, Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk-Groeneveld and Lysbeth van Valkenburg-Lely were participants during this meeting. At the impressive Institute of Civil Engineers, we were present at the opening by Hakima El Haité, President of Liberal International.
Hakima El Haité gave us food for thought; “the importance to fight for freedom and for climate justice all over the world is a new challenge for all of us. We must reform our organization into a movement and help each other. People from all over who believe in our values and our constitution are very welcome”’ The partnership in the programmes of VVD, ALDE, FNF and our friends in SENEGAL will enhance to build Liberal International and make our values a daily reality. “Reactive, responsive and aggressive are the words for our communication. Good communication is a tool to democracy and our values and a weapon to answer populism. Share our activities via phone and other means”.
Hans van Baalen gave us some positive news about the new group of President Macron in the European Parliament. The cooperation between the liberal parties is going well. Alde will remain member of LI. “We Liberals must give our own story ‘. ALDE together with the new group of Macron, “En March” now form the group “Renew Europe” and together we have 108 seats in the European Parliament.
Rt. Hon. Baroness Sal Brinton, President of Liberal Democrats, underlined the importance of our liberal values and possibilities for responsibility in government. “We must all fight like a liberal . We have the courage of our convictions. We are talking about new politics where the Lib.Dem might be leading in government”
Ms Naomi Long, MEP & Leader of Alliance Party of Northern Ireland. “Liberals lead the way in gender equality and gender balance. More women must get more involved, as that could be part of the solution of several problems. Brexit is a huge problem for Northern Ireland and the result of English nationalism. This crisis can break up the UK. Scotland and Ireland want to stay in the EU.
Nationalism is part of the problem. But:
• We must go for prosperity, progress and hope. Nationalism ignores that progress can better the world.
• We must fight for our values, that makes it difficult to be a liberal.
• Clean and consistent communication. Populism simplifies everything.
Most people don’t have time to wrestle with complex difficulties; we must communicate better and therein we can learn from populists. People must see benefit, so we must demonstrate delivering our promises”.
Rt.Hon. Baroness Lindsay Northover, President of the British Group of Liberal International. “All changes are a challenge, unfortunately the British are so divided about Brexit. These complex challenges we must tackle together. Climate change and migration cannot be defeated in isolation. UK will weaken by leaving the EU. We pushed the EU away”.
During the afternoon we attended one of the political sessions. The theme was “Europe Better In or Out?” The moderator was Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, President of Honour of LI.
Hans van Baalen, President of ALDE party, gave some more details about the EU parliament. The rule of law, freedom of press, no exceptions and the Lisbon treaty are still valid in the EU parliament. The EU is functioning well.
Mr. Ümit Yalcin, ambassador of the Republic of Turkey, Turkey still wants to become a member of the EU. Perhaps that is better than Turkey going in the wrong direction, that was his question to the liberals to think about.
Ms. Trine Skei Grande, Minister of Culture & Gender equality, Venstre Norway. A system with only 2 parties gives the wrong challenge. Democracy means that small minorities are also to be heard not only the majority. That is not possible in a 2-party system. Structure builds the small countries. Trade is important but must combine with climate change. The Young vote for the climate. Problems: We find strong pollution in the seas and a fast-growing China. The change in our climate causes us to get more refugees and more problems. In Europe we are caught between Trump and China. In the Council of Europe cooperation with all countries is the future. It’s important that rules and the rule of Law must work.
Some more remarks were made by the speakers: The EU makes rules, but those rules are not always above the laws in Britain, but Britain must reform. Turkey is a neighbor and member of NATO. Political reform according to Hans van Baalen could help reform China to become a democracy.
The next day we were welcome at the National Liberal Club, established by Liberal Minister William Ewart Gladstone in 1882, home to the headquarters of Liberal International.
In this political session the theme was “Defending the Democratic Space”. Moderator was Astrid Thors, LI vice-president of LI.
Will Moy, director of Full Fact, gave us some ideas: we must get improvement of public information, trustworthy information. Elections – outsourcing transparency of content. For internet companies, it would be good to make better legislation.
Politicians are often using false information,
- some as a standard,
- some as personal data as campaign,
- some use it just to kick up dust, undermining democracy. Politicians respond to this.
Education is important to understand new technical skills and to develop awareness of information. We need new laws on how to work with this new tech. Legislation though is not the solution. How we choose to behave in politics and in civil society is! We must promote good examples. Remember 5 years ago, is different from now – for elections be aware of that!!
During the lunch period participants were able to visit both the Houses of Parliament.
In the evening the farewell dinner was given in the dining room of the National Liberal Club. We were welcomed by Karl-Heinze Paqué, deputy president of LI.
President Hakima el Haité wished us already a warm welcome for the next
LI exc. Meeting which will be held in Morocco in November 2019.
Why do most national social protection systems lack mechanisms for enabling gender advancement? How can the Istanbul Convention help and what is its role as a global framework for social protection?
Moderator Jayanthi Devi Balaguru, president of INLW, introduced the speakers.
Dubrovka Simonovic, UN special Rapporteur on violence against women gave us some insight in her work. Since the start of this special function 25 years ago more is known about violence against women in detailed articles and UN has set standards that are now legally binding that can be used by everyone. What is domestic violence and what can be seen as other forms of violence. Unfortunately, not all countries have ratified these standards. She hopes that all countries will ratify the Istanbul Convention. Still if countries don’t ratify, women can use the Istanbul convention as a kind of roadmap.
Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, LI president of Honor, had a longstanding experience in European and International politics. In Belgium the standards were finally ratified in 2016. It took quite some time. The national action plan to set up “sexual result office centres” and to file sexual assault is not yet working. All partners should be set together, like in the Netherlands and the UK, than measures and instruments can be used in the same way.
Social protection is fundamental for equality of women and men. The UN reports on violence can be used as a reference to show that the weakest and poorest must be protected.
Feride Acar, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Public Administration at Middle East Technical University in Ankara Turk, gave us some history about how some of the reports slowly came into existence. CEDAW (Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) did not have articles on violence against women at the time. In 1992 the discrimination against women became relevant and was added to articles in UN declarations. In 1993 regional treaties were added. In 2011 the Istanbul Convention adopted violence against women and started to monitor. Now 34 of the 47 countries of the Council of Europe have ratified, 11 have signed the treaty, but still should ratify it. Altogether it is a robust instrument in Europe.
In 2017 CEDAW updated its own treaty. Gender is defined and legally binding. Gender was not a legal term originally. Gender must be accepted in education and politics. In some countries gender as a legal term is not accepted. Fortunately, most countries have ratified the new CEDAW. Other countries can use CEDAW if they don’t have the Istanbul Convention. Cedaw has been signed by the USA but not ratified. Also, civil society can use the report. Reports have impact on governments, very often they don’t have data and with these from other organizations they take measures in the end. Now we must add online violence and some more about digital spaces. Protection of platforms must also be added. CSW is a good setting for keeping everyone informed and to up-date treaties and global networks.
Jayanthi Devi Balaguru, finally stated “Women need to keep working & stand together for Women’s rights and equality for all women. It is a challenging time for gender equality around the world. It is important for liberal parties to stick together and inspire each other. Treaties such as the Istanbul Convention are relevant for a better position for women and girls. CSW is a useful meeting point to expand your network and influence governments and hopefully next year many will meet again in NY”.
In this new year the Board met in New York in preparation of several events that we are organizing this year and to hear the plans of our new President, Jayanthi Devi Balaguru. She was happy to welcome our new Board members. Many thanks were given to Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk-Groeneveld (Past-President) for all her work during her 6-year period as president of INLW. Also, much gratitude was given to Tamara Dancheva for her assistance in organizing side events at LI congresses and here at CSW.
Jayanthi stressed that what we need as INLW is teamwork and to express our liberal values even more in a more active role. One of our concerns is financing events so more promoting of events and finding more finances is a priority. One of the methods to become more known is by using twitter and face book. For next year hosting a side event is again important to achieve.
Jayanthi will try to send out an annual report so that some minor events can also be reported about besides the reports that are made by board members of conferences and CSW.
The board will meet again sometime during this year with as many members present as possible.
This year the UN CSW was set with the title “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”
Several members of our INLW board were present. Our new president Jayanthi Balaguri, Margaret de Vos, Lysbeth van Valkenburg, Khadija El Morabit, Maysing Yang and Ruth Richardson were present during the opening ceremony, as well as Joaquima Alemany. Many persons from African and Asian countries were again not able to get visa’s to enter USA, like Awa Gueye our newly co-opted Vice President from Senagal for Sub Sahara Africa who had worked hard to get a big INLW delegation from Senegal and Mali to visit the CSW, but she herself received her visum just after the end of CSW! You wonder if the UN should stay in New York if people from around the world are not able to visit the UN because of US visum problems! We were able to welcome some new members though during CSW.
The opening started with a moment of silence for the lives lost in the tragic plane crash in Ethiopia.
Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason (from Ireland) CSW63 Chair, gave us some good statements on the theme. “Changing laws goes hand in hand with changing gender norms, we are all responsible for women’s empowerment, and all responsible for making our societies more equal: to create positive change and share policies.
Increasing the financial capability of girls as well as awareness of their rights, helps them take advantage of economic opportunities. Over 100k girls will receive financial educations through life skills programs.
Women are leading the way in efforts to build resilience and adapt to the impact of climate change. They pick up the pieces when families are forcibly displaced or struggle to recover from conflict”.
“Without a good basic structure woman won’t get any good position and rights. Laws, education, health and transport are important. In India we can see the result with more education there are more women in higher positions”. As Mrs. Nason stated in her opening of the 63rd CSW.
After the general opening all the various workshops and parallel events started.
The Monday morning session organised by Liberal International and INLW took place even before the official opening and had the title:
“Gov Ids My number, So Track Me Maybe?”,
do technology-based systems prevent long-term risk to democratic integrity? Discussion on the social protection implications of introducing digital IDS for the empowerment of women.
Sandra Pepera, director for Gender, Women and Democracy, NDI, was moderator during the session. Participants: Noble Ackerson, senior product manager, Technology, Thea Anderson, director , Omidyar Network and Hugo Novales, regional Program officer, NDI. They gave their different views on technological development for women and girls.
Digitization can do a lot for mankind as was concluded. Before we all became digital over a billion people had no access to a passport or ID. The poorer they were the more rare the opportunities of getting any ID. If you are without an ID how can you get money or a house for instance. It also implies that you are unable to get security or health care. At the moment 55% of the world population has no digital ID.
This is one of the most important issues for any government to organize as soon as possible.75% of our health care is linked to our ID, 11% has direct digital voting capacity. Digital ID gives efficiency but also many possibilities.
In Pakistan in 2009 14 million women had a digital ID to health care, at the elections 11 million were absent during the voting for parliament. Possibly because they were afraid to vote.
75% of our health care is linked to our ID, 11% has direct digital voting capacity. Digital ID gives efficiency but also many possibilities.
In Pakistan in 2009 14 million women had a digital ID to health care, at the elections 11 million were absent during the voting for parliament. Possibly because they were afraid to vote.
Thea Anderson concludes that it is quite a step to a digital world which also has to include privacy, choice and security. At the moment 148 countries are working with a digital system.
Noble Ackerson, from analogy to digital gives control, privacy and security as advantages. But governements often want to know a lot of data and are not prepared to give people insight in all they know. So we all have to be alert what we want to share, make our own choice.
Hugo Novales, with an ID you can show that you exist. It is not how to use data but also what is a government doing with the data when digitizing. Also who is the owner of the data? Where are our data stored?
Why do we want an ID? It is linked to social payment, so it is useful for our finances and important for education, but for any digital use you need electricity.
Regulation of data is important, there is a enormous amount of big data today.
In some countries, If you want to vote you have to register:
2007 43 million women went to vote
2011 50.9 women went to vote
2015 53 women went to vote because they were able to register because they possessed an ID.
In many countries banks are owned by the government so one must be alert to share ones ID and protect ones privacy, one must train people on all the risks.
Laws must be made to make it safer: data protection laws. Special laws have to be made for Google. Before you are using data, you always have to ask the owner. Digitalisation is a tool, but governments must be trustworthy. How long to retain information and at what cost. We must be careful and know what we are doing with our ID and data!
The panel gave us an interesting insight of all challenges and risks that are part of this new digital world.
Another interesting panel discussion was about “Women in Media”.
Media informs, influences and shapes the world we live in. Journalism exists to serve the public and represent society. But unfortunately, women and minorities remain largely underrepresented. Both in front of the camera as well as in positions of power.
We see that in most media the men are the experts that are asked to give information.
Women have to make connections to form a network and thus become more involved. To show themselves on tv and other media.
But also in governments some countries show very few women in the decision making positions.
The start is in education; schoolbooks have to be updated with more examples of women in photo’s showing them at work and showing their achievements.
Women have to protest to committees or penal judges where there are only men holding the seats. They have to speak out to get more diversity.
We need more men to help us to get this done. Many choices are made by white men, they need convincing that any committee needs diversity to deliver good work.
In some parts of the world, safety is also a cause for women not to participate in official positions.
In the new digital world girls and women are facing harassment, so also in this medium safe spaces on-line are important.
Many choices for positions in government or other important places are made by people who tend to choose persons who resemble themselves and thus limiting possibilities for more diversity.
One speaker, a reporter working for one of the international bureau’s, was the first woman reporter sent to war zones in 1972. As she did this very well she was sent to other war areas such as Afghanistan, Northern-Ireland, Ruwanda, Bosnia and Israel. Her career is an example for the progress that has been made. But in media and boardrooms men are still uppermost present: there is a world to win for girls to make their mark in these positions.
During the first week we also paid a visit to Minister Trine Skei Grande, Minister of Culture & Gender equality, Venstre Norway. She told us about the progress that has been made for the position of women in Norway. Wealth is especially increased because women are working.
In the political parties there are 4 women party leaders.
Maysing Yang told us about the difficulties in Taiwan, the law has to be changed first for women to get more possibilities such as ownership of their own business.
Khadija el Morabit could tell us that in Morocco on paper things are equal but in reality there are many problems for women and girls to get into important positions.
Jayanthi Balaguru, president of INLW, gave as a view about the problem in her country Malaysia where the enormous difference of culture and religion makes it difficult to reach any equality. But with support from all over the world the balance will be reached.
Minister Skei Grande told us that in Norway women’s rights were an issue but it is improving. The best way to get result is in education, but also health issues such as safe abortion are vital for progress.
At the moment there is a discussion about maternity leave. The government wants to divide it between men and women, so 1/3 for the women, 1/3 for the man and 1/3 they can devide themselves.
This gave huge problems with the women who are not really prepared to share or give such a privilige to the man. So even in Norway there is still a world to win.
We also had a meeting with a large group of Dutch representatives including the Dutch minister of gender equality Ingrid van Engelshoven, she also gave a speech in the GA on behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Another interesting event was about technology and education. Mrs. E.Focke-Bakker (Delft University) was one of the participators. She told us again what an enormous progress tech has given, but safety and security is essential for this development.
In universities we can see that students are easily connected and the young of today don’t always realise the importance of protection systems. They can study world wide with the MOOC’s (Massive open online courses) but good infrastructure for tech and affordable ICT is essential.
We must not forget that there are also people staying behind in this fast developing tech world. They need our special care. In the poorer countries the possibilities are enormous because of the tech development in education giving possibilities in their lives beyond school and they can study at home for their careers. Radio is also helpful if you can’t read or write.
Unfortunately we see cyberbullying and haressment, hate speeches and ID fraud as the new problems of the tech development. So there is a dark side to all the advantages.
Governments have to be aware and introduce new laws to protect users of the new ICT.
On the last day in our first week we arranged a very animated INLW meeting of INLW members with a group of ladies from Taiwan, Senegal and Mali. Many became a member of INLW.
We had our INLW side event with LI and Gender Women democracy on the Friday afternoon (seperate report).
The members of the INLW Board had a fruitfull meeting together with our new Board members and are looking forward to the next CSW march 2020.
At the closure of CSW63rd the agreed conclusions were accepted, a good result. You can download the report here.
Lysbeth van Valkenburg-Lely
Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk-Groeneveld
On July 12th, 2018 a Press Conference and meeting was held in Taichung Town Hall in Taiwan announcing the Launching of a new INLW Chapter. This Asia-Pacific Chapter is to be established in the new Taichung development of International NGO Centre.
INLW President Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk and LI President Juli Minoves were invited to attend the launching of INLW Asia Pacific Chapter.
Taichung is the second biggest city of Taiwan and under ambitious leadership of the DPP Mayor Chia-Lung Lin it is developing its international relations network.
At the seminar on “He for She: Stand together” Juli Minoves, Margaret de Vos, Jing-Yin Lin, MP and Maysing Yang, VP (vice-president) INLW and initiator of the INLW Asian Pacific Chapter spoke on How standing together and empowering women can help to achieve the Sustainable Development goals.
Margaret de Vos emphasized the importance of setting up the INLW Asia & Pacific Chapter. Men and Women must work on getting women to participate fully in society to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Later a visit was made to the INGO Training and Conference Center which is in the outskirts of Taichung, an area Wufeng, which is being redeveloped. It was abandoned after suffering on September 21, 1999 a 7.3-magnitude earthquake.
They visited the 921 Earthquake museum there, which was very impressive! Thank goodness the earthquake happened at 1 in the night, so the children escaped being hurt or killed at school.
There are varied International NGO offices’there, which we visited. INLW Asian Pacific Chapter would be able to have an office there.
As always Juli Minoves and Margaret de Vos were received with great hospitality. We visited the famous Concert Hall Building in Taichung, an ancient village temple as well as the marshes on the west coast. We hope to hear soon of the plans of this very important INLW Chapter which Maysing Yang is developing and wish her much success in developing it further.