Chairperson of CALD Women’s Caucus Ms Jayanthi Balaguru, Dr. Lo Chih-cheng, Madam Maysing Yang, and distinguished women leaders, members of diplomatic community, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning and welcome to Taiwan!
It is a great pleasure for Taiwan to host the CALD Women’s Caucus Conference today, especially because Taiwan, for the first time ever, is led by a lady President Dr. Tsai Ing-wen. Since its inauguration in 1993, CALD has become a unique platform for dialogue and cooperation of liberal and democratic political parties in Asia. Thank you for your efforts to enhance democracy and development.
It is also my pleasure to attend this significant conference to discuss the timely issues on women empowering women. As you may be aware of, I am the one who started to advocate feminism here in Taiwan 45 years ago.
Traditionally Taiwan’s women suffered from the double burden of Chinese Confucianism and Japanese male chauvinism. Under such culture, women were taught nothing else but to serve and to please men, making women the second sex.
In 1971, when I returned from my study in the United States, I found that the whole society was debating how to prevent young women from attending universities. It was argued that education for women is a waste, since women were expected to abandon their careers to take care of household after getting married. Under such an environment, I began to advocate feminism, criticizing male chauvinism and proposing new feminist doctrines. I wrote articles, made speeches, organized women and conducted a variety of activities.
Since 1949 till 1987, Taiwan had been ruled by Martial Law for 38 years under which not only was democracy suspended and civil society restricted, but serious human rights abuses frequently occurred. For six years I advocated feminism on the one hand and promoted human rights and democracy on the other, until being jailed on charge of sedition. One can imagine how tough and risky to launch such an anti-establishment campaign.
It was on December 10th, 1979, that the opposition held the International Human Rights Day rally in the city of Kaohsiung. Policemen and soldiers were ordered to release tear gas into the crowd, and gangsters were organized to attack the police in an attempt to implicate opposition leaders in the casualties caused.
I was so outraged that I stood on top of a truck and delivered a most provocative and touching speech for minutes. Tens of thousands of people in the audience were moved, some were even moved to tears. Three days later, I was the first one arrested followed by 151 others.
Eight of us leaders were tried by court martial and sentenced to 12 years in prison. No one would have expected that 20 years later, one of the defense lawyers from the trial would invite one of the eight “seditious elements” to be his running mate, and together they overturned 50 years of authoritarian one-party rule and became the president and vice president from the native opposition party.
The victory made by Mr. Chen Shui-bian and me in 2000 represented Taiwan’s victory of democracy over one of the world’s notorious autocracies. More importantly, with my election as the first female vice president, Taiwan entered a new era of bi-gender politics. Four years later, I was re-elected to serve another term, the unprecedented two-term Vice President.
Why only His-stories?
Women constitute half of the world’s population, but why through the Millennia of human history are there only “his stories” and not “her stories”?
Remember that not until 1910 women were able to attend the women’s conference in Copenhagen across the nations for the first time ever in the human history.
Remember that according to the UNESCO 1980 report, women were paid one tenth of the salary earned by men and owned only one percent of the entire world’s property, despite that women worked twice harder than men.
Who made the decision on whether women could or could not leave their homes and their countries? Who made the rules and laws that women only deserved one tenth of the working salary and one percent of property?
It’s MEN! Women did not reach to the pinnacle position until the 1950s when Mongolia elected its first female president.
In the 1990s, there were 30 women elected to become presidents. Ever since then, many countries in different continents have elected women presidents and female Prime Ministers.
But in Asia, most women national leaders came from powerful political families. Some of them were political widows. They are not feminists and women’s issues are not their interest.
Women today globally
However, the time is up for women to write “her-stories.” In 1995, only 12 women led their own countries, but as of today, there are 25. Worldwide, women occupy 18% in cabinet and 23% in national parliaments. In the private sector, women occupy 20.2% in the Fortune 500 board members and there are 27 female CEOs. Although progress has been made, it is still a long way before gender equality to be assured.
Politically, despite that there are 25 female state leaders in the world today, only 7.4% of the countries has female state leaders in the past 50 years. Female ministers in the cabinet usually are in charge of social issues, health, or education. In terms of party politics, few women become majority party leaders. The 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action issued at the fourth World Conference on Women called for 30% of national legislative seats worldwide, but parliaments in 37 countries had fewer than 10% female lawmakers. Women’s equal participation in decision making is not just a question of justice or democracy, but is a necessary precondition to make sure women’s interests are taken into account.
Economically, as of 2014, females make up only 14.6% percent of executive officers and 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs. In the same year, nearly 60% of 22,000 global firms had no female board members. The glass ceiling in the business sector is still hard to break. Equal pay in workplace is still a problem. In most countries, female labors are paid just 60%~75% of what men are paid. In a survey of 173 countries, 155 of them enforce laws that discriminate against women in workplace. 18 countries even allow husbands to prohibit their wives from working.
Violence against women
Another issue to address is violence against women (VAW). The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women states that: “violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women.”
Violence against women includes violence carried out by the “individuals” as well as by the “states”. One out of three women have been treated violently, and the perpetrators are usually people they know. 38% of the women murdered are killed by their partners. State-perpetrated violence includes war rape, sexual violence and sexual slavery during conflict, forced sterilization, and forced abortion. Moreover, trafficking in women and forced prostitution are often perpetrated by organized criminal networks. Violence is criminal in human society and violence against women is a universal issue that must be dealt with seriously in the She-Century.
The time is up for the feminization of power. Imagine that politics is involved with half or more women, and that economic and social development with a half or more women’s participation. What differences, for better or worse, it would become? May we deem the 21st century as the beginning of the “She Century” and begin to discuss the issues of She-Politics, She-Economy and She-Society?
Imagine what the world would become when the Secretary-General of the UN and the President of the U.S. be women! Although that did not happen last year, this day will come eventually.
The most powerful leader in Europe is Madame Angela Merkel, and arguably she is also the leader of the FREE world, not Donald Trump!
The world currently has over 20 outstanding women national leaders. It’s the beginning of she-politics.
Besides, the 21st century is a century for she-economy! In fact, according to a 2014 report from email marketing solutions provider SimpleRelevance, women made 85% of consumer choices. It is expected that in the next decade, about 870 million women around the world will enter the job market. They will create works and start businesses and the gender gap in earnings will be narrowed down. Mobile and Internet technologies will help women run businesses easier. The fact is clear that, the more women in working force, the greater economic benefit is made.
Indeed, the era for she-economy has come! With good income women will become good consumers. More products are designed and marketed specifically for women, or suiting women’s taste. Businesswomen certainly know better than men for what women really like and need. And in many emerging economies women are now starting business at a faster rate than men, making significant contributions to job creation and economy growth. According to the IMF, if men and women get fair job opportunities, the GDP will grow by 5% in the U.S., 9% in Japan, and 34% in Egypt. More and more women have become active and powerful in the society as well as in politics and economy. People are inclined to trust women more than men in many democracies, making women easier to be elected into public services. In Taiwan for example, last year not only have we the first lady president, we also have 38% of MPs who are female.
Last year, all the parties nominated one man and one woman to be candidates for president and vice presidents. Besides, both two major parties have Chairwomen instead of Chairmen. It certainly is the big milestone for the feminist movement which I have launched for over four decades.
However, can feminization of power prevail the traditional problems left by male politicians and
entrepreneurs? Can women handle the crisis of war and terrorism, poverty and natural disasters better than men? How can women be trained to become good and even great leaders? The 21st century has become a new era as “She-Century”. It’s time for Asian women leaders to get together and discuss together on timely serious matters.
Tensions in East Asia
Since this year, East Asia has become an imminent new arsenal. North Korea’s rapid nuclear expansion not only threatens the region, but also the U.S. The new leadership in the Philippines and South Korea has caused subtle changes in their alliance with the U.S. In addition, Japan intends to amend its pacifist Constitution for restoring armed forces, and China has been devoting its ambition of territorial expansion claims and military deployment in both East and South China Seas, especially its ambition to annex Taiwan.
The 21st century is the century of the champion for the world leadership between China and the U.S. America the leading maritime country and China the rising mainland country encounter in East Asia, which is surrounded by five seas. Among the interlinkage of the five seas, Taiwan is involved in three of them and has sovereign and strategic interests. Taiwan is also located at the center of the first island chain. With its economic, technological, and political achievements, Taiwan’s strategic significance is undeniable and irreplaceable. Currently I am conducting a campaign to install peace Taiwan to become a neutral state would help pacify the region, and to develop the maritime areas to become demilitarized would help stabilize and prosper the region. How can the situation be pacified and how can the stability and security of the region be restored? More importantly, how can peace and prosperity among all the countries surrounding East Asia be maintained and enhanced? Time is up for women leaders in Asia to face ‘War or Peace’ seriously!
Women as Peace-makers
We have all seen movies and television series in which men are depicted as heroes, fighting each other for whatsoever reason, often with brutality, bloodshed and large number of casualties. Are men truly brave? Courage without wisdom and mercy is stupid and cowardly. Why are women always silent about what they feel and believe, good or bad, right or wrong? Peace has always been a dream for everyone, men and women as well. At the dawn of the Millennia, the whole world was celebrating and blessing for peace. Ironically, the tragedy of September 11, 2011 destroyed everybody’s dream and began to bring the nightmare of terrorism and armed conflicts, including nuclear explosions everywhere on earth.
Looking over the entire human civilization, 99.9% of wars were initiated by men, yet 100% of victims were women and their beloved husbands and children. Did men ever ask women whether they like wars? Did women ever have the power to prevent the wars from happening?
Indeed, women have been historically left out of peace processes. Not until 2000, the UN Security Council
adopted Resolution 1325 to link women to the peace and security agenda for the first time ever. It calls for women’s active participation at all levels of decision-making on conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peace processes, and peacebuilding.
Since 2000, five resolutions on women, peace, and security have been adopted by the UN Security Council to strengthen women’s participation in decision-making, conflict prevention and resolution. These resolutions represent a critical framework for improving the situations of women in conflict-affected countries. They have formed the basis of many national policies and action plans in conflict-affected settings.
From 1992 to 2011, there were 31 major international peace treaties signed. Among them 9% were negotiated by women, and 4% were signed by women. When women are involved, the chances of a peace treaty to last over 2 years increase by 20%, and 15 years by 35%. Women are true peacemakers!
Women as environmentalists
Furthermore, women can also be the best environmentalists. How so?
The 21st century is praised to be the century of Asia with the development and prosperity here. But according to UN’s report, 70% of the world’s major natural disasters have occurred in the Asia Pacific region, and opportunities of this region suffering from natural impact are 4 times more than Africa, and 25 times more than America and Europe!
Indeed, our mother earth and human beings are facing more threats than we normally think. All these natural catastrophes are caused or deteriorated by Ozone layer depletion, magnetic anomaly, and solar storms, other than global warming. We humankind always boast that we are the smartest animals on earth. But don’t forget that humankind cannot survive without the earth and yet the earth can survive without humankind. In fact, according to biologists, ants are more important than humankind for the existence of
the earth. Ants penetrate soil and help soil ventilate. They also help spread pollen of plants. Humankind cultivates the land but they also exploit and destroy the great nature. Unless we learn to refrain from over-consumption and to cherish things on earth, the earth will become disastrous. Only when green lifestyle becomes a fashion, the earth can be survived. We women are the best housekeepers for the house, and also for the earth. Women, as the nurturers of life and as half of the population on earth, shall launch a green renovation for green civilization. The concept of green civilization stresses the following four interests of balance:
- The value of life.
- The standard of livelihood.
- The quality of environment.
- The benefit of industrial investment.
I firmly believe that there is no justification to pursue industrial benefit at the cost of people’s lives or living standard or the environment. Without life, nothing is left; without earth, no life can exist. Life prevails over everything and anything! Remember that there is only one earth and humankind is one family.
Soft power as a way to change the world
Throughout human history, problems after problems threaten the survival of the universe and living beings, no matter ecological or economic, political or social. In recent years the global economy has been hit by financial tsunamis, and the human society has been harassed by terrorism.
To face the unprecedented, multiple challenges coming our way, women have to learn and apply the wisdom of “soft power”. My country Taiwan has learned to project soft power, namely, democracy, human rights, culture, love, peace and technological innovation. These values help and facilitate Taiwan’s transformation from a small, poor country under an authoritarian regime into a highly developed country with most advanced high-technology and democracy. While the traditional “hard power” is destructive and exploitative, soft power is constructive and generous in nature. Soft power is the foundation for world peace and substantial development. The struggle for hard power is often a zero-or even negative-sum game (as in the case of wars), while the nature of soft power is always a positive-sum game. Hard power should no longer be the sole measurement of a country’s success, and soft power shall play more important role in the future of our world.
What are female characteristics in she-century?
Compared to men, businesswomen tend to start business from humanitarian perspective, caring more about environmental protection and ecology, and sense of beauty. More women empowered means more humanity, more green economy, and more artistic interests. In a word, women tend to be the pivotal power for the substantial development of the globe. While he politics and he-economy pursuits for self-interest, expansion and exploitation, she-century reflects a value of humanity, greenness, and benevolence. While he-century stresses on “hard power,” she-century elaborates “soft power.” The 58th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women stressed gender-specific targets across other development goals, strategies and objectives – especially those related to education, health, economic justice and
the environment. Therefore, the women leadership in the 21st century has to put the priority of gender-specific target along with she-century into her agenda. I firmly believe that with Feminism and soft power, women’s leadership can change the world better. Women shall be determined to lead their family, their society and their world for a better future. Women shall make mission impossible into mission possible. Above all, women shall write her-stories into human history!
Many members of INLW including members of the Board attended the 70th Congress of LI in Andorra. Present were, Mireia Huerta, Silvia Flury (both left on Friday), Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk, Khadija El Morabit, Joaquima Alemany, Maysing Yang (who all left on Saturday morning), Ruth Richardson and Lysbeth van Valkenburg who both stayed till the end of the Congress.
The main theme was the Liberal Manifesto 2017. During the past year the new LI Manifesto was written under the chairmanship of Professor Karl-Heinz Paqué, Deputy Chairman of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. INLW contributed at several moments during the past 1 ½ year to the content of the text.
On the first evening, there was a dinner hosted by the Catalan Group of Liberal International, where we could do a lot of networking.
On Thursday afternoon, Margaret de Vos and Khadija El Morabit participated at the meeting of Regional organizations, such as ALDE party, the Arab Liberal Federation (ALF), the African Liberal Network (ALN) and the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) and Red Liberal de América de América Latino (Relial), where we suggested that there should be more cooperation between for instance INLW and the different regional liberal federations. It was decided to follow this up. The first action thereto will be that Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk will attend the next CALD women’s Caucus Congress in Taipei in August 2017.
The members to be elected for the LI Bureau gave their introductions in the morning, among the candidates was our Deputy President Hakima El Haité. She gave an inspiring and clear speech on the position of Liberal International; the importance of the Environment for our future and the actions we have to take as Liberals!
During the Friday afternoon, the final discussion was held about the Manifesto and its local perspective. Also, the proposed amendments to the Resolutions were discussed in working groups. The INLW resolutions were amended and adopted to be accepted in the General Meeting on Saturday.
In the evening, the Group paid a visit to the Andorran Parliament, the Casa de la Vall, which is the historic “Old Parliament House” as well the new modern Andorran Parliament building (2014). Welcoming remarks were given by the President of the Andorran Parliament, Mr Zamora, Josep Forné, MP, President of the Andorran Liberal Parliamentary Group and Mrs. Carine Montaner, MP. We were given a charming performance of a Andorran dancing group.
On Saturday during the day several working sessions were held on “Liberalism in the 21st century”; “How to make liberals win again” and “Migration and Economic integration: How to open borders”.
In the afternoon, the Congress was closed with the adoption of the historic Liberal Manifesto with the signing ceremony of the LI Manifesto! INLW was represented on stage by the Treasurer Lysbeth van Valkenburg.
The farewell dinner was hosted by the Liberal Party of Andorra with a desert of an enormous 70th Birthday cake!
Hans Juli Hakima El
v. Baalen Minoves Haité
This year’s INLW General Meeting and Side Event took place in Andorra during the Liberal International Congress May 2017.
During the General Meeting, a few new members were appointed in the INLW Board.
We welcomed Ruth Richardson as Member of the Board. And we affirmed the appointment of Patricia Olamendi as Vice President of INLW for Latin America and Leticia Gutíerrez as Member of the Board. Both were present at the last GM in Mexico 2015, but had not yet been formally appointed by the GM.
We discussed the two resolutions that INLW had put to the LI Congress:
1: Child Abuse
2: Women water and Climate Change
Both were accepted unanimously on the last day during the LI Congress administrative session.
The Liberal Manifesto 2017, which was to be adopted by the LI Congress was discussed as far as the chapter dedicated to Women and Gender Equality is concerned:
“While the 20th century saw significant progress on the rights of women, inequalities for women, who represent more than half of the world’s population, still remain, especially in the uneven distribution of property and political representation, as well as the widespread use of violence against women and the denial of their sexual and reproductive rights. Some countries even retain these inequalities by law, denying women the right to vote, own property, benefit from education and enjoy personal freedom. We will therefore continue to fight fiercely for the rights of women.”
After the INLW GM we held a Side Event in which we celebrated our 20th official anniversary and discussed how women’s empowerment in Andorra is being achieved.
First though Joaquima Alemany Roca presented her book on “Women and Liberalism”.
The first 2 copies were presented to INLW President Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk and LI President Juli Minoves.
Margaret de Vos gave an insight of 20 years of INLW illustrated by some photos.
Carine Montaner, Andorra MP, spoke about the Economic Empowerment of Women in Andorra.
Also, Vice President Maysing Yang gave some details about the situation in Asia of empowerment of Women.
Starting up the discussion, CALD caucus Chair (Women’s Caucus of Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats), Mrs Jayanthi Balaguru took the floor to add her experience within CALD caucus.
During the lively discussion between the attendees and the panel, we dwelled on the fruitful relation INLW has had with Liberal International in its development to the organization that INLW has now become. A very important fact therein was the recognition of INLW as an NGO in Special Consultative Status at the UN ECOSOC in 2003, for which INLW received invaluable support from now President of LI, Juli Minoves at that time Foreign Minister of Andorra.
All in all it was made clear by the various speakers and the discussion, that the mission of INLW, “to fight the inequalities in the position of women in all fields and in all corners of the world”, is still very important!
The Parallel Event was well attended by many Congress members.
18th May 2017 at Hotel Golden Tulip Fenix, Prat Gran 3-5, Andorra at 10.30 a
“20 YEARS INLW” And how is women’s empowerment in Andorra being achieved?
10.30 Opening of INLW panel event
Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk: Presentation 20 Years INLW
Carine Montaner, Andorra MP; Economic Empowerment of Women in Andorra,
Joaquima Alemany, Past President; Presentation of book
Maysing Yang, Vice President Asia; situation in Asia,
Followed by discussion with the speakers and among others Khadija El Morabit, Vice President MENA
On the 25th of March the Dutch Liberal Women’s Network organised a speed-dating event to inspire women to apply for the municipal elections in March 2018. Over 35 women and one gentleman, some members of VVD and some just interested persons made the acquaintance of several VVD politicians. The municipal elections next year in March may seem a long way off but in the second half of this year the candidate lists will be made. Dutch Liberal Women’s Network states that the number of women in city councils are still insufficient compared to the number of men, according to Karima Bouchtaoui, member of the Liberal Women’s Network.
In 2014 only 28,3 % of the members were women and only 20% of the alderman were female. The number of mayors is slowly increasing but especially in small villages the number of women is still low. Time for action!
The event started with a lunch in order to network with one another. During the speed date the ladies had talks with Chantal Nijkerken, Hayke Veltman, Eric Ziengs, Paulien Geerdink and Sabine Koebrugge all politicians in parliament or local councils.
Questions such as: How can you become active in the local politics? What are the do’s and don’ts if you want to become a member of the city council? How is the procedure to get on the candidate list? were discussed. The experiences and personal stories that the VVD politicians gave, were helpful and motivating. The entire event was an enormous success. Cards were exchanged and conversations profound. But the most important result was that after the event several ladies decided to get themselves candidate for the procedure to be elected as a member of the city council. That was the purpose of this speed dating, according to Liberal Women’s Network chair Marijke Vos-Maan in her final words.
On to March 21st, 2018 with a good many talented women on the list!
H.E. (Lysbeth) van Valkenburg-Lely
President Dutch Chapter INLW
Hereby we are sending you all the documents for our INLW General Meeting to be held in Andorra on May 18th 2017 at 9 am in Hotel Roc Blanc.
If you are considering coming to Andorra to participate at our General Meeting as well as at the Liberal International 70th Anniversary Congress you should inscribe for the Congress before 4 may it says on the inscription site! If you would like to participate as a delegate of INLW please let me know as soon as possible as there is a limit to the amount of delegates allowed per LI member (INLW can have 10 delegates).
For more information on the Congress please look at the LI website, www.liberal-international.org.
As far as our General Meeting is concerned:
Ruth Richardson from the Netherlands Antilles Aruba, who lives and works in the Netherlands for the Waterboard Rijnland has expressed her interest and willingness to become member of the INLW Board as Member with the specific task of stimulating the Discussion within INLW and Following the UN agenda for INLW Board and members. At the moment we are concentrating on the UN Commission on Women and to a certain degree on the Human Rights Commission in Geneva. But there are other subjects to study and follow at the UN. For instance on the subject of Environment and Sustainability and the SDG’s which are subjects that influence the lives of women and girls enormously. She is also willing to participate at some of the Conferences as a delegate for INLW. So I am very pleased to welcome Ruth in our Board to strengthen our work. She already helped this time by suggesting the two INLW resolutions and making the basic resolutions.
Patricia Olamendi and Leticia Gutíerrez both from Mexico, whose CV’s and photos are to be found in the attachments were co opted (asked to join the Board) at the last Liberal International Congress just after we held our INLW General Meeting. We only met each other then, which was too late to nominate them to be appointed in Mexico. Since they have joined, Patricia as Vice President for Latin America and Leticia as Member for expecially Mexico, have been actively participating in INLW. They were both in Barcelona when we held a Board Meeting to start up the new 3 year period of the Board and they were both at CSW last year and this year Leticia was also at CSW. Leticia and Patricia have been active with the “Consensus of Mexico”, a written Statement on the status of women’s rights and what is needed, which they made. They have collected thousands of signatures on the document from women in the area. At our General Meeting they will be officially appointed as members of the INLW Board.
These are the expected mutations to the Board.
Members can nominate a person for the other vacancies on the Board: Deputy Assistant, Vice General Secretary, Vice Treasurer, which have been vacant for some time. At the moment we think we have enough Board Members, but if an occasion occurs that we find someone from a country or an area which is not so well represented within INLW, that might be a good occasion to fill a vacancy. If a member wants to nominate someone; then please send us the name, a short Bio. with a recent photo and a recommendation from the party or organization as well as a motivation by the person before May 7th.
After our General Meeting which will be held from 9-10.15am, we will be holding an OPEN EVENT for all interested people from 10.30 till 12 o’clock. We hope to welcome some local Liberal Women from Andorra at this event.
INLW Morning Discussion
18th May 2017 at Hotel Roc Blanc, Andorra at 10.30 am
“20 YEARS INLW”
10.30 Opening of INLW panel event
- Presentation 20 Years INLW
- By amongst others Joaquima Alemany, Maysing Yang, Khadija El Morabit and myself
We are looking forward to seeing some of you in Andorra !
If you have questions please don’t hesitate to ask us.
With best wishes,
Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk Mireia Huerta
President of INLW Secretarry General of INLW
2017 Resolutions LI Andorra01 The Global Improvement of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (Open VLD) (1) 2017 Resolutions LI Andorra01 The Global Improvement of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (Open VLD) 2017 AGENDA General Meeting Andorra 2017 financial report 2015-2016 Andorra (2)
This gallery contains 27 photos.
13-24 March 2017
INLW was represented at the CSW by Khadija El Morabit (Vice Presidentfor MENA region), Lysbeth van Valkenburg (Treasurer) Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk (President), and Leticia Gutíerrez (Member of the Board), also Petra Rona member of INLW. Joaquima Alemany (Past President) also participated representing Dones et Libertat of which she is the President.
“Women’s Economic empowerment in the Changing World of Work” was this year’s priority theme. If we are to achieve gender equality by 2030, we must realize that this is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that it happens. The priority theme highlights, the vulnerability of women and girls as the most likely to be left behind economically and in status in the workplace. Women and girls must be ensured of equal access to technology; to land ownership; to finance/microfinance; the opportunity for higher and continuing education and they must be prepared and supported to hold positions of leadership in both public and private sectors and to have their rightful seat at the table during organizational, labor and peace negotiations.
On Monday morning in the General Assembly we were welcomed by the new Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres. He showed his heart lies with achieving the empowerment of women! “Male chauvinism blocks women. That hurts everyone. The empowerment of women is our key priority!”
The Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka spoke of the “Constructive impatience for change”. “This CSW could be the much-needed accelerator for the implementation 2 and achievement of the 2030 agenda. We must make, and can make, the world of work, work better for women, transforming economies and realizing rights. We only have thirteen years until 2030. Every week and every month counts.”
During the first week, a 3-minute action was held at the UN symbolic of the time that women and men’s pay is no longer equal. At the UN and at local/national levels we must create new arenas of decent work for women and girls, where there are no pay gaps, where labor laws are rightsbased and informal, unpaid care and domestic work is fully recognized.
Because of the winter storm the congress was closed throughout the Tuesday.
INLW board members who were present in New York used this time to hold a meeting to discuss the congress and to prepare INLW 20th anniversary this year in Andorra.
The first day one of the events where we were present was: “Gender equality the Nordic way: What can we learn from it”.
We have already heard about this method which is called the “Barber Shop”. It is all about the importance of mobilizing men and boys for gender equality. The Barber Shop, a place where many men meet can bring a conversation about how to treat women and how to communicate with women amongst men where they can talk among themselves in safe surroundings. This is led by 1 or 2 men who are bringing in the dialogue and reflection on how to make a better understanding between men and women and in the end more solidarity on issues such as equal pay. Investing in a good relationship between the sexes builds a better company in the end. In Switzerland, there is already a complete legal framework to see to equal pay and development. This is also shown in yearly surveys how companies are faring: “Naming and shaming”. It has been proved that by having more women in the top a business gets 37% more results.
In Iceland, the government will get a law through parliament this year to get equal pay in 2020!
Every morning at 8.30 we were present at the NGO morning briefings.
This year fortunately at the end all participating countries signed the “Agreed Conclusions”.
Press release from CSW
Feminist persistence pays off at UN Commission Status of Women, but challenges loom large in the changing world of work
Feminist activists have seen their hard work pay off as the UN 61st Commission on the Status of Women adopted a set of Agreed Conclusions that made significant commitments to advance women’s rights and economic empowerment in the changing world of work.
In response to feminists’ demands for gender-just strategies to confront the multiple impacts of climate change and related ecological damage, the Commission recognized the imperative of moving towards a just transition of the workforce toward low-carbon economies that deliver for women and the planet. “Now is the time for the strongest possible action toward a climate just planet, and this requires actions like a global moratorium on coal and keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, said Noelene Nabulivou of Diverse Voices and Action for Equality, Fiji. “This must be carried forward through a gender just and equitable and safe transition toward a low-carbon economy.”
The Commission also called for gender-responsive strategies to increase women’s resilience to the economic impacts of climate change. Recognizing that women continue to shoulder the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work, the Commission established a blueprint for governments to reduce and redistribute this work through public services, labour and social protections, and affordable child and other care services. The Commission also urged governments to measure the value of unpaid care and domestic work through time use surveys, which will help measure progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
For the first time, the Commission recognized the importance of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as it examined the focus area of indigenous women’s empowerment. The Commission also called upon governments to respect and protect indigenous women’s traditional and ancestral knowledge, and address the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence that they face. “That the Commission on the Status of Women also called for support for Indigenous women’s financial independence and economic self-determination, for example by establishing Indigenous-owned businesses, is a hard-won but important step for Indigenous sisters around the world,” said Sarah Burr, of the YWCA Australia.
In other wins, the Commission urged governments to end violence and harassment against women in the world of work, with a specific focus on strengthening and enforcing laws and policies and developing measures to promote the re-entry of victims and survivors of violence into the labour market. It also recognized that sexual and reproductive health and rights is essential for women’s economic rights, independence and empowerment. “These were hard-fought gains as countries like the United States, Russia and Guyana worked to weaken governments’ resolve to tackle violence and harassment and protect sexual and reproductive rights,” said Shannon Kowalski of the International Women’s Health Coalition. “Governments must face the facts that women’s rights to exercise autonomy over their bodies and lives is critical to their economic empowerment.” Language on families was also constructive in that it implied the reality of a diverse range of family structures. 5 The Women’s Rights Caucus is a coalition of more than 250 feminist and women’s rights organizations from across the globe.
For more information about CSW61 go to www.UNWomen.org. There you can also find in the official documents our INLW written statement: E/CN.6/2017/NGO/86. And on our website in the chapter CSW, www.inlw.org . The agreed Conclusions when definite will also appear on both websites.
Lysbeth van Valkenburg-Lely
Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk-Groeneveld
Parallel Event 17th March 2017
The INLW Board was represented at the CSW by Khadija El Morabit (Vice President for MENA region), Maysing Yang, (Vice President for Asia), Lysbeth van Valkenburg (Treasurer), Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk (President) and, Leticia Gutíerrez (Member of the Board) and also by INLW member Petra Rona. Joaquima Alemany (Past President) was also present representing Dones Libertatt et Democratia as Chairman.
Unfortunately, because of the winter storm In New York, all programs were cancelled on Tuesday 14th. Luckily for us our parallel event was rescheduled on Friday 17th in the morning.
The main theme of CSW “Women’s economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work” was lead in our choice for the event focusing on:
“Overcoming Challenges facing women in Business in this changing world”.
The objective was to provide an insight into the situation of women starting up business as well as running a business and their possibilities for economic empowerment around the world in these changing times.
Khadija El Morabit (Entrepreneur and General Manager of a hotel business) gave her experience of starting any business as an independent woman in her home country of Morocco. For many years, it was very problematic to start any business as a woman. The reasons are the lack of women’s economic autonomy, due to illiteracy, low level of wages and income; unequal sharing of domestic chores; lack of places of child care and the high prices; lack of access to decision-making power related to the economy and lack of access to resources and means of production. But fortunately, the possibilities are better today. Feminine entrepreneurship is recognized now as source of growth, job creation, innovation and wealth in Morocco. Still the lack of publicity about public institutions that help and support entrepreneurship for women and the fact that many businesses make a start via an entrepreneurship, where business is integrated in a parental company and the fact that women do not inherit the family business is a great disadvantage for women entrepreneurs and poses a problem for specific support programs dedicated to these women entrepreneurs who want to start their own business.
Our Member from Asia (Taiwan), Maysing Yang (Vice President for Asia), gave her view of possibilities in her region. When she started her own business, she had to have a man as president without his signature she could not start a business so she started as a vice-president in her own company to get started. It takes many years to start a business, certainly if you don’t want to bribe any people to start. The education for girls is getting better so in the future opportunities will improve but men get jobs more easily than women. In any question of heritage in Asia the eldest son inherits the assets. That is going to be changed but the culture is not so easily changed so it will take many years to get this working.
The government is investing in women and recently a law has been adopted to assist start-ups.
One of the things women must do more, is investing in their network! The men meet each other for instance after work and build their network, through this male network many jobs are given to men. Women often underestimate the importance of mingling with other women and men.In the new age, you can see that young people try to find each other via on-line communities. Investing in ICT and knowledge of all its possibilities is very important for the future.
Our Speaker from the Netherlands, Jaqueline Prins, had already left after the winter storm for her job in the Netherlands.
We were happy to welcome Antia Wiersma, deputy Director Atria – Netherlands Institute for Gender Equality and Women’s History.
Antia Wiersma gave us some insight in the women empowerment in the Netherlands. There are still many women working part time (75% of women compared to 22% of men). Unfortunately, this also means that only 54 % of the working women are economically independent and many women work in the less paid jobs and are paid less. World Wide, women only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. This also influences the gender pay gap which amounts to 22%. Young women start out earning more being highly educated, but by age 30 they earn less than men.
In the Dutch parliament 36 % of the parliamentarians are women. On the Dutch TV 1 in 3 persons in the talk shows are women and only 12 % of the experts that are asked to participate are women. So, although many things are well arranged for women there are still quite some things to improve.
One of the discussions in the Netherlands is about maternity leave and if a quota about the number of women working in decision-making positions in companies and the government is a clever idea.
“We have to educate the girls about the importance of economic empowerment and independence”. Mrs. Wiersma told that “by pushing the women into the working market and implementing equal pay for men and women we can really make progress for our young girls”. We want to achieve gender equality by 2030 (Planet 50/50 by 2030). We must all recognize the gender gap in work and employment and create a cohesive action-orientated plan. A plan that challenges individuals as well as the public and private sector.
“A black list of companies who are not paying equal might work, as in Switzerland”. Companies are not allowed to work for the government if they don’t show their intentions to really pay equal and have enough women in the top.
Mrs. Wiersma is convinced that if the Netherlands doesn’t take more action it will not be able to reach the 50/50 in 2030 deadline that has been agreed upon worldwide.
As what to do for the future:
It is clear there are too few women in the so-called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and ICT jobs. That world is still a men’s world and this must change as this is where the new jobs in the changing world will be!
In the changing world of the 4th revolution 1 in 4 women will lose their job while 1 in 20 men will lose their job. That is a challenge which must be worked on for instance by lifelong learning.
The interesting discussion between the group attending the event and the panelists gave some conclusions.
Even more insight is needed in the battle to reach the 50/50 goal.
Some of the young participants also pointed out the importance of ICT and reliable data collecting to get an insight of the results of some measures that are taken by countries all over the world. By reliable data you can enlighten the political parties so that necessary measures can be taken.
They also mentioned young women in Asia often prefer marriage to seeking jobs.
More access to finance is needed, whereby barriers of laws and rules concerning ownership of property and land; inheritance; loans only with guarantees and higher interest rates must be taken away.
Putting an effort to getting a good network is important in any business for men and women. Women must learn to make use of it and keep it up.
Moderator, Mrs. de Vos van Steenwijk, finally thanked all participants for their information and interesting discussion.
Lysbeth van Valkenburg-Lely
Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk-Groeneveld