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INLW had the opportunity to fill in a Break Out Session on the important subject of Women and Climate Change. Hakima El Haité, Deputy President of Liberal International was one of the members in the discussion. The moderator Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk gave both speakers time to express their experiences on this vital theme.

Rama Toulaye Diallo Diouf from the Ministry of Environment of Senegal gave an insight in the way Senegal handles this combination. He confirmed that the gender issue should always be included when addressing Climate Change. Women are vital in the discussion and the solutions of this Climate Change problem. In Senegal one of the many problems is the large amount of salinated water. Local women have to solve the problem for the agriculture and the fisheries. A group of women has started under their own partnership their own farm. This can tackle the problems and is successful. In Senegal the” Plan d ’action 2019” is launched to better understand the gender in environment questions. Women can submit programs to the Ministry and most of these are taken up to be carried out. The main goal is to improve the living conditions of women, by helping them to grow vegetables and to farm in a more professionalized way. Also, they are becoming better business administrators and learn to market the products. After they have added value to the products, they can get higher prices for their products.

The government is also trying to make programs to involve more women in Parliament. Training programs are set up on many issues such as environment, entrepreneurship, agriculture, financial issues, administrative issues and marketing.

Women must gain their own independence and together with the Ministry they hope to improve the position of women. Hakima El Haité is glad to see that Senegal has acted after the COP 22 in Marrakech in 2017 by getting gender elements in all programs and politics. Unfortunately, although Hakima lobbied hard for gender in COP 22, there is no obligation to add gender in the country’s programs of countries which signed the agreement at COP 22. In Africa 90% of the women are having to deal with the problem of water for most of their time. The food insecurity is enormous while there is so much land, but 1,5 billion people have no access to water. Water is essential for food and for hygiene. Women are often responsible for the food security. By getting more women involved and giving them access to finance, capacity building, decision-making and negotiating positions the whole population will gain prosperity.

In Senegal women have no right to own land, while on the other hand they must take care of the children as well as providing for their food. They must get the opportunity to become entrepreneurs. It was typical that at the COP 22 agreement there were only men present!

Both speakers spoke out their appreciation for the resolution of INLW on Women and Climate Change and hoped that LI and other parties will add their support to fight for an action plan with enough available money and gender issues high on the agenda in many different partner countries in Africa.

Hakima El Haité has set up a new program “For Women in Africa” with other partners to get money for new projects to help women as much as possible. It is important to help women to heighten the security of their families and to stop the migration as a result of terrorism. One of the important projects is lighting the roads. Enough light gives women more security and thus freedom to go anywhere on their own. Another project is that in Morocco solar panels help solving water problems. As the sun is always available in Africa, the sun can give many more solutions in Africa.

A very important project is education for girls and women. In many parts of Africa education is still not compulsory for girls. In the Cote d’Ivoire education is compulsory for all children from the age of 6. Still girls in the countryside must be stimulated to go to school, the distance is often far, and it is not very safe to travel.

Both speakers are hopeful of the possibilities and new developments that are seen all over the world and are confident that Africa will become an important part of the world in the future. A lively discussion followed with examples given of the good, bad and hopeful developments in different parts of the world. The time was too short to go into more detail.

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Our Vice-president Maysing Yang was one of the participants in this discussion.
Dhouba Debaya from Tunisia gave us some important challenges for his country. First, the law must be changed in order to get a better position for women. One of the privileges that has recently been demolished is the law on polygamy. Through all the pressure of many women and political parties it is now abolished. A good operating political party can lead a country into a civil society.
The moderator was Boris van der Ham, LI HRC member.

The moderator was Boris van der Ham, LI HRC member.

In many African countries the laws are not the biggest problem, but the culture of the groups is. Those specific characteristics are the most difficult to change. Education is vital in this aspect for men and women in order to get a different view on many of these cultural issues. For example, marriage outside your own group is forbidden. If more women get educated about these cultural habits opportunities for change will occur and that will ultimately give new possibilities for a new generation. The possession of a radio helps, this also helps to ban illiteracy.
Many men in Guinee for instance find it hard to accept modern changes. The primitive culture and belief are always present and their attitude towards women is not easy to change. Even in some countries some of the habits are set down by law. So, to get improvement the laws need to be changed. But first and foremost, the attitude of all the men and women must change and that can be partly achieved through education and politics.
Educating more women and giving them positions in politics helps to improve this whole aspect. In many African countries more women than men are voting during elections, but often they don’t vote for other women but for men. This also needs education from other women and emphasis on the importance to support your own gender as much as you can if you want to see more women in important positions.
Overall there is progress in the region but there is still a lot to be done. Very often the results are small but still any progress is better than none and is the conclusion of the discussion was that we can see that we are not losing ground.

After our Board Meeting in Dakar, Senegal, we received 15 ladies from Senegal and Ivory Coast to give them information about INLW and how they can become a member and participate in our continuous effort to get more women in Politics and decision-making positions.

The platform that will be formed in this part of Africa will constitute of members from Senegal, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire. The Friedrich Neumann Stiftung will help organize events and be able to give training for women who are interested in a political career.

In all these countries it is very difficult for women to get any important leading position. Unfortunately, we notice that women do not always support other women. That is seen in many countries. It is sad to say that women tend to have more criticism about their own sisters in good positions than about men.

This group of women are going to form a sort of INLW Chapter: “West African Liberal Women”.

In Senegal there are 50% women in Parliament but that is achieved by an agreement between the parties and the president. This is not the case in the Côte d’Ivoire or Mali.

The meeting was an agreeable highlight for us at the congress and in the mean time 18 ladies have become members. The representative of this part of Africa, Awa Gueye Kebe, is actively acquiring new members and has agreed to become one of our vice-presidents in Africa in the INLW Board.

In the evening many of our new friends were present during the African Dinner & Freedom speech.

We are looking forward to seeing some of the new members during the next CSW in March 2019 in New York.
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This year the ALDE party met at Madrid 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.

The congress was set in the setting of the 2019 elections. It will be an important year for all Liberals with the coming elections.

Another important theme is the Brexit. This will overshadow the planned debate about budget, migrations and what is the future of Europe. Europe still favors a soft Brexit and any realistic idea from the UK is welcome. The Liberal Democrats are very clear, that they want to stay in Europe, but they are not strong enough to be able to change Brexit to Stay.

It is important for liberals to work together for the future of a stronger and united Europe. We must keep reminding people of what we have achieved together. But we must also listen to what the people of Europe want. Now we can see two visions of Europe: the vision of populists and nationalists and the vision of those who want to relaunch the European dream. It is important to build bridges even if we don’t agree on everything.
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The discussion should be focused on the future of trade, investments and innovation. Most liberals are optimistic and hopeful that the liberals can win.
Juli Minoves said: “We need to fight beyond Europe. The Liberal struggle will be strong if it goes beyond any border”. We must show people the proven costs of anti -Eu policy.

“Let 2019 be remembered as the year when the EU regained its confidence and began moving forward again”, quote from Micheál Martin (Ireland) as also the following, “Brexit is one of the most destructive decisions taken by a free nation in decades. I want to thank all ALDE member parties for all their support in helping Ireland to diminish the impact of Brexit”.

A considerable amount of time was spent on the presentation of the “ALDE Manifesto: The Liberal vision for the future of Europe”. There was a good and healthy debate on the many suggested amendments to the Manifesto. After voting on the sometimes-reedited amendments the ALDE Manifesto was adopted. The parties can use this important document for their campaigns for the European elections in May 2019.
Another issue at the congress was sustainable growth. One of the conclusions was that cities around the world need to take real action to achieve sustainable growth. Some statements were given by participants: We should eat less but better meat, as large-scale industrial production hurts the environment, but small scale can enhance biodiversity.

Let’s save our blue oceans! Every second breath we take comes from the ocean, we need it to survive, strong message from MEP Meissner, The Liberals must lead the way to a more sustainable, innovative and safe world, MEP Federley (Sweden).

Apart from many interesting sessions we were taken to the Museo del Prado for a lovely Congress dinner reception. Several new members were elected for the Alde Board.

We also made some new contacts and hope to see many ALDE members again. We wish all the MEP’s a successful campaign in 2019!


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The Committee meeting gave us many discussions about climate change. What is the Liberal response to the Paris Agreement of Delivering Climate justice? The INLW former deputy -president Hakima El Haiti gave an inspiring speech about the importance of climate change and the effects for people all over the world.

Climate change touches everyone and it has a lot of influence on the economy. Certainly, when parts of the world sustain severe periods of drought. Many countries especially in Africa have a lack of means if they get drought and thus no crop. Young women are very vulnerable for these effects. Often, they can no longer go to school because all must work and help to get water from elsewhere. These climate problems make people want to migrate. These problems must be solved. In 2015 the world agreed on acting on this problem. The sustainable agenda and the Paris agreement were agreed on by nearly all countries.
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The change is foremost a mindset problem. More education is one of the important issues. Politicians cannot do this alone, they must work together and make green investments and adjust education to make people more aware of these developments. Governments, political parties and the UN must make this change together. Climate change and human rights, peace and security are all linked. Although the USA is not agreeable to this issue, we do still see that some of the states such as California are agreeing to the Paris Agreement and working on it.

Europe must work on it not only because it is so important for the next generation but also Europe doesn’t want all the migration coming its way so education, health care and transport must be worked on in the migration countries. For the politicians the problem is that some, mostly populists, go on saying that there is no climate change as for example president Trump says. Another problem with the populist movements is that everyone wants to be heard and needs results. Populists are using that in their attitude to the electorate. So, politicians must have enough evidence and solid explanations must be given to change political attitudes. Climate change and the attitude to this is all about equality for the world at large and thus climate justice for all.

Another interesting meeting was about Democracy.
The statement was that democracy is a process. This process can be stopped. Despite the many attacks on democracy Europe is still going and as former president Obama said: The Europe Union is successful and still there after 70 years. An intergovernmental issue is migration. Many populists are choosing nationalism as the best solution for any problem. They tend to say that they want change and are anti-establishment but, they want to establish their own establishment. We must show that the Europe Union is still a very good and solid partnership. We are stronger together and now you can see that leaving the EU is not so easy and will give many economic and other problems. With all the European countries we must go on fighting for freedom, prosperity and a good balance between human rights and responsibility. Europe is a part of the world with many possibilities: good laws, social inclusion, freedom of speech and the possibilities to make your own choices. We must go on fighting for: human rights, freedom and rule of law all over the world.
Of course, there were some nice visits to make as well.


Members of INLW Board: Ruth Richardson, Margaret de Vos, Jayanhti Devi Balaguru, Lysbeth van Valkenburg and Maysing Yang were all present in Berlin.
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Before the official opening of the Berlin Executive Committee Meeting on Thursday 21st of June the Human Rights Committee of Liberal International was able to make a study visit to the Federal Commission for the Records of the State Security Service of the former GDR.

After travelling to the outskirts of former GDR East Berlin we arrived at an enormous complex of buildings in communist style.

 

 

Commissioner Roland Jahn and Markus Löning

In one of the thousands of office rooms we were welcomed by the Stasi Archives Commissioner Roland Jahn.

All particulars of citizens were kept in these cupboards and boxes

Markus Löning the Honorary Chairman of the LI Human Rights Committee explained who we were, and Commissioner Roland Jahn gave a very accurate and gruesome explanation of how nearly all East German citizens were registered and daily actions were secretly described and kept in the GDR State Security Service system.

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After the fall of the communist regime the people of GDR were shocked to realize and hear that so many of their neighbors, friends or family were spying on each other! Of course, there are no such records made up of citizens nowadays. The Commissioner and his office are now helping people to find out if they or their family members have been spied on in the GDR. And many still come to the Stasi Archives to see what was written about them and what is kept in the precisely administered Stasi Archives.

A frightening idea of how it must have felt to be a citizen in such a communist totalitarian system. Very good to realize how such a regime treated its citizens.

Roland Jahn took this photo of Margaret de Vos between thousands of historic files full of detailed descriptions of innocent citizens. Jayanthi Balaguru listens contemplating the horrific way people were followed and treated in the German Democratic Republic!

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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.

Noting that:

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

As INLW President, Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk was invited to participate at the Conference held in the Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Taipei.

All participants at opening with President Tsai and Annette Lu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Official opening was conducted on Friday morning by Taiwan’s President Ms. Tsai Ing-wen who is Taiwan’s First Female President. She said that since martial law was lifted in Taiwan 30 years ago women’s rights and women’s political participation have been fought for by a substantial portion of the Taiwanese people.  “Taiwan’s journey toward women’s empowerment has shown that promoting gender equality reinforces democratic and progressive values”. She described the former Vice President of Taiwan, Ms. Annette Lu, as being “an indispensable driving force in Taiwan’s democratization, which she paid for by 6 years imprisonment before martial law was ended”.

President of Taiwan Her Excellency Tsai Ing-wen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INLW President Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk

 

Margaret was invited to say some words of welcome. She stressed that INLW wants to empower women around the world by linking experiences and working together. INLW is stimulating the creation of INLW Chapters in Asia, whereby CALD Women’s Caucus can play the coordinating role. Such Chapters can play separate roles, like being a Liberal Women’s Think Tank or being a network to meet other women with experience as politicians or business women with the aim of empowering women and men for the good of all.  Her speech can be read here.

Chair of CALD Women’s Caucus Jayanthi Balaguru thanking former Vice President Taiwan Annette Lu

Annette Lu who was Taiwan’s first female Vice President from 2000 till 2008 is an INLW Patron and was the keynote speaker. She spoke of the “Perspective on She-Century and the beginning of She-Politics, She-Economy and She-Society”. In this 21st Century it is time for the feminization of power, she said and went on to explain that the most powerful leader in Europe and in fact now in the Free World is Angela Merkel! That’s the beginning of She-politics. But also, the beginning of She-economics as 85% of consumer choices are made by women! And soon 870 million women around the world will enter the job market. This will create work, start more businesses and the gender gap earnings will narrow down therefore. Women earning more will become good consumers and products will be designed and marketed more and more specifically for women or suiting women’s taste.

She felt that the fact that in Taiwan the two major parties have Chairwomen is a milestone for the feminist movement she launched 40 years ago in Taiwan. She continued to address the role of women as peacemakers and their so-called Soft Power approach.

INLW-contingent

Enthousiastic participants

 

 

 

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