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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

 

 

 

Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Op zaterdagmiddag 25 maart 2017 heeft het Liberale Vrouwennetwerk een speeddate bijeenkomst georganiseerd om vrouwen te inspireren zich te kandideren voor de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen in 2018. Zo’n 35 dames en een heer, VVD leden en niet-leden, hebben kennis kunnen maken met VVD-politici. De gemeenteraadsverkiezingen volgend jaar maart lijken wellicht nog ver weg, maar in de tweede helft van dit jaar worden de kandidatenlijsten opgesteld. “Het LVN ziet dat het aantal vrouwen in gemeenteraden helaas nog steeds te wensen overlaat”, aldus Karima Bouchtaoui, van de stuurgroep LVN. In 2014 was slechts 28,3% van de raadsleden vrouw en was 20% van de wethouders een vrouw. Het aantal vrouwelijke burgemeesters stijgt, vooral in kleinere gemeentes maar in de grote gemeentes zijn het er bar weinig. Tijd voor actie!

De Do’s and dont’s in de gemeenteraad

De bijeenkomst begon met een goede lunch om te kunnen netwerken met elkaar. Gedurende de speeddates zijn de dames in gesprek geweest met Chantal Nijkerken, Hayke Veldman, Eric Ziengs, Paulien Geerdink en Sabine Koebrugge. Vragen als “Hoe kun je als vrouw actief worden in de lokale politiek?”, ” Wat zijn de do’s and dont’s als je gemeenteraad in wil?”, ”Hoe vind je de juiste balans in raadswerk en privé?” “Hoe loopt de procedure om je kandidaat te stellen?” zijn besproken met elkaar. De ervaringen en persoonlijke verhalen van de VVD-politici werden door alle aanwezigen als helder en motiverend ervaren. De gehele bijeenkomst was een groot succes: de nodige visitekaartjes zijn uitgewisseld, er zijn goede gesprekken gevoerd maar het belangrijkste is dat er een aantal dames na de bijeenkomst voor zichzelf heeft besloten zich te willen kandideren voor de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen. En dat was het doel van deze speeddate, aldus LVN-voorzitter Marijke Vos-Maan in haar slotwoord. Op naar 21 maart 2018 met veel talentvolle vrouwen op de lijst!

 

Hans van Baalen,                     Juli Minoves,                           Hakima El Haité,

Past President LI                   President LI                             Deputy President LI

INLW is very proud to announce that on Saturday 20th of May 2017 in Andorra, INLW Deputy President Hakima El Haité was appointed as the Deputy President of LI, during the LI 70th Congress!

INLW Congratulates Halima with her prestigious appointment in the LI Bureau. As a consequence of this appointment Hakima has given up her seat on the INLW Board, which we fully understand.

Hakima has devoted a great deal of energy and time to the empowerment of women. She is the founder and first President of the ConnectinGroup in Morocco which is an association of Liberal minded business and professional women, who are stimulated to become active in politics and public affairs and to fight for women’s political rights.

Due to her involvement and passion for women’s rights and women’s participation and her years long membership of our Board, the INLW Board has decided to appoint Hakima as Patron of INLW.

She has gladly accepted this position!

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

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