The International Network of Liberal Women (INLW) opened its Asia-Pacific Chapter, the Asia-Pacific Liberal Women Association (APLWA), at the Howard Plaza Hotel in Taipei on the afternoon of October 24, 2020. The launch attracted an audience of nearly 200 people interested in human rights and women’s issues. Speakers at the inaugural board meeting included association president Maysing Yang and former Vice President Annette Lu, while incumbent Vice President Lai Ching-te addressed the celebratory evening gala. In addition, heavyweight friends from overseas such as Hans van Baalen, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party and Liberal International president of honor, former INLW president Margaret de Vos Van Steenwijk, and INLW North Africa Chapter founder Ms Khadija Oum Bachair El Morabit sent congratulatory video messages to join the celebration of the opening of the INLW Asia-Pacific Chapter.
The roots of the APLWA go back to July 2018, when Liberal International president Dr. Juli Minoves-Triquell and then INLW president Margaret de Vos Van Steenwijk visited Taiwan to sign a joint “Vision Statement on the Declaration to Establish an INLW Asia-Pacific Chapter” with then INLW vice-president Maysing Yang, which formerly launched preparations for the APLWA. After two years of work, a preparatory committee was formed in May of this year 2020), and started making relevant plans. As the INLW Asia-Pacific Chapter, in addition to fulfilling the headquarters’ mission and vision, APLWA will “elevate
women’s right to make decisions and voice their opinions on the direction of national development”, “improve civic competence”, “monitor international human rights issues”, “encourage universal participation in promotion of gender equality”, and other goals to accelerate promotion of overall social progress. Marked out by its philosophy to “think global, act local”, the APLWA will encourage youth and men to join
its ranks, and build on the foundations of homegrown gender equality and democracy to increase international advocacy connections.
In her remarks to the APLWA’s inaugural general meeting, Annette Lu, former Taiwanese Vice President and pioneer of Taiwan’s women’s movement, said, “The 21st century is the women’s century, and the Asia-Pacific century,” adding that she supported the APLWA’s promotion of gender equality and women’s participation in politics and policy-making, and looked forward to seeing the association work more closely with INLW to promote gender equality, liberal democracy and peace, and expand opportunities for cooperation between Taiwan and Asia-Pacific.
At the inaugural general meeting, 15 directors, three supervising directors, five standing directors and one standing supervising director were elected to the board of directors. Former ambassador without portfolio for democracy and human rights Maysing Yang was elected as the first chairperson.
At the celebratory gala dinner, Yang gave special thanks to people working for Taiwan’s women’s organizations for their years of hard work and persistent effort to make Taiwan a more equal society. “The APLWA has international resources. After its launch, we will ncourage more partners, regardless of nationality, gender, age, or field of expertise, to work together with us, to strongly emphasize that Taiwan is ready to cooperate more substantially to together improve Asia-Pacific women’s rights to political participation.”
Vice President Lai Ching-te signed a “He for She” declaration in support of the UN campaign to involve men in the women’s rights movement. “The results of the development of gender equality in Taiwan comes from the efforts of women’s organizations and many others.” Lai said, “Today nearly 40% of the Legislative Yuan members are women, and we have a comprehensive framework of gender equality legislation” Since INLW is a global organization with consultative status at the United Nations, establishing its Asia-Pacific chapter in Taiwan was an affirmation of Taiwan’s democratic development, and a milestone in recognition of the nation’s ability to lead democratic development in the region, Lai added.
Speaking in a video message from the Hague, Margaret Van Steenwijk said the purpose, emphasis and tasks set for the new chapter shows the raison d’être for the men and women members to work together to achieve the association’s goals. In his video message, Hans van Baalen said he looked forward to the chapter becoming part of the liberal family, and congratulated Taiwan for controlling COVID-19 while holding to the principles of human rights and the rule of law. “You are a great nation” said Baalen.
Singers Welly Yang and Dina Morishita delighted the audience at the gala dinner with renditions of Taiwanese and Western songs. As well as being Maysing Yang’s son and daughter-in-law, the couple are internationally acclaimed artists, who have performed leading roles in numerous Broadway productions.
Other guests at the inaugural meeting and celebratory gala dinner included Executive Yuan secretary general Li Meng-yen, Beans Talk founder Chen Shih-meng, former grand justice Hsu Yu-hsiu, former AIT director Bill Stanton, Formosan Republican Association chairperson Dr. Tommy Lin, Taiwan Industrial Technology Association chairperson Lin Chih-Lung, Academia-Industry Consortium For Southern Taiwan Science Park standing director Chen Li-Fen, Taiwan People News president Dr. Chen Yung-hsing, Dr. Chen Wen-chen Memorial foundation standing director Chen Bao-Yue, and others.
Khadija Oum Bachair EL MORABIT, Deputy President of the International Network of Liberal Women (INLW) and the Founder of INLW Morocco Chapter, has participated amongst a group of high-level political representatives from Africa and Europe, including parliamentarians, former government representatives and current political leaders, organised in an independent international observation mission of Democrats and Liberals, part of an International Visitors Programme for the Presidential Elections in Cote d’Ivoire / Ivory Coast from 29 October 2020 to 01 November 2020. Following is her report on the Presidential Elections Ivory Coast 31 October 2020.
Abidjan, the 3rd of November 2020
From the moment of arrival on the 29th of October 2020, Abidjan offered an impression of stability and security in stark comparison to the previous visit in 2012 to attend the 58th Congress of Liberal International. Today Abidjan boosts new bridges and green boulevards, buildings rising up, construction places in various parts of the city and lights of a booming capital where capital has returned.
Over couple of days in Abidjan, during all the visits and tours offer an impression of the development Cote d’Ivoire enjoyed in the last decade since His Excellency Mr Alassane Ouattara first assumed the post of President of Republic in 2011. That covers various fields, including security, infrastructure, water and electricity coverage, economic and social development including women empowerment, female/gender law reforms and youth employability. Also, this emerging country has a lot to offer in terms of direct and indirect investments.
Talking to many Ivoirian citizens at the voting places, most of them explained that they came to the polling stations to accomplish their civic rights and to express their aspirations for stability, peace, and security, urging for a united and peaceful Cote d’Ivoire.
During the presidential Election Day, Cote d’Ivoire has shown to the world full transparency, welcoming all international and national media to witness their country’s electoral process. Despite the call by part of the opposition for an active boycott and civil disobedience, including hate speech and incitement of inter-communal violence, the governing RHDP has responded with a call and commitment for a safe, democratic and responsible political climate, condemning any sort of violence or disorder.
Although, some of the international and national media have focused in their reports mainly on isolated cases of violence, personally I have not witnessed any act of violence or preventing of vote in any of the polling stations that I visited with the International Observation Mission of Liberals and Democrats, on the 31st of October.
On the other hand, during the voting and the vote-counting, I was impressed by the good organization and the professionalism of the electoral offices staff, as well as the patience, the wisdom and the engagement of Ivoirians voters. In addition, the following was noted:
• The use of tablets to scan electoral / ID cards and for digital fingerprints, as an advanced and innovative method that demonstrates credibility and as a model that can be learned and replicated by many democracies in the West or worldwide that are still paper friendly
• The counting of voters’ turnout also by gender (women and men), to have exact statistics of each and to promote gender equality
• The high percentage of female staff at the voting offices
• The presence of law enforcement to guarantee peace and appeasement for voters in all polling stations including GSPR, Police, Gendarmerie, and military
Khadija Oum Bachair EL MORABIT Deputy President, International Network of Liberal Women (INLW)
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!
Members of INLW Netherlands Chapter participated in writing the so-called “NGO shadow report concerning the NL Government report to the CEDAW Committee.
INLW was a co-signer of the NGO Shadow report
This shadow report has been compiled on behalf of the Dutch CEDAW Network by a team consisting of some NGOs and independent women’s rights experts in the Netherlands. In mid-November 2018 the Dutch CEDAW Network learned through the website of CEDAW/OHCHR that the follow-up report had been submitted by the government of the Netherlands. As a response to that the Dutch CEDAW Network started a consultation process with NGOs and CSOs. On 27 November 2018 it convened a meeting to discuss the government’s follow-up report. Other experts from NGOs, CSOs and expert institutions such as Movisie – knowledge and approach of social issues also lent their expertise through written submissions.
Link to report
The International Network of Liberal Women- Chapter Morocco is a Network based on the very principles of liberalism; (Freedom, justice, equal citizenship and individual representation of the human being). Its approach reconciles essentially the individual with his environment in order to build a social peace, in accordance with the universally recognized principles in the field of human rights and the conventions signed and ratified by the Kingdom of Morocco.
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Agenda: A day of training on the values of liberalism and citizenship
• definition of the liberal values and principles,
• The history of the emergence of liberal thought and its foundations,
• Definition of the social roles that Moroccan liberal women can play;
• Definition of the legal and social status of a Citizen;
• Provide women members of the INLWM Network with a working platform to unify their vision and messages;
• Promote the best methods for more effective actions;
• Create an identification to define common goals;
• Better understand the dynamics of the group to reinforce the cohesion and reinforcement of the Network.
Short biography of the trainer
Abdelali Mastour, is the president of the FORUM DE CITOYENNETE (FC).
Abdelali Mastour is a professor at the Higher Institute of Journalism and Information in Casablanca. Member of several committees as the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support for Human Rights Defenders (EMFHR).
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.
The Liberal International Human Rights Committee met inThe Hague during an event organized by the Thematic International Network of the VVD and INLW.
Chairman of Liberal International Human Rights Committee (LI HRC), Mr. Markus Loening gave us some up-dates and insight in the work of the Human Rights committee.
The next day President INLW Margaret de Vos took part in the LI HRC meeting at the VVD office. The importance was stressed of the role that the LI HRC can play if a party cannot speak out about a situation in their own country, then LI HRC might be able to speak out about the problem. LI will organize a parallel event at UN CSW 62 in New York together with INLW.
Then there was a panel discussion about “The Future of the International Liberal Order: How can we make international justice work?
Chair during the event was -Mr. Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Member of the European Parliament and ALDE Party Vice-President (MRF, Bulgaria)
-Steven van Hoogstraten, CEO, Hague Institute for Global Justice
-Lousewies Van der Laan, Member of the European Parliament (1999-2003); Chief of Cabinet to the Presidency of the International Criminal Court (2009-2015) (Democrats 66, The Netherlands)
-Hon. Kiat Sitteeamorn, Secretary-General of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats
After the discussion we went to the Panorama Mesdag museum in The Hague where the LI Prize for Freedom was awarded. The prize was given to Ilham Tohti who is now imprisoned. Mr. Tohti has fought for democracy and Rule of law in China and the human rights of Ughurs. He campaigned for promoting conciliation between Ughurs and Han Chinese.
Ilham Tohti’s daughter, Jewher Ilham, spoke to us by video. She said that the award offers encouragement for human rights defenders in China amid increasing pressure on activists.
The Liberal Prize of freedom is Liberal International’s oldest award, it is presented annually to courageous human rights champions since 1985. Professor Ilham is the first-ever recipient of the LI Prize from mainland China.
Speeches were given by:
-Mr Hans van Baalen, Honary President of LI
-Mr. Markus Loening, LI HRC Chair and ALDE Party Vice-President
-Ms. Marie Holzman, Co-Founder of the Ilham Tohti Initiative Advancing and promoting international justice through LI Human Rights Committee
-Steven Mokgalapa, President of the Africa Liberal Network and Member of LI Human Rights Committee (Democratic Alliance, South Africa)
In the afternoon a visit was paid to the International Criminal Court where Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, President of the International Criminal Court (Argentina)
received us and gave us her views on “Strengthening Global Justice and the Rule of Law: The International Criminal Court and Beyond”.
In the past INLW called upon the International Society to bring ex-President Laurent Gbagbo to Justice in The Hague at the then just founded ICC. This was after soldiers obeying the ex President’s call to keep him in power, had opened fire on a peaceful women’s march killing several women who were walking up front. INLW’s Vice President Kaba Fofana from Ivory Coast sent us a message about this. She said: “Tomorrow I will join in the march to lead my friends”. “Please tell the people if I don’t return, I did everything for the cause of Freedom, Democracy and Liberalism”. Thank goodness all went well the second day! It was interesting to see that the case against Mr Gbagbo is indeed still being continued. The many witnesses are still being heard at the ICC.
Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk Lysbeth van Valkenburg-Lely
President of INLW Treasurer INLW and president of INLW Nederland
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.
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”.
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.
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.