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Reflections on Women, Water, Culture and Education – Past, Present and Future

Wednesday 22 March 1:30 PM to 2:45 PM | Columbia University, New York, NY 10027
(the campus is easy to access by public transit using the IRT #1 subway to 116 Street)
The location of the program is the Center for Buildings, Infrastructure and Public Space at the School of Engineering, 500 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027 (room 706).


UNESCO Chair Water Ports and Historic Cities • IHE Delft Institute for Water Education • Dutch Water Authority Rijnland • Drinkable Rivers • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe UNECE • Womenvai • World Federation of Engineers Organisation WFEO • Erasmus University Rotterdam.

This Side Event will elaborate on the following issues. On the one hand Women Leaders are needed at all levels of society, in water utilities, government water agencies, and international and regional water institutions to reduce the democratic gender deficit in water leadership. On the other hand safe water and sanitation is so important for getting girls and boys to school and educated them to become water leaders.

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Wednesday 22 March 1:30 PM – 2:45 PM
Columbia University, New York City

the campus is easy to access by public transit using the IRT #1 subway to 116 Street.

“Reflections on Women, Water, Culture and Education Past, Present and Future”

This Side Event will elaborate on the following issues. On the one hand Women Leaders are needed at all levels of society, in water utilities, government water agencies, and international and regional water institutions to reduce the democratic gender deficit in water leadership. On the other hand safe water and sanitation is so important for getting girls to school and educated for them to become leaders.


UNESCO Chair Water Ports and Historic Cities; • IHE Delft Institute for Water Education; Dutch Water Authority Rijnland; Drinkable Rivers • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe UNECE; • Womenvai; • World Federation of Engineers Organisation WFEO.

For more information about the side event on Wednesday 22nd of March 1:30 PM – 2:45 PM, at Columbia University, please contact Ruth Richardson, Secretary-General INLW at this email address: ruthy27@hotmail.com

INLW Board member, Ruth Richardson, is busy preparing for the UN Water Conference next year in March 2023 (March 22-24, 2023) in New York. You find hereby an attachment about her presentation and the presentation itself. This presentation was given at the Climate Summit COP27 in Egypt, November 2022. .

On Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at the Climate Summit, Ruth was in a panel discussion “Case Studies on Women in the Water and Sanitation Sector”, where she was allowed to give an online presentation about: “Invest in Women to tackle climate change and protect the environment” i.a. Wastewater treatment plants as a source of microplastic pollution and plastic waste.

She gave a brief talk about the history of wastewater treatment, about future challenges, pollution from plastic litter and microplastics in our wastewater treatment plants and about investing in women to tackle climate change and protect the environment.

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The Asia-Pacific Liberal Women Association (APLW), which was founded by Amb. Maysing Yang, held its second general members meeting on November 20. At the meeting, the ceremony was held to present the first “Asia-Pacific Student Leaders Award.” In addition, Robert Hsing-cheng Tsao, former chairman of United Microelectronics Corporation, was invited to deliver a special guest lecture, titled “Land of the free, home of the brave.” Several candidates in the upcoming local elections addressed the meeting, including Taipei mayoral candidate Chen Shih-chung, incumbent Taipei city councilors Chien Shu-pei and Chen Hsien-wei, and city council candidates Chan Chin-chien and Wu Hsin-tai.

The APLW is the Asia-Pacific regional chapter of the International Network of Liberal Women (INLW). Headquartered in Taipei, the APLW is thus one of the few organizations with United Nations consultative status in Taiwan. Its members come from various nationalities and genders, and its founding goals are promotion of gender equality and enhancing women’s political participation. In addition, it advocates the principles of HeForShe, encouraging men to join the movement for equality and speak out for women. The APLW actively engages in and supports the Non-Governmental Organization Committee on the Status of Women (NGO CSW), working together with members of the women’s movement from around the world to promote gender equality and the status of women globally.

To promote the formation of talented young people, the APLW this year for the first time awarded the “Asia-Pacific Student Leaders Award” to nine outstanding students from different universities across Taiwan. Many of the awardees had been active since high school in various student organizations and publications, working on issues such as students’ rights and transitional justice on campuses; others had joined movements for human rights, gender equality, and the environment while at university. Many had already achieved substantial progress towards their various causes. For example, National Taiwan Normal University’s Michelle Hsu, herself just 18 this year, traveled the country to promote the constitutional amendment to lower the voting age to 18. National Taiwan University’s Tu Chun-Ching used management of a consumer cooperative to promote reforms. Shih Hsin University’s Yeh Po-ting created a student campaign in support of Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition Movement. Tunghai University’s Tjuku Revuci and Chung Yang University’s Lîm Khiūn Chhin effectively used the media to document the Indigenous and Hakka cultures of their respective hometowns in Pingtung and Hsinchu.

The depth of understanding of the principles of freedom and equality and the dedication to putting them into practice of all of these outstanding youth is very moving. To encourage such excellent young people to continue their work to advance the vision of the APLW, each awardee received a scholarship of between NT$30,000-50,000.

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During the congress one of the meetings was with representatives from many countries about the theme of “Populism in politics”.

All over the world we can see that populism and the parties that are using it are getting more and more votes. Ilhan Kyuchyuk (politician from MRF and co-president of ALDE) states that in Bulgaria populism undermined the liberal progress, liberals are losing ground and have to turn this. Europe is very important for Bulgaria and a strong Europe, meaning not more but less and more efficient, must be the perspective. A difficult statement at the moment with all the populism in many European countries.

In Thailand the new elected government is also based on populism. The liberals are not part of the government. Winning the next elections is essential. The present party is hoping to win again and through this get absolute power in the future. One of the methods they are going to use to get this result, is the rise of minimum wage with 80%, no voters can withstand this. This all leads to much corruption and disruption of the market.

The conclusion is that some populism is necessary in the present time in any party. For in the end winning is essential.

In the Philippines the new president Ferdinand Marcos jr. was elected on the issue of anti-corruption, he belongs to no party, is a real outsider. He stands for the war on drugs but because of the Pandemic this war and the fight against it has been stopped, at the moment the government is not taking any action. In the years 2016-2020 there were 7800 deaths because of this war on drugs. The new president will have no debate and now still the Marcos mystique still has many followers.

As liberals we must act against populism and des-information. Populism can’t be fought, you have to fight it with populism and use it, liberalism packed in populism. But there is a vast difference between populism in West Europe and Asia. In Asia, money and economic growth is important but in Europe “simple answers to difficult questions”, are the points used by populist parties.

The Renew group stated that we all have to take care that no one is left behind, make yourself “popular” and use of images is needed. That should be part of the popular way to get results. It will be a challenge for all liberal parties.

During the final session of the Congress the results were made known of the elections for the Bureau and the committees.

Hakima el Haité was re-elected as President of Liberal International.

Our president Jayanthi Devi Balaguru and past-president Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk were elected in the Human Rights Committee.

Ruth Richardson, board member, was elected in the Climate Justice Committee
Deputy-president Khadija el Morabit was elected in the Fair Trade Committee.

Blog Network UN Women’s Convention

My name is Ruth A. Richardson. I am a General Board Member and Advisor at the International Network of Liberal Women (INLW) www.inlw.org and a member of the UN Women’s Convention Network. I am also an Advisor and co-chair of the Climate Justice working group for the Women7 towards the G7 presidency, which was held this year in St Elmau Munich, Germany. https://women7.org/

Recently I participated in virtual CEDAW SDGs Workshop (with a focus on climate justice✊🌏). A space intended to support activists and organizations working on and interested in climate justice. Or are already involved in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and associated advocacy spaces.

IWRAW Asia Pacific has created a collaborative space where the CEDAW SDGs Tool can be introduced and participants can work with to help organizations build connections between the SDGs and human rights instruments. Click on the link https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1QH7U31a-K2hfZNh3PtK6BWIj7v1QPUWOP5eu8mPaRGQ/edit#gid=0  or CEDAW-SDGs Tool

The last session was dedicated to the participants to reflect on advocacy in the future, how it can be made more strategic and impactful, and what tools will help us do that. During the final session, space was created to hear and discuss with those who attended, among others, the HLPF or the 82nd CEDAW session, as well as those preparing to participate in the remaining trials this year.

In addition, in the last session you could provide feedback on the CEDAW SDGs Tool, which were presented during Session 2 and on the workshop in general.
Click this link for more information CEDAW-SDGs Tool or  https://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/cedaw-sdgs-tool/

It was an instructive workshop, because the focus was on the CEDAW and SDGs tool. You will learn when to use the tool and what connections can be made between each human rights instrument(s) and the SDGs. You will learn how to integrate SDGs in shadow reports or in other reports that you develop within the human rights framework, or to treaty bodies.The last session was dedicated to the participants to reflect on advocacy in the future, how it can be made more strategic and impactful, and what tools will help us do that. During the final session, space was created to hear and discuss with those who attended, among others, the HLPF or the 82nd CEDAW session, as well as those preparing to participate in the remaining trials this year.

Also give you feedback in the last session about the CEDAW SDGs Tool, which were/were presented during Session 2, and about the workshop in general.
Click this link for more information

You will also learn how to better prepare civil society reports for national, regional and global SDG assessments that focus on states’ human rights obligations. You will learn how and in what form to advocate for your state to use the SDGs as a tool and to accelerate progress in fulfilling its human rights obligations. Especially towards women and other marginalized groups of people. And finally, you will learn to influence the state of the development of SDG indicators, both at the national level, that integrate relevant human rights norms and obligations. As at the international level.

I learned a lot from this workshop. It has given me a lot of insights and really improved my autonomy. I can also use them in the field of climate, women’s and human rights and climate justice. The workshop has made me that I dare to rely more on my hunches from feeling and not from thinking. In short, this was a good tool to develop your creativity!

At the reception with Hakima el Haité, Mustafa Karadayi, President of the Movement of Rights and Freedoms in Bulgaria, Margaret de Vos (r.) and Lysbeth van Valkenburg (l.)

This year Liberal International met, after two years of zoom meetings because of Covid, in Sofia for our 75th congress. There were over 200 attendees from over 50 countries. At the welcome reception, Hakima el Haité president of LI, was very happy to see so many friends again after such a long and difficult time. Climate change, conflicts, pandemic, democratic recession, authoritarian resurgences as she told us, are changing our world! The theme of this congress was “Reconstructing a Liberal World Order” a very appropriate slogan. Today a devastating war is happening at the back door of Europe. The devastation brought by Vladimir Putin’s full-blown invasion of Ukraine goes beyond the borders of Ukraine threatening energy security in Europe and food security in a great deal of the world. Millions of people especially in the most vulnerable countries in Africa are at the risk of hunger as president Hakima el Haité said.

During the opening reception there was also the introduction of a new Serbian politician, member of parliament and president of the Free citizens Movement, Pavle Grbović. It is the first time in several years that Serbia will have liberals present in Parliament.

During the meeting on Friday morning, Sir Graham Watson, former leader of the ALDE party and member of the European Parliament gave us food for thought with his ideas about legal values, peace, freedom and democracy. With the war in Ukraine and opposition about the handling of the pandemic, we see the rule of law is under great pressure.

The Russian opposition voice from Dr. Grigory Yavlinsky, founding member of Yabloko, who reached us by zoom, made us aware that supplies have been stopped to Russia. Especially lack of medical items are causing people to die at the moment. 20% of the Russians do not agree with the present regime. The totalitarian system is based on their own former ideas and no reforms. The present system resulted out of the collapse of the iron curtain. The opposition did not agree with the system but realized too late that the system meant no freedom of the press, justice by fear and no protests are possible. The consequences are visible all over the world. President Hakima el Haité also confirmed these facts and wondered how far is Poetin prepared to go.

At the start of the congress Bulgaria presented a beautiful show with their local dancers

Later our member Lorna Marsden was appointed Patron of Liberal International as well as Robert Woodthorpe Browne.

The medal was awarded by his wife Ineke van Baalen-Sybesma after a moving speech by her.

In the evening we had dinner in the Vrana Palace of H.M. King Simeon II of Bulgaria. The Hans van Baalen Medal of Liberalism, in commemoration of our dearly missed president of honour, was awarded to H.M King Simeon II of Bulgaria, the last reigning Bulgarian monarch.

Ilhan Kyuchyuk, co-president of ALDE and politician from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) in Bulgaria received the medal to give it to Simeon at a later time.

On Saturday morning INLW organized a zoom meeting with some of our members and the members that were present at the congress.

On the Saturday all the resolutions were discussed and adopted.

  • INLW submitted the resolution: “Preventing and Combating Violence against women & girls and unpaid and underpaid care work”.
  • US Supreme Court Decision, an urgency resolution submitted by INLW and SFP.

Urgency Resolution on Securing Freedom for Vladimir Kara-Murza, a renowned Russian journalist who earlier survived two poisonings and now is convicted to many years of prison with a risk of death, was submitted by the Canadian group. Also the re-elections took place with a 100% of votes for Hakima el Haité as LI President. Ruth Richardson, Khadija el Morabit, Jayanthi Devi Balaguru and Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk were all re-elected in their commissions for a new period.

On our way to dinner we made a stop at Bellis Park. Here Liberal International gave a Bell to commemorate our 75th anniversary.
At the dinner the 2022 Prize for Freedom was awarded to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The prize was given to the ambassador of Ukraine in Bulgaria to give to the president at a later time.
And finally lovely fire works!

Afghanistan Shall Not Be Forgotten is one of the resolutions that was adopted during the congress.
We heard more about the present situation in Afghanistan by zoom from Dr. Sima Samar, winner of the Prize for Freedom 2021, member of the High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation and member of the High Level Panel for Internal Displacements. She began her career as a medical doctor providing health care in Afghanistan’s most isolated and marginalized region.

Women are no longer seen as humans, no more than the fly on the wall. Schools are closed for girls despite access to education being a fundamental Islamic and civic right and there is no freedom of speech for journalists. Even the newsreaders have to wear a mask as women are not allowed to show their faces. The tv stations are trying to get rid of all female news readers.
A nurse cannot get a job without a man’s permission and women are not allowed to get any treatment in hospital without a man.
There is no real system in what the government is doing and there is a rejection of democracy. At the moment there are more and more people who are unable to read of write. Many are sitting at home without work and with the high rate of inflation it is very hard to make both ends meet.
Because of the pour healthcare many are dying including many children.

UN can do some things and must ask the countries to keep the sanctions in place and keep blocking the regime’s access to the international financial system, until Afghanistan has a more inclusive government respecting everyone’s rights. Also the UN should call for the immediate opening of all schools to girls and restoring the right of women to gainful employment, targeting donor development at those districts which allow equal access to education and greater respect for human rights.

UN and the world must stand for freedom, fight for freedom for children and education. All human beings are of one frame.
At the moment the help that is given mainly goes to those who are in favor of the Taliban regime. It will be necessary to have an independent group to see to the distributions of goods and money for the people of Afghanistan.