Women, Politics, and the United Nations

Women, Politics, and the United Nations

Women, Politics, and the United Nations

Women, Politics, and the United Nations

Synopsis

How have women used global institutions and the networking possible through them to assure women's emergence on the world stage? How successful have women been at the United Nations and at international conferences over the years in their pressures for equality and for a full partnership with men? To what extent have women gained a foothold in the political arena internationally, and have they been able to exert their influence and to improve their situation? Expert participants and scholars give varying perspectives and insights about the history of women's worldwide efforts through governmental and nongovernmental organizations. They trace the role of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. They analyze the politics of the three world women's conferences in the 1970s and the 1980s, the evolution of institutions set up as catalysts to resolve key issues in developing countries, and the changing conditions for women in the UN Secretariat and specialized agencies. These unusual appraisals and a lengthy bibliography are for interdisciplinary audiences of women and men around the world--essential background to understanding the 1995 UN conference in Beijing.

Excerpt

It was June 1993. the United Nations (UN) World Conference on Human Rights had just ended. Hundreds of women's groups had participated. in the words of a Canadian Institute for International Affairs pamphlet (David Gillies, Behind the Headlines, 1993), the women had proved that "solid organization and careful planning could translate into positive action." Not so long ago human rights activists gave only a passing nod to women's rights. That time, the conference was fairly bristling with them. Women's rights were to be a "priority for governments and the United Nations." Violence "against women in public and private" was condemned. "Sexual harassment, exploitation and traffic in women as well as health care (including the widest range of family planning services)" were "finally understood as human rights issues."

One year later, at the close of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the New York Times (14 September 1994), reviewing the International Conference on page 2, declared that "progress for women is central to a new strategy." the opportunity for women to assert their rights and influence the course of history, not only in un conferences on women but in the wider political arena, has now become not only a slogan but a reality.

Despite setbacks, the craggy indifference of male counterparts, and the closely knit fabric of male superiority woven over the centuries, women are finally getting things done.

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