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Reproductive Health Matters. 2011 Nov; 19(38):35-41.This paper explores the actors who replaced the agreements about the global development agenda made in the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo 1994 and the 4th UN World Women's Conference in Beijing in 1995 with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It also surveys the processes which shape and affect the exercise of power, which can lead to radical changes.
Journal of International Women's Studies. 2007 Nov; 9(1):212-233.This essay analyzes the contributions of three Young Women's Christian Association leaders who chaired the nongovernmental organization forum planning committees during the UN Decade for Women (1975-1985). It assesses the effectiveness of their leadership and addresses questions of distribution and uses of power within women's international NGOs and in relationship to the global feminist community. (author's)
Development. 2006 Mar; 49(1):49-51.Virginia Vargas takes up three major issues that we need to consider for change - the role of the United Nations, the need for democracy to counter fundamentalisms and the need for a new countercultural revolution to combat deep economic and social injustices. In short, she says that we need to turn the world and its current values upside down, doing away with the dominant hierarchy that grants unrestricted property rights, in the name of individual freedom, and that celebrates the supremacy of the market over human life. (author's)
Third World Quarterly. 2007 Jul; 28(5):871-886.In 2006 the Secretary General's High-Level Panel on UN Systemwide Coherence called for a dynamic new gender entity led by an Under-Secretary General. The follow-up to this recommendation is still ongoing, leaving the UN gender machinery in its current fragmented and weakened state. This enduring dilemma has its origins in bureaucratic incoherence, lack of senior management support for UN gender equality efforts, the failure of member states to support the Beijing Platform for Action, the impact of conservative regimes, and recent US dominance over the UN reform process. Is a new women's agency, with increased authority, new staffing and significantly increased resources possible, or should transnational feminists seek to establish an autonomous women's agency outside the UN system to provide better leadership for gender equality efforts world-wide? (author's)
Gender and Development. 2005 Jul; 13(2):57-69.In the world of feminist activism, the time is ripe for reflection and review. We need to ask why change is not happening, what works, and what is next. This article points to the fact that while women have made many gains in the last decade, policies that successfully promote women?s empowerment and gender equality are not institutionalised in the day-to-day routines of State, nor in international development agencies. We argue for changes which re-delineate who does what, what counts, who gets what, and who decides. We also argue for changes in the institutions that mediate resources, and women?s access, voice, and influence. We outline key challenges, as well as ways to envision change and strengthen the capacity of State and development organisations to deliver better on women?s rights. (author's)
Gender and Development. 2005 Mar; 13(1):94-104.This article explores ways in which the MDGs can be made to work to promote women?s equality and empowerment. Drawn from the author?s extensive experience of feminist activism in the Caribbean region, it discusses strategies to improve the MDGs. Overall, as a feminist I think of the MDGs as a Major Distraction Gimmick - a distraction from the much more important Platforms for Action from the UN conferences of the 1990s, in Rio 1992 (Environment), Vienna 1993 (Human Rights), Cairo 1994 (Population), Copenhagen (Social Development) and Beijing 1995 (Women), Istanbul 1996 (Habitats), and Rome 1997 (Food), on which the MDGs are based. But despite believing this, I think it worthwhile to join other activists within women?s movements who are currently developing strategies to try to ensure that the MDGs can be made to work to promote women?s equality and empowerment. (excerpt)
Human Rights Quarterly. 2006 Feb; 28(1):148-185.More than ten years ago, feminist legal theorists drew attention to some of the pervasive gender biases within the systems of international law. This paper will investigate whether anything has changed in the day to day activities of the human rights treaty bodies that might be interpreted as a response to the feminist critiques. This paper will argue that although much work still needs to be done, the gender mainstreaming efforts of the treaty bodies are having a relevant and positive impact that can be seen in the dialogues with state parties. (author's)
Toronto, Canada, Association for Women's Rights in Development [AWID], 2004 Nov.  p. (Spotlight No. 2)The evidence is mounting: internationally agreed development and human rights goals are not being met. Moreover, civil society organizations and social movements are suffering from ‘conference fatigue’ after years of systematic involvement in the United Nations conference arena. Women’s organizations and international networks are particularly affected. What does this imply for economic justice and women’s engagement with the United Nations (“UN”)? Should the United Nations be reformed, should feminist movements reinvest in UN processes, or is the UN no longer a strategic site through which to pursue economic and gender justice? This paper aims to contribute to this debate, while not pretending to cover all UN mechanisms or processes. Beginning with an overview of the current context and global governance framework, the paper then focuses on four key economic-related UN mechanisms, namely the Millennium Development Goals (“MDGs”), the Financing for Development process (“FfD”), human right treaties including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (“ICESCR”), and World Conferences. Each of these international norm-setting spaces is assessed for its efficacy as a platform for promoting gender and economic justice, considering the status of the mechanism and the outcomes of women’s participation to date. The paper also discusses the major challenges facing women’s movements in their quest for gender and economic justice though international venues, including the implications of some of the reform proposals put forward in the recently released Cardoso Report on civil society engagement with the UN. It concludes with a call to engage critically with United Nations mechanisms, reclaiming these global policy spaces. (excerpt)
Development. 2005; 48(1):101-106.Carol Barton reflects on the concerns of women’s movements about the millennium development goals (MDGs). She argues that the MDGs can potentially be used as an instrument to advance a global feminist agenda to the extent that feminist organizations define the terms of the debate. She presents the intense debates among women’s organizations about how to engage with the MDGs and how they link to Beijing, Cairo and CEDAW. (author's)
New York, New York, UNICEF, Program Division, Education, 2002.  p. (Document No. UNICEF/PD/ED/02-1)UNICEF's Programme Division is pleased to present this Working Paper on women teachers as part of our knowledge building effort in girls' education. The research for this paper was conducted several years ago, but many of the arguments presented on gender issues in education have particular significance for the Medium Term Strategic Plan (2002 –2005). Girls' education is the top UNICEF organizational priority. The paper analyzes the early days of the Teacher Empowerment Programme in India. To begin with, UNICEF followed a "gender blind" approach to the training programme. However, as the evidence presented in the paper shows, there was a necessary and notable shift towards an explicit focus on exposing and addressing gender-biased attitudes, roles and behaviours. Without this additional focus, equality between men and women in the programme would not have been achievable. Testimonies from UNICEF staff members, female trainers and teachers all show the importance of assessing and analyzing the impact of gender bias - implicitly and explicitly. The paper also argues that for women teachers to be true role models and be able to pass on the values of gender equity to girls and boys, they need to be able to facilitate their own empowerment in both private and public life. The TEP contributes to the improvement of women teachers, in the short-run, and, in the longrun, towards improved and sustainable girls’ education. All UNICEF staff, and professionals in other organizations can benefit from the lessons learned through the Teacher Empowerment Programme in India. (excerpt)
Guide to the UN Convention of 2 December 1949 for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.
[Unpublished] . 36 p.The Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others was adopted by the United Nations on December 2, 1949, one year after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in a climate of humanistic hope following the Second World War. The 1949 Convention was the result of an abolitionist and feminist struggle in England, begun and led by Josephine Butler in 1866. Whereas slavery had just been abolished in most of the European countries, Josephine Butler considered the system of prostitution to be a contemporary form of slavery that oppressed women and was injurious to humanity in general. The system of the regulation of prostitution, set up under Napoleon III in France, and soon called the “French system,” was established in many European countries in the name of public health and under the hygienist pretext of combating venereal diseases. French physician, Parent-Duchatelet, 19th century promoter of hygienism and regulation of prostitution, considered prostitution as a “sewerage system” and compared ejaculation to “organic drainage.” In reality, however, the regulationist system was based on a vision of society and human sexuality in which women were reduced to instruments of male pleasure. A vice squad was created to oversee the smooth working of the system. Not only could procurers and traffickers develop their operations with impunity, but the municipalities could also make money by levying taxes on the brothels. Women in prostitution were liable to violence, constraints, and health controls that were described as sexual tortures. Decrees against venereal diseases, particularly in England, permitted certain authorities to force women who were simply suspected of being prostitutes to undergo medical examinations, or even to be imprisoned. (excerpt)
Development. 2004; 47(2):36-42.Manisha Desai looks at the international women's health movement (IWHM). She argues that changing gender relations have engendered the discourse of global health and raised the particular concern of women's health to the forefront of discussions about health. At the same time, because of IWHM the globalization of health and disease have also become pathways to changed gender relations that have led to community level changes in norms and practices that reproduce gender inequalities. (author's)
Toronto, Canada, Association for Women's Rights in Development [AWID], 2004 May.  p. (Spotlight No. 1)In the early days of the second wave of the women’s movement, we had our own stories of community participatory development. In 1978 we knew of Lois Gibbs and the women of the Love Canal region of New York whose houses were built on twenty thousand tons of toxic waste; the entire neighbourhood was sick. Gibbs identified that men, women, and children in the area suffered from many conditions—cancer, miscarriages, stillbirths, birth defects, and urinary tract diseases. She collected the evidence. Through petitions, public meetings and use of the media, the Love Canal community took on the School Board, the State and Federal governments, and finally the President. They were rehoused and compensated, and left a legacy to the USA in the form of the Environmental Protection Agency. Similarly, the work of Maria Mies and her students in the early 1980s in Cologne introduced us to ‘action research’. Their research involved women across the city in the collection of evidence of domestic violence sufficient to convince the police and city councillors of the urgent need for the first shelters for battered women. (excerpt)
Opening windows to gender: a case study in a major international population agency. [Ventanas abiertas al género: estudio de casos en un importante organismo demográfico internacional]
Social Politics. 2003 Spring; 129-152.This article presents the experience of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Western Hemisphere Region, as an example of the social transformation of the family planning paradigm into model interventions in sexual and reproductive health. This is framed within the literature on gender and bureaucracies to assess the strategies and limitations followed when gender perspectives are institutionalized. (author's)
Human Rights Quarterly. 1999; 21:853-906.This article will trace the evolution of thought and activism over the centuries aimed at defining women's human rights and implementing the idea that women and men are equal members of society. Three caveats are necessary. First, because women's history has been deliberately ignored over the centuries as a means of keeping women subordinate, and is only now beginning to be recaptured, this is primarily a Northern story until the twentieth century. Second, because of this ignorance, any argument that the struggle to attain rights for women is only a Northern or Western effort is without foundation. Simply not enough available records exist detailing women's struggles or achievements in the Southern or Eastern sections of the world. The few records available to Northern writers attest that women in other parts of the world were not content with their status. Third, the oft-heard argument that feminism (read the struggle for women's equality) is a struggle pursued primarily by elite women is simply another example of the traditional demeaning of women. History is replete with examples of male leaders who are not branded with this same charge, even though much of history is about elite men. (excerpt)
In: Women's rights, human rights: international feminist perspectives, edited by Julie Peters and Andrea Wolper. New York, New York, Routledge, 1995. 18-35.This essay focuses primarily on the process leading up to the World Conference on Human Rights, in a necessarily suggestive, not comprehensive, manner. To begin what must be a broader research effort, I have interviewed advocates from regional networks, women's human right experts in health and legal matters, representatives from human rights organizations, and Global Campaign coordinators; their contributions have been supplemented by primary and secondary sources on women's human rights. Admittedly, this paper--pieced together in a short time by a woman from, and residing in, the United States--represents only a partial picture of the movement. Like other movements for women's rights, the women's human rights movement has evolved from women organizing on local, national, regional, and international levels around issues that affect their daily lives. One special component of this movement is women's entry into the political "space" opened by the United Nations; women have taken advantage of the opportunities presented by international meetings--such as the World Conference on Human Rights and those that took place during the UN Decade on Women--to organize among themselves while transforming the official agenda. (excerpt)
In: Feminism / postmodernism / development, edited by Marianne H. Marchand and Jane L. Parpart. London, England, Routledge, 1995. 204-220.This chapter has suggested several possible reasons for the difficulty in operationalizing GAD projects but it may be worthwhile to focus further on what constitutes agreed-upon approaches in the field of development studies and practice and on the language used to justify and popularize different perspectives. As we have seen, development discourse is largely based on assumptions that have not changed substantially during the past thirty years and that never have been questioned very closely. Development practice has generally involved a heavy infusion of resources from outside with a predilection towards the "technological fix." Development theorists and practitioners have learned little from past mistakes, nor have they fundamentally changed their way of thinking or their mode of operation. As a result, isolated knowledge in the form of case studies or academic papers generated in either the North or South has had relatively little impact on most development practice. At the same time, we tend to minimize the recognition that the major actors in the development arena are both politically and economically motivated. In development planning and theorizing we seldom take into account the fact that donors seldom act exclusively from a sense of shared concern for the improvement of living conditions for people of the Third World but out of a desire to improve their own position. New power affiliations emerging out of development assistance have destroyed or eroded many traditional human relationships and values in the South. (excerpt)
In: Feminism / postmodernism / development, edited by Marianne H. Marchand and Jane L. Parpart. London, England, Routledge, 1995. 26-41.This chapter will demonstrate that the so-called WID regime, as implemented by international development agencies, has its origin in two distinct yet overlapping strands of modernist discourse: the colonial discourse and the liberal discourse on markets. The colonial discourse based on the economic, political, social and cultural privileging of European peoples, homogenizes and essentializes the Third World and Third World women. The liberal discourse on markets, based on a negative view of freedom, promotes free markets, voluntary choices and individualism. Its epistemological premises and practical implementations disempower Third World nations in the international political economy. Moreover, as it intersects with colonial discourse, liberal discourse paradoxically tends to disempower poor Third World women (despite its stated objective of helping women to "develop"). In this chapter I argue that this disempowerment of Third World women is exemplified and embodied by the WID regime, because it is situated at the intersection of these two (modernist) discourses. (excerpt)
Fish, feminists and the FAO: translating 'gender' through different institutions in the development process.
In: Getting institutions right for women in development, edited by Anne Marie Goetz. London, England, Zed Books, 1997. 61-74.Over the last fifteen years or so, feminist analyses have apparently influenced both thinking and practice in international development agencies. The language of gender and development has been widely adopted. For example, awareness of the differences between practical and strategic gender needs is evident in the policy documentation of many multilateral and bilateral donors. However, the tendency of projects for women to 'misbehave' noted by Buvinic in 1985 is now replicated by the tendency of 'gender planning' to slip subtly and imperceptibly into the much older 'projects for women'. A relational approach to gender is replaced by a focus on women, while male gender identities lie unexamined in the background. The problem of institutionalizing gender analysis, making it more than a nagging concern on the margins, is as acute as ever: 'despite the energy and resources allocated to this work for more than a decade, Women in Development (WID) still most frequently remains an "addon" to mainstream policy and practice.' The commitment to gender analysis only rarely becomes gender-sensitive practice. More frequently it is translated into 'targeting women' and gradually exchanged for the practical exigencies of project reality. This chapter traces the process, through a case study of one donor - the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) - and one of its projects in sub-Saharan Africa. The project is not specifically for women, nor does it focus mainly on gender issues. It aims to promote small-scale fish farming as a diversification and supplement to rural livelihoods. However, gender issues gained a high profile in the stated aims of the project. I examine how these are articulated and mean different things to different people in the policy process, from headquarters in Rome to local-level bureaucracies and the farmers in contact with the project. (excerpt)
In: Women, international development, and politics: the bureaucratic mire. Updated and expanded edition, edited by Kathleen Staudt. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Temple University Press, 1997. 167-182.Using a feminist lens to inspect current PVO (private voluntary organization) family planning programs, we first define the feminist perspective as it applies to such programs and then compare that feminist vision with the reality found in the field. This paper examines the political dynamics of working for a feminist agenda within the community of population PVOs. The following case study illustrates these dynamics and leads to a discussion of both the obstacles to the realization of a feminist vision and the political strategies and attitudes that help implement this vision. Together, we draw on seventeen years of work with a variety of PVOs involved in family planning and reproductive health. (excerpt)
Women's organizations in El Salvador: history, accomplishments, and international support. [Organizaciones femeninas en El Salvador: historia, logros y apoyo internacional]
In: Women and civil war. Impact, organizations, and action, edited by Krishna Kumar. Boulder, Colorado, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2001. 183-203.Women's organizations in El Salvador have undergone a unique evolution, first in relation to the conditions of war that permeated El Salvador from 1980 to 1992 and then in response to economic restructuring and the challenges of democratization following the war. The conditions of El Salvador's civil war, along with the fact that many women's organizations became stronger during the war, have resulted in a unique set of organizations that are marked by their autonomy at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Early-conflict women's organizations (1980 to 1985) were characterized by their attachment to a wide range of popular grass-roots organizations and attempts to incorporate women into these groups. Many of these organizations mobilized women around economic issues, survival in the war, and human rights. A few formed in this period began to work with battered women and to question women's legal, political, and domestic subordination. Few, however, were willing to embrace the concept of feminism. Late-conflict and post-conflict women's organizations (1986 to 2001) are characterized by women challenging gender hierarchies within mixed grass-roots organizations and putting forth a gendered discourse on specific women's rights, ranging from violence against women to inequities in the labor force. Feminism also became more prevalent during this time. In this chapter we look at the particular changes found in women's organizations and link them to specific historical, social, and economic circumstances. We then evaluate what the impact of women's organizations has been in terms of empowering Salvadoran women and make recommendations for international donor organizations so that they can better serve Salvadoran women's organizations. (excerpt)
In: The women and international development annual. Volume 4, edited by Rita S. Gallin, Anne Ferguson, and Janice Harper. Boulder, Colorado, Westview Press, 1995. 51-75.The growth of women's studies since 1970 has not been limited to the United States. Similar developments, some as dramatic, have been underway in other countries where there were networks of women scholars and activists. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have made significant advances since the 1970s in women's studies research and in the number and range of courses available. Elsewhere courses appeared on the European continent, particularly in West Germany, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries, where strong government support was available. In most developing countries, however, women's studies as such was little known prior to 1980. The notable exception was India. Here the origins of women's studies are attributable to the investigations of the Committee on the Status of Women in India, which were carried out from 1971 to 1974. The Committee's Report highlighted a lack of knowledge about the diversity of women's lives and pointed to the need for further research and reappraisal of the traditional assumptions of the social sciences. With that background, the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) established a Programme of Women's Studies in 1976 "to develop new perspectives in the social sciences--through examining basic assumptions, methodological approaches and concepts concerning the family, household, women's work, productivity, economic activity--to remedy the neglect and underassessment of women's contributions to the society. (excerpt)
Women and Environments International. 2003 Fall; (60-61):23-25.How can we not get overwhelmed by such major global forces, ideological divides, in addition to such a lack of political will to stand up for women's rights? I see hope by us building more feminist leadership to tackle the forces behind globalization. Why? Because most of the challenges we are facing in terms of women's lack of reproductive and sexual rights, violence against women, and environmental degradation are directly linked to globalization processes. As we all know, corporate expansion and concentration, privatization, government cuts, reduced power of the state, US domination...these are all intrinsically part of globalization. They create the underlying conditions and determinants of women's health, autonomy and security. (excerpt)
Child support as a strategic interest: la Asociación de Madres Demandantes of El Salvador. [La cuota alimenticia como interés estratégico: Asociación de Madres Demandantes de El Salvador]
Gender and Development. 2003 Jul; 11(2):60-69.Among certain social sectors in El Salvador, couples have not necessarily engaged informal marriages. But with the economic and political crisis of the 1980s, many poor Salvador women were left with the sole financial responsibility for their children. With the 'modernisation' of the state in the post-war period, more of those women began to seek the assistance of the state in securing child support. This paper looks at the process that women had to go through to access that support and explores how Mujeres pot La Dignidad y La Vida (Women for Dignity and Life), afeminist organisation created out of the Salvadoran civil war, mobilised women to challenge institutionalised gender roles reflected in that process. The conflicts that arose within the new organisation they formed, the Asociacion de Madres Demandantes (Association of Mothers Seeking Child Support), highlight thedifferent interests of the women being organised and those organising them. These conflicts were intensified by the policies of donor organisations that supported the work of the Association. (author's)
Human Rights Quarterly. 2000; 22(3):658-733.This document analyzes the claims that international law disfavors women's interests and viewpoints conceptually, procedurally, and substantively. Its purpose is to identify the obstacles to international law recognizing women's voices and protecting their interests, as well as to suggest possible solutions. Following the introduction is Section II, which provides a general background to feminist jurisprudence. Section III discusses feminist challenges to the conceptual underpinnings of international law, addressing the argument that the existence of states as the main subjects of international law fails to reflect women's viewpoints and protect their interests. Section IV discusses feminist challenges to international legal procedures, while Section V addresses two feminist challenges to the substance of international law. Finally, Section VI identifies the source of gender bias in international law and the obstacles to equal treatment and representation. The author concludes with recommendations for the international legal community, feminists and governments.