Welcome to the NCWC Blog about the CSW 2011!

Welcome to the NCWC Blog about the CSW 2011!! The National Council of Women of Canada will be attending the meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women in February/March 2011. Watch this site for news about this meeting, what is being discussed, and what are some of the outcomes.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Report Prepared by the Province of Manitoba

Access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of equal access to full employment and decent wor
Definition:  The Report of the Secretary General defines “science and technology” as the, “academic and professional disciplines related to the natural sciences, engineering, mathematics and computing, as well as to the knowledge, artefacts and processes that result from those activities” (p. 3).
  • The Manitoba Government is proud of the progress we have made toward gender equity, and toward improving the social, economic and legal situation of women in our province. 
  • In terms of the academic achievement, statistics suggest that women in our province are making great strides.  Secondary graduation rates, post-secondary enrolments and graduation rates, and standardized testing all indicate that women are excelling. 
Graduation Rates[1] 
  •  In all Canadian provinces and territories, the high school graduation rate is greater for women than for men. 
  • In Manitoba, 73% of women graduate high school on time, versus 66% of men.
  • For those who do leave high school prior to graduating, there is still reason to be optimistic.  The majority of those who leave high school without graduating do, at some point, return and complete their diploma or participate in post-secondary education.[2]
  • Another success can be found in the post-secondary graduation rates for youth.
    In Manitoba, the first-time graduation rate for college programs is higher for young women (18.2%) than for young men (10.3%). This is the case in all provinces and territories, except Prince Edward Island.
  • In all provinces, the first time university graduation rate of women exceeds that of men.
  • First Nations women in Canada are as likely as women in the general population to have trades credentials (both 9%), and nearly as likely to have college credentials (21% of First Nations women, and 23% of women in the overall population).[3] Post-Secondary Enrolment Female students are the majority in both full-time college programs (53% of total full-time enrolments), and in part-time college programs (67% of total part-time enrolments).[4] Women also comprise the majority of university students. In Manitoba, women represent 58% of total full-time university enrolments, and 62% of part-time enrolments.[5] o This pattern holds for both undergraduate and graduate level programs. Fifty-eight percent of students in undergraduate programs, and 52% of those in graduate programs are female.[6]
Differences in Performance[7]
  • Manitoba has also been successful in improving the performance of girls, relative to boys, in the areas of science and math.

  • The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which was developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), measures the skill levels of 15 year-olds in 65 countries in three key subject areas – reading, mathematics and science. The 2009 PISA results indicate that:

  •  In Manitoba, there is a statistically significant gender difference, with girls outperforming boys in reading. No significant gender differences were found for math or science performance.

  •  Nationally, Canadian boys outperformed girls in mathematics and science, and girls outperformed boys in reading. However, the gender gap in the former two domains was less pronounced than in the reading domain.
The Challenges 

  • Despite the advancements that women have made in terms of educational achievement, Manitoba still faces challenges on several fronts. 
Wage Gap    

  • The gender-based "wage gap" represents the economic inequality between women and men.  
  • As of August 2010, Manitoba men earned an average of $21.51 per hour, whereas Manitoba women earned an average of $19.18 (89% of the average hourly earnings of men)[10].

Women remain clustered in lower paying occupations that often do not tap their potential and offer little room for advancement. For example, in Manitoba, women represent 91% of those in general clerical occupations, 83% of cashiers, 83% of food and beverage servers, and 80% of light duty cleaners[11].

A 2007 Statistics Canada report that examined the situation nationally found that the higher the level of education, the narrower the wage gap between the sexes[12]. Although women's hourly wages remained below men's for all levels of education, encouraging women to pursue post-secondary education remains a promising means of at least narrowing the wage gap and offering greater economic security to women.
Skilled Trades
  • One approach to addressing the wage gap that has been adopted, both in Manitoba and in other jurisdictions, is the development of programs and initiatives that encourage women to enter the skilled trades, and support them through their education and employment.
  • It is well-known that women are underrepresented in the non-traditional trades. As of March 2010, women represented only 2.7% of apprentices in the non-traditional trades in Manitoba.[13]  According to the Construction Sector Council, only 4% of those employed in the construction trades in Canada are women.[14] 
  • Both nationally and provincially, there is a shortage of skilled workers.  For example, the construction industry estimates that Manitoba will face a shortage of nearly 11,000 skilled workers over the next eight years[15]
  • Despite the high demand for skilled tradespeople and the salary prospects in these careers, women remain a largely un-tapped labour pool. 
  • Programs that encourage girls and women to enter the skilled trades generally focus on one of the following:
  • Raising awareness of career options in the non-traditional trades and dispelling negative stereotypes associated with these occupations;
  • Providing financial support in the form of scholarships, bursaries or other financial awards; or
  • Exposing women to one or more trades and preparing them for further education or employment in skilled trades or other non-traditional occupations (known as “women-only pre-trade programs”). 
Manitoba-based Programs
1.    Manitoba Status of Women – Training for Tomorrow Educational Awards[16]:  Annually, our office provides eighty $1,250 educational awards to women entering two-year diploma programs in the areas of math, science and technology at any one of Manitoba’s four community colleges.  The awards are used as an incentive to encourage women to enter these career paths. As well, there are several other provincial and national scholarships/bursaries/financial awards available to women entering non-traditional programs.
2.    Skills Canada Manitoba Young Women’s Conferences[17]:  These conferences are offered in rural and urban centres, annually for young women in grades 8-12.  The conferences provide an opportunity for participants to meet female mentors working in the trades or technology fields, participate in team-building and hands-on activities, and receive information on employment opportunities and career planning.
3.    Red River College – Girls Exploring Trades and Technology (GETT) camps[18]:  These week-long summer camps are offered annually to Manitoba girls in grades 7 and 8.  The camps combine exploration of different careers with hands-on activities and meetings with women who are successfully pursuing non-traditional occupations. The camps reinforce the importance of taking science, advanced math subjects and industrial arts in high school by stressing the impact those subjects have on career decisions.
4.    Women In Science and Engineering (WISE) University of ManitobaKid-Netic Energy Girls[19]:  This club offers weekly three hour club meetings where girls explore different areas of science and engineering.  Enriching activities, meaningful mentor interactions and community contribution are used to engage the girls and increase their interest in pursuing careers in these fields. 
5.    Manitoba Department of Competitiveness, Training and Trade – Trade Up To Your Future[20]Trade Up to Your Future is aimed at unemployed and underemployed women, women who are low skilled or low income, and women who are about to lose their job.  The program provides career counseling and financial support to women entering non-traditional occupations, which may include skilled trades or other occupations such as trucking.
6.    Manitoba Status of WomenPower Up:  Power Up is a 15 hour introductory computer course for women that is generally provided by generally provided to not-for-profit adult learning agencies, schools and continuing education departments of colleges.  It is intended to promote the importance of technology for women in today’s society/marketplace, to build confidence, and to provide training in a non-threatening environment.  The course consists of introductions to word processing, sending and receiving e-mail, and using the internet.  Funding priority is given to agencies located in isolated/northern communities, rural communities and those serving populations where demand for computer training is high (e.g., immigrants, Aboriginal people). 
Challenges in Recruiting, Training and Long-term Retention for Women in the Skilled Trades[21],[22] & [23]
  •  Socialization factors:  The perception of skilled trades as “men’s work,” affects the attitudes of women who may be good candidates, and has an influence on women’s career and training decisions.  Girls and women may be steered away from math and technical courses in school, and from non-traditional careers by family, peers, counsellors and teachers.  Due to the small number of women in the trades, girls may not be exposed to female role models with successful careers in the skilled trades.  Women typically receive little or no early exposure to the trades or mechanical work and little or no involvement in family businesses related to the trades.  As a result, they lack the foundational skills and aptitudes normally acquired by men through father-son relationships.
  • Technical training barriers:  Research has found that women often feel supported and encouraged in the classroom.  However, in educational settings, there remains concern about sexual harassment and isolation of female students by classmates and instructors, and the need to excel in order to be seen as competent.  Male instructors may also be unprepared to adapt their instructor to the different learning styles that some women have.
  •  Barriers related to hiring practices:  Women are often not privy to information about vacancies, given that word-of-mouth recruitment is quite common in the sector; rather, the information is often shared by men to other men.  As well, many employers view hiring women as a risk, expressing concern about the potential for maternity leaves, absences due to family responsibilities and complaints regarding workplace conditions (e.g., language used or inadequate facilities).  Another common stereotype is that women do not have the physical strength or mechanical aptitude necessary for the job.
  •  Unwelcoming workplaces:  Women tradespeople report being subject to a variety of discriminatory practices, including: sexual harassment, sexist treatment (e.g., being treated like a “lady who didn’t want to break a nail”), isolation and segregation in male-dominated worksites, being given low-level tasks or “women’s work” (e.g., cleaning), and being held to higher standards than their male counterparts.  Another common issue is the need to prove oneself each time a woman encounters a new co-worker or worksite, whereas men are assumed to be competent.  Other women employed at the company in non-trades related work (e.g., clerical, janitorial) may also contribute to the isolation and harassment of female skilled tradespeople. 
  •  Apprenticeship barriers:  In addition to the unwelcoming behaviours described above, female apprentices are vulnerable to other forms of discrimination, such as:  unwillingness on the part of a male journeyperson to share their knowledge or discomfort training a woman; and being assigned menial tasks, preventing them from developing into well-rounded, employable tradespersons.
  •  Family responsibilities:  Lack of childcare is a significant barrier for women with children who consider working in the skilled trades.  Some jobs require extensive travel to job sites, and/or after hours commitments (e.g., shift work, weekend work, on call duties). 
  • Inadequate facilities:  Women may feel at risk in isolated job sites or camps, due to a lack of security, separate dormitories and washrooms from men, and the distance of sleeping quarters from common areas.  Availability of female work clothing is also sometimes an issue.
  •  Barriers to making formal complaints:  Research has found that women in the trades work hard to be seen as “one of the guys,” and often feel that they will be seen as unable to take a joke, easy to provoke, overly sensitive or unable to resolve issues on their own if they make a formal complaint.  Unless conduct policies are supported, modeled and enforced by management, and reinforced through staff training, they rarely work.  
  • As a result of these challenges, retention in the skilled trades remains low despite the myriad of programs that encourage women to enter these careers.[24]
Women-only Pre-Trade Programs
  • Several women-only exploratory/pre-trade programs are operating in Canada; three highly successful programs are Alberta’s Women Building Futures (WBF), Nova Scotia’s Women Unlimited and Newfoundland’s Orientation to Trades and Technology.  These programs typically:
  • Expose women to the career options available in the non-traditional trades, and dispel myths regarding women’s suitability to these types of occupations;
  • Provide women with the skills necessary to successfully enter and complete trades/technical training and/or an apprenticeship; and
  • Provide support to women throughout training and employment in order to help women sustain careers in the non-traditional trades.
  • Canadian women-only pre-trade programs range from 10 to 24 weeks long, averaging 14 weeks in length. 
  • Topics covered typically include safety certification (e.g., First Aid/CPR, WHMIS), hands-on skill training and exposure to various trades, personal development (workplace culture conditioning, career development and financial management), academics (trade math, science and English) and assistance with work experience placement/job placement/apprenticeship registration. 
  • In discussions with programs across Canada regarding the factors that are critical to a successful women-only pre-trade program, four themes were evident:
1.    Careful screening of participants, which ensures that the women who are accepted are committed to a career in the trades;
2.    Providing support and advocacy for the myriad of issues that participants may face, including challenges related to child care, housing, finances, tutoring, workplace discrimination and harassment, etc.;
3.    Providing a realistic understanding of what trades work entails, and preparing women for a male-dominated work environment; and
4.    A strong relationship with industry, which is critical in order for the program to find job and apprenticeship opportunities for participants.   

The main issue encountered by programs is stability of funding. Programs that are operated by colleges, rather than an NGO committed to the issue, may experience disruption, cancellation or fundamental changes to the mandate (e.g., being required to accept women that are not suitable for the program, such as those only interested in home repair or who are not work ready), as priorities within the institution shift.
Future Directions for Manitoba
  • The Manitoba Government recognizes that there is more work to be done to encourage and support women entering non-traditional occupations. 
  • At the Poverty Reduction Forum held on November 5, 2010, Premier Selinger announced that the Provincial Government’s plans to reduce poverty include encouraging Manitobans to enter the skilled trades, noting that this will also help address the shortage of skilled workers in Manitoba.
  • In recognition of the need for a gendered perspective that incorporates the needs and realities of women, MSW is exploring the potential for a pilot women-only pre-trade program based in Manitoba.


[1] Statistics Canada & Council of Ministers of Education, Canada.  (2010).  Education Indicators in Canada:  An International Perspective.  Ottawa, ON:  Canadian Education Statistics Council.  http://www.cmec.ca/Publications/Lists/Publications/Attachments/253/indicators-perspective-int-spet2010.pdf (accessed January 24, 2011). 
Note:  Statistics are from the 2006/2007 academic year.  Graduation rates are a proxy, which measure the proportion of graduates in relation to the size of the youth population at the typical age of graduation.
[2]Statistics Canada.  (April 2010).  Interrupting Education and Returning to Education.  “Education Indicators in Canada:  Fact Sheets.”  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-599-x/81-599-x2010005-eng.htm (accessed January 25, 2011).
[3] Milligan, S. & Bougie, E.  First Nations Women and Postsecondary Education in Canada:  Snapshots from the Census.  Statistics Canada.  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-004-x/2009004/article/11017-eng.htm (accessed February 8, 2011).
[4] Statistics Canada.  College Enrolment, by Sex, Registration Status and Program Type, Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2001/2002 and 2006/2007 (table)“Education Indicators in Canada: Report of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program December 2010.” “Tables.” Last updated December 13, 2010. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-582-x/2010004/tbl/tbld1.4-eng.htm (accessed January 24, 2011).
[5] Statistics Canada. University Enrolment, by Sex, Registration Status and Program Type, Canada, Provinces and Territories, 1998/1999, 2003/2004 and 2008/2009 (table)“Education Indicators in Canada: Report of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program December 2010.”  “Tables.” Last updated December 13, 2010. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-582-x/2010004/tbl/tbld1.5-eng.htm (accessed January 24, 2011).
[6] Statistics Canada.  Percentage of Females Relative to Total Full-time University Enrolment, Canada and Provinces, 1998/1999 and 2008/2009 (table).  “Education Indicators in Canada: Report of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program December 2010.”  Last updated December 13, 2010. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-582-x/2010004/tbl/tbld1.6-eng.htm (accessed January 24, 2011).
[7]Knighton, T., Brochu, P. & Gluszynski, T.  (December 2010).  Measuring Up:  Canadian Results of the OECD PISA Study – The Performance of Canada’s Youth in Reading, Mathematics and Science – 2009 First Results for Canadians Aged 15.  Ottawa, ON:  Human Resources and Skills Development Canada; Council of Ministers of Education, Canada and Statistics Canada.  http://www.cmec.ca/Publications/Lists/Publications/Attachments/254/PISA2009-can-report.pdf (accessed January 24, 2011).
[8] Milligan, S. & Bougie, E.  First Nations Women and Postsecondary Education in Canada:  Snapshots from the Census.  Statistics Canada.  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-004-x/2009004/article/11017-eng.htm (accessed February 8, 2011).
[9] Statistics Canada.  (October 2009).  Postsecondary Enrolment and Graduation.  “Education Indicators in Canada: Fact Sheets.”  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-599-x/81-599-x2009003-eng.htm (accessed February 8, 2011).
[10] Statistics Canada, summary table “Average hourly wages of employees by selected characteristics and profession, unadjusted data, by province (monthly) (Manitoba)” (data from CANSIM tables 282-0069 and 282-0073).
[11] Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 97-563-XCB2006063.
[12] Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, online catalogue 71-222-X
[13] Apprenticeship Manitoba, Personal Communication, September 3, 2010.
[14] Construction Sector Council (2010, February). The State of Women in Construction in Canada. Retrieved October 2010 from the Construction Sector Council website:  http://www.csc-ca.org/pdf/State_of_Women_in_Construction_in_Canada.pdf
[15] Construction Sector Council. (2010, June). Construction Looking Forward:  An Assessment of Construction Labour Markets from 2010 to 2018 for Manitoba. Retrieved October 2010 from the Construction Sector Council website:  http://www.csc-ca.org/pdf/CSC-LookingForward10Report-MB-EN.pdf
[21] Canadian Apprenticeship Forum.  (2004, January). Accessing and Completing Apprenticeship Training in Canada:  Perceptions of Barriers Experienced by Women.  Retrieved July 2010 from:  http://www.caf-fca.org/files/access/women.pdf
[22] Scullen, J. (2008, January). Women in Male Dominated Trades:  It’s Still a Man’s World. Saskatchewan:  Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trades Certification Commission.  Retrieved September 2010 from:  http://www.saskapprenticeship.ca/siteimages/misc%20pamphlets_newsletters/women_in_the_trades_FINAL2008.pdf
[23] Hulme, K.  (2006, Spring).  Making the Shift from Pink Collars to Blue Ones:  Women’s Non-traditional Occupations.  Labour/Le Travail, 57, 143-165.  Retrieved December 7, 2010 from:  http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/llt/57/hulme.html
[24] Vojakovic, D. (2008, December) Women in Trades Discussion Paper. Retrieved August 2010 from the ITABC website:  http://www.itabc.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1096

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

View from the 40th floor of the Millennium Hotel where we held a meeting in preparation for meeting with Canadian Ambassador

View from the Brooklyn Bridge which we WALKED over

The start of our walk - about 30 to 40 minutes

The Dinner Party (Judy Chicago) at the Brooklyn Museum!


 What an amazing experience to see this wonderful display, The Dinner Party and the Brooklyn Museum. I had read about it, may times, and it lived up to my expectations. The level of detail, the beauty of the whole display, and the beauty of each "place setting". 

A few photos follow. If you are ever in New York, make sure you go to see this lovely Museum.






Final Panel - Where Do We Go From Here?

Yakin Euturk (Turkey) Moderator
Rapporteur for VAW in Geneva, and CSW in New York.  Spoke about the UN (gender) being fragmented, After 2009 for rapporteur report to CSW, which will be better. VAW intimately linked to women’s empowerment. Issue of UN human rights discourse fragmented. Codified law into social and economic, and political and civil. How can one achieve political and civil rights, without social and economic – both require positive action. States rarely react to social and economic rights. Real rights – question that the 2 rights are integrally related. Unless have economic independence and access to property, their capability to deal with violations, completely undermined. Develop a vision. Not about equal opportunities, important, structured inequalities. Cannot give equal opportunities with structured inequalities. Gender mainstreaming, what are we mainstreaming, most often male streaming. Needs to be revisited. Gender mainstreaming, Fragment the issues, each part taken place by a different UN entity - UN Women will be able to be the centre.


Farah Karimi, Director of Oxfam Novib, - 4 observations. Sells Change! What is question – important question is how change happens. What is your vision – what is aim? Universality and human rights – point of departure. Rights based approach, in whole development issues, Debate in the Netherlands – what are we doing - human rights organizations, Muslim organizations defining change. Our point of departure is human rights. Have to support those organizations. Change has to happen inside. Wonderful to see Egypt. These organizations very key – shouldn’t give up in what we believe that human rights exclusive to western societies. Revolutions, part of Iraian revolution – Movement mainly moved by youth at that time. Always inspiring to see mass movement created, and people on the streets. Triggers our imagination. In Tunisia and Egypt, crucial moment, Try to remain in contact, human rights organizations, so that the momentum towards a society that is rights based. Crucial to see where those societies are heading. Show more visibility. High expectations towards UN Women. Survey from 100 NGOs – VAW not surprising, rural women – day of working – should be accessible. We are going to have to be the change. UN Women will have to change other UN agencies and bodies. Funding agency, resources available. Governments – cutting 60 million euros. Most of money goes to projects. Painful to cut funding. How are we going to deal with that. Mobilize resources.

Maynaz Afkhami – President of the Women's Learning Partnership, very little we can add to add.  How UN Women situates itself with in the UN system. How we relate to this entity. Relationship would be very helpful Seems as if we talk about mutual responsibility, some sort of mutual give and take. UN agencies don’t usually feel responsible to civil society. If we want UN Women to be responsible, we need to empower it, so it can empower us. Raising conscious, of the importance of the UN itself. Need to make the entity know, and what UN all about. USA did so much for 8 years to harm the UN. Some in the USA still see the UN as the enemy. Raising consciousness. Governments – answering governments. If people think UN Women important, then will support. And can push governments. Financial crisis , affects funding. Not enough  inspiration for young people. Raise funds in non traditional ways. There is a difference between us and UN women – they can provide safe space, convening power. Allowing us to be heard by others. Making sure that other agencies, not just work better but be feminist in their outlook, Relationship we need to think more about. UN Women a global entity, important to clarify – idea, what ails us is patriarchy – patriarchy is the structure , thru out history, the relationship between members, vertical relationship always top down. Hierarchical system, duplicated in religion and governments. Need to change the culture. All men are created equally. In middle east, large groups, mostly men, shouting for democracy, people in that part of the  world – love democracy, but ask about women’s rights, gay rights, plunge to 25 percent. Have to talk about culture change. Have to learn ourselves. Concepts of tolerance inclusive, listening with tolerance. Whole lot of share experience. Transformative experience, guaranteed democratic interaction. Not dictated – provide space to do it together.
Look at wonderful declaration of human rights. Everyone has that aspiration. Don’t play politics with human rights. Universal human rights, contextual differences – Very interesting and good conversations.

How can we make UN more responsive, non state torture, torture in classic sense, inflicted by state, very technical definition. In responding to torture, have rehab programs. Politics around support for victims. VAW is about whole subordination of women. Talking about VAW in a narrow sense, build shelters and that’s it. Requires commitments, beyond harm done. Politically and culturally charged – very powerful groups are non state actors, need to keep pushing debate. Women’s issues moved from periphery to central stage. Link different mechanisms so not working in isolation. Bringing together 4 units enormously big decision. UNIFEM, DAW, OSAGAI, INSTRAW. Policy side to operational and field side. Field work and policy must be linked. Specific areas must be better linked. Talk about a more integrated system. Manage 2 funds - Gender \Equity Fund, and the VAW Trust Fund. What do we think needs to be funded, and demanding where money goes where there talk is. Every level of private and public sector – need for a wholistic agenda. Worrying about what is happening in the Netherlands – conservative – against migrants and Moslems. Right wing movement,  constituted against Islam, and allying with right wing Christians – around abortion. Rights of indigenous women now affected. Struggle for their rights. Islamaphobia – Deteriorating rights generally. Denegrade a group of people, important human rights – non state actors, very bad guys. Fundamentalists, they will become state actors. HR work naming and shaming.
Funding has an agenda – example of funding a jirga in Pakistan – by UNIFEM -   MDGs, very week about women and youth. How to make a real space at the UN level, and country and regional level. Reproductive health  after 7 years because women fought for it. HR Council supported gay and lesbian rights. More and more actors – new emerging powers, like China, and India, Understand funding environment - changing rapidly, private foundations, emerging powers, start dialogue with them.

Thanks to the Women's Learning Partnership for an excellent day!

Culture, Religion and Human Rights

June Zeitlin, Director CEDAW Education Project, from the USA was the moderator of this panel on a very important and interesting panel  – the purpose is to take recommendations to UN Women – Issues important in the US as well as other parts of the world.

Kartima Bennoune, just back from Algeria. Short DVD showed the recent protest in Algeria. Faces, and energy from Algeria demonstrations. Katima saw the protests – women played critical roles. Called for nothing less than total change. March for change – on the 12th of February. Took up a position on the sidewalk, refused to be removed. One of the prominent feminist says she’s been waiting for year. On Feb. 12, the women refused to cede to the police. Unyielding women who did not cede even to women police officers. Police men handled her – counter demonstrators pulled her clothes off, and helped male colleagues push her down. Observatory of Violence against Women. Abrogation of family code and on change agenda. Ameliorating the family rules. Salaries not covering the costs of basics. March – protesters demanding peaceful change. Women kicked by riot police, threatened sexual assault. Deeply moved. Algeria not given same coverage as Egypt. Social change most important. Understanding religion, and culture. None of these activists are only claiming freedom basic rights – nobody made claims as part of religion or culture. Basic rights as any other human right.  I believe we are undermining rights as full citizenship. Not a discourse of religion. Unapologetic support for universal human rights. Some universality most ardent defenders, are outside of US.  Bravery of Liberian people, recommended Libia leave the HR Council. 

UN Women will show support for universality of human rights.

Leila Ahmed 
This wonderful woman (Egypt) has been working on Islam women in America. Clearly the case of women and Islam, under tow of significance. Women’s  chador symbol of moral justice of the Afghan war. 

Broad themes – scarf, stereotypes. Religion, culture and human rights. Trend of influence of Moslem Brotherhood – revival. Islamists, people dealing with the revival, agree with non violence. How in America. – turned these assumptions. Scarf been cut from patriarcy, gender justice now. Issues of commitment to social justice, including justice for women. Findings Islam interpreted a number of ways, and demonstrate democratic input  – some forms of Islam will insist male superiority, others won’t.  Revolution across middle east and norther Africa. Women, some with hijab and others not, all part of movement. What does revolutionary movement have to say – about treatment of Moslems in Germany and the UK?.

Frances Kissling – Liberty University, pro choice Roman Catholic.  Fundamentalism – war stories. Early years, studied economics – country of hope, more jobs than workers, people buying homes,   Rreligious fundamentalism, Paternalistic fundamentalism. Tax on women’s reproductive health. Assault on basic family planning services. Assault on women’s rights in the economic arena. Francis talked about Liberty university – the conservative movement alive and well. Challenge at a cultural level.

5th world conference women, can we advance the agenda. Stypmied by fundamentalist agenda. Should we be preocupied by that. Seemed to have allowed religious fundamentalists, privileged space to continue. Role of all religion in the UN. Time for us as women, capacity to strategize and plan a meeting that can not be derailed from the core agenda of the meeting. We can do this, and  UN Women can and must lead the way. Fundamentalist Religions have been more destructive to the lives of women within the UN than any other body. Disruptive in other boides for children but at the UN have worked for a patriarchial society which identivies with a religious patriarchial system. Introduced a strong religious component. The 5th World Conference convenes the women of the world, and fearlessly refutes any religious fundamentalists.

All people have culture not just some – police dept in France, man killed, it is rage or something else, Women's oppression of women in sharia – politics or reality.

Lunch Partners - one from Sri Lanka, and one from Norway

Interesting discussion with my lunch mates - about sex work, and the Norwegian model. Will be in touch with Hilde Jakobsen as her friend is doing an evaluation of the current system used in Norway (and Sweden). The other young woiman is  Kanya D'Almeida, from the Inter Press Service- doing some great work!

Sometimes the best discussions take place informally with the amazing women who are attending the CSW.

Video Connection with Thoraya Ahmed Obaid (Saudia Arabia)


Thoraya Ahmed Obaid is a former Under Secretary-General of the UN and Executive Director of the UN Population Fund. She spoke clearly and articulated several issues of importance to UN Women.

  • Create a UN with a focus on we the people, not the systems the UN has set up to work for states.
  • Wwomen can bring about the dialogue between the UN and the state. The UN can be a safe space for different points of view. UN Women can be that safe space.
  • A variety of opions. We need to democratize our insititutions. The recent uprising, gives us a sense of young people wanting to be part of it, must listen to them. Sun is rising thru the young pople, have to give them leadership positions. Women from all creeds were part of it, some with scarves, some without, all united, democaracy , equality, and human rights, Don’t judge pople by what they wer on their heads, but what they have in their heads. VAW can be eliminated if we have right context. Christians, and Moslems working together. Dialogue across religions important. 
  • Final lesson young people  cleaned up afern themselves. Means UN Women must ensure inclusive, and bringing conflicting points of view together. Not only about women but men and women, conscious of the UN, and rights of women. And gender relations. Influence institutions and understand cultural context. Becoming reference point inside and outside UN. Voice of General Assembly, that all programs engendered. We all know what needs to be done, know answers, but listen to people. Hopeful UN Women when time for real transformation in the world. Movement of change.
 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Way Forward, continued

The first panel Our Vision for UN Women, Views from the field -


Moderator, Lina Abou-Habib, from Lebanon
First speaker was  Wajeeha Al Baharna, from Bahrain – women from this region – lowest amongst other countries for women’s rights. Need more promotion of rights – personal, nationality, political, economic, 2 challenges facing women in gulf region – 1) comes from within community, women downgraded, reflect negatively on self esteem, and enjoying rights. They feel lost hope of any reforms, with the stereotype, 2) other challenge from international community – see wealthy, don’t need rights, everything provided. Being wealthy – doesn't mean we don’t want to claim our rights. These 2 types of stereotypes – work with other groups in Bahrain, and Saudi Arabi, - awareness of their rights, and claim their rights. More attention  to youth. Help to claim women’s rights. UN Women, see a  glimpse of hope, to see better life, future for all the women of the world. 

Asma Khader  – spoke about war affected countries – from Jordan. Coming from middle east – many conflicts – and demonstrations all around. Part of peace, and democracy in the future. Suffer – in past, men haven’t been able to sort it out. Women – do see with 1320 will protect women and children. These resolutions not known by men and others. Jordanian NGOs did work around implementation, now women part of peace force, but we need a plan, but can’t have a plan with out resources. First action plan by Arab countries,  75% of country under 30 years of age. Education has been good for women –but no matching jobs. Demand is huge, resources limited. Partnerships and learning from each other – build networks, meeting demands. Help local women reach up to UN Women. 

Sakena Yacobbi, from Afghanistan.Challenges - lack of education, economic resources. Security is major challenge – security is stopping the violence. Women and girls wanting to come to a centre to learn. Face day to day. Big issue. We are hoping UN Women will be a voice – for security. We have a peaceful and secure life

Mallika Dutt, India/USA, a moment of crisis and opportunity – jasmine revolution – led by young men and women, financial melt down, climate change, what our dreams are – transormative moment, not specific issues – Bachelet’s position is a tipping point, women taken seriously, and at the table, and transforming the table, Men’s leadership has been a failure, catalazye the women’s movment and redefining the table. 

Sindi Medar-Gould – women from Africa join with others to celebrate, looking at how we can help. Nigeria – we sign documents, sign them all, but no implementation. Deliberate strategy – know we can’t implement because of our constitutions. Women taken up battle – so we let women know – signed documents. Help to bring true meaning to gender mainstreaming. UN Women help to bring in feminist interpretation of what is meant by siging the conventions. Push envelope forward – 

Bachelet’s response, Sense of humour, don’t perform miracles. Situation not even – challenges are my challenges – not easy, can be useful – very complicated, and complex problems. Approaching – how we pass from rhetoric to action. Event on HIV/AIDs – history – how we transform leadership, make commitments, not promises. Believing – but need to build the case, need to know exactly what it cost and what is benefit.  Looks like women’s rights are human rights hasn’t opened the doors. Need to build the case. Went to Davos, to ensure gender equality, biggest gap is political, second is economic. Try to understand other’s point of view.  Very open and frank dialogue. 

When a woman comes to politics, the politics changes the woman, when many women come to the table, politics change
Questions – and answers – in favour of 5th world conference on Women – timing important.
Question from Egypt, and Pakistan – Egypt need to monitor – shoulder to shoulder at the square – need to to monitor daily, involve women in all restructuring. Work women at all levels.

Associaton for Progressive Communications – 1st thing that gets controlled is communications. Internet forums – come in and talk about who controls the internet. – mandate changing, and hierarchical forms. Women have a huge say in how internet governed. Involvement of private sector, and public private partnerships. Women having a voice – Bahrain exception to wealthy countries. Women very hard worker,  Women being with the men in the revolutions. Women very long history – national demonstrations in 90s. been tortured, doing job much better. Using new technologies. Very organized. Side by side with the men. Constitutional changes – When SC resolutions harm women – Palestinian question, 2/3 of refugees are women, suffering violence. 1325 in our time – use it to build decent changes. When spirit of change is there, in Tunisia, Egypt, any delay in working with groups that want change – lose the spirit. The moment comes when can’t wait any more. Private sector -  build equality inside private sector. Young people and IT – help the Tech festival. Other responses; - get involved – Afghanistan changing for the better. More awareness, peace education. Women, more and more involved. Women at the peace table. Saw restrictions, because of security. Security a hot issue day by day.  Value of the internet – Jasmine revolution – has an impact, and use it as an opportunity for women’s rights. Coorporate greed take seriously - contradictions in pursuing public private partnerships. Ensues a financial system that takes human rights seriously,

Strategy to deconstruct and reconstruct – men and boys against violence against women. No point in telling women that she has rights, and then going home to a man who does not agree. Don’t partner with oil companies. So many are corrupt. Can’t accept blood money. Until we find gender friendly corporation. Question about sexual and reproductive rights.
Working with men – how does gender equality look from the male side.
In the region, a campaign – 2006, working on a campaign – equality with out reservation - no reservations to CEDAW. Saudia Arabia signed it. Science fiction, many of the colleagues – so far no one has invested anything better. Hold governments accountable. Certainly more powerful than MDGs. Don’t reflect vision. Litmus test, will have inclusive democracies. Take CEDAW seriously.

Hard ot work in Afghanistan – because of security. One way is thru internet – set up training thru the internet. Sensitive to the culture – use it to advance. Assault on human rights in the US right now. What happening in the middle east with hope. Can use some of these tools in the US. Unravelling of rights, sustained assault – solidarity in political movements. We clearly in the US needs some help. Looking outside for some of these tools. Ask for wisdom and solidarity. What is the shape of the table – table is round, no head, no hierarchy. Voices of who are farmers, and sit on corporate boards, declaration of human rights, one value table where we ask about economic questions, respect each other and respect the environment, women’s voices – are proactive voice of political systems that we can thrive in. Question about democracy trying to shape in hierarchy, don’t respect legal commitments. CEDAW only instruments to frame our rights,  reservation for number 15. Problems of the IT. Western countries can interfere, but turned out to be powerful tool, in hands of young people. Access to the internet, and languages. Not only elite and well educated people have access. Within school curriculum. One of reasons CEDAW not implemented in Africa is because it is seen as the abortion bill. Reproductive rights – resistance to it, continue to have training, ngos, and community organizations. You have the right. Bahrain – equality without reservation campaign, lifting reservation campaign – conducted seminar discussions.discussion about 16 helping and improving engaging religion with this. Presented at a parallel session, how can we play with it, and change approach. How to promote women’s rights without engaging religion. Transfer from claiming our rights to living our rights.