Debrief: United Nations 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women – Beijing Plus 20 and Cities for CEDAW Campaign

The following debrief was prepared by Jessica Buchleitner, Secretary, Board of Directors: 

The fifty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 9 to 20 March 2015. Representatives of Member States , UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs)  from all regions of the world attended the session.

The main focus of the session was on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, including current challenges that affect its implementation and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Commission undertook a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The review (Beijing+20) also included the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly, the first five-year assessment conducted after the adoption of the Platform for Action, which highlighted further actions and initiatives. The session also addressed opportunities for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women in the post-2015 development agenda. See the Women’s Intercultural Network Beijing Plus 20 page with reports and responses to the CSW 59 outcome documents (links included). You can also see a complete history of NGO involvement with UN conferences on women from 1975- present here.

During the opening ceremony in General Assembly, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark remarked of the need for civil society to be more included in the activity of the Commission on the Status of Women. It has been observed over the last four years the growing number of NGOs attending the annual Commission meeting. This year was no exception as it boasted an attendance of around 9,000 NGO delegates, the most in history of the Commission session.

This debrief is divided into four parts that will include the Commission reports from the major regions concerning the 20 year review of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), the NGO and civil society progress, Women’s Intercultural Network’s NGO panels and my takeaways from the conference. To read Women’s Intercultural Nertwork’s official NGO statement (prepared by Lenka Belkova and Jessica Buchleitner) click here.

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Jessica Buchleitner at United Nations CSW 59, ECOSOC chamber

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Jessica Buchleitner and Nwe Oo at opening morning of United Nations CSW 59

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Nwe Oo, WIN associate Lenka Belkova and WIN Board Secretary Jessica Buchleitner

I. Reports from major regions and member states on the progress related to the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) 20 year review

Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) session on Beijing Plus 20

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ECOSOC Chamber during CSW debrief

 Women’s Intercultural Network is a Non-Governmental Organization Consultative to the UN ECOSOC and accredits delegates to the UN CSW.  WIN delegates attend panels and at the NGO CSW Forum, UN Side Events and UN CSW sessions. Here are some major takeaways from their conclusions:

– No country has achieved gender equality to date.
– Progress has been far to slow towards implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action marked by aggression and regression within member states.
– On a positive note, many discrimination laws have been passed in member states that forward the rights of women and girls.
– Since 1990, maternal mortality rates worldwide have decreased by 45 percent.
– Since the 4th world conference in women in Beijing in 1995, a doubling of representation in national parliaments from 11 percent in 1995 to 22 percent today ensues. This is a marked increase in women taking party in the political process.
– A marked increase worldwide of women participating in the labor force since 1995 has also been revealed.

Regional Review of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) by major UN regions

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Trusteeship Council Chamber during the 5 regions report on BPFA

The Commission on the Status of Women conducted a regional review of BPFA progress on March 11 in the Trusteeship Council chamber with the 5 regional heads. Here is a summary of key points taken from each region:

1. Executive Secretary of ESCWA (Arab states region) reported:
– Much progress has been made to implement Beijing Plus 20 in the middle eastern nations, though it is difficult to attain an accurate picture of all the Arab states due to the ongoing conflict in the region.
– Gaza is in conflict and continued occupation of Palestine and this has made implementation of BPFA difficult in the region.
– Arab states have since adopted most major UN women’s treaties and 20 of the 22 countries have ratified CEDAW.
– The new Tunisian constitution is unique and new national laws were made in terms of fair wages.
– Since 1995, 87 percent of girls are enrolled in primary school.
– Since 1995, the arab nations have observed a 1/3 decrease in infant mortality rates.

2. Executive Secretary of UNESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) reported:
– 70 percent of women and girls in this region face violence because of a male partner.
– This region has the second lowest proportion of female parliamentary members.
– Human trafficking remains at an all-time high in several of the members states of this region and is a growing problem in others.

3. Executive Secretary for ECE (European Union) reported:
– Hosted regional review conference in November that revealed strong progress of the BPFA in European Union states.
– Through all EU states, legislation to forward the rights of women and girls has been improved throughout.
– Violence against women is criminalized in all states, with legal penalties.
– Education of women and girls is pervasive and boasts a high rate of equality.
– A further drop in maternal mortality rates was observed.
– A rise in eating disorders has been reported, especially among young women.
– Half of women in the EU states still experience sexual harassment and sexual violence before the age of 15.
– An increase of young women’s’ and women’s e4mployement continues.
– 25 percent of the parliament members are women yet most news stories focus on women.
– There is a large gap in financial pensions for women, especially aging women.
– The EU states would like more data studies to be conducted per the BPFA.

4. Executive Secretary of ECA (Economic Commission of Africa) reported:
– It was reported that Africa region has made significant progress in regard to the BPFA, contrary to popular belief.
– Enrollment of girls in primary school has achieved targets in the entire continent, but falls short in terms of secondary school.
– Africa had a low base in all indices and from that marking point most countries have done well by way of improvement, but still have a long way to go.
– There are currently 3 heads of states in the member states that are women and a number of new female ministers for foreign affairs.
– Africa is the best region in terms of performance in the entire world at the UN.
– There are concerns about the ongoing economic opportunities being made available to women and a strong transformative process.
– African Union proclaimed this will be the year to address outstanding BPFA issues.
– The African nations boast a 92 percent rate of compliance with BPFA.

5. Executive Secretary of ECLAC (Latin America) reported:
– There is a diverse situation for women in the Latin American nations currently of progress and violence.
– Rates of poverty for women have increased steadily since 1995, particularly in Colombia and Brazil.
– Much of the feminization of poverty is attributed to unpaid care work, a subject of the World Bank Economic Development task force.
– Governments are pushing for more reform to allow women more economic autonomy.

Recommendations by all major regional executives to drive further implementation of the BPFA:
– In the ESCWAR and ESCAP regions, women face drastic inability to give citizenship to their children.
– 30 percent of the ESCAR states are in a situation of armed conflict, where Security Council Resolution 1325 needs to be enacted.
– In ECE, all governments must continue to implement strategies to prosecute perpetrators of VAW.
– In ECE, pay equity action is in continued need and governments should create transparency tools. For example, in France, there are sanctions against companies who do not give equal pay.
– Gender sensitive budgeting is recommended in all regions.
– Governments must focus on changing the amount of unpaid care work that women are subjected to in the ECLAC region.
– ECA has a three pronged strategy for implementation of BPFA that involves the private sector, women’s rights and the social sector.
– All areas agree that more data on the progress of women is needed to pinpoint better reforms.

II. NGO progress with Beijing Platform for Action
The variety of NGO sessions we attended yielded information on several fronts, namely the subject of masculinity, land rights, labor force participation, violence and armed conflict and the subject of unpaid care work, a theme that has echoed into this year’s CSW 59 and widely discussed at CSW 58 last year. Several panel discussion stuck out to me, namely one about UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the situation of women in Ukraine where we heard from the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Several NGOs were conducting studies on masculinity and its perception in culture and contribution to violence against women. There has been significant progress in dispelling cultural myths surrounding what defines a “man”, by teaching men to respect women.

Perhaps one of the most influential panels of all was one that featured Zakia Hakki- the first female Iraqi Kurd judge who is also a key player in drafting the new constitution for Iran. She clicked through an extensive PowerPoint presentation of the effects of ISIS on the Middle East and the destruction it wields. Through a tearful speech she showed a photo of 10 children locked in a metal cage about to be burned alive and exclaimed that the Kurds and Iraqis just wanted their land back. You can view her presentation here (Zakia_presentation), but be forewarned that the images are very graphic.

Here are some photos from a few of the panels:

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NGO reps from Chechnya discuss the situation on women and girls

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Siobhan Neilland of Onemama.org discuss land rights in Uganda at the Africa Caucus

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A young woman from Mozambique speaks about teen girls at the US Mission to the UN

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A discussion on Masculinity – a study conducted by the Dutch government in Syria

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With Zakia Hakki, first female judge from Iraqi Kurdistan and a key player in drafting the new constitution

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Panel with Iraq ambassador on ISIS and the Yazidi Kurds

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Two time Nobel Prize nominee Chai Ling of China discusses her work regarding the One Child policy

III. Women’s Intercultural Network NGO panels on Beijing plus 20 and Cities for CEDAW.
This was a big year for Women’s Intercultural Network at the UN. WIN is a Peer Leader for the civil society NGO leg of the Cities for CEDAW campaign. Our goal is to get US mayors in cities of all sizes and cultures to agree publicly that they will support a CEDAW ordnance in their city government. We hosted two panels, the first Women’s Intercultural Network (WIN) panel convened an interactive and solutions oriented forum with shared innovative strategies for implementing the Beijing Platform for action in the Post 2015 Development Agenda.  A stellar group of panelists spoke  that included Siobhan Nieland and Marie Murphy with those on the flyer below discussed how we can capitalize, organize and politicize our critical concens for gender equality for all women and girls. Joining WiN at the forum were women from NGO, governmental and the private sector.

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The second panel was co-hosted with the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women where we featured Reverend Mary Sue Barnett from Louisville, Beth Denghan from North Carolina and Yolanda Mendoza from Salt Lake City – three women who are pushing the CEDAW ordnance in their municipalities. Mary Sue Barnett was able to get the mayor of Louisville to sign CEDAW into action!  I also presented the civil society portion of the campaign, emphasizing the importance of government (San Francisco Department on the Status of Women) and civil society to work together. Since the panels we have had an enormous of interest in the campaign and thousands of sign ups. It was very successful. For more information about starting a campaign in your city please contact: citiesforcedaw@winaction.org and visit the weblog for more information on how to get involved.

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Emily Murase, DOSW, Nancy Kirshner Rodriquez, Executive Director of CA Commisson on the Status of Women and Girls, Beth Denghan, Reverend Mary Sue Barnett, Yolanda Mendoza and Jessica Buchleitner at United Nations CSW 59 on Cities for CEDAW panel

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Jessica Buchleitner discuss 50 Women, Book One and the CEDAW ordnance at United Nations

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Reception at the Roosevelt House
WIN also co-hosted a reception at the Roosevelt House in honor of the late Congresswoman Bella Abzug with her daughter Liz. A group of noted feminists and diplomats attended and gave testimonials about Bella and cheered at a film of Bella’s life. It was an honor to welcome diplomats,women in media and academia along with noted NGO women leaders to the event in honor of a woman who gave so much to the world. Liz Abzug currently heads the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute that works with young women and girls by  inspiring, mentoring and training them to become leaders in creating positive social and economic change. To see all the photos from the event click here.

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Marilyn Fowler, WIN with Jean Shinoda Bolen and Liz Abzug at the Roosevelt House, Bella Abzug Reception

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WIN Board of Directors – Diana Goodrow and Jessica Buchleitner

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WIN Board member Mary Ann Ellison, Uganda advisor to WIN and founder of Onemama.org Siobhan Neilland and Board member Diana Goodrow

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Marilyn Fowler, Peggy Kerry

 

IV. Our takeaways

Several of our delegates have provided summaries of their experiences at CSW 59 that will be posted soon here below.

Jessica Buchleitner, Secretary, Board of Directors
My personal takeaways this year are of course the big, glowing accomplishment of the fact that I had 50 Women, Book One with me in tow and was able to present it on Women News Network’s panel and the Cities for CEDAW panel with Women’s Intercultural Network, where I am a director on the Board of Directors. Not only did the copies I brought sell out, but they book also received extensive praise and interest for its inclusiveness of all the major world regions. After the glorious mix of the WTF roller coaster ride it was publishing the first book in the series, the UN was practically a paid vacation as getting to present it there in front of heads of states and seasoned diplomats was rather fabulous. I also feel it is giving many of the causes these women represent the much needed attention. I attended the conference alongside contributors Nwe Oo, Jane Anyango and Book Two contributor Siobhan Neilland. It was an honor to share the stage with them.

Below are some photos of its debut!

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With contributor New Oo at the United Nations opening day of CSW 59

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Speaking on WNN panel at UN about the experience of compiling it

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Jessica Buchleitner with 50 Women, Book One

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In General Assembly room with 50 Women, Book One

 

 

 

 

Conversation with Muslim artist Sophia Ahmed Sattar

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Recently, we hosted an evening of delicious food and stimulating conversation with Pakistani artist Sophia Ahmed Sattar! Here are some photos of the event. Be sure to check out her website!

Women’s Equality Day Event

Our recent Women’s Equality Day event August 24, 2013 was a raging success at the African-American Arts and Culture Complex in San Francisco!  We discussed critical concerns that are challenging California women and girls and related them to the global  Beijing Platform for action.  We were graced with the presence of Christine Pelosi, who accepted our Princess Leia award for her amazing mother Leader Pelosi.  Accepting our Circle of Courage Award was Lys Anzia, Founder and Executive Editor of Women News Network , and Rebecca Blanton,  dynamite new Executive Director, California Commission on Women as of March , briefed us on her work and vision for the state CSW.

Sign on to participate in co-creating the  2015 California Women’s Agenda (CAWA) with us and to receive updates on plans and emerging issues for  Beijing+20, 2015. Join WIN HERE , send in the WIN Member Form, or email us at win@WINaction.org

View the Outcome Summary Report from the Discussion Tables at the event.

More photos from the Women’s Day Event August 24, 2013 and videos with soon to come!  There’s a whole lot more!

Attached is Leader Pelosi’s letter of acceptance of our award  and  a commendation letter from Senator Dianne Feinstein.  We’re so proud of our women legislators!

“Call to Action on Issues Impacting Women and Girls”
Priority issues raised at this event will help co-create agendas for a California and US Women’s Plan of Action that goes to the UN Commission Session for a celebration of Beijing+20 in 2015 as part of efforts to amplify women and girls’ voices and impact US and global deliberations. Read more here. We welcomed farm worker leaders from the Central Valley, grassroots activists, women’s organizations, legislators, and other interested groups. Participants discussed priority issues important to their communities. Among those were  economic justice, education, health, violence against women and human trafficking. These key concerns were framed by a shared consensus on the ratification of CEDAW at the federal level as a founding document for further progress in women’s rights. Our event was a beginning, a step forward in creating empowerment, identifying critical issues, and problem solving with strategic solutions.

Be sure to read Board Member Kathleen Cha’s Concluding Remarks.

YOUR VOICE COUNTS!  Join WIN now and be part of the CALIFORNIA WOMEN’S AGENDA, 2015.

For more information on how to add your voice to CAWA+20 email  us at win@WINaction.org!

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Christine Pelosi accepting the Princess Leia Award

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Board members Jessica Buchleitner and Ana Maria Sanchez standing with the amazing Aileen Hernandez (center in orange hat) and Elahe Amani, Chair of WIN Global Council

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With Jessica Buchleitner (Board Secretary), Marilyn Fowler (President and CEO of WIN), Emily Salgado, Rebecca Blanton (Executive Director of CA Commission on the Status of Women and Girls), Emily Murase (SF Department on the Status of Women).

Group photo of WIN and our partners!

Group photo of WIN and our partners!

News from our home city!

Please read the following news articles and the attached statement about news from our home city and activists we directly work with:

The Japan Times

San Francisco mayor ‘offended’; meeting in doubt

BY ERIC JOHNSTON

STAFF WRITER

MAY 22, 2013

               OSAKA – Embattled Osaka Mayor and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) coleader Toru Hashimoto faced fresh criticism Tuesday from the San Francisco mayor’s office over his remarks about the necessity of Japan’s wartime brothels.

Osaka says Hashimoto will meet with San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee on the morning of June 11, but the international firestorm created by the Nippon Ishin leader’s remarks that Japan’s “comfort women” system had been necessary at the time has infuriated human rights groups and the U.S. State Department, which called Hashimoto’s remarks outrageous and offensive.

That view is shared by the San Francisco mayor, and despite the schedule Osaka announced, Lee’s office says the Hashimoto meeting has not been confirmed.

“Mayor Lee is disappointed and offended by (Hashimoto’s) statement,” said Francis Tsang, a spokesman for the mayor.

In addition, San Francisco’s Department of the Status of Women, formed in 1998 by the city, has criticized Hashimoto’s comments.

“Sex slavery is never ‘necessary,’ ” Emily Murase, the department’s executive director, said in a statement. “To justify the exploitation and suffering experienced by the women, some just girls, who were forced into prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II is a flagrant denial of human rights.”

Osaka and San Francisco have a sister-city relationship dating back to 1957, and mayoral delegations have visited each other on numerous occasions over the years. The San Francisco-Osaka Association condemned Hashimoto’s remarks last week.

“Statements that justify controversial wartime abuses and devastating violence against women are damaging to international relations and contrary to the mission of the association,” it said.

U.S. slams Japanese mayor’s sex-slave comments as ‘offensive’

Thu, May 16 2013

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States condemned as “outrageous and offensive” comments by the mayor of the Japanese city of Osaka who said this week that Japan’s military brothels during World War Two were “necessary” to provide respite for soldiers.

The remarks by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto drew strong criticism from China and South Korea, two nations sensitive to what they see as any attempt to excuse Japanese abuses before and during the war.

Historians estimate that as many as 200,000 sex slaves, known as comfort women, were forced into submission in the Imperial Japanese Army’s brothels during the war.

“Mayor Hashimoto’s comments were outrageous and offensive,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

“What happened in that era to these women who were trafficked for sexual purposes is deplorable and clearly a grave human rights violation of enormous proportions,” she said, adding that Washington hoped Japan would work with its neighbors to address the mistakes of the past.

The Japanese government has sought to distance itself from Hashimoto’s comments.

“The government’s stance is, as we have said before, that we feel great heartache when we think about the indescribable suffering of those who experienced this,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, although he declined to comment directly on Hashimoto’s remarks.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Philip Barbara)

 Click here to read a statement from Emily Murase and the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women: dosw_statement_hashimoto_051613 FINAL

We came, we saw and we ROSE!

February 14 marked the first annual One Billion Rising and boy did we rise to the occasion! Here are some photos of the event with President Marilyn Fowler, Secretary of the Board of Directors Jessica Buchleitner and Bay Area Delegation member Ana Maria Sanchez! AND- just weeks away from our lovely and amazing

Rising for One Billion Rising

Rising at San Francisco city hall with Jessica Buchleitner, Marilyn Fowler and Ana Maria Sanchez

Crowd rising at One Billion Rising SF

 

85-Year-Old-Woman Arrested for Bank Protest — 6 Revolts the Tea Party-Obsessed Corporate Media Overlooked

By: Rose Aguilar
http://www.alternet.org

Original Article at http://www.alternet.org/news/149562/85-year-old-woman_arrested_for_bank_protest_–_6_revolts_the_tea_party-obsessed_corporate_media_overlooked_?page=entire

Some of the most undercovered stories of 2010 were actions taken by ordinary people standing up for a more just and equitable society. People are taking to the streets on a regular basis across the country, but unlike the corporate-sponsored Tea Party — whose spokespeople can’t answer basic questions about the deficit they claim to be so worried about — those who believe in health care, affordable housing, economic justice, education, a living wage, and a better life for all rarely, if ever, get the attention they deserve. Instead, the media, even the alternative media, spent the better part of last year obsessing over the Tea Party and manufactured personalities like Sarah Palin, while ignoring people like 85-year-old Julia Botello.

Last month, Botello was among 22 people arrested for blocking the doors of a Chase Bank branch in downtown Los Angeles. Over 200 people, many of them homeowners facing foreclosure and eviction, took part in the action organized by Home Defenders League and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

According to the Alliance, these families have never participated in an event or protest before, but they have exhausted all other options. Imagine if over 200 Tea Partiers took part in a similar action. Imagine if an 85-year-old Tea Party member was photographed being led away by two cops, one holding each arm. Not only would this video footage be shown over and over again on the cable shows, Julia Botello would be bombarded with interview requests, but because she’s standing in solidarity with people who are losing their homes, she’s only been contacted by two other reporters.

“If we’re united, we’re a better force. We need to stand together,” she says. “I use my voice for the people. I know all of the councilmen and councilwomen in my area. I’m not afraid to speak and ask for better conditions for my community.”

Botello found her voice 10 years ago after falling and hurting her knee on a routine walk home. Her South Central Los Angeles neighborhood was usually dark because the street lights rarely worked. “We usually had only one light that worked, so I went to local council meetings and raised my voice. Why are our streets dark? We need light. My neighborhood hasn’t been dark since.” She’s been going strong ever since. If there’s an action focusing on an issue she cares about, she will do whatever it takes to be there, even if it means rescheduling an overdue eye surgery. “I still have time and I want to keep going.”

In addition to the Chase Bank action last month, several other grassroots actions failed to receive the attention they deserve. These actions, no matter how small, should not be discounted. Let’s hope these voices and demands become too loud to ignore in 2011.

— On December 9, thousands of inmates in Georgia state prisons began a six-day strike to call attention to their treatment and to demand basic human rights: a living wage for work, educational opportunities, decent living conditions and health care, and an end to cruel and unusual punishment. It was largest prison strike in U.S. history, but the New York Times was one of the few mainstream outlets to cover it.

“Perhaps there was a larger hand at play—one that did not want the deplorable conditions of the Georgia prison system to surface,” writes Death and Taxes’ Joe Weber.

For extensive coverage, analysis and interviews with inmates, you had to turn to independent outlets like Facing South and the Black Agenda Report. “They want to break up the unity we have here,” said an anonymous strike leader in an interview with the Black Agenda Report. “We have the Crips and the Bloods, we have the Muslims, we have the head Mexicans, and we have the Aryans all with a peaceful understanding, all on common ground.”

By refusing to work or leave their cells, the inmates brought attention to prison labor and the growing prison-industrial complex, two issues that rarely get covered in the national media. In These Times ran a piece about Georgia’s hidden prison labor force and The Irish Times ran a piece about what prison life is actually like in Georgia, which has the highest prisoner-to-resident ratio in the U.S. with 60,000 prisoners and 150,000 people on probation. According to the piece, African Americans comprise 63 percent of the prison population, but only 30 percent of state residents.

“Even though reports are stating that the strike is effectively over, the momentum created by the activities of these inmates cannot be understated,” writes Boyce Watkins, founder of the Your Black World Coalition. “By coming together in such an amazing way, the individuals in the Georgia State correctional system have made a strong statement for human rights around the world.”

— On December 11, a few local media outlets in Waterville, Maine reported on an action organized by the Maine Fair Trade Campaign to call attention to President Obama’s decision to bring the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement to Congress for a vote. The group, which opposes NAFTA and CAFTA, rang a bell 31 times in honor of the more than 31,000 Maine-based jobs that have been outsourced since 2000. “People all over the state have suffered because of this,” said campaign board member Sarah Bigney in an interview with The Morning Sentinel. “We know what the impact of NAFTA has been. We must say no to this madness. We know it will continue to worsen the job crisis.” According to the Economic Policy Institute, the deal will increase the deficit with Korea by $16.7 billion, and cost 159,000 U.S. jobs within the first seven years after it takes effect.

Public Citizen says it’s up to Congress to make the “right decision and reject this deeply flawed, job-killing” deal, which is an expansion of the deals negotiated under the Bush administration. “As a Senator and then as a presidential candidate, President Obama opposed the deal,” says a statement on Public Citizen’s site. “He pledged to replace the damaging NAFTA model. In June 2010, President Obama said he would start renegotiating parts of the agreement in preparation for sending it to Congress. But he only focused on some modest changes to automobile trade issues. This came after over 100 members of Congress and over 500 unions, environmental, faith and other organizations called on him to meet his commitments and really fix Bush’s old text. The deal Obama is now pushing directly conflicts with his campaign commitments.”

Congress is expected to vote on the deal in February.

— On December 15, workers, union activists, and community supporters took part in more than 40 actions at Rite Aid stores in 11 states to raise awareness about low wages and health insurance cost increases. In These Times, one of the only outlets to report on the National Day of Action, ran a piece by AFL-CIO campaign coordinator Rand Wilson. He writes that the actions were “sparked by a rash of poor decisions by Rite Aid officials across the country.”

“In Lancaster, California, Rite Aid executives stalled talks with 500 warehouse employees for nearly two years. Now officials are proposing to gouge employees by ‘marking-up’ the cost of health insurance 28 times over the increases charged by insurers. In Rome, New York, Rite Aid is closing a distribution facility that pays family-sustaining wages and benefits and provides workers with a voice on the job. Work is being shifted to a nearby location that pays low wages with few benefits and no job rights.”

Watch a video of the action in Oakland, California.

— On December 16, 131 veterans and their supporters were arrested after chaining themselves to the White House fence during a snowstorm to demand an end to the ongoing occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. According to Veterans for Peace, it was the largest veteran-led demonstration in recent years, but just like Winter Soldier, the action was completely ignored by the corporate media. Dave Lindorff reports that it was blacked out of the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

“None of us expected that these illegal wars of aggression would immediately stop due to our simple action, but we did hope that we would send a message — a message that there are citizens who do not support our government’s illegal wars and occupations; a message to the world that we are shamed by the actions of our government and we will do everything we can to stop it,” writes veteran and peace activist Leah Bolger. “It is our sincere hope that this action will be a spark that ignites the consciousness of others; that our refusal to obey and willingness to put our liberty on the line will give them the courage of their own convictions and they will also begin to act in resistance as well.”

In New York City, 75 veterans, members of Grandmothers Against the War, including two in their 90s, the Green Party, and other groups stood in solidarity with the activists in DC. Eleven people were arrested for blocking an intersection near the military recruiting station in Times Square. Joan Wile, founder of Grandmothers Against the War, writes, “It is hoped that the New York protest along with the big one in Washington served as a wake-up call to the American people about the tragedy of this hopeless and destructive war. Wake up, America!”

At another solidarity action in San Francisco, 26 people were arrested for taking part in a die-in and blocking the doors of the Federal Building.

— On December 20, six people were arrested for trespassing after they locked arms and climbed the steps to the Bank of America entrance in Clayton, St. Louis. According to organizers, some 80 people gathered in front of the bank to raise awareness about a pending foreclosure facing Mary and Mike Boehm. Mary Boehm says after her husband lost his job in 2009, she applied for the mortgage modification program designed to keep people in their homes. On November 8, 2009, Bank of America told her she qualified, but she needed to turn in additional paperwork in order to be officially approved. Even though the Boehms never missed a payment, they received a notice in November 2010 saying they were in default. The foreclosure proceedings began on December 26. The action was organized by the grassroots group Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.

Watch KMOV’s coverage here. A class action lawsuit has since been filed in St. Louis federal court against Bank of America for allegedly refusing to participate in foreclosure prevention programs despite taking $25 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program money, according to the Courthouse News Service.

Original Article found here:
http://www.alternet.org/news/149562/85-year-old-woman_arrested_for_bank_protest_–_6_revolts_the_tea_party-obsessed_corporate_media_overlooked_?page=entire

54th Session on the UN Commission on the Status of Women Progress but Huge Political Challenges Ahead

Elahe Amani
April 28, 2010

Elahe Amani, Co-Chair of Women Intercultural Network

Elahe Amani, Co-Chair of Women Intercultural Network


2010 is a significant year for the global women’s movement. It marks the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPA), the 30th anniversary of Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discriminations Against Women (CEDAW), known as the “Bill of Rights of Women and Girls, “ and 10 years since the Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs) were drawn up. It is a time to reflect, measure the progress, and work on the challenges, failings, and future prospects.
This year, the meeting at the Commission on the Status of Women ( CSW), brought together the UN official delegations, and NGOs as the Beijing Plus 15 Forum was also on February 27th & 28th in New York. The NGOs in a two days intense programming reviewed the progress of the governments in their commitments to implement the goals set at the Beijing Conference in 1995, in addition to shaping a global conversation about the new UN Women’s Agency (due to be created by June 2010 ) and contribute to the General Assembly meeting on MDGs in September 2010.
In 1995 the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing adopted the global policy framework Platform for Action (PFA), which has been the he most comprehensive and progressive document for women’s rights and empowerment ever since. The fact remains that fifteen years since the Beijing Declaration, there has been progress in the status of women and advancement of gender equality, but that progress has been slow, uneven, and has not achieved the goals set at the Beijing Conference.
The following are the Twelve Critical Areas of Concern of the Beijing Platform for Action: Poverty—education and training—health—violence against women—armed conflict—economy—power and decision-making—institutional mechanisms—human rights—environment—girl children.
From March 1st through the 12th, the CSW and more than 2000 representatives of NGOs, gathered in New York City to address the issues in the above-mentioned areas, in order to facilitate an “exchange of national experiences, lessons learned and good practices.” The theme focused on “implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to gender equality and the empowerment of women” as outlined in the review report of the UN Secretary-General. The following is a very brief summary of the review of the implementation of the PFA by member States :

1. Poverty

PFA stresses that eradication of poverty is of top priority in promoting women’s rights and empowerment. UNIFAM’s “Women, Poverty and Economies” (source: http://www.unifem.org/gender_issues/women_poverty_economics/) indicates that “Poverty implications are widespread for women, leaving many without even basic rights such as access to clean drinking water, sanitation, medical care and decent employment. Being poor can also mean they have little protection from violence and have no role in decision making. According to some estimates, women represent 70 percent of the world’s poor. They are often paid less than men for their work, with the average wage gap in 2008 being 17 percent. Women face persistent discrimination when they apply for credit for business or self-employment and are often concentrated in insecure, unsafe and low-wage work. Eight out of ten women workers are considered to be in vulnerable employment in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with global economic changes taking a huge toll on their livelihoods.” Needless to say that certain groups of women are more vulnerable to suffer poverty, such as women farmers, migrants, older women, immigrant and refugees women and women with disabilities.”
Progress has been uneven across regions and within countries. While poverty in eastern Asia, for example, declined from 39 percent in 1995 to 19 percent in 2005, poverty levels in sub-Saharan Africa were only reduced from 57 percent to 51 percent over the same period. The current worldwide financial and economic crisis threatens to reverse the progress made in poverty reduction. There should be an increased focus on upsetting up means of social protection of women in poverty and their families, on increasing women’s access to land ownership, property, and other productive resources, as well as to increase their access to financial services, such as micro-credit, savings, insurance, etc.

2. Education and training

Access to education increased globally for girls at all levels especially in primary education. The ratio of girl to boy first-graders increased globally from 92 girls per 100 boys in 1999 to 95 girls per 100 boys in 2006. In 1999 there were 96 women per 100 enrolled in higher education institutions globally. By 2006 women outnumbered men, bringing the proportion to 106 women to 100 men. While in developed and transition countries, in the Caribbean and the In the Pacific and in Middle East regions, women tend to outnumber men, but also continue to lag behind men in many other parts of the world, including in sub-Saharan Africa. Gender segregation in the field of study remains widespread. Limited study choices of women and girls can lead to limited career choices and less earning prospects.
The world continues to progress towards gender parity in education, as many countries have successfully promoted girls’ education as part of their efforts to boost overall enrolment. But gender disparities in education are clearly evident in some regions. Sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, and Western Asia have the largest gender gaps in primary enrollment. At this current rate of progress, the MDG 3 target of eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015 remains far from being achieved.
Efforts should be made to focus on education as a priority goal in national policies, to promote non-discriminatory education, to increase access to formal education, and to sustain attention to non-formal education and training of skills.

3. Women and health

Over the past decade countries have made efforts to establish and to improve the health infrastructure by broadening the range of services and quality of care. Regarding HIV/AIDS, emphasis has been on prevention, education regarding sexual and reproductive health, counseling /therapy, and testing and prevention of mother-to-child transmission. However maternal mortality rates remain high worldwide. Every year, 536,000 women and girls die as a result of complications during pregnancy, childbirth, or following delivery. Urgent resources and special attention are needed to reduce maternal mortality rates and to increase women’s access to health services, especially in rural and poor regions.
While some countries have succeeded in significantly reducing maternal death rates in the past decade, more than half a million women die every year – or one woman every minute – from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. MDG 5, which seeks to improve maternal health, calls for a reduction by three quarters in the maternal mortality ratio from that of 1990, and for the achievement of universal access to reproductive health.
But this is the MDG towards which there has been the least progress so far. This reflects the low priority given to the empowerment of women and meeting women’s needs.
UNICEF figures estimate that the number of child deaths in 2008 declined to 8.8 million from 12.5 million in 1990, the base line year for the Millennium Development Goals. But the global rate of improvement is still insufficient to reach the target of reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015.
Since 2001, a large majority of countries have integrated issues related to women into their national HIV policies and strategic plans and have attained gender equity in HIV testing and the delivery of anti-retrovirals. But 25 years into the AIDS epidemic, gender inequality and unequal power relationships among women and men continue to have a significant influence on the epidemic.
Globally, about half of all people living with HIV are female, with variations within regions, countries, and communities. In Sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 60 percent of people living with HIV are female and in Southern Africa, girls are 2 to 4.5 times more likely than boys to become infected with HIV.

4. Violence Against Women (VAW)

Since the review of the PFA in 2005, violence against women has been a priority issue at the global, regional, and national levels. Numerous countries have adopted policies on VAW in general, or on particular forms of violence, such as domestic violence, trafficking, female genital mutilation/cutting, and forced marriage. Many states also have incorporated VAW into their national policies on gender equality, health, HIV/AIDS, and migration as part of their overall goals of development.
In 2000, the UN Security Council adoption of Resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions on women, peace ,and security underlines its commitment to ending sexual violence in armed conflict .The global campaign “UNITED to end violence against women” launched by the UN Secretary-General in 2008, will run through 2015. A database was also set up on VAW, a global one-stop site for information on measures taken by member states to address VAW. As of November 2009, more than 80 states have submitted information to the database.
Violence Against Women remains a major global concern to respect the human rights of women and girls. Women and girls experience violence at home, in community and also violence perpetuated by states. The growing presence of “Non-State Actors” role in Violence Against Women is a major concern particularly in Moslem majority countries.

5. Women and armed conflict

The Security Council’s landmark Resolution 1325 in 2000 has been adopted to ensure women’s full participation in the process of peace, security, and the elimination of sexual violence against women in armed conflict. Women’s role in post-conflict peace-building and reconstruction should be protected and promoted. In 2006, the Peace-Building Commission was established with provisions to mandate gender perspectives be included in all aspects of its operation.
As of February 2010, out of 27 United Nations peacekeeping operations, special political missions and peace-building support offices, women headed only 4 missions and were deputy heads of only 5. Some countries emerging from armed conflict have made efforts in promoting women in decision-making positions in government, police force and the parliament. Countries such as Rwanda, Angola, Mozambique, Nepal, Burundi, Timor-Leste ,and Afghanistan, are now among the 30 countries with the highest representation of women in parliament.
Since the Beijing Platform for Action, there have been several Security Council resolutions addressing women’s security needs. In 2000, the Security Council passed Resolution 1325 which established women’s rights in a conflict context as a security matter.
In 2008, Resolution 1820 was the first resolution to recognize conflict-related sexual violence as a matter of international peace and security. In 2009, Resolution 1888 followed. This resolution provides for concrete ways to track progress through establishing a reporting process and a mechanism to hold Governments and the UN accountable. These are landmark resolutions but they are only the beginning of what must be done to ensure the security of women throughout the world
Research by UNIFEM indicates that in 10 major peace processes in the past decade, women were on average six percent of negotiators and under three percent of signatories. Only five peace accords have referred to the use of sexual violence as a military and political tactic, despite its increase in both frequency and brutality.

6. Women and the economy

In 2008, an estimated 52.6 percent of women were in the labor force, compared with 77.5 percent men. Women are more likely than men to have low-paying and low-status jobs. Gender wage-gaps are estimated to be in the range of 3 to 51 percent, with a global average of 17 percent. Women also continue to have disproportionate responsibility for unpaid work, such as home care and care for ill/disabled family members, which hinder them from full participation in education and career-building. During general economic crisis, women also are more vulnerable than men to layoffs and unemployment. Climate change also has impacted negatively on farm women in some parts of the world, where droughts and the securing of water have added hardships to women’s work.
On the positive side, countries have adopted measures through legislature and implementation of policies to address discrimination against women in the workplace, such as sexual harassment, and dismissal due to pregnancy and childbirth. A few states offered the private sector tax and social security incentives for hiring women. Awareness-raising campaigns were also launched for the public through seminars, manuals, and information dissemination.
More women than ever before are participating in the workforce; women occupy almost 40 percent of all paid jobs outside agriculture, compared to 35 percent in 1990. But almost two thirds of women in the developing world work in vulnerable jobs as self-employed persons or as unpaid family workers. In Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, this type of work accounts for more than 80 percent of all jobs for women. In developing countries, women consistently lag behind men in formal labor force participation and entrepreneurship, earn less than men for similar work, and have less access to credit and lower inheritance and ownership rights than men do.
As a result of the global economic crisis, many more women are being pushed into vulnerable jobs with limited or no safety nets that guard against income loss during economic hardship. The large number of women unpaid workers in family businesses also adds to their already heavy burden of unpaid care work in households.

7. Women in power and decision-making

Progress has been made in women’s political participation and decision-making positions. Globally, women held 18.8 percent of seats in single/lower chambers of parliament as of November 2009, as compared to 11.3 percent in 1995.
Women’s parliamentary representation has its greatest gains in the Americas, with 22.6 percent women in parliament, in the European countries with 21.5 percent , in Asia, 18.6 percent, in sub-Saharan Africa 17.8 percent, in the Pacific region 13 percent, and in the Arab States 9 percent.
As of November 2009, women were heads of state in 8 countries and heads of Government in 6 countries. In comparison, in 1995, 12 women were heads of State or Government. In the civil service, women have made progress in representation at the middle managerial levels. The judiciary and law enforcement sector remain mainly male dominated. However at the international level, 9 out of the 18 judges of the International Criminal Court are women, as of November 2009. Women make up 30 percent of the police force in only two countries—Australia and South Africa, with the global average below 10 percent.
Quotas and other temporary measure have been instrumental in increasing women’s representation in public life. Quotas have also been used in civil service recruitment processes, and in the selection of judges. Some member states have made the mandatory requirement that women represent 40 percent of the board of directors of state-owned companies within a specified time frame. Training and capacity development of women leaders as candidates and elected officials in public speaking and fund- raising and other skills have also been pivotal in women’s increased political representation.
Now, more than ever, more women are holding political offices. As of January 2009, women had reached the highest parliamentary position – presiding officer – in 31 parliamentary chambers. By March 2009, 15 women were serving as heads of state or government, up from nine in 2000.
Impressive gains were made in Latin America and the Caribbean, where women hold 22 percent of all legislative seats, the highest regional average. But women still hold less than 10 percent of parliamentary seats in Oceania, Northern Africa, and Western Asia. The global average of women holding parliamentary seats (18.6 percent) is far from the target of 30 percent set in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. At the present rate, it will take another 40 years to reach gender parity.

8. Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women

Increasingly, countries have established institutional mechanisms for gender equality in the legislative branch. Many countries report that all critical areas of concern outlined in Platform for Action (PFA) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) have been addressed by national institutional mechanisms. But the effectiveness of these agencies has been hampered by inadequate human and financial resources. Reliable data are also not available to adequately monitor the implementation of gender equality in all its aspects.

9. Human rights of women

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is the most comprehensive legal frame work for action to promote women’s human rights. With 186 state parties as of December 2009, the Convention is the second most ratified international human rights instrument. Countries have increasingly included in national constitutions and legal reforms the principles of gender equality. Several states have adopted legal provisions prohibiting discrimination against women and women’s legal rights on housing, education, health care, the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, disability, and other social entitlements.
Many states have launched national awareness-raising campaigns to promote women’s human rights and to combat negative attitudes on gender stereotypes. Public media, print, electronic, audio and other means, have been used to spread human rights information on large scale. The increasing cooperation between Governments and NGOs in legal and policy reforms on gender issues has proved to be of great value.
While the GO/NGO representatives from Iran declared that Iran has not ratified CEDAW and will not because it “undermines the role of family,” there was a positive assurance that ratification of CEDAW in US is now closer than it has been in any other time over the last 30 years!

10. Women and the media

Mainstream media is the most important and effective tool to disseminate information. PFA stresses the two strategic objectives to promote women’s rights and educate public attitude on gender stereotypes through the media: “to increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication; and to promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.”
More than a decade after PFA, women worldwide have increased their role in the public media, though employment inequalities between women and men persist, and women continue to be underrepresented in decision-making positions (i.e. in in advisory, management and regulatory bodies of the media industry). Gender stereotypes in the media also persist. The data collected from 76 countries by the Global Media Monitoring Project in 2005 indicated some progress of women in media. For example, women reporters increased from 28 percent in 1995 to 38 percent in 2005 across all media types.
The hot issue of “Women and Social Media “was discussed at two panels organized by Women Intercultural Network. At the panel of titled “Social Media and Social Movement,” it was concluded that based on the current statistics, contrary to women and media, in social media “ WOMEN RULE.”

11. Women and the environment

Some progress in this area has been made as countries are starting to make plans to include women in environmental decision-making, to recognize women’s right to access to natural resources for their livelihoods, their right to property and land ownership, and their right as consumers of agriculture, health and sanitation resources. But the under-representation of women in key positions in environmental agencies has limited their contributions to public policy-making, such as strategies on climate change. There is still a broad gap in public awareness of “gender-specific perspective on natural resources management and of the benefits of gender equality for the promotion of sustainable development and environmental protection.”

12. The Girl child

PFA recognizes the importance of the protection of the basic rights of the girl children, such as education, health, security and the chance to develop their full potential as human beings. In developing regions, the girl child is almost always treated as a lesser human being than her male counterpart.
Countries increasingly have recognized that the laws and legal reforms on the protection of children should include provisions to protect the girl child. A number of African countries and countries with immigrant communities have criminalized female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM)–a special form of violence against the girl child. Some countries enacted laws to prohibit forced marriage, while others raised the legal age of marriage to protect girls.
A growing number of countries have enacted legislation to combat the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography and the trafficking of children. Countries also responded to the risks posed by the Internet by setting up measures and/or cybercrime police units against the spread of pedophilia and pornography.
A growing number of states conducted awareness-raising campaigns to prevent violence against children with public marches, exhibitions, publicized announcements and the creation of specific websites. Crimes and violence against children, especially the girl child, remain wide-spread and unabated. Trafficking, child prostitution, forced early marriage, FGM, and other issues are still issues still to be tackled.
Besides the information the Beijing 15 report provided, by a number of UN sessions and official UN documents, there were a few interesting panels conducted by the NGOs on the latest developments on women.
Sex trafficking of women and young girls was discussed and updated in several panels by the Soroptimist International, The Coalition Against Trafficking of Women, and other NGOs. The two above-mentioned NGOs have done great work and are reputable in their chosen fields. The conclusion of the discussions is that vigilance, legislation, and enforcement of existing laws are all much needed.
Another panel entitled “Voices of Haitian Women” gave perspectives of Haitian women in general and on their role in the crisis in particular. Several panels on pro-life issues, one of which was entitled “Conceived in Rape Symposium,” was the most controversial. The nine panelists who were conceived either in rape and/or incest, gave their testimony of life experiences. Many panels on health and gender equality were also educational and thought-provoking.

CSW/2010 stands out not only as the review year of the Beijing Plus 15, it also could be known as the year of General Chaos at the UN. The delegates of global NGOs had to stay up-to-six-hours-queuing for registration, roped-off corridors, darkened familiar conference rooms, detoured passage- way to unfamiliar rooms, less-than-spirited panel discussions, hard-to-get-admissions to panels, etc.

The CSW 54 ended with lingering questions crying out for answers.
Were there any commitments to protect the universality of women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights?
Was there any significant progress on the proposal to set up a separate U.N. agency – officially called a gender entity – for women?
And were there any indications of increased funding for gender-related issues, including resources to battle sexual violence?
The answers were mostly in the realm of political uncertainty, as the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) assessed the state of women’s rights, 15 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing approved a wide-ranging plan of action on gender empowerment.

On the positive side, important issues such as human trafficking, which is no longer seen as an emerging issue, was understood as part of a global space that required attention. An international coalition of over 300 NGOs, mostly made up of women’s rights activists, has been pursuing a global campaign for Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) in the U.N. system. Charlotte Bunch, founding director of the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University and co-facilitator of the GEAR campaign, told TerraViva that decisions about gender architecture reform are part of the system-wide coherence process in the General Assembly.
“So the CSW is not really an arena for formal progress in terms of the resolution,” she said. “However, we do feel there has been a lot of progress in terms of gaining more governmental support and attention to this issue during the CSW.”
For example, she said, a significant number of countries from all regions spoke in support of the new architecture in their speeches. The secretary-general himself called on governments to take action to create the entity without further delay, she pointed out. Bunch said the NGO action – holding up a ‘GEAR UP NOW!’ sign in the balcony during his speech on International Women’s Day on March 3rd – was greeted with enthusiastic applause from the audience and a wave from the U.N. Chief.
Natalia Cardona of Social Watch, an international network made up of coalitions of civil society, said as far as her organization was concerned, the CSW was a success because “it captured the dynamism of women’s activism at the highest level.”
“There is no other place where women activists can come together and discuss women’s human rights situation from all over the world,” she said.
However, the space in terms of government accountability and government accessibility has dwindled since 1995 when the world conference on women was able to make key advances in terms of women’s rights as enshrined in the Beijing Platform for Action. There is a sense now in the women’s movement that this 15th anniversary of the Beijing Conference was not much of an anniversary.

All in all, CSW 54 and Beijing plus 15 was a success but huge political challenges are ahead of global women’s movement to hold their governments accountable for their commitments at Beijing.

(This article used many NGO reports and other media sources including UN agencies and NGO forum documents)

UN Commission on Women, 54th Session – Beijing+15, March 1, 2010

Women’s Intercultural Network (WIN) hosted US Women Connect’s (USWC) stellar panel again at the UN Commission on Women, 54th Session – Beijing+15, March 1, 2010. The theme was “WINNING STRATEGIES FOR GENDER EQUALITY” and was introduced by Elahe Amani, Co-Chair, WIN, and moderated by Loretta Ross, National Coordinator, SisterSong. Here are videos of the speakers and an article from Cafe Sentido that describes well the context of the panel discussion . Enjoy!

Elahe Amani Co- Chairs the Women’s Intercultural Network (WIN) and has chaired the Coalition of Women from Asia and the Middle East since 1998, is also currently Director of Technology at California State University Fullerton. She represents the California Women’s Agenda (CAWA) in the Orange County, California, has served on the boards of the State Economic Network in California, American Association of University Women for California and the Women’s Resource Center at CSU Long Beach. She is a trained mediator and work closely with Mediators Beyond Boarders. She taught at the Women’s Studies Program of CSU Long Beach and Fullerton. She is well published both in English and Persian and work closely with Women News Network and journals in Iran. Amani has been a frequent guest speaker and is the recipient of many community service recognition awards including but not limited to Women of Distinguished Award in the category of Human Rights from Soroptomist International in 2001, Community Service Award from Iranian American Women Organization in South Bay 2001, one of the three women recognized at “It’s Not the Years, It’s the Milestones” on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Women Center @ CSU Long Beach in 2002, and inaugural award of Lillian Robles Award for Feminist Activism from Women Studies Program, California State University Long Beach in 2007

Loretta Ross, National Coordinator, SISTERSONG, PANEL MODERATOR
A founding member of SisterSong, Loretta Ross became National Coordinator in 2005. In 2004, Loretta was National Co-Director of the April 25, 2004 March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C., the largest protest march in U.S. history with more than one million participants. From 1996-2004, she was the Founder and Executive Director of the National Center for Human Rights Education (NCHRE) in Atlanta, Georgia. She is an expert on human rights, women’s issues, diversity issues, hate groups and right-wing organizations. Ms. Ross is presently writing a book on reproductive rights entitled Black Abortion. In 2003, Loretta received an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law degree from Arcadia University. Loretta was one of the first African American women to direct the first rape crisis center in the United States in the 1970s. From 1985 to 1989, she served as the Director of Women of Color Programs for the National Organization for Women, organizing the first national conference on Women of Color and Reproductive Rights in 1987. Prior to developing NCHRE in 1996, she served as the national program research director for the Atlanta-based Center for Democratic Renewal (CDR) (formerly the National Anti-Klan Network) from 1990 to 1995 and program director of the National Black Women’s Health Project from 1989-1990. She is a political commentator for Pacifica News Service, and has appeared as a political commentator on Good Morning America, The Donahue Show, The Charlie Rose Show, CNN, and BET.

Gloria Feldt , Women’s Media Center, author, women’s rights activist, and media commentator, talked about the significance of MEDIA for women’s advancement. The author of The War on Choice: The Right-Wing Attack on Women’s Rights and How to Fight Back, Behind Every Choice Is a Story, and co-author of the best selling Send Yourself Roses with the actress Kathleen Turner, look for her next book, No Excuses: Nine Power Essentials for Women to Lead an Unlimited Life, in October.

She has been called “the voice of experience” by People Magazine. A teen wife in small-town Texas and mother of three by age 20, Feldt rose through the affiliate ranks to become president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She revitalized the organization’s vision, programs, and public presence, and made it a political powerhouse, securing contraceptive coverage by insurance plans among other policy initiatives. Vanity Fair named her to its “Top 200 Women Leaders, Legends, and Trailblazers.” She is a member of the Women’s Media Center Board of Directors and the Advisory Board to US Women Connect. Visit her website, GloriaFeldt.com, where she blogs on Heartfeldt Politics, Courageous Leadership, and Powered Women, find her on Facebook and tweet her @heartfeldt.

Tae Yoo, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, talking about the significance and role of technology in advancing women’s equality – what’s coming that will help to give all women and girls a voice in their economies and democracies. Ms. Yoo focuses on driving Cisco’s corporate social responsibility CSR programs through public-private partnerships to create positive, sustainable change in education/capacity development and economic development. As the steward of Cisco’s CSR vision, Yoo directs Cisco’s business, technical, and financial assets for sustainable impact, and she uses frequent stakeholder engagements to seek feedback on sustainability issues and reporting on Cisco’s CSR progress annually. Yoo’s insight and business acumen have enabled Cisco to Collaborate across the government business and nongovernmental organization (NGO sectors for real social impact. Her leadership has helped make Cisco networking Academy a program recognized globally for its innovative approach to providing IT skills education to students around the world.
Yoo has been at Cisco for more than 18 years. Prior to joining Corporate Affairs, She was influential in creating new markets for Cisco by confounding the Business Development group, where she was responsible for growing partnerships with other technology companies for joint product and market development. Yoo holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Virginia Tech University. She is a trustee of the Cisco Foundation and also serves on the advisory boards of the global Philanthropy Forum, the Women’s Technology Cluster, WEF strategic partner Corporate Global Citizenship Advisory Group, WEF Global Agenda Council on Technology and Education and on the Advisory Council for the International ES Technology and Emerging Countries (TEC) Program

Clare Winterton, Executive Director
Clare Winterton is the new Executive Director of the International Museum of Women. Clare was previously the VP of Communications and Marketing at the Women’s Funding Network. She has a Masters Degree in International Business Administration from Cambridge University, as well as over 10 years of social sector marketing and communications experience. Clare was formerly Head of Communications for Prince Charles’ major charity, the Prince’s Trust, where she headed a team of 13, working on media relations, corporate social responsibility and marketing. She is former board chair of Young Women Social Entrepreneurs. Olivia Calderon will comment on an Economic Model – the New America Foundation’s Asset Building Program, which she serves California Legislative Director, in a context of a women’s economic security model. The program aims to significantly broaden savings and asset ownership in California. Based in Sacramento, her primary responsibilities include educating legislators, government officials, and interest groups about asset policies, developing related policy proposals (including drafting measures, amendments, and reports), providing expert testimony on pending legislation, identifying partnerships to build a broad coalition in support of asset building policies, and managing the Asset Policy Forum, which the program launched in August 2007.

Olivia Calderon is the California Legislative Director of the New America Foundation’s Asset Building Program, which aims to significantly broaden savings and asset ownership in California. Based in Sacramento, her primary responsibilities include educating legislators, government officials, and interest groups about asset policies, developing related policy proposals (including drafting measures, amendments, and reports), providing expert testimony on pending legislation, identifying partnerships to build a broad coalition in support of asset building policies, and managing the Asset Policy Forum, which the program launched in August 2007.

Previously, Ms. Calderon served in the California Legislature as a consultant to the Assembly Transportation Committee, as a legislative assistant to Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), and as a Jesse Unruh Assembly Fellow. Among her more notable accomplishments as a legislative staff member, Ms. Calderon drafted six major pieces of legislation, four of which were signed into law. She has testified before the California Senate committees on education, health, and labor, as well as the Assembly committees on appropriations, banking and finance, revenue and taxation, and higher education. Ms. Calderon is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was a NSEP Scholar, McNair Scholar, Wasserman Scholar, and UCLA Law fellow.

Jean Shinoda Bolen has been our ‘leading light’ for a 5th World Conference on Women since 2002, organizing around the principles of Calling the Circles and the Millionth Monkey which inspired her organization: The Millionth Circle. The model is ‘global collaboration’ for a 5th World Conference on Women in Cyber Hubs – an opportunity for all women to participate in the Beijing Platform for Action 2015. A Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and a past Chairperson of the Council of National Affairs of the APA, a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, a Fellow of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry, a former member of the Board of Trustees of the American Orthopsychiatric Association, and a former Board member of the International Transpersonal Association. She is an Analyst-member of the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco and the International Association for Analytical Psychology. She is a past member of the Board of Governors of the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco, and past Chairperson of the Joint Certifying Board of the Northern and Southern California Societies of Jungian Analysts. She has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Ms. Foundation for Women. She founded and co-chaired Psychiatrists for ERA, which was a major influence within psychiatry in the early 1980’s, that evolved into the Association for Women in Psychiatry. Dr. Bolen attended UCLA and Pomona College prior to graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1958. She then entered the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco, receiving her M.D. in 1962, followed by a rotating internship at Los Angeles County General Hospital and a residency in psychiatry at the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, University of California Medical Center, San Francisco. Her analytic training was done at the C.G. Jung Institute in San Francisco. Jean serves on the US Women Connect Advisory Board.

Jackie K. Weatherspoon Former State Representative (New Hampshire) and UNDP Technical Advisor
Speaking about the New England Regional model for organizing around the Beijing Platform for Action and their recent Conference. Hon. Weatherspoon serves on the Board of Directors of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government and is a member of the Harvard Law School Mediation Program, serving as a mediator in the Small Claim Courts and Landlord Tenet Courts of Massachusetts. Hon. Weatherspoon also serves as a member of the UN Secretariat, Roster of Electoral Experts in the Electoral Assistance Division and has been a Technical Adviser for UNDP and UNIFEM during the latest Registration and Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in Malawi and Nigeria. Hon. Weatherspoon served six years in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and was seconded by the US State Department to OSCE in the post-conflict of Bosnia I Hercegovina, 1997-1999. She was one of the Chief Sponsors of the CEDAW Resolution in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the White House and Northern New England Coordinator for the Beijing Plus 5 Assessment.

Videography by Sacha Donnenfeld.