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UN 5th World Conference on Women

We support the holding of the 5th UN World Conference on Women (5WCW) and call upon our own UN Ambassador and those member states in the General Assembly to pass the 5WCW resolution needed to hold it in 2015.

We want 5WCW to address new and emerging issues affecting women and girls since the Beijing Conference in 1995, to build upon and not re-open previous UN documents.

See related article:

5WCW advocates buoyed by female winners of 2011 Nobel Peace Prize

2011 Nobel Prize winnersThree women share this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, awarded last month to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkol Karman, a leading activist in Yemen’s populist revolt this year.

Trailblazer Sirleaf is the first elected female president in post-colonial Africa; Gbowee, a social worker turned peace campaigner and key leader in mobilising women to bring an end to Liberia’s long war; while Karman inspired thousands of women to rise up in Yemen’s ‘Arab Spring’, in a region where women are considered second-class citizens.

Nobel Prize recognises women
The Norwegian Nobel Committee jointly awarded the 2011 prize in recognition of the three women’s non-violent struggle for the safety of women and women’s rights, to draw attention to the ongoing suppression of women in many countries, and to highlight the essential role of women in peace-building and democracy worldwide.

“We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society,” the prize committee said.

It wasn’t until October 2000 that the UN Security Council formally adopted Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security which, for the first time, made violence against women in armed conflict an international security issue. It underlined the need for women to become equal participants in peace processes and peace work alongside men. Sirleaf, Gbowee and Karman are the first women to be awarded the Nobel Prize since 2004 winner, Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Muta Maathai, bringing the tally of female winners to 15, compared with 85 men.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: Africa’s first female president
Since Sirleaf’s inauguration in 2006 she has helped secure peace in Liberia, strengthened the position of women and promoted economic and social development. Harvard-trained Sirleaf declared a zero-tolerance policy against corruption and made education compulsory and free for all primary-age children. She has just been re-elected despite her rival pulling out of the election and urging supporters to boycott it.

Leymah Gbowee

Gbowee mobilised women across long-standing ethnic and religious divides to bring an end to Liberia’s protracted war and to ensure women’s participation in elections. Gbowee led a movement of women who dressed in white to protest against rape and child soldiers in the war. When the 2003 peace talks reached a stalemate, these women in white surrounded the premises where the talks were held, refusing to let delegates leave until a peace treaty had been signed. Gbowee is executive director of the Women in Peace and Security Network, an organisation that works with women in Liberia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Sierra Leone to promote peace, literacy and political involvement.

Tawakkul Karman
Karmen, a journalist and pro-democracy activist, has been a leading figure in the protests against Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh before and during the ‘Arab spring’ this year. She has been a key figure among youth activists in Yemen since they began occupying a square in central Sana’a in February to demand the end of the Saleh regime, and has often been the voice of activists on Arabic television, giving on-the-ground reports of the situation where dozens of activists have been shot dead by government forces.

Karmen said of the award: “This is a message to this regime and all the despotic regimes that no voice can drown out the voice of freedom and dignity.”

UN Fifth World Conference on Women (5WCW)

As the awarding of this year’s Nobel Prizes aims to spur on the fight for greater equality of women in male-dominated societies, advocates for Fifth World Conference on Women of the United Nations (5WCW) are encouraged. The Fifth World Conference on Women of the United Nations, targeted for 2015, would be 20 years after the last Conference in Beijing in 1995.

The aim of the Conference is to encourage the next generation of women leaders towards ending gender inequality which is most evident in the strict division of labour, less access to decision-making positions, fewer opportunities for participation in political life, and less value accorded to the roles they play and, consequently, inequitable gender relations.

Latest developments on 5WCW

Key advocates for the Conference, including Jean Shinoda Bolen continue to meet with ambassadors on sponsorship of a General Assembly for a 5WCW resolution.

Advocates are heartened by the recent appointment of former UN Under Secretary General, former President of the Security Council, and former Ambassador from Bangladesh, Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury as Senior Special Advisor to the President of the UN General Assembly. Chowdhury is a long-time advocate for women who played a key role in the Security Council adopting Resolution 1325.
Only one member-state Ambassador is needed to sponsor the resolution for 5WCW in the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly (2011-2012), which began in September.

By Brook McCarthy, Yoga Reach.

Article Written: November 2011