One year after the record-breaking and precedent-setting U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women, NOW activists attended a follow-up satellite teleconference at various sites nationwide. NOW Membership Vice President Karen Johnson joined more than 400 women at the conference site in our nation's capital.
During this day-long event activists met in working groups and shared strategies. Of continuing concern is the ratification of the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) by the U.S. Senate. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-NC., chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is the source of inactivity on this treaty.
Congress outlawed the performance of FGM on girls under 18. The Immigration and Naturalization Service must provide any visa-holder arriving from a country where FGM is widely practiced information on both the harmful physical and psychological effects of FGM and on the penalties for allowing or practicing FGM on a child.
NOW staff regularly meet with visitors from other countries, including groups that want to find out how NOW is funded and structured, so they can take ideas home and spread an international women's movement. Recent visitors have been from Japan, Germany, Russia, Israel, Austria, Kazakhstan, Tunisia and Ecuador.
While NOW's bylaws have provisions for establishing international chapters, the nuts and bolts of setting them up have yet to be worked out. Several NOW interns have been researching how other U.S.-based organizations with international affiliates are structured and will prepare a report for the National NOW Board of Directors and officers.