National NOW Times >> Winter, 2001 >> Article
World's Women to U.N. - We've Only Just
by Karen Johnson
The World March of Women that
took place in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 15, 2000, was just the beginning
of a series of events calling for a safer and more equal world for women.
On Oct. 16, 2000, the day after the World March in D.C., an
international delegation met with the president of the World Bank (WB),
James Wolfensohn, and the managing director of the International Monetary
Fund (IMF), Horst Kohler.
Speaking from experience, the delegates
identified WB and IMF policies and globalization as a source of much
misery for women and girls. Noting that of the six billion people on
earth, four billion are currently living in poverty and 70 percent of the
poor are female, the delegates called for a significant change in the way
the WB and IMF do business.
In brief, the delegates demanded that
the WB and IMF ensure: a) transparency (full disclosure) and
accountability of international financial institutions; b) integration and
application of the gender perspective in global economic policies; c)
increased financial resources for women; d) cancellation of the debt of
all Third World countries; and e) the end of structural adjustment
programs (economic policies imposed on countries as a condition of loans
by the IMF and WB) and their clones.
Until these changes occur,
the World March delegates assured the WB and IMF leaders that activists
will continue to peacefully denounce the harmful policies.
following day, Oct. 17 (the International Day for the Eradication of
Poverty), about 200 delegates representing the 159 countries that
participated in the World March of Women, met with United Nations (U.N.)
Deputy Secretary General Louise Ferchette and Assistant Secretary General
Angela King to deliver the World March demands.
Vice President Karen Johnson was present at the meeting as delegates
demanded from the U.N. and its member States concrete measures to
eliminate poverty, eradicate violence against women and ensure equality
between men and women. These measures include: observance of international
law; recognition by all U.N. member States of the International Criminal
Court; adherence to U.N. treaties by member States, without reservations;
and respect for the rights of all women, regardless of their origin,
sexual orientation, or social or cultural affiliation.
Just before the
meeting, about 10,000 women (4,000 from countries other than the U.S. or
Canada) gathered outside the U.N. and via a human chain passed from hand
to hand a portion of the 4.7 million supportive signatures from women
around the globe.
Some signatures were on postcards, others on
petitions, some were transmitted electronically, others were written on
cloth (signifying fabric used to shroud the dead) and still others on
cardboard (representing material used to build shelters to live in Haiti
or New York City).
The signatures were delivered to U.N. Secretary
General Kofi Annan as evidence of the solidarity of the world's women in
their demands. After the passing of the signatures, the women then marched
for two miles to Union Square and rallied.
The World March of Women
delegates met again the next day, expressing the desire to continue
working together to create a global feminist network.
includes advocating for full implementation of the Platform for Action of
the Fourth World Conference on Women. With more than 40,000 women in
attendance, the Conference--held in Beijing, China, in 1995--was the largest
U.N. conference of the 20th Century.
The Platform for Action
commits 189 nations to carry out specific actions to end discrimination
against women and girls. The Platform addresses 12 areas of concern:
poverty, violence, education and training, health, armed conflict, the
economy, decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media,
the environment and the girl-child.
After four consecutive days of
action, the World March of Women delegates all recognized that they have
only just begun.