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close this bookRole of Women in an Interdependent World (North-South Centre of the Council of Europe - OAU, 1993, 92 p.)
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View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsOpening of the international encounter
Open this folder and view contentsWorking Groups
View the documentRecommendations
View the documentClosing of the international encounter
View the documentA final word
View the documentBibliography
View the documentParticipants

Recommendations

The following pages contain the recommendations drawn up by the participants at the International Encounter on "Democracy and Human Rights: the Role of Women in an Interdependent World' which was held in Lisbon from 5-7 April, 1993. This Encounter, coorganised by the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe and the Organisation of African Unity, brought together 120 women and men from 42 different countries from the North and the South. The participants included representatives from international organisations, governments, parliaments, nongovernmental organisations, local and regional authorities, the judiciary, journalists and grassroots organisations.

The participants at the Lisbon Encounter called on the relevant organisations to take note, or to implement where necessary, the following recommendations in order to:

1 support and promote the role of women in all countries of the world in the construction of democratic societies;

2 ensure the elimination of all forms of discrimination and acts of violence against women;

3 recognise women's rights as human rights and ensure that the concept of human rights be applied to all, regardless of sex, ethnicity, religion, age, physical ability or social class.

The UNITED NATIONS is urged:
With regard to women’s human rights:

1 to put pressure on governments so that they recognise that any practice interfering with the physical and/or moral integrity of young girls or women, whatever the underlying values, represents a violation of their human rights and constitutes an obstacle to democracy. For this reason these practices must be abolished;

2 to encourage all governments that have not yet signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), to ratify it immediately and to encourage governments that have ratified the Convention to implement it adequately;

3 to appoint a special Rapporteur to the Geneva-based Human Rights Programme with the task of investigating, reporting and responding effectively to cases of gender discrimination and violence against women in countries throughout the world;

4 to encourage governments to create ministries responsible for women's affairs and to appoint women to decision-making positions in government with the aim of achieving ''parity democracy";

5 to put pressure on governments to repeal laws that are detrimental to women;

6 to ensure that no governmental programme or policy creates gender bias or violates women's human rights;

7 to ensure that all its political and legislative measures related to human rights are applied without distinction to all member States;

8 to ensure that there is equal representation of men and women in its decision-making bodies at all levels;

9 to ensure that all its decision-making bodies recognise NGOs and support them in their training and awareness raising activities and in the creation of international networks;

10 to ensure that all its data collection takes account of gender and reflects on the role and situation of women;

11 to recognise that women's human rights are an integral part of human rights and that they concern all the world's citizens without exception;

12 to call on all member States to establish immediately action programmes at national level for the full implementation and application of all categories of human rights on the basis of internationally recognised norms and values;

With regard to women, environment and development:

1 to ensure that none of its activities are undertaken without first implementing an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment;

2 to make it legally binding so that whenever an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment proves that an activity would have a negative impact on women in particular, that it be stopped or corrected immediately;

3 to put pressure on other international monetary and development institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to implement the above recommendations i) and ii);

4 to ensure that, in the implementation of economic development programmes, governments do not 'dilute' laws resulting from UN resolutions;

5 to put pressure on governments to ensure that their own environmental and development programmes do not create gender bias or violate women's human rights;

6 to ensure that the export of dangerous chemicals, (chemical or pharmaceutical products, toxic waste...), which are forbidden or severely restricted in the country of origin, is stopped immediately;

7 to ensure that, when global issues such as big-diversity, climate change, forests and intellectual property rights are debated at international fore, the resulting resolutions are not questioned by GATT or other mainstream institutions. The United Nations should also ensure that social and environmental clauses feature in international agreements such as GATT and, particularly in proposals such as the Dunkel Proposals, which might have adverse affects women's rights and their livelihood;

8 to ensure that laws relating to women, environment and development are drawn up bearing in mind women's human rights and that they are implemented in a democratic way;

9 to ensure that at national and international level, development aid is not linked to economic progress alone, but also to socio-economic indicators as expressed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and that these indicators be improved to reflect more effectively the situation of women;

10 to analyse problems arising from the relationship between population and the environment within the framework and boundaries set by ethics and human rights. The men and women of this Encounter insist on the strengthening of women's power to control their own lives and condemn policies and programmes whether undertaken by governments or international institutions or employers - that attempt to deprive women of their freedom to exercise their reproductive rights, including the right to interrupt unwanted pregnancies.

With regard to women, education and training:

1 to support and implement programmes that raise the awareness and understanding of men and women on the notion of human rights. Awareness-raising on women's rights as human rights should be taken up through education, both formal and informal, in written, oral or visual forms, given that women make up the largest group of illiterate people in the world;

2 to support and promote programmes that provide education to women and raise their awareness on environmental questions on local and global level;

3 to support and promote educational programmes that empower women through improved skills and technologies in order to improve their living and working conditions;

4 to support and promote the exchange of educational programmes between countries;

5 to support and promote educational programmes that provide women with training with respect to their rights and obligations as workers and/or heads of companies;

6 to support and promote programmes that give women easier access to elementary management training, especially in the field of marketing and market opportunities. Moreover, in view of the fact that many women are involved in survival economic activities, special attention should be given to vocational training.

With regard to women migrants:

1 to put pressure on governments so that, in terms of personal status, the laws of the host country are applied indifferently to nationals and to foreigners.

With regard to women and the media:

1 to promote and support programmes for the training of female journalists, as much in industrialised nations as in developing nations, in order that the image of women disseminated by the media corresponds to reality;

2 to promote and support programmes that develop dialogue and solidarity between countries of the North and the South by reinforcing women's communication networks and facilitating information exchange;

3 to develop, support and promote new means of communication taking into account the fact that one in every five inhabitants of our planet is illiterate;

4 to support and organise international meetings between journalists and professional organisations in order to discuss mutual responsibilities;

5 to encourage governments to proceed to a full analysis of school texts and dictionaries in order to modify them so that they respect human rights.

The NORTH-SOUTH CENTRE of the COUNCIL OF EUROPE and the COMMISSION of the EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES are urged:

With regard to women and the media:

1 to encourage the training and exchange of female journalists, as much in industrialised nations as in developing nations, in order that the image of women disseminated by the media corresponds to reality;

2 to promote, from early childhood, education of the public in the media, and to establish a media observatory to provide civil society with the tools for analysing and evaluating messages and the manner in which they are transmitted by the media;

3 to develop dialogue and solidarity between countries of the North and the South by reinforcing women's communisation networks that would facilitate information exchange, and by creating female pressure groups;

4 to develop and create new means of communication taking into account the fact that one in every five inhabitants of our planet is illiterate;

5 to organise international meetings between journalists and professional organisations in order to discuss their mutual responsibilities;

6 to proceed to a full analysis of school texts and dictionaries in order to modify them so that they respect human rights;

7 to assist in the production of radio and television programmes about the different ethnic groups that make up today's Europe;

8 to prepare an international conference of female journalists in order to draw up strategies for re-examining the ethics of the profession with particular emphasis on the protection of human rights and, in particular, of women's rights;

9 to finance a study to analyse the role that certain media play in the recrudescence of violence and the development of xenophobia and sexist tendencies and to encourage the media as a whole to play an active part in public awareness-raising on the above issues;

10 to constitute a consultative parity committee men-women/North-South to reflect on an information strategy (newspapers, satellites, etc.) in preparation of the 4th United Nations World Conference on Women in Peking in 1995 which would take into account all the preceding recommendations.

With regard to women migrants:

1 to put pressure on governments to express more solidarity towards women immigrants from countries whose under-development in many cases is a result of international policies.

GOVERNMENTS and LOCAL AUTHORITIES are urged:

To take responsibility for the implementation of the following actions concerning women's human rights and participation in government

With regard to women’s human rights:

1 to encourage governments which have not yet ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to do so immediately, and for those governments which have ratified the Convention to ensure its effective implementation;

2 to encourage governments to create ministries responsible for women's affairs and to appoint more women to decision-making posts in government;

3 to encourage governments to set up positive action programmes aimed at redressing the imbalance of male/female participation in governmental structures (equal representation);

4 to employ effective monitoring mechanisms to ensure that legislation designed to protect women's human rights is applied; this could be achieved by setting up a Women's Commission with sufficient funding and power so as to investigate and report on injustices against women at all levels of society;

5 to ensure that the educational system guarantees equal opportunities to boys and girls and that human rights' education, including teaching on women's human rights, forms part of the formal school curriculum. This form of education was considered essential to the creation of a democratic culture in our societies;

6 to ensure that tradition and religion are not used as pretexts to deny women of their rights or to justify any form of behaviour that is undemocratic and which inhibits the participation of women in decision-making at all levels of society, whether civil or political;

With regard to women, environment and development:

1 to ensure that governments, in the implementation of economic development programmes do not 'dilute' laws resulting from UN resolutions. They are also urged to put pressure on governments so that their programmes on environment and development do not create gender bias or violate women's rights;

2 to call upon governments to include environmental policies and sustainable development in their constitutions and to direct governmental programmes for sustainable development and agriculture towards women since they are largely responsible for food production, water management, and the collection of fuel, fodder and forest products;

3 to ensure that the export of dangerous chemicals (chemical and pharmaceutical products and toxic waste...), which are forbidden or severely restricted in the country of origin, be prohibited;

4 to ensure that governments make the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment compulsory with regard to the effects of their policies on women, and that governmental representatives appointed to the UN Commission for Sustainable Development ensure that a gender perspective be applied to all activities of the Commission and that it be composed of both men and women on a basis of equal representation;

5 to ensure that governments introduce in schools, a curriculum that enables school children to become aware of environment, development and human rights' issues;

6 to ensure that local authorities make full use of their capacities to have women involved in the decision-making process on environmental and development projects;

PARLIAMENTS are urged:

With regard to women’s human rights:

1 to ensure that parliamentarians of the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe affirm their legitimate right as elected representatives of the people to design appropriate procedures to overcome the legal deficiency within the international financial and trade institutions and that the sharing of this democratic control be organised jointly with representatives of the South in the framework of consistent efforts to achieve a global democracy and to create conditions for the full respect of all categories of human rights, including women's rights;

With regard to women, environment and development:

1 to ensure that laws relating to the environment and development be enacted bearing in mind women's rights and implemented in a democratic way, and that all laws relating to environment and development which are detrimental to women % rights be repealed;

The JUDICIARY is urged:

With regard to women’s human rights:

1 to encourage all of its members, who are aware of the legal instruments designed to promote and protect women's rights, to apply them rigorously;

2 to take responsibility for disseminating information on how laws can protect women, within the judicial system itself and more generally in order to educate the public. In this respect, co-operation with NGOs and women's groups is very much needed.

With regard to women, environment and development:

1 to acquire the necessary training so as to envisage environmental issues in relation to women's rights, since the link between women's rights and the environment is rarely taken into account by the judiciary;

2 to acknowledge the violation of human rights in terms of environment and development as a violation of fundamental democratic rights;

NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS are urged:

To recognise the need to take as a starting point the considerable amount of work undertaken by the international women's movement so as to recognise the links between development, environment, democracy, human rights and the position of women and to support their work as suggested in the following recommendations:

With regard to women’s human rights:

1 to increase the participation of NGOs in international relations, so as to remedy the undemocratic function of these relations, prioritising the participation of women and giving them the opportunity to participate in international fore at all levels and on a basis of equal representation;

2 to ensure that, in cases of a legal void, women's rights are enshrined in national constitutions, and to lobby governments so that they adopt appropriate legislation and set up mechanisms to guarantee application of the law;

3 to acknowledge, in countries where adequate legislation already exists but is not effective, that the empowerment of women is necessary, and to recognise that education on women's rights is a priority and that the dissemination of this information must be adapted to the situation of women so that in the countries where there is a high level of illiteracy, alternatives such as audiovisual methods should be used;

4 to increase women's political power in collaboration with women's organisations, by promoting training activities allowing them to take an active part and to be equally represented in political structures. The emphasis is not just on ensuring that women are able to use their voting power, but that they also make their voices heard, participate in the decision-making process and contribute to a political project that meets their needs and their conception of society;

5 in collaboration with women's groups, to use every available channel and opportunity to press for the democratisation of international institutions and to insist that national representatives encourage the appointment of women to decision-making positions on a basis of equal representation;


With regard to women, environment and development

1 to support and promote the Centre for Women's Global Leadership which, in collaboration with other organisations, has achieved considerable work so as to have women's rights recognised as human rights and to put them on the international human rights' agenda as a priority;

2 to support the Women's Environment and Development Organisation and the Women's International Policy Action Committee that organised the World Women's Congress for a Healthy Planet in 1991 where women from all parts of the world formulated the Women's Action Agenda 21;

3 to recommend to the participants of the Lisbon Encounter and to their respective organisations to work on the basis of Agenda 21, and that they exchange actions with other women's networks so as to reinforce the power of the local groups working to protect and avoid further degradation of the environment;

The MEDIA are urged:

With regard to women’s human rights:

1 to incorporate a gender perspective into the collection, analysis, presentation and diffusion of information in order to respect women's rights;

2 to take a responsible role in the promotion, the recognition and the respect of women's rights in our societies;

3 to recognise the need within the media, for training in non-sexist awareness-raising with regard to the representation of men and women;

With regard to women, environment and development:

1 not to be guided only by economic reasons but also to integrate an ecological dimension;

2 to make an optimal use of their information power to highlight, not only environmental and development disasters, but also success stories to raise awareness on environmental issues;

3 to encourage immediate exchange and dissemination of information through networks in cases of problems originating from other countries (ea. toxic dumping).

TRADE UNIONS are urged:

1 to lobby governments on all the issues concerning democracy, environment and development.