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Beijing Conference Did Not Empower The Poor Women

Beijing Conference Did Not Empower The Poor Women

By Kamala Sarup

Even after the Beijing Conference on women, women have not dealt with a particular theme. The weakest point of women's strategy lies at the national and international level. Although tens of thousands of women from around the world have participated in the conferences, they are still only a small fraction of all women. The majority of women from rural areas do not know the about the conferences. They are not empowered to use them as effective tools in their country to change their lives and the lives of others.

Implementation of the Platform for Action must take place separately in each country, and this is something where everyone can accept part of the responsibility. It is crucial that the Platform for Action is "operationalized" and transformed into practical action in schools, organizations, political parties and all respective institutions. It is the responsibility of everyone to see to that implementation. Without poor and rural women's activism UN decisions will not be implemented in practice, no matter how good they are on conference, books and on paper.

Even, Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised the Beijing results as "one of the most remarkable documents since the United Nations Charter itself." Its outcome will not only be crucial to the rights and lives of women everywhere: it will also be crucial to the achievement of the goals at the Millennium Summit," he said.

In order to maintain stability as well as improve the living conditions for the poor women, essential infrastructure, such as roads, hospitals, schools needs to be rehabilitated. By building social National and local capacities for development and peace, government should be able to contribute to development-building processes in rural areas.

In the past several years, the fighting for power has continued not only in Nepal but in Sierra Leone, Burundi, Angola, Nigeria, Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Congo. Several years after mass killing in Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda. There are atleast six major cases of genocide, the mass killing of Armenians by Turks, Jews by Hitler, Cambodians by the Khamer Rouge, Kurds of the northern Iraq by Saddam Hussein, Tutsi of Rwanda by the Hutu and of Croats, Muslims and the Albanians of Kosovo by the Serbs.

In looking at a situation of long-term conflict and war, governments could not recognize that there are many levels of activity as well as many factors and functions necessary for poor women development and development as well as peace building.

Development strategies can contribute to the reduction of poverty and violence in three ways, poverty reduction and the reduction of economic disparities between rich and poor. Respect for the dignity and rights of other women groups, rural development, enhancing respect for human rights, participatory processes to identify community needs and to promote community development can help prevent conflict.

Government, NGOs and International organization should develop a capacity to reintegrate poor women by crisis into their societies, food, water and other life-saving resources need to be introduced.

As British pacifist and feminist Vera Brittain said in the 1920s, "The time has now come to move from the national to the international sphere, and to endeavour to obtain by international agreement what national legislation has failed to accomplish" (Miller, 1994).

On the other side, women can also act as a valuable interface between their countries' security forces (police and military) and the public, especially in cases when rapid response is necessary to head off violence.

During the process of developing more systematic and comprehensive strategies at the macro-level, the approaches of women's international networks have to be more more holistic.

"In no society today women enjoy the same opportunities as men," says the Human Development Report. "Gender equality does not depend on the income level of the country. Equality is not a technocratic goal—it is a wholesale political commitment." And finally, the report draws a conclusion: "Human development, if not engendered, is endangered." (For more information on the GEM index, see Human Development Report, 1995.)

Even if we see, the Heads of States Summit of the Organization of African Unity launched the African Union in Durban, South Africa, on 19 July 2002. Gender equality had been given high priority in both the African Union (AU) charter and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) principles but at its inaugural session all the African leaders present at the International Convention Centre in Durban were men.

Even if we see in Asian countries, poverty, lack of employment opportunities, illities, lack of consciousness, social discrimination between son and daughter, gender biased laws, incomplete and weak laws prevailing about trafficking in humans control, lack of political commitment for seeking problem solution are the root causes for the continuation and increasement of trafficking of women. Women's problems are similar in many countries. Lack of commitment and policy implementation pose as obstacles in solving the crisis. Given the gloomy scenario, the government or International organizations have not been able to come out with concrete and effective programs.

In the developing world, an average of 40 percent of women give birth before the age of 20, ranging from a low of 8 percent in East Asia to a high of 56 percent in West Africa. Between 12 and 42 percent of married adolescent women in developing countries want to space or limit births, but are not using family planning.

Unaccountable mothers find themselves caught between a life and death situation that can be termed as critically dangerous due to repeated pregnancy, poverty, financial problems, illiteracy, hunger, diseases like Aids. Other social pressures have driven thousands of mothers towards this situation.

There is no reproductive freedom for the majority of women. Most of the women's deaths in the World can be prevented by current medical knowledge, but there are many reasons why mothers continue to die.There are cultural and social causes that increase the risk of women's death during pregnancy.

It is necessary that understand the importance of women's development and provide them with various training, education and family planning services. It is also necessary to make arrangements for their social and financial development.

In the past 20 years, the world has experienced a rise in educational levels. However, 75% of the total illiterate population are women. They have domestic burdens, agricultural work burdens, unavailability of employment opportunities, lack of rights in ancestral property and sufficient nourishment from their own land. Most maternal deaths occur in the less developed world, particularly in Asia and Africa.

Child marriage, illiteracy, poverty, lack of civic sense, inactivity on the part of the women regarding their role in society, lack of family planning measures and the popularity of the male child forces the women to mother a child. Women and the girls continue to face discrimination.

In too many countries, girls still do not have the same chance to be educated as boys. Too many women still can not choose when or whether to become pregnant. Too many women are sexual violence, especially during conflict. Too many women resort to abortions that are not safe. Too many are still subjected to genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices. Too many men remain ignorant of, or indifferent to, their responsibility for the family and its reproductive health.

Changes in political, economic and social systems are necessary.Nepalese women should be nominated to village councils, municipalities, district councils, district development committees, sub-committees of local government, and a mandatory provision for inclusion of women to various committees.


(Kamala Sarup is editor of )

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