Dec 272009

As we near the end of the year, newspapers are starting to run their 10 most important/10 best lists of people, news stories, books, music, etc.  If you happen across such lists, please look to see whether the list was compiled by a man or woman and how many women are included in the lists.  For instance, The New York Times just published a list where they asked ten prominent writers what they thought the most significant things about the last decade were.  Only two of the authors were women.

I am in the process of collecting examples such as these for a presentation I will be making available this spring on gender and media so if you find examples, I would be most grateful if you would post them in the comments or send to fpn @

 December 27, 2009  Posted by on December 27, 2009 1 Response »
Dec 212009

Abigail Disney, producer of the phenomenal film, Pray The Devil Back to Hell  along with Gini Reticker have a new project, Women, War & Peace, a mini- television series for  Here is what they posted on the PDBH Facebook page about their new project:

As we found ourselves immersed in the making PDBH, we realized time and again that this story about women’s centrality in war, peacemaking, and post-conflict rebuilding was at once both ancient and strikingly contemporary, crucial to understanding local context, yet truly global in its contours. And yet, this story hasn’t been told.

These thoughts followed us into the edit room for PDBH – we found that there was a stunning lack of relevant archival materials for us to work with. If we had been making a film about child soldiers, about combat, about warlords, or even about the heroics of the journalists themselves, there would have been no shortage of material. Despite the fact that every eyewitness to the events confirmed, in strikingly similar language, what the women had told us they had done, it appears that mainstream media wasn’t interested, or the footage resulting from those days was not deemed important enough to archive. Ultimately, most of the footage we used that showed the women in action came from private sources.

The difficulty of getting relevant footage from credible public sources highlighted an important reality for us. Everyone we spoke to, from regular citizens to policy leaders, credited these women with enormous influence on the outcome of the peace process and ensuing events, including the disarmament process and the election of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and yet that influence was nowhere in the journalistic or official record. And so their accomplishments, however stunning, were doomed to become part of an easily dismissed “mythical” narrative, and not included in history’s document of record. The women, in other words were being erased – and right before our eyes.

In order to make sure that this erasure of history doesn’t continue to happen to women in conflict zones around the world, we have joined forces with Pamela Hogan at the New York PBS station THIRTEEN/WNET.ORG, to create Women, War & Peace.

Here is a trailer for the series:

You can contribute to making this project happen here.

 December 21, 2009  Posted by on December 21, 2009 Comments Off on Women, War & Peace–A New Project From The Producers Of Pray The Devil Back To Hell
Dec 142009

Dear U.S. Senate, we hate to rush you but  you’ve been deliberating about this (or more accurately stonewalling) for 30 years, do you think maybe you could possibly ratify this crucial human rights document?  Just asking…

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) celebrates its 30th birthday on December 18.  President Carter signed CEDAW in 1980, but the U.S. Senate has yet to ratify it, making it one of only seven countries in the world not to implement this important platform for women’s rights.  The other six are Iran, Nauru, Palau, Somalia, Sudan and Tonga.

However, it is not at all clear whether ratification at this point would be a good idea because of ‘reservations’ that might be attached to that approval that could potentially nullify or change the impact of key provisions.

Via AWID comes an interesting report regarding how the use of ‘reservations’ by countries in conjunction with ratification:

A landmark UN treaty on women’s rights, which will be 30 years old next week, is in danger of being politically undermined by a slew of reservations by 22 countries seeking exemptions from some of the convention’s legal obligations.

“A reservation must not defeat the object and purpose of a treaty,” Ambassador Palitha Kohona, a former chief of the UN Treaty Section, told IPS. If a state has intrinsic difficulties with a treaty, it has the right not to become a party, he said. “To become a party and then defeat the object and purpose of the treaty is unacceptable,” said Kohona, currently Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which will commemorate its 30th anniversary on Dec. 18, has been described as “an international bill of rights for women” and has been ratified by 186 member states. But 22 member states, ranging from Algeria and Australia to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United Kingdom, have exercised their right not to implement certain provisions of the treaty, even though they have signed and ratified CEDAW.

You can read the complete analysis here.

In addition AWID reports here that an Arab women’s organization, Equality Without Reservation, has called for the heads of Arab states to:

  • Withdraw all reservations to the Convention and reform all discriminatory laws which constitute obstacles to the fulfilment of the rights of women as citizens.
  • Integrate the principles of equality and non-discrimination based on gender into constitutions, laws and action plans and ensure their implementation.
  • Support the efforts of non-governmental organisations to raise awareness on the Convention and contribute to its implementation in order to end all forms of discrimination against women and promote substantive equality.

Ambassador Kohona raises the point that,

human rights treaties tend to attract a noticeable number of reservations. Some treaties, Kohona explained, may prohibit reservations. However, “states having the sovereign right to lodge reservations to treaties in the generality of cases when they become party, have exercised this right extensively,” he said. Others, he pointed out, “have surreptitiously sought to achieve the same objective by crafting clever declarations of understanding.”

While we understand Ambassador Kohona’s point regarding national sovereignty inasmuch as that has traditionally been an unassailable canon of international law, national sovereignty is not an excuse for the continuing  denial of women’s full human rights that is a global pandemic that knows no boundaries. The Feminist Peace Network calls on the U.S. and the other  countries that have not fully implemented CEDAW to do so immediately and without reservation.

 December 14, 2009  Posted by on December 14, 2009 1 Response »
Dec 112009


Several hundred women, many holding aloft pictures of relatives killed by drug lords or Taliban militants, held a loud but nonviolent street protest today, demanding that President Hamid Karzai purge from his government anyone connected to corruption, war crimes or the Taliban.

Afghan police, in riot gear, monitored the rally as it worked its way slowly through muddy streets to the United Nations building here, but they did nothing to disrupt the event.

The unusual display of political activism by women comes as Karzai is under increasing pressure to remove from his cabinet anyone connected to rampant corruption, including links to the flourishing drug trade. His own finance minister says corruption is the biggest threat to the future of Afghanistan.

The protest group, under the banner Social Association of Afghan Justice Seekers, said that “our people have gone into a nightmare of unbelieving” because of the disputed election and the fact that “the culture of impunity” still exists despite Karzai’s vow to eliminate it.

While the women took the lead in the protest, about 500 men followed them in support, an unusual display in Afghan culture of men allowing women to take a leadership role.

The group spokeswoman, who gave her name as Lakifa, said many women are still afraid to demand an accounting of the death or disappearance of family members during the three decades of war that have ripped Afghanistan.

“We need to know about all of our martyrs, and the government needs to find the mass graves and the killers, not give them jobs and protect them,” she said.

 December 11, 2009  Posted by on December 11, 2009 Comments Off on Women Lead Protest In Afghanistan
Dec 082009

Activist Naomi Klein kicked off the Klimaforum, the alternative people’s gathering being held in conjunction with the Copenhagen Climate Change talks by pointing out that the official talks had official corporate sponsors, which says it all when it comes to integrity:

Naomi also had critical words to say about Hopenhagen and its branding extravaganza. “The globe has Siemens logo on the bottom and the whole event is sponsored by Coke. That is a capitalization of hope but Klimaforum09 is where the real hope lies,” she said.

“Klimaforum is not about giving charity to the developing world its about taking responsibility and the industrialized countries cleaning up our own mess,” she concluded.

In a followup article, she writes,

A highlight of my time at COP15 so far was a conversation with the extraordinary Nigerian poet and activist Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International. We talked about the fact that some of the toughest activists here still pull their punches when it comes to Obama, even as his climate team works tirelessly to do away with the Kyoto Protocol, replacing it with much weaker piecemeal targets.

If George W. Bush had pulled some of the things Obama has done here, he would have been burned in effigy on the steps of the convention center. With Obama, however, even the most timid actions are greeted as historic breakthroughs, or at least a good start.

“Everyone says: ‘give Obama time,’” Bassey told me. “But when it comes to climate change, there is no more time.” The best analogy, he said, is a soccer game that has gone into overtime. “It’s not even injury time, it’s sudden death. It’s the nick of time, but there is no more extra time.”

More of Naomi Klein’s observations about Copenhagen can be found here and here.

Global Sister has an excellent article up called, A Feminist Focus on Climate Change which points to a fascinating study by BRIDGE that looks at linkages between gender and climate change, well worth the read.

UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid has this to say:

“Women should be part of any agreement on climate change — not as an afterthought or because it’s politically correct, but because it’s the right thing to do. Our future as humanity depends on unleashing the full potential of all human beings, and the full capacity of women, to bring about change.”

Women, Water, and Climate Justice—Cameroonian Human Rights Activist Asaha Elizabeth Ufei Leads the Way posted by the NAACP Climate Justice Iniative provides an excellent analysis of how the impact off climate change on water supplies influences women:

As the climate conditions worsen, women are finding it harder to provide food and water for their families. The once reliable and nearby water sources are drying up or contaminated; and the crops aren’t producing enough. So we are faced with questions: How many more miles must women have to walk to provide basic life-sources? What other ways can women sustain their families when the traditional agriculture and craft materials are gone? How many women will have to uproot their families and migrate to other places—that may be hostile to immigrants—because they can longer find food and shelter in their communities? How many more women and girls will be pushed into survival sex work because there are fewer economic opportunities?  How many more people who speak up about human rights and organize for change will be severely punished, coerced to leave their countries, or forever silenced?


Dr Sue Wareham, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons’ (ICAN) Australian board member discusses whether nuclear power has a place in how we address climate change in this Q&A with IPS:

IPS: Is nuclear power, being carbon-free, the panacea for climate change problems and should it be a substitute for coal-fuelled power stations?

SW: We don’t agree nuclear power is a sensible way forward in response to climate change. Nuclear power cannot address the issue of climate change. There are physical limitations to the number of nuclear power stations that could be built in the next decade or so.

Even if there is further development of nuclear power, it will be far too slow because it takes 10 to 15 years to get a nuclear power plant at a point of producing electricity. We need action faster than that.

Particularly important also is the links with weapons. We know there are definite links between the civilian and military fuel cycles, and that is a particular problem that will remain as long as nuclear power is there.

There is also the problem of nuclear waste to which no country has a solution yet. We regard it as unacceptable that this generation should leave our waste to future generations. The technological and practical reality is that we don’t have any way of separating nuclear waste from the environment.

Our message is that the world really needs to put serious and significant funding into further promotion, development and implementation of renewable energies—solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels, which have been underused and under-resourced.

In this thoughtful piece, Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai discusses what poorer nations need to combat climate change:

Unless the poor countries commit to development, they will continue to be under-developed and they will not be able to improve the quality of life of their people. Yet, any path that continues to encourage growth and use of fossil fuels will generate disquiet. It is for this reason that these poor countries need financial help, capacity building and transfer of not only available, but also affordable technology.

And towards the end of COP15, Maathai presented the People’s Orb to world leaders:

Maathai told politicians that while “They cannot negotiate with the environment they can negotiate with each other.”

Maathai’s call reiterated that of the UN Secretary General’s, who told heads of state attending the opening, “Our job here and now is to seal the deal … a deal that is in our common interest. For three years I have sought to bring world leaders to the table to solve climate change. Now they are coming. Three years of effort have come down to three days of action.”

In her address, Maathai said it was up to the developing world to convince the developed world that the threat of climate change is real, calling on nations to invest in the preservation of forests as a first line of defense against climate change.

Maathai directed the attention of her audience to a metal Orb placed near the head table, saying, “There is an Orb at the end of the table. This orb contains stories, images, voices and messages collected from around the world to create a global mandate for action. It is the sound of the collective spirit which should bring together all the efforts of all major climate campaigns from civil society this year.”

Vandana Shiva speaks to protesters in Copenhagen:

And Democracy NOW’s Amy Goodman reports on Shiva’s thoughts about U.S. responsibility when it comes to financial responsibility for fighting global warming,

Afterward, I asked her to respond to U.S. climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing, who said the Obama administration is willing to pay its fair share, but added that donors “don’t have unlimited largesse to disburse.” Shiva responded, “I think it’s time for the U.S. to stop seeing itself as a donor and recognize itself as a polluter, a polluter who must pay. … This is not about charity. This is about justice.”

Sister Joan Chittister in remarks at Copenhagen,

From where I stand, several strains were clear: Whatever agreements come out of Cop15, enforceability is key. Classism-poor against rich-is a danger. Multilateralism that does not support those nations who stand to be as smothered by the effects of national agreements that deny them economic development as they are by the effects of achieving it through the energy sources of the past will become a major political problem in the future. And, finally, this is only the beginning of a real struggle to resolve it.

Latin American Women Want Modified Trade Rules:

“Where there is biodiversity, where there is wealth, where there is culture, that’s where corporate interests flock,”(Norma)  Maldonado, deputy head of Ecumenical Services for Christian Development in Central America (SEFCA), an organisation working with women and young people for community development and political effectiveness, told TerraViva.

Special U.N. Advisor on Water, Maude Barlow talking about the water crisis at the Klimaforum:

As the climate talks in Copenhagen develop, I will update this as warranted regarding perspectives on women and climate change.

 December 8, 2009  Posted by on December 8, 2009 Comments Off on Women And Climate Change–Links and Quotes