What came out of the G8 summit for women?
Saturday June 09th 2007, 12:19 pm
Filed under: 50:50
, Nobel Women's Initiative
, aid and development
, economic empowerment
, human rights
, sexual and reproductive health rights (SHRH)
, women's rights
by Patricia Daniel
You can access all the summit declarations on the official website and download them as pdf documents. But I advise you not to bother. They mainly contain bland statements which commit the G8 to nothing. In general they say: “we note that this is an important issue and we agree to talk about it again at a later date.” And as far as women specifically are concerned, I have already been through the documents with my gender lens and pulled the relevant paragraphs out for you. There aren’t many and they’re all from the declaration on Africa.
So, here’s my immediate review of what came out of the G8 summit for women, based on the five key concerns we identified in the open letter. We invite our bloggers to comment in more detail.
Combat structural economic exclusion
More of the same on the global economy – in fact possibly a lot more if the emerging economies go into G8 partnership agreements. One very bland reference to women:
“The G8 emphasize the importance of the political and economic empowerment of women as a contribution to sustainable growth and responsible government. We are promoting the World Bank’s Gender Action Plan and welcome this and further initiatives supporting our African partners’ efforts to foster the economic empowerment of women such as those taken by the United Nations.”Paragraph 29, Growth and Responsibility for Africa
Reverse the marginalisation of women
This is really all I could find:
“Education is a fundamental driver for national development and economic growth, providing a skilled labour force, and promoting equity, enterprise, and prosperity. Education also promotes good health, empowers girls and women, and leads to healthier families. We are committed to working with partner governments and the private sector to expand opportunities for disadvantaged girls and boys, including beyond the classrooms, to learn 21st century skills and increase their participation in society. We reaffirm that no country seriously committed to “Education for All” will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by lack of resources.”
Paragraph 37, Growth and Responsibility for Africa
Climate change – sustainable development
A lot of hot air and no reference to women – or any new approach to grassroots development.
Health, HIV/AIDS and women’s rights
I’m surprised. There’s some detailed analysis here, a shift in discourse and a concrete pledge to provide more funding. But $60 billion over four years is to be shared between the whole African continent and Eastern European countries, so it’s not terribly generous. And we still need to see if the money materialises. Nevertheless I see this as a real success for women’s campaigning and a personal success for Bundesministerin Heidemarie Wiezcorek-Zeul who has championed these issues in Germany these past six months.
“50. Recognizing the growing feminization of the AIDS epidemic, the G8 in cooperation with partner governments support a gender-sensitive response by the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) with the goal of ensuring that greater attention and appropriate resources are allocated by the Fund to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care that addresses the needs of women and girls. Coverage of prevention of mother to child transmission programs (PMTCT) currently stands at only 11%. In the overall context of scaling up towards the goal of universal access and strengthening of health systems we will contribute substantially with other donors to work towards the goal of providing universal coverage of PMTCT programs by 2010. The cost to reach this target, as estimated by UNICEF, is US$ 1,5 billion. The G8 together with other donors will work towards meeting the needed re-sources for paediatric treatments in the context of universal access, at a cost of US$ 1,8 billion till 2010, estimated by UNICEF. We will also scale up efforts to reduce the gaps, in the area of maternal and child health care and voluntary family planning, an estimated US$ 1,5 billion.51. By achieving the MDG on education, 700,000 new HIV-infections could be pre-vented every year. Education not only improves the understanding for infectious dis-eases but also improves women’s and girls’ economic prospects and empowers them. The G8 will take concrete steps to support education programs especially for girls, to promote knowledge about sexuality and reproductive health and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections. The G8 will support the nationwide inclusion of appropriate HIV/AIDS-related information and life-skills information in school curricula, in the context of nationally owned sector plans as well as prevention information with regard to malaria and other relevant health topics.
52. The G8 will emphasize the importance of programs to promote and protect human rights of women and girls as well as the prevention of sexual violence and coercion especially in the context of preventing HIV/AIDS infections. We welcome the commitment expressed by African partners aiming at promoting the rights and role of women and girls. We will also work to support additional concerted efforts to stop sexual exploitation and gender-based violence. 53. The G8 will take concrete steps to work toward improving the link between HIV/AIDS activities and sexual and reproductive health and voluntary family planning programs, to improve access to health care, including preventing mother-to-child transmission, and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by adopting a multi-sectoral approach and by fostering community involvement and participation.”
From Growth and Responsibility in Africa
Education for gender equality and women’s rights
See above. As regards our suggestion that men take responsibility for the every day challenges faced by women: I’m tempted to say that the seven male G8 leaders showed some quaint old-fashioned gallantry vis-à-vis Angela Merkel’s tough presidency role and came to unexpectedly amicable agreements in order to see her attractively perky smile when she gets her own way reflected in all the summit photographs. After all, why not? They don’t really have any intention of following through anyway.
Peace and security
We didn’t include this in our open letter, but subsequent bloggers have raised a number of issues. Absolutely no reference to women or the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in any of the relevant documents (for example, on Darfur). No, wait, I’m wrong, here it is:
“At the 8th African Partnership Forum in Berlin, we have jointly with our African partners discussed important recommendations regarding climate change, investment, peace and security as well as gender equality.”
Final paragraph, G8 Africa Partnership, Summary of G8 Africa Personal Representatives’ Joint Progress Report (Annex to Growth and Responsibility in Africa)
The most interesting and constructive discussions about the future took place outside the fence round Heiligendamm, at the alternative summit in Rostock, at the Nobel Women’s Initiative gathering in Galway, in women’s social movements on different continents, at the World Social Forum in Nairobi – and here in the women’s openSummit blog.
Who needs the G8 anyway to tell us how to run the world?
What have Chernobyl children got to do with the sex trade?
by Patricia Daniel at the G8
This is one of those depressing stories that the G8 leaders ought to be considering, especially, in this case, Germany and Russia. This is where trade liberalisation intersects with man-made environmental damage at the crossroads of woman as the ultimate commodity.
I attended a workshop organised by Terre des Femmes on the links between free trade and the so-called sex trade (I think the term sanitises the activity). I learned a few statistics: 400,000 prostitutes in Germany, 35% of them trafficked. More than one million German men go to prostitutes daily. Migrant women are more popular. For German prostitutes, the stigma means they can’t talk about their work and so can’t get support and get out of it. For migrant women, the choices are even more limited. Terre des Femmes campaigns on their behalf and also runs an awareness campaign for men (the clients).
But what have Chernobyl children got to do with the sex trade? An inspiring woman from the University of Minsk in Belarus, Dr Irina Gruschewaja, explained. The eastern part of Belarus, which borders on Russia, was contaminated 21 years ago by the Chernobyl disaster. 250,000 children were sent away to be cared for in seven different countries, including Germany, in order to provide a safe environment where they could grow up until the area at home was considered clear.
That benevolence has been turned around. From the end of the 1990s, a lot of those children, now beautiful young women, are being trafficked to Germany as prostitutes. Why does it happen? There’s no work at home. Even if young women get work, they’re earning only 55% of what men earn – and that’s not a lot. Prices of basic food like bread and milk are high in a ratio to wages. In the countryside you’d be lucky to earn 100 euros, compared to 3500 euros in Germany.
Then come nice smart German men with a smile and an offer you can’t refuse.
“How should these girls be suspicious?” asks Irina. “They’ve lived in Germany as children. They were treated with affection and care. Everyone was friendly to them. They still expect the same – and this expectation is being abused.”
Coercion is defined by European law as “abuse of a position of vulnerability; abuse of authority; labour bondage; theft, isolation, deception; illegal holding of money or documents.” It doesn’t have to be use of direct force.
“We don’t want to tell our girls, don’t go to the west,” says Irina. “We know the work – and the money – is there. There’s no chance for them here, even to get work in the city. But we still haven’t developed a situation where a woman is free to make her own decisions and to seek out real prospects for herself.”
Since the Belarus government tightened up controls two years ago, young people have not been able to travel to the west, even to a conference or on holiday. But the border is open with Russia – so that’s where Belarus girls are being trafficked to now.
Irina, who has been running the Malinowka Advice Centre outside Minsk for eight years, still has a good word for some aspects of globalisation:
“If it wasn’t for globalisation we wouldn’t have the network with Terre des Femmes that raises money to help with education and awareness-raising for our girls and young women. In addition, I’ve had the chance to come to the alternative summit! And it’s great to be here with other women. I need their moral support in order to continue our work.”
FEMNET's men to men campaign
by Jessica Reed
In between posts from our women bloggers I will take the quick opportunity to blog about an aspiring project: FEMNET -the African Women’s Development and Communication Network- has built an original and impressive campaign titled “Men to Men project“. The aim is to create a core of male supporters for the long-term campaign to eliminate gender based violence (GBV) and raise awareness concerning the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
In their own words:
[Men to Men] is a strategy in which gender-sensitized men reach out to other men through organised outreach activities such as sensitization seminars, creating awareness on issues of gender equality, GBV and HIV/AIDS. This strategy also promotes inter-gender dialogues at the community level.
This strikes me as a great initiative to underline that gender based violence cannot end thanks to the efforts of women alone. Men reaching out to other men to raise awareness, and men realising the challenges faced by women on an everyday basis is one of the key to gender equality.
Violence against women: a global problem
by Sarah Jackson, EVAW campaign media advisor, UK
A grim thought struck me earlier today: one of the few things that binds women together across the world is their experience of violence. Whereas many forms of gender inequality – and such violence is about inequality, believe me – are rife in some countries, areas, and social groups and all but wiped out in others, violence against women is endemic across the world. It tramples over boundaries of culture, ethnicity, age, wealth and geography, affecting women of all ages and all backgrounds in every corner of the globe, and every walk of life.
Violence against women is commonly confused with domestic violence, but it incorporates much, much more. It includes rape and sexual violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, stalking, sexual exploitation, crimes in the name of ‘honour’, and sexual harassment. Read the UN definition of gender-based abuse.
The sheer scale of the problem is dizzying. At least one in every three women on the planet have been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. That’s around 1 billion human beings. Or the population of Latin America, twice over. With odds like this, it could be you. Or your mother, your sister, your daughter, or your friend.
Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan described violence against women as “the most atrocious manifestation of the systemic discrimination and inequality women continue to face, in law and in their everyday lives, around the world”. And this is the crucial thing I would like the participants of G8 to recognise: violence against women is discrimination. It is caused and perpetuated by the inequality between the sexes, and prevents women from participating in society as equal citizens.
End Violence Against Women is a coalition of organisations and individuals campaigning for the UK Government to take action on all forms of violence against women by developing an integrated strategy that includes measures for prevention as well as cure. The first step, for the UK and for the rest of the world, is to see violence against women for what it is: a form of sex discrimination and a gross violation of fundamental human rights.
We're not obliged to accept the world's definitions
by Bev Clark, manager of Zimbabwe’s civic and human rights website kubatana.net
Without access to information women from all walks of life experience an impoverished existence fraught with a variety of serious challenges and risks. One way or another, for the last 20 years much of my energy has been spent addressing this problem.
For a long time I produced a newsletter for the gay and lesbian community in Zimbabwe. Back in the late 80s we were considered daring and provocative as well as improper for including explicit information on the subject of HIV/AIDS. The fact that an isolated and marginalized community could access information materials developed specifically for them was very important especially because we live in a country where the authoritarian government either denies the existence of homosexuality, or criminalizes it.
During the time that I edited the gay and lesbian newsletter my offices were raided by the police. About 8 of them arrived with their search warrant, swaggering in and claiming that I was housing pornographic material. This was simply because the material was homosexual in content. After rifling through every drawer and cupboard they eventually left with their “evidence” – a booklet listing worldwide gay, lesbian and bisexual support groups.
Since then, as both a gay and political activist, I’ve spent many nights making my own bonfires. Burning materials which are informative, useful and inspiring, yet which the authorities would seek to harass me for. I’m angry about this. I’m angry because gay and lesbian people shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed, or be made to hide who they are and what they read.
In an old copy of one of our newsletters there’s a piece of writing by Maya Angelou that I’d manipulated in attempt to contextualize her writing for our Zimbabwean environment:
She heard the names,
swirling ribbons in the wind of history:
dyke, queer, pig, homo, poofter, lesbo, faggot,
But my description cannot fit your tongue, for
I have a certain way of being in this world,
and I shall not, I shall not be moved.
I wonder if the G8 has made any attempt to include sexual orientation in their policies? Even if they did, it would have very little effect in reducing the intolerance and hate of Robert Mugabe who has clearly stated that he believes that homosexuals don’t have any rights at all. When I think of the G8 I think of a bunch of men, self-satisfied in their suits and their power-giving statesmen-like speeches which sound really good but couldn’t be more empty.