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Draft Program on Climate Change, for your comments (updated March 5, 2019) (short version now available)

 

The African Presence in Beijing

In Zimbabwe, active preparations for the 1995 NGO Forum started back in 1993. Women from the NGO communities mobilised each other and grassroots communities to come up with critical issues of concern. These were related to the activities proposed in the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies Conference in 1985. Women reflected on the past ten years, critically analysing the situation of women and society at large.

The consensus was that the situation of women the world over had not improved and in most parts of the Third World has deteriorated. Politically, women have been progressively marginalised. Access to health and education services has become impossible. Women have become economically dependent on marginal employment and handouts, as retrenchees, unemployed, and refugees. Ownership of land is out of reach for most women. Violence against women is on the rise.

Our preparatory activities focused heavily on the above key issues.

From Zimbabwe, a contingent of nearly fifty NGO representatives attended the Forum. (About ten of these were accredited to the official United Nations Conference, and I was one of them.)

The African and Middle Eastern women were mostly concerned about domestic violence, inheritance, divorce, custody laws, girl children, poverty, education, and female genital mutilation. European and North American women focused on economic problems and women’s employment in their countries. They were anxious about the absence of adequate child care and barriers to parity in the workplace. Asian women were concerned with poverty, education for the girl child, trafficking of women, domestic violence, and female migrant workers. Latin American women concentrated on poverty and education.

Larger issues of concern affecting all women were: health and HIV/AIDS, patriarchy, how religion is used to oppress women, and the seemingly low self-esteem suffered by most women.

Discussions revealed that many problems facing women in different countries were similar. However, controversial issues remained—equality as opposed to equity, reproductive rights, and the right to sexual orientation (Gays and Lesbians), to name a few.

I saw women in all colours of the rainbow, and the excitement was infectious! The Africa Tent was the most colourful and was crowded with women from different parts of Africa. There was a conflict over languages until the French-speaking people made as if to leave. The problem was quickly resolved. The singing, clapping of hands, ululating, and dancing was an “unwinding” for all of us. The slogan, “Viva! Women of Africa!” was carried through to the end of the Forum. Some of our problems were different and others the same, but all these were under the umbrella of “oppression.”

The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (Femnet), which was the organiser of the African Tent, invited prominent women of the continent to talk about issues of concern. Girl children also attended to present case studies and to role-play their plights as African girl children.

Meanwhile, delegates from No Limits for Women, held workshop after workshop. The networking and mobilisation were incredible. The USers did a tremendous job of mobilising people and giving out No Limits for Women materials (based on the perspectives and practices Re-evaluation Counseling* [RC]). A good number of African women got well informed about Re-evaluation Counseling practice and No Limits perspectives, and many also attended our workshops. I made contacts that I will follow up on from South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Zaire, Burundi, and Congo.

Zimbabwean NGOs presented workshops and activities on: women and the media, with special emphasis on community-based theatre and communication; violence against women, with special reference to femicide case studies in Zimbabwe; women’s health and reproductive rights and HIV/AIDS; politics and decision-making; and women and sports.

The Zimbabwe NGOs certainly enjoyed what might be described as a “once in a lifetime experience”: to mingle and share the good and bad of a woman’s life.

The officials were ready with their pens for the final signing of the platform for action, but in reality what is going to be done by the governing bodies? With a bad track record of human rights here, I see no way forward except by using the theory and practice of Co-Counseling and organizing through No Limits for Women.

Melphy Sakupwanya
Harare, Zimbabwe 


* Re-evaluation Counseling (also called Co-Counseling) is a process whereby people of all ages and backgrounds can learn how to exchange effective help with each other in order to free themselves from the effects of past distress experiences, including the effects of oppression.  No Limits for Women uses the tools of Re-evaluation Counseling to create a system of ongoing mutual support in which women can help free each other from the emotional harm done by sexism.  It also provides the opportunity to develop fresh and intelligent prospectives on the global and local issues involved in the elimination of sexism/male domination by women and male allies

For more information about Re-evaluation Counseling, see: <https://www.rc.org/page/about>

 

For more information about No Limits for Women see: <https://www.rc.org/publication/foundation/nolimitsmission>


Last modified: 2015-01-22 17:49:30+00