No Limits, at the Beijing +20 Women’s Forum

Twenty years ago, a delegation of three hundred RC women (and a few men) attended the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women, in Beijing, China. It was the largest women’s liberation conference in the history of the world, and ours was one of the largest delegations. We came away with a new understanding of global women’s oppression and liberation. It was a time we will never forget.

In March of this year, an awesome and diverse No Limits for Women[1] delegation, of women and men, attended the non-governmental organization Women’s Forum held in conjunction with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Beijing+20, in New York City, New York, USA. It was first time since 1995 that RC women’s liberation had gone public on a large scale.

Our delegation included young women, young adult women and men, women and men targeted by racism, and several women and men from outside of the United States. Our goal was to help update and re-energize the global women’s movement and support the newly launched United Nations effort to build a men’s movement allied to women. We wanted to bring RC tools and RC women’s liberation to the wide-world women’s liberation activists at the forum. We also wanted to learn from their experience and expertise.

Women’s lives have changed greatly since 1995, as a result of the globalization of capitalism, the expanded militarization of the planet, the environmental crisis, increasing poverty and economic inequality, and the growth of oppressive global industries like the sex industry. Sexual violence has increased and is now recognized as a global crisis. It was one of the twelve areas of concern in the Beijing+20 Platform of Action. (Challenging and ending the sexual exploitation of women has become a key part of RC women’s liberation work as well.) Also, women’s movements have been fiercely targeted, and “sexism” is no longer a widely used term. Meanwhile, women in the developing nations—the economic South—continue to fight against the forms of sexism, racism, and poverty they experience. My impression is that the majority of the women attending the 2015 Forum were women from these countries.

From 1995 to the present, RC women’s liberation activists have struggled to meet the new challenges presented by the contemporary forms of sexism, racism, and male domination. Our progress was evident at this forum. Our diverse team worked together elegantly and collaboratively, and we shared effectively our growing picture of the role RC can and does play in the ending of sexism and male domination.

We handed out a description of No Limits for Women:

“No Limits for Women is an international organization of women (with men as allies) dedicated to eliminating sexism throughout the world. Using the tools of Re-evaluation Counseling, No Limits offers a system of ongoing mutual support in which women can help free each other from the emotional harm done by sexism.

“No Limits for Women also provides perspectives on issues facing women worldwide, such as violence against women, young women and girls in leadership, women ending racism, and women in partnership with men. Ending racism is integral to the work of No Limits, as is developing women leaders from every walk of life.[2] Women’s perspectives are crucial to solving the enormous challenges facing the world today.

“No Limits also encourages and assists men to become strong and independent allies. Men are much needed as allies in the work to end sexism.”

In four days of the forum, we presented seven workshops. The topics included young women ending sexism, with young men as allies; women ending racism; men ending sexism and male domination; women ending sexual violence toward women, with men as allies; women and men in partnership to end sexism and male domination; and women and leadership. They were extremely well received.

In some of the venues we had enough space to do support groups and Co-Counseling sessions after the workshops. Interesting conversations took place, and we met many exciting female and male leaders.

Our delegation met together in the morning and evening of each day. We worked on what we needed to do to reach people and to stay in contact with them, during the forum and after. Contacts, contacts, contacts! Making them was a top priority.

The following were some of the unique and interesting happenings:

  • We were one of the few groups, perhaps the only one, that consistently used the words “sexism” and “male domination.”
  • We were the only group that had a workshop on women eliminating racism.
  • The partnership that we modeled and emphasized—women and men together in eliminating sexism—was unique. Someone who had come to one of our workshops said (at a non-RC workshop) that No Limits for Women was the only group that specifically had men as allies.
  • We RC women modeled speaking up for ourselves; it was clear how much work we had done on challenging internalized oppression.
  • The RC men showed how much work they had done in facing oppressor material (we did not use that term).
  • We experienced in practice why “female first” and “African-heritage female first” (and “Latina female first,” and so on) were such a big contradiction to oppression, for ourselves and at our workshops.
  • We reached out to people in a variety of ways. For example, we had listening projects[3] in Spanish and English with signs that said things like “What would it be like for you to have a world without sexism and male domination? We would love to listen to you.” We passed out fliers for our workshops. Many of us went to other people’s workshops.
  • One of our young adult leaders initiated “tweeting.” We also used newer forms of communication in our successful campaigns to raise money for the project.
  • We explained language liberation at our workshops and had a minute of silence every twenty minutes, so that people for whom English was a second language could get a break from listening and speaking in English. That made a difference.
  • K Webster, a local RC leader, and other volunteers mainly from the New York City area, organized us, hosted us, and loved us as we did the work. Their goal was for us to feel loved—and we did. It was a big highlight for many of us.
  • On the Sunday before the forum, International Women’s Day, there was a United Nations Women’s March through parts of Manhattan (New York City). We carried a banner that said, “No Limits for Women, No Limits for Girls.” Many people, both RCers and others, had brought their daughters, who, for the first time, saw women and men standing up for girls.

These were all significant events, both for us and for RC women’s liberation. Many others who participated will be sharing their experiences, too. We are formulating goals for the future. There are NO LIMITS!

(For more information on the No Limits project at Beijing+20, including photos and the No Limits pamphlet and flyers, go to the No Limits for Women section of the RC website.)

Diane Balser
International Liberation
Reference Person for Women
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA

[1]No Limits for Women is a project of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities.
[2]“Every walk of life” means every background.
[3]In an RC listening project, several Co-Counselors go to a public place and offer to listen to passersby about some important issue. They may hold signs that invite people to share their thinking about that issue.


Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00