[m2c] Nonaligned countries meeting in Malaysia seek global push to boost women's rights
sandinista at shaw.ca
Wed May 11 02:44:40 MDT 2005
Tuesday May 10, 7:20 PM
Nonaligned countries meeting in Malaysia seek global push to boost women's
Rich and poor countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America on Tuesday pledged
to rescue women in their regions from poverty, disease and war, and to
ensure they are given a greater political voice.
Government ministers and other senior representatives of 84 of the 116
nations in the Nonaligned Movement issued a joint declaration that calls for
wide-ranging measures to increase the role of women in governments and
business, as well as to protect them from armed conflicts, physical abuse,
rape and diseases such as AIDS.
"This declaration will be a powerful tool to make our countries
significantly improve the lives and status of women," said Masooda Jalal,
Afghanistan's minister of women's affairs. "Today we have made commitments.
Tomorrow we will move our commitments into action," she said.
Malaysian Women's Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said the NAM
declaration is a milestone for women's rights, similar to a platform for
action adopted at a 1995 U.N. women's conference in Beijing to achieve
equality for women.
"Equal rights for women is still more an ideal than reality," Shahrizat said
on the sidelines of the two-day meeting. "Many of us are not even near the
goals set in Beijing in 1995. We have to keep women's progress on our radar
The declaration includes goals such as raising the participation of women to
at least 30 percent in legislatures and in the public and private sectors,
ensuring that women have full access to education and health care, and
eliminating policies and traditions that discriminate against women.
"We hereby recognize the importance of expanding and accelerating NAM's
efforts to enhance the empowerment of women," the document said. The
Nonaligned Movement, or NAM, is a group of mainly developing nations that
tried to stay neutral during the Cold War.
Some proposals in the declaration include enacting laws to guarantee women's
rights at work and home, drafting affirmative action policies and
encouraging women to take part in micro-credit schemes and computer skills
training to make them more independent.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a message to the meeting, said women
have seen "tangible progress" following the Beijing conference in education,
life expectancy and fertility rates, but they still face challenges such as
the trafficking of women and the mounting cases of HIV infections.
"As we look back on the past decade, one thing stands out above all else: We
have learned that the challenges facing women are not problems without
solutions," Annan said. "If we are to change the historical legacy that puts
women at a disadvantage in most societies, we must implement what we have
learned on a larger scale."
The NAM countries _ which include places that have been wracked by violence,
such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Rwanda _ also plan to pledge measures to curb
the suffering of women amid armed conflicts, noting that they are often war
casualties or risk being raped, maimed or brutalized.
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Prospero, you are the master of illusion.
Lying is your trademark.
And you have lied so much to me
(lied about the world, lied about me)
that you have ended by imposing on me
an image of myself.
underdeveloped, you brand me, inferior,
That ís the way you have forced me to see myself
I detest that image! What's more, it's a lie!
But now I know you, you old cancer,
and I know myself as well.
- Caliban, in Aime Cesaire's "The Tempest"
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