It's time to get angry again!
Source: Choike and AWID

With thousands of women from around the world, committed, wide-awaken and happy to be together, the 10th AWID Forum began October 27th. All our heads will be put together to remember and review our achievements, the obstacles that we still face, the internal challenges, and the state of women's rights on a global scale. Here are the first impressions.

Sunila Abeysekera, in a vibrant intervention, remembered the achievements and challenges that emerged from the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna 1993 (1), at the Cairo Conference in 1994 and other meetings that took place in the last years.

In Vienna, members of indigenous, women's and gay communities attended a summit in person for the first time to make their voices heard. It was one of the greatest moments in the affirmation of the human rights movement, the participation of a real and diverse movement claiming their rights.

Another important aspect highlighted by Sunila about the Vienna Conference was the concepts of universality and indivisibility. The latter is about not being able to separate a person’s fulfilment from their political, economic, social and cultural rights. As for women, the concept of universality has always been the most critical because it is often questioned as going against local culture, tradition, religion or traditional practices.

If we look back, says Sunila, we can see that much has been achieved. However, if we look ahead and we see how the world has changed; if we see so many women, men and children that stand totally defenceless in conflict areas; people that see how legislation allows their governments to violate all their rights; if we look at how market policies destroy the economic and social rights in so many of our countries; if we look at the new migratory policies of countries in the North and we see racism...It's time to get angry again!

From cats to tigers

Junya Lek Yimprasert concluded the opening session with a vibrant demonstration of how large corporations exploit their workers globally and informed about the struggles that are being organized against the sport's giant "Nike", for example. Junya stated that this was actually the first time she entered the Shangri-La Hotel, as she had been previously demonstrating for better salaries for its workers right across the street. Her intervention revolved around short-term economies and the inequalities between North and South.

Representatives from maquiladora factories in Thailand joined the meeting and we all sang their song of struggle which - in the same way as Junya- called for women to turn from cats to tigers. Junya’s work and the conquests of the workers from Thailand will be analysed in following articles.

(1) World Declaration and Programme of Action, Vienna, 1993 This conference marks a fundamental change in the theory of human rights. Following the women's inicitive, countries endorsed that human rights must be protected both in the public and private sphere. Until that moment, the system only recognized violations committed by the State and refered to the political an social arena. For the first time, acts undertaken in the private sphere can have a governmental responsibility. Article 38 considers a violation of human rights all actions that undermines the specific rights of women.


Speakers at the opening session: a profile

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is the co-founder and Executive Director of the African Women's Development Fund (AWDF), the first Africawide fundraising and grant-making organisation for African women. Bisi is also the President of the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID). Prior to AWDF, she was cofounder and board member of the Black and Migrant Women in Europe Network and was the Director of Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), an international development organisation for African women based in the UK, with an Africa regional office in Kampala, Uganda. While at AMwA, she founded the African Women's Leadership Institute (AWLI) which has run feminist leadership development programmes for women all over Africa. She has a BA and MA in History from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and an MA in Gender Studies from Middlesex University, UK. She has experience as a journalist, writer, lecturer, trainer, fundraiser, and as an organisational development specialist. She is also very active with philanthropic organizations all over the world, including currently co-chairing the International Network of Women's Funds, acting as board member of Partnership for Transparency Fund and Allavida, and advisor to Mama Cash and Global Fund for Women.

Tara Chetty teaches broadcast journalism at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. Concurrently she is a presenter for Fiji Television News. She has additional experience in TV and radio advertising, and as a writer and journalist. From 2002 till 2004 she was on the Management Board of the Fiji Women's Rights Movement, and from 2004 on she has been a Member of the FWRM Young Women's Working Group as well as a facilitator at the FWRM/DAWN Pacific feminist advocacy training workshop this year. She won the 2003 Fiji Television Award for Best Student Television Journalism, as well as the 2002 Radio Australia Prize and Storyboard Award as part of the USP reporting team to the UNICEF Pacific Regional Youth Congress on HIV/AIDS. A keen athlete, she holds a silver medal for Outrigger Canoeing in the South Pacific Games.

Junya Lek Yimprasert founded the Thai Labour Campaign at the beginning of the new millennium. Her interest in labour issues began in 1990 when she started her first job with the Asian Migrant Center in Hong Kong. She moved on to the Center for Labour Information Service and Training, where she got the opportunity to focus on women workers' issues, and began to learn about the labour movement in Thailand. In 1995, Lek assisted in establishing Focus on the Global South in Thailand. In 1998, she was invited by Reebok to take the position of Human Rights Coordinator for Reebok in Thailand. She resigned after four months and went on to write a research paper entitled "Can Corporate Codes of Conduct Promote Labour Standards: Evidence from the Thai Footwear and Apparel Industries." She has written numerous other articles and reports related to women workers and labour exploitation in the neo-liberal market economy. Lek now holds many advisory positions, including to the Assembly of the Poor, the Workers Rights Consortium and the Asia Focal Point for Asian Gender and Trade Network.

Sunila Abeysekera is a feminist and human rights activist, who works in Sri Lanka and internationally on issues relating to processes of conflict transformation and the impact of conflict on women, as well as on issues of identity and of sexual and reproductive rights. She is a trainer and educator on women's rights and human rights and the Director of INFORM, a human rights documentation centre based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sunila is also a Founder Member of the Women and Media Collective as well as the Women's Support Group in Sri Lanka. In 1994 she received an MA in Women and Development from the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. She has been at the forefront of international women's human rights analysis and advocacy at the regional and international level. In 1998, she received the UN Human Rights Prize.

10th AWID Forum - Bangkok, October 2005 On October 27-30 will be held -supported by AWID- the 10th. International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development, that is both a conference and a call to action.

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