June 2006 Newsletter 1054

Report from launch of the EC’s “Roadmap for Equality between women and men 2006-2010” – by Marsha Scott

The European Commission launched a new initiative on gender equality at a meeting for government and NGO representatives in Brussels on 4-5 May 2006. The EC distributed its “roadmap for equality between men and women 2006-2010”; the document identifies Commission activities in six priorities:

  • Equal economic independence for men and women
  • Reconciliation between professional life and private life
  • Equal representation in decision-making
  • Ending all forms of violence and trafficking in human beings based on gender
  • Removal of gender stereotypes within society
  • Promotion of equality between the sexes outside the EU

The Commission reported that it would help set up the European Institute for Gender Equality, to be operational on 1 January 2007 (although no site has been decided for the Institute) and to have a budget of 50 million euros up to 2013. Other Commission commitments included:

  • Regular progress reports on gender equality
  • Political follow-up with meetings of ministers with responsibility for gender equality
  • Draft a new composite indicator of equality between men and women by 2007
  • Develop new indicators for the 12 critical fields of the Beijing Platform by 2010

“This is a very positive time for the advancement of gender equality in the European Union, as the political will at the highest level has renewed its strong commitment to equality between women and men,” stated Kirsti Kolthoff, President of European Women’s Lobby (EWL) “this was essential considering that commitments to support female employment and to realise gender equality were underdeveloped in the National Reform Programmes.”

An important precursor to the launch was the presentation of EWL’s  “Gender Equality Road Map for the European Community 2006-2010”, which EWL presented to the Commission in November 2005.  The priority areas of the EC document are essentially the same as in EWL’s Road Map, although activities and targets in the EC’s version are significantly less ambitious.  One significant milestone in the EC’s Roadmap is the recognition that trafficking is gendered and that demand needs to be curbed.  Previously, the EC had essentially a single, legal focus on the issue; the new document provides the first formal recognition of the links to violence against women and of the need for more protection for women from trafficking.

The EC roadmap can be downloaded (PDF version) from: http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/emplweb/news/news_en.cfm?id=136, and the EWL’s Road Map can be downloaded from http://www.womenlobby.org under Policies.

CEDAW – Women’s Rights on the International Stage

During the last two weeks of May, United Nations headquarters played host to the 35th session of the Committee to Eliminate Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). A major focus of this year’s meeting had to do with ongoing UN reform efforts.   Since the Committee has worked closely in the past with the UN Commission on Human Rights, recently taken over by the newly created Human Rights Council, the opening speaker stressed the importance of developing a strong relationship with the new council in the months ahead.

“Women’s rights had received significant attention in the agenda and work of the Commission on Human Rights,” said Rachel Mayanja, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women. “And women expect, as a minimum, a comparable degree of attention from the new Council. My office and the Division for the Advancement of Women will continue to work with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to strengthen attention of the Council to the human rights of women and to the gender perspectives in its work.”

Other major agenda items of the May session included the Committee’s role in recent reform work at the UN, such as increasing coherence throughout the agency and gender mainstreaming. The latter is an approach that places gender equality in the context of all governmental activities.

Feminist Art and Social Change

Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society are currently planning a Comparative Perspectives Symposium on Feminist Art and Social Change.  They would like to recruit 4 to 8 artists, art critics, curators, or scholars from Africa, Asia, Australia, the
Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, New Zealand, and Newly Independent
States, who would contribute short essays (1250-1500 words) that discuss
how feminism surfaces in the arts (visual arts, dance, music, literature, theatre, architecture, new media) and with what effects in their region.

Those interested in contributing to the symposium should contact Karen
Alexander KAlexander@signs.rutgers.edu   by August 15, 2006. Completed
essays must be submitted by November 1, 2006.

Wilton Park Event

Bronagh Hinds represented Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform at the recent UN Resolution 1325 – Women, Peace and Security at Wilton Park on May 30. President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf co-author of the Independent Assessment report Women War Peace (commissioned by UNIFEM) delivered one of the opening remarks at the conference. Her Excellency focused on what are the challenges to implementing UNSCR 1325.   The event also saw the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) release the UK Action Plan on UNSCR 1325.  Copies of both the opening speeches and the UK Action Plan can be obtained by contact niwep@btconnect.com

NIWEP is at present preparing a series of events around UNSCR 1325 over the next months so keep your eyes open for an opportunity to participate.

UN General Assembly to be headed by its Third-Ever Woman President

The Legal Counsel to the Royal Family of Bahrain, pioneering lawyer Haya Rashed Al-Khalifa, has been elected President of the 61st General Assembly session, becoming only the third woman who will hold that post and the first one elected since 1969.

Welcoming the election, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was “particularly pleased” that a woman would occupy the post. Ms. Al-Khalifa was one of the first two women admitted to the practice of law in her country. She said she had witnessed several instances where women were harshly treated and their suffering had driven her to find suitable solutions to reduce their pain and uphold the principles of the UN Charter, with its emphasis on respect for human rights.

“The future of coming generations depends on the way we address contemporary problems,” she said. “We should work towards preserving humanitarianism and ensuring that our planet is a safer and more suitable place to live in.”

Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

A new publication entitled “The Links between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: a Briefing Handbook”, is part of the Joint project coordinated by European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) on Promoting preventative measures to combat trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation. A useful resource for research and lobbying, the handbook is available upon request to niwep@btconnect.com or from the EWL’s website:

Job Vacancies

Amnesty International (Belfast) are currently seeking a Communications Officer and an Education Officer (both part-time) and based in Belfast.  For further information contact Amnesty International (Belfast) on 028 9064 3000

2 Programme and Policy Managers

WOMANKIND Worldwide is a dynamic UK agency committed to women’s rights and the creation of a just, equitable and peaceful world, in which women are equal partners with men in determining the values, direction and governance of their societies and are seeking to recruit two Programme & Policy Managers with at least 5 years experience of working in a development context with a proven track record on working on gender and/or women’s rights.
WOMANKIND is looking for candidates who are confident in communicating and influencing at different levels and with specialist knowledge in one or more of the following thematic areas: rights-based approaches, gender in a conflict / post-conflict and or humanitarian context.  One post will be responsible for WOMANKIND’s work in South America and requires the candidate to be a fluent Spanish speaker. The countries in WOMANKIND’s current portfolio include Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. The other post will be responsible for our work in Asia, which currently includes Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Up to 2 months may be spent overseas each year.
Starting salary:  £25,500 – £26,500 plus 7% employer’s pension contribution.  Closing date for applications:  28 June 2006      Dates for interviews: 3 & 4 July 2006
For an application pack, download from our website at www.womankind.org.uk or email sarahh@womankind.org.uk