Wid, Wad. Gad

In: Social Issues

Submitted By kazadi
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Women, Development, and the UN
From a contemporary vantage point, it seems extraordinary that there were just four women among the 160 signatories to the UN Charter at San Francisco in 1945. Two other women were present at the world body’s founding conference but were not signatories. However, this handful of women established a sound foundation for the UN by making sure that women’s issues were included. As Devaki Jain explains in her UNIHP volume, Women, Development, and the UN: A Sixty-Year Quest for Equality and Justice, “the simple act of inserting the word ‘women’ in the text made sure that the principle of equality between the sexes was part of the founding ideas of the organization” (2005, 12). Subsequently, the UN’s ideas, language, and activities have fundamentally altered the situation of women in country after country, especially through its promotion of human rights and the mobilizing influence of the four global women’s conferences held in Mexico, Copenhagen, Nairobi, and Beijing between 1975 and 1995. These raised awareness, spread ideas, built confidence, and created alliances that changed gender politics and policy worldwide. In turn, the conferences—and the women participating in them—also changed the structure and attitudes of the UN, providing the mandates for CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women), UNIFEM (the UN Development Fund for Women), and INSTRAW (the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women). Equally significant, concerns for women’s issues raised awareness of broader human concerns in the whole process of development. Many of these advances for women built both on new thinking and on new initiatives for action, in a process that was dynamic and interactive rather than simply linear. As Jain put it, “Women brought into the development discourse the…...

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