Read by Ms. Remmy I. Rikken
during the Plenary of the U.N. Fourth World
Conference on Women (FWCW) in Decision Making
September 11, 1995 at Beijing, China
We women, keeping faith in democratic principles enshrined in the various charters and declarations of the United Nations, endeavor to attain the goal of gender equality by establishing a feminist perspective in politics and identifying obstacles to women's political empowerment.
To this end, we believe that governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as the private sector and individuals, should review their efforts and renew their commitment towards achieving equality, development and peace. Therefore we visualize the transformation of institutions that block the participation of women towards structures that are more inclusive and democratic.
Vision of Politics
We believe that poverty is the outcome of inequality in the distribution and utilization of resources, as well as in gender relationships.
To carry forward the dream of gender equality grounded in democratic principles, development should focus on people. Their participation in the process of development requires democracy at all levels. Women's under representation in development and politics is highly unbalanced because they constitute 50% of the world's population.
We uphold fundamental human rights, particularly the rights of women which we affirm in the face of cultural or religious beliefs that might undermine these rights. We also envision the creation of a participatory society in place of one based on dependence and domination.
The power of decision-making and control at all political levels is essential for women to realize the goals they have been fighting for. Only in this way can we shape a political order that does not marginalize women but gives full play to their self-empowerment. Men have been proxying for women for too long. It is time for women to find their own voice, claim their own space and take upon themselves the challenge of power and decision-making.
It is time to develop and strengthen the feminist perspective in politics, a perspective that says no to money politics, mafia and manipulation by power brokers. Good governance has been identified as a priority thrust of the United Nations Development Program. Good governance requires participatory democracy, which cannot be achieved without gender equality in politics.
Our goals include identifying obstacles to women's political empowerment and adoption of a "Platform of Action". More specifically, we, the women of the Global Network of Women in Politics, propose five recommendations to this United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, and to other UN structures and mechanisms:
First, the United Nations must make a clear commitment to gender balance in politics and decision-making by targeting 50% representation of women in politics and decision- making in its countries and within UN structures. Participants to the Global Congress of the Global Network of Women in Politics expressed the aspiration to achieve this goal by the year 2005.
Second, the United Nations should resolve to declare 1995 to 2005 as the Decade for Gender Equality in Politics. The UN must advocate with its constituents and supporters that women's political empowerment be declared as the thrust of the next decade. This thrust must be reflected in UN priorities and activities.
Third, the United Nations should establish a Commission drawn from women in the women's movement, various organizations of civil society and development organizations, to monitor progress in achieving the goal of gender equity in decision-making structures and processes.
Fourth, the FWCW Platform of Action must include electoral reforms by governments as a means of transforming politics towards gender equality.
Fifth, the United Nations should organize periodic conferences at the regional levels to evaluate and monitor the political status of women in their respective countries.
Political will is needed for any meaningful change to take place. But politics itself must be transformed to serve the many, not the few. Women are key to this process of redefining politics.
Dear sisters and brothers, in behalf of the Global Network of Women in Politics, I thank you for this opportunity to speak today.
Our space is here, our time is now.