Reports and impressions from CSW66
1. “Women, Peace and Climate Change in a ‘divided’ Cyprus” was held on March 16, 2022 in cooperation with the Cyprus-based NGO Hands Across the Divide (HAD) with 114 participants. The Peace Commission’s Convener Heide Schütz had established the contact between IAW and HAD years ago. The bond was strengthened during our 2017 Congress in Cyprus. Already in the International Seminar hosted by the DFR, FNF with IAW in Berlin 2018 we cooperated on exploring together with HAD the contributions of women peacemakers in the framework of the UNSCR 1325 and its gains and gaps. We learned that often this, as other lasting conflicts, has left people targeted or women fighting for resolution in isolation, since the international attendance too often creates ‘crisis or conflict hoping’, following the media’s logic. We wanted to counter this.
In Cyprus HAD and other women and stakeholders of the Civil Society are struggling against a long term conflict which arms to divide: they bridge for reconciliation and a future peace. Climate Change seems to become a driving force, because as is globally true, one cannot stop Climate Change on one part of a territory alone and one cannot survive if only one part of the planet’s leadership and populations are active. Those who ignore Climate Change will loose the planet, all life and the others who do not are their collateral damage.
The large number of experts HAD had invited from both parts of Cyprus demonstrated in their presentations the many interrelated elements you need to know about Climate Change and conflict solution which urgently need to be addressed for achieving change and, as it was confirmed by the experts from India, Kashmir, Ukraine and Georgia – similar to experts in our and many other NGO Parallel Events – which are accumulating already with increasing dangerous economic and social impacts, especially worsening the lives of women. However, as their projects and action show, there is hope, there are ways to create dialogues for peace, change and mere survival when women lead, do not accept the status quo, and invest and invent new sharing technologies of farming, consuming, and producing human security.
We invite you to take time and stream our recorded Parallel Event which is now accessible at the IAW YouTube channel at WOMEN, PEACE & CLIMATE CHANGE IN A ‘DIVIDED’ CYPRUS – YouTube You will also find the program flier with the speakers’ names and functions.
A follow-up is planned to be discussed in the IAW Peace Commission which wishes to support concrete approaches of HAD, but work as well in broader networks, in other countries and regions of our members. One of our intentions would be to open windows of access for women to be heard at the UN and other international venues and institutions where needed.
2. ”Climate Change: Women’s Wisdom versus Military Contribution to Disaster” was held on March 17, 2022 with 93 participants.
Our intent was to allow women to be heard here who elaborate on the contribution of the military to climate change. We need to share their experience of war and armed conflict in societies in which they work daily on the grass roots level to bring back peace and deal with the deep rooted impact of war and military.
We reflected on the immensely disastrous role of the military in CO² pollution and the green house effect The Peace Commission wanted to bring this to the attention of our membership and the wider public especially since the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement do not address the role of the military as a prominent spoiler of any eager attempts to mitigate the disaster of climate change. Moreover, the intention was to lobby for an inclusion of this information in the final document of the Agreed Conclusions of the CSW66. This was not successful because the military as an issue was a no-go for many states’ representatives before and still is now in the face of a new war and its warring parties. Military expenses and the increase of arsenals had become a top priority during the CSW66 as a consequence of the war against Ukraine and of a happily producing re-emerging war industry. The pressure was coming from the UNSC which controls the UN and weakens any other logic than its own – which is stuck in the past.
Within days, or two weeks, the global states took immense budget investments from us, using the people’s tax money for weapons. While funding of weapons, the weapons trade had already increased in the years 2017-2021, now the military industry was flourishing and the world will transfer women’s and men’s hard gained taxes into weapons to kill and all previous efforts to invest in health, care, and other sectors for well-being of people and more justice is in danger and seems to be outdated. The ordeal of war, its rhetoric and its devastating impact on the long run was visible while we were listening to our excellent speakers in our Parallel Event and in the other fora of the CSW66.
“Women’s Wisdom versus Military Contribution to Disaster” was explored by a great number of experts: Anne Pelagie, Coordinator Ladies Circle Cameroon and board member of IAW, Prof. Dr. Asha Hans, Emerita at Utkal University and peace researcher, India, Jaqueline Andres, Board member of the Information Centre on Militarization (IMI), Germany, Rosa Logar, founding member of WILPF Austria and former Expert of the GREVIO Treaty body. The webinar was introduced by Rosy Weiss, Honorary IAW president, moderated by Manju Kak, IAW Vice-President. See the recording on IAW’s YouTube anytime here and share and refer to it: Climate change: Women’s Wisdom vs Military Contribution to Disaster – YouTube You will find the program flier uploaded in our YouTube channel’s description.
 The military’s contribution to climate change – CEOBS , Blog of Linsey Cottrell, CEOBS’ Environmental Policy Officer and Eoghan Darbyshire, CEOBS‘ Researcher , June 16, 2021 (Data of 2021 by projections due to Covid-19).
If you have ever attended one of the yearly CSW women’s conferences organized by the UN at New York you will never forget it. So much knowledge, wisdom and experience are concentrated here and well presented on an official agenda. Of course, all the personal contacts are also very important with many casual exchanges of ideas.
Due to the pandemic CSW again had to rely partially on virtual conferences and very restricted physical attendance.
Therefore IAW like most other non-governmental organisations had to organize its parallel events virtually. This was a big challenge: How can one create highly interesting and motivating platforms with a lot of interactions, spontaneous discussions and a source of new ideas?
IAW did tackle all these challenges perfectly well when organising a whole bunch of parallel events. It goes without saying that this year’s main theme about climate change and disaster reduction would be of great concern for all IAW members wherever they live. But wouldn’t this particularly affect our IAW colleagues in Africa or Asia? Do not all of them face exactly these problems when they are implementing the IAW “Water and Pads” WP project at schools in poor rural areas? We have always known that most IAW member organisations also worked very closely on other issues whenever they met with rural women. So probably they might also have experience with climate change and disaster relief and maybe they might be highly interested to talk about it.
So when Antonia Lavine, IAW treasurer and among other things also Director of the San Francisco Collective Against Human Trafficking, asked me whether IAW members active in the WP project were working with displaced women and children due to the climatic changes. It right away turned out that they are facing the negative impacts of climate changes and disaster even in their daily lives.
Anne Yotchou from CEFAP Cameroon and Anuarite Siirewabo from SOFEDEC DR Congo, both members of the IAW Board were very happy to participate as speakers. Unfortunately our IAW colleagues from RUWON Nepal are still too busy struggling against starvation.
From Anne I heard that they are building shelters for internally displaced refugees. These are rural women with children living near the borders in the north and northwest of the country. By tradition usually the men own the land. When there are bad harvests or other threats the women and their children have to flee from their homes. This situation has worsened due to climate change. CEFAP and other NGOs are trying to build shelters for them and are helping local schools with the integration of the children at Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon.
Camilla Wagner, IAW (interim) Secretary General, was preparing a parallel event about land ownership. When I talked to Anuarite I heard similar explanations like Anne’s about the tough life of rural women. They are the main producers of agricultural products but with bad harvests it is they who have to flee from their land. In the south-east region not far away from Bukavu, where Anuarite lives, the problems for rural women are especially serious due to huge profit- making mining companies which are grabbing land to access precious raw materials. For Anuarite it is obvious that only by implementing equal rights laws also in very traditional communities things may change positively for the women.
Anne Yotchou fortunately had no technical problems for the participation in the CSW parallel events. Anuarite had no reliable access to any internet-communication. But she was eager to speak. So together with Camilla we decided that Anuarite should prepare a video beforehand. After some unsuccessful attempts Anuarite finally found a professional camera person who recorded the video. We got it by Whatsapp just in time to translate it. Later Camilla showed it at the parallel event she had organized.
When finally I was watching the IAW parallel events presented on Zoom I was absolutely overwhelmed!
Presumably without too much prior mutual consultation, throughout all events dealing with climatic change one could find a very important common thread! Loneliness and belonging, cooperation and peace in a divided country, struggle against military, migration and human trafficking plus ownership of the world…
Peace might start with everyday actions, such as the collection of plastic waste by Cyprian women of both nations, Indian and Pakistani groups sheltering women refugees coming from the borders, San Francisco communities working on trauma relief etc. So much wonderful work is done within IAW and all its networks! It is so important, and I really wish we would know more about all this.
Yes here is the great chance of virtual conferences! Let us go on learning more about the innumerable activities among IAW members!
I was most impressed by the presentation of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime which presented a timely report on the gender dimensions of Corruption. During my time as Representative to the UN in Vienna and my attendance at annual meetings of the signatories of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Crime, I wrote to IAW members about the deleterious effects of corruption on the every day lives of women, including the use of sex as a currency in corruption. In the new report “THE TIME IS NOW” (2020, new because of the pandemic) the networks are explained and also the beneficial effect of introducing women into the largely male networks carrying out corruption, breaking their cohesiveness and secrecy. Three case studies are offered, none of which were carried out in a country with an IAW Affiliate or Associate, but they are surely transferable. Chapter 4 especially offers suggestions that our activists could urge their own governments to apply. https://www.unodc.org/documents/corruption/Publications/2020/THE_TIME_IS_NOW_2020_12_08.pdf
The review theme of CSW66 was women’s economic empowerment and I attended a very useful event hosted by Empowerment – Self Defense / Global in which self confidence and self defense capabilities were shown to be essential for the advancement of women (no surprises there). I believe them implicitly, because beatings and rape are classic methods for keeping women “in their place”. ESD Global is dedicated to making Empowerment Self Defense (ESD) accessible around the world through increasing public awareness of its profound benefits, providing instructor training to leaders to teach ESD in their communities. https://esdglobalselfdefense.org/ They offer training for women’s groups and multipliers on every continent. PAVE Prevention https://www.paveprevention.com/ provides training and consulting services to individuals and organizations – and the communities in which they operate – on proactively preventing, responding and healing from violent events. This serves to enhance productivity and creativity through safe workspaces.
I personally have benefited from self-defense training. Anyone can and a clever collection of women has designed an app to get one on her way: MyPwr https://www.mypwr.co.il/
Following my personal preference, I attended the event “Neither sex nor work: abolishing prostitution to promote decent work” organized by CAP International https://www.cap-international.org/ https://drive.google.com/file/d/1L3VOlyrEcQ7kIkhR-e8eieCQt_6jmfgL/view
and “Green Tent Circles: Caring for One Another and Mother Earth” which was very soul-satisfying. I was especially moved by the statement of Dr. Karambu Ringera of Kenya. The recording of the event is to be posted at http://www.greententcircle.com/csw-event.html