THE EARTH TIMES
SEPTEMBER 4, 1995
Spokesperson’s role: Explaining and cajoling
BY ASHALI VARMA
Therese Gastaut has one of the most delicate jobs in international diplomacy these days–official spokesperson for the Fourth World Conference on Women. It is a job to which she comes well-prepared, for Gastaut also serves as the official spokesperson for Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in Geneva and was the spokesperson for the
World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993.
Speaking to The Earth Times about her role in Beijing she explained the priorities of the
Department of Public Information (DPI) concerning the key issues of the Conference, which need to be relayed to the media. “Our first priority is to pass on ‘the message that at this Conference we have gone beyond words to action,” she said, adding, “In the Platform for Action the key area is empowerment of women. We are looking very concretely at the areas which most need attention. Poverty and the realization that women are the most affected is a focus. To draw attention to the issues of the Conference, which so far have received little attention from the media, DPI arranged a media encounter with a high-powered panel of people who have been major players in the issue of women’s empowerment– Conference Secretary GeneralGertrude Mongella, UNFPA Executive Director Nafis Sadik and UNIFEM Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer, among others.
“With this encounter we wanted to provide journalists with what is being done on the global scene by representatives of governments and the UN and what still has to be achieved,” she said.
“I think it is important to do this before the Conference so journalists can understand what the critical issues are. We also want to show how the United Nations and its agencies are a unified whole. The new reality is of a coordinated system working toward the same goals.”