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Wirth to speak today



Wirth to speak today


UNITED NATIONS –Timothy E Wirth, Counselor to the United States, Department of State, is scheduled to speak Tuesday morning at 11 o’clock at the Trusteeship Council Chamber here on “Women, Population and Development: Toward a Consensus and Action.”

The lecture has been arranged by the Earth Pledge Foundation.  Theodore W. Kheel, chairman of the Foundation, said that in recognition of Wirth’s leadership in the international campaigns to alleviate the world’s economic and social concerns, the Foundation with present him with a special print by Robert Rauschenberg.  The print is one of a limited edition of 200 which the internationally renowned artist created to encourage awareness of –and interest in –the International Conference on Population and Development  (ICPD) scheduled to be held in Cairo next September.

Kheel said that Wirth’s lecture, which is expected to last an hour, would be open to all delegates at the current Social Summit PrepCom, UN officials, and representatives of non-governmental organizations.  He also said that media have been invited.  The full text of the Wirth lecture will be reproduced in The Earth Times on Wednesday, Kheel — who is the paper’s publisher –said.  The newspaper is sponsored by the Earth Pledge Foundation, a not-f o r – p r o f i t foundation.

In another development, the Washington-based Centre  for Development and Population Activities has invited Kheel to join its “Global Committee for Cairo,” and Kheel said that he had accepted.  The committee –whose honorary co-chairs are Robin Chandler Duke and Wren Wirth–has been formed to highlight the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, which is scheduled to be held in Cairo next September.

Peggy Curlin, president of CEDPA, said that the centerpiece of the committee’s activity would be a special event during the Cairo Conference honoring Nafis Sadik, Secretary General of the Cairo Conference, and Executive Director of the United Nations population Fund.



TOKYO –With less than eight months to go for the International Conference on Population and Development, the Meeting of Eminent Persons in late January widened the debate on population and sustainable development.  It was the last high-level meeting in a series of roundtables, conferences and debates over the past two years and culminated in the Tokyo Declaration, which will be submitted to ICPD at Cairo.

The declaration urged nations to cut military spending and to increase their financial commitment to population and sustainable development.  I called on developed countries to change their patterns of consumption to reduce their impact on the environment and on the use of resources.  It urged governments to improve the role and status of women and to ensure their access to economic opportunities.

Maher Mahran, Egypt’s State Minister of Population and Family Welfare, told The Earth Times, “Politically this meeting is very significant, as Japan is one of the important donor countries, and political support is a prerequisite for any successful program in population and development.”  He said that the participants were all leaders in their own right and the meeting focused attention on the resources needed to help developing countries. “I feel that there is a very strong moral obligation for the rich countries to support population programs.”

He also emphasized that with the Clinton Administration’s support on the major issues of the Cairo Conference such as health, education, and the role of women, the United States has clearly emerged as the leader.

Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, who formally opened the meeting, said: “Japan is determined to further strengthen its efforts in the field of population in continuous cooperation with other countries by taking a comprehensive approach.  Convening of this Meeting of Eminent Persons in Tokyo is further testimony to the importance. Japan attaches to the population problem.”

The two-day conference was attended by NGOs, academics, diplomats and government officials and dealt with poverty, education, empowerment of women, the need for national health care programs including family planning, and the links between consumption and environmental degradation.

Prof. Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University, author of “The Population Bomb,” said: “At today’s level of world population we are already unsustainable and overpopulated–we are using up energy supplies and fossil fuels at an alarming rate.  Farmers have to grow enough food for 95 million more people every year in deteriorating ecosystems.” He discussed the urgent need for industrialized countries to cut back on their energy consumption.  “Almost everybody will have to change and compromise.  There is too much talk of rights and too little talk of responsibilities,” he warned.

Ehrlich and Robert S. McNamara, former president of the World Bank felt that the only way to get world attention was to involve scientists, academicians, politicians and Nobel laureates.

Fred Sai of Ghana, president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, said: “In my country population growth has stretched social services to the limit.  There just aren’t enough schools or clinics.  The important factors for success are political leadership, access to family planning services, empowerment of women and quality health care.”

Billie A Miller, a Member of Parliament in Barbados and chairperson of the NGO Planning Committee for ICPD, said: “NGOs have done what governments could not do at the grassroots level.  Since they are already established in rural and urban areas and work directly with the people, it will be more economical for governments to depend on them to help implement national health policies.”

Hiroko Hara, a professor at Ochanomizu University, stressed that financial resources should be used to train personnel, create information exchange and finance grassroots projects and not go toward making drug companies richer.

Jun Nishikawa, a professor at Waseda University said Japan’s success in family planning is due to the many organizations that help control population growth and to the fact that the women want fewer children.

The Indian experience, said Devaki Jain, an economist from India, has been diverse. Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa have reached low growth rates because of their high rate of literacy and women’s right to choose.  But in the poorer states women who had fewer children feel they have been cheated by family planning propaganda that their children have had a counter-productive effect.  “Social services and income-generating schemes should also be provided by the government to make women feel their children will survive and get an education,” Jain said.

Nafis Sadik, Secretary General of ICPD, outlined some goals of the Cairo Conference.  Among them: lowering child and maternal mortality; education for all; universal access to family planning information and services; empowerment of women and providing resources to achieve these goals.  “Cairo is not the end; in fact it is another important step forward toward sustainable development.  In the field of population the task is immense.  But Thailand, Indonesia, Colombia, Mexico, the Republic of Korea and others have shown it is possible to slow population growth.  These countries are both a lesson and a source of inspiration.”

Interview: Yoriko Meguro

‘Health education targeted at women’

Yoriko Meguro is Professor of Sociology at Sophia University in Tokyo.  She is also one of the Founding Members of Japan’s Network for Women and Health, Cairo ‘94.  The Network consists of a coalition of 90 Japanese NGOs interested in women’s health issues and was created to enable them to participate in the International Conference on Population and Development, (ICPD).  In a recent interview with The Earth Times in Tokyo, Professor Meguro spoke about the needs and aspirations of Japanese women NGOs Excerpts:

What role do you see Japanese women NGOs playing at ICPD?

As Dr. Sadik explained at a meeting with us, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is very eager to have the participation of NGOs in the Cairo Conference. We can play a vital role, especially if some of us are included in the government delegation and have a voice in the proceedings.  Japan is an important contributor to Official Development Assistant (ODA) but the direction of the ODA policies has not been in the interest of women.  There has been little concern for the overall health of women.  Women are the target of population policies but not the major decision makers which they should have been.  So women NGOs must make themselves heard because our government has not been made aware of the importance of this issue.

When did you establish Japan’s Network for Women and Health, Cairo ‘94, and why did you feel it was necessary to form this umbrella organization for Japanese NGOs?

We started the Network on Dec 4, 1993.  The organizing members have been quite active in different areas regarding women’s issues.  We felt that as far as ICPD was concerned, we actually no information from our government and had not been involved so far.

As we kept learning about the involvement of NGOs from other parts of the world in the ICPD process, we realized we were really behind in preparations for this Conference.  Since there were no women NGOs dealing with this particular issue, we felt we had to get organized.  Therefore we got together and started a dialogue and realized we didn’t have much time as the deadline for NGO participation for Cairo was in mid January of this year.

What are your priorities concerning ICPD?

We still have a lot to discuss.  But one of our priorities is to suggest that Japan’s ODA and financial commitments be used towards health education that is directly targeted at women as well as men in developing countries.

There should be a comprehensive community development plan which includes family planning, health education and overall health care for families.  What we would like to see happen is a shift in the population policy, not to narrow it down to just family planning but to include the health of individuals.  We would also like to see empowerment in the decision making process of the poor, and the women and the disabled.

Another urgent priority is to have our opinions reflected in the government recommendations.

Japanese NGO agenda

  • To spread and publicize the concept of reproductive health within Japan
  • To ensure that the Japanese government’s national report reflects accurately the opinions of Japanese women.
  • To participate in the NGO forum in Cairo.
  • To ensure that women NGO members are included in the government delegation to ICPD.
  • To establish domestic and international solidarity with concerned women’s NGOs both within Japan and overseas.
    ‘The Great Global Bazaar’

Preview of a public television documentary

The Film

As the 20th century draws to a close, capitalism is becoming more dominant than ever.  And it is not just the venerable money centers –the Big Board of the New York Stock Exchange, the City of London, the Paris Bourse, Frankfurt and Tokyo–that are prospering.  Stock markets are booming in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and India.  In many countries of the developing world, private enterprises are rising from the remnants of state-controlled economies.  They are being driven by entrepreneurs who increasingly participate in what is truly becoming a Great Global Bazaar.

“The Great Global Bazaar” — an hour-long documentary–is hosted by Allan Dodds Frank of ABC News.  The documentary looks at enterprises in Brazil, Malaysia, Morocco and Singapore, from multinational behemoths to small mom-and-pop businesses. And “The Great Global Bazaar” follows entrepreneurs such as Morocco’s Fouad Filali of The ONA Group, and executives such as Citibank’s Rana Talwar in Singapore, and IBM representatives in Brazil.  The Film raises many provocative questions:

How can established Western multinational corporations expand in developing countries without trampling over local cultural sensitivities? How can third world companies expand in the markets of rich countries and compete against corporations with more formidable resources? How can trade replace aid? How can national leaders and multinational corporations meet rising expectations in developing countries for better living standards? How can business and government collaborate on generating more jobs and eradicating poverty?

“The Great Global Bazaar” will be broadcast on public television through PBS’s ALSS network.  Its executive producers are Jayanti Gupte and Ashali Varma. Mayuri Chawla is the producer.

The script was written by Frank and Chawla.  Peter Brownscombe did the photography.  Michael Garvey edited the film, and Mark Brownstone was the on-line editor.  Original music was composed by Pete Levin.

The Screening

The preview was organized at the Nawab Restaurant in midtown Manhattan on Feb 17.  Prior to the screening of the-minute documentary, a reception was held by ICS, a not-for-profit production company that made the film.  Guests included A.M Rosenthal, columnist– and former executive editor–of The New York Times, and his wife, Shirley Lord of Vogue Magazine; Nafis Sadik, executive director of the UN Population Fund, UN Under Secretary General Nitin Desai and his wife, Aditi Desai; former Moroccan Finance Minister Mohammed Berrada; Fouad Filali, chairman of The ONA Group; IBM’s Peter T. Rowley; Arjun Mathrani of Chase Manhattan and his wife, Anjali; Aroon and Indur Shivdasani; Bryant and Nandita Mason; and Mathilde Camacho of Newsweek.


‘Beijing must build on Cairo, Copenhagen’

Joke Swiebel is Coordinator of International Affairs at the Ministry of Social  Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands.  Head of the Dutch delegation to the current session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Swiebel has been directly involved with the Commission since 1988 when she went to Vienna for a Commission meeting.  She also attended the Nairobi Conference when she was a member of her government’s delegation.  Joke (pronounced You-kah) Swiebel spoke with The Earth Times last week. Excerpts:

What should be the main focus for an agenda for women?

The main focus –there are many different things that women from different parts of the world would like to stress, but given the context that we are now in I think we should concentrate on things now–is to catch up with developments after the Nairobi Conference.  If you compare the discussions that have taken place in the Commission on the Status of Women since Nairobi and our discussions here, I think you would see several new things such as defining women’s issues as human rights issues, violence and poverty.  Poverty has for a long time been defined as a developmental issue.  But it is not solely a development issue.  You can also tgackle it from a human rights perspective, basic economic and political rights.  To give a new focus to old thelmes is one of the priorities, and bringing in new themes like human rights and violence of women.  Another new focus is that we shouldn’t be speaking of women. as the targets.  We should talk about men not only about sharing the burden of household tasks, child care, etc. Men will have to gain a new definition of what it si to be a woman or man in a society.

Do you think it si a good idea for the conference to be held in China, since China does not have a good human rights record, especially where women are concerned?

China was already decided because there is the principle of geographical and regional rotation which is standard practice at the UN, and also since no other Asian country volunteered.  It was decided two years ago to go ahead with the Chinese effort.  It wasn’t an easy decision.  Everybody knows that there are enormous human rights problems in China, but the question is how we are going to deal with this issue now.  It is not a Conference organized by China.  It’s a UN conference.  There are standard rates and practices and China as a host country will be bound by these.  On the other hand, it will be an enormous opportunity to get  in touch with Chinese women which we otherwise wouldn’t have had.

There will be number of UN conferences in 1995–Population, Social Summit, Women.  Will there be enough resources available, and isn’t there a danger of ‘conference fatigue?

There will be conference fatigue after Beijing I’m sure, but whether there will be enough resources is the issue.  We should keep in mind the different kinds of resources involved–human, financial and political resources are at stake, but in the end I think the most important thing is intellectual resources.  We must know why we want this conference on women to take place on top of all the other conference on women to take place on top of all the other conferences.  It is to make a very specific decision and to analyze the previous conferences.  What this conference should do is from a gender perspective take specific contributions to the preparatory processes of the other conferences.  And second, is to estimate what comes out of Cairo and Copenhagen from our perspective.  We should build on it from our mandate and our interests.

How can small agencies such as INSTRAW and UNIFEM be strengthened to deal with women’s issues especially after Beijing?

Experience from the national level is that women’s affairs always are less funded than other issues.  I’m an optimist, but we have to work within existing constraints not only of a financial nature but mainly of a political nature. People in power –the men–always think that women do things for nothing.  That’s what we’re used to at home.  You need an enormous amount of political will and administrative pressure and support.  We have to keep the pressure on.

You said that the national machinery should cooperate with NGOs and women’s groups, yet take into account the independent role of NGOs vis-à-vis governmental responsibilities.  Can you elaborate on this?

I think it has todo basically with the concept of democracy.  In a country like ours there is a fair amount of funding, of subsidies to NGOs, and I think this funding should, not be taken to mean that the NGOs in one way or the other lose their independence. Maybe in some cases governments like our subsidize the NGOs precisely in order to stimulate that critical function we need.  But you should never think that NGOs should be funded  because they might be forced to go in line with the existing political system.  Governments should not buy off NGOs and NGOs should nto think that they have the right to included in governmental business, simply because they get the money.  They have to be clearly separated.

Is the “empowerment of women” the one binding factor despite economic, cultural and regional differences around the world?

Sure, I think this is the difference between the Beijing Conference and Mexico, Copenhagen and Nairobi.  Because then it was not that clear, that in the end there ws that common denomination or perspective among delegation.

Of course, it has to do with the changed political environment globally.  But this common position despite political naunces and regional issues isn’t that easy.  You can’t say we are all in harmony so why do we need  conference.  There is a common perspective among delegates more that there was ever before, but in order to get it out we need some real hark work.  Besides the common view on women’s empowerment, there are other forces working in countries, regions and political systems which differ.  This will keep us busy till we get to Beijing.  In the end I’m very optimistic.


‘Without new employment, sustainable growth will become a mirage…’

In a seminar organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in New York, to promote a discussion in anticipation of the UN Secretary General’s forthcoming “Agenda for Development, “Neil Kinnock, leader of the British Labor Party and member of Parliament, spoke on “Development Strategies for the Future.” “The mission of achieving fairer trade as well free trade will have to be high on that agenda, “he asserted.

Kinnock noted that in two months most of the countries of the world will gather in Marrakech for the formal signing of the recent GATT accords.  But the concentration by technocrats and trade negotiators on the technical details has “rather obscured the question of what trade means to ordinary people’s lives from Boston to Bombay: what it means for their livelihoods, for their access to the goods and services they need , for their quality of life .

He outlined they key features that will after a rapidly changing world trade system–the increasing globalization of corporate activity and economics; the redrawing of the world trade map and the shift to regional trading blocs; and the uneven distribution of the fruits of trade.

Multinationals, he said, now account for almost a quarter of all production in global market economics.  “Of the world’s 100 biggest economic units, half are countries, half are transnational corporations.  That is a sobering fact for politician or any others seeking to try to plan for fairer trade.” In addition, poorer and less developed countries fear being left out in the cold by regional trading blocs like the European Union, NAFTA and ASEAN.  Trade inequities have been further exacerbated by the heavy dependence of poor countries on exporting raw materials to the industrialized countries.  Fluctuating commodity prices have resulted in”a spiral of debt, austerity and poverty over the last decade in the South of the world.”

Developing countries still face severe restrictions on basic industrial exports such as textiles and clothing.  Kinnock pointed out.  The gap between the rich countries and poor countries is growing wider and the most urgent challenge the planet faces is poverty alleviation, “especially when warfare and environmental degradation are both products and causes of deepening poverty.”

He outlined the necessity of establishing a World Trade Organization to take over from GATT –a project that will be discussed at Marrakech.  To be successful, “WTO should represent the combination of common sense and common decency, of enlightened self-interest and justice, “he said, suggesting “four new benchmarks” by which a successful trading system should be measured.

Though removal of trade barriers would add $200 billion a year in economic growth, he said, “we must go beyond the ambition for growth, we must ask what real income and jobs gains it will bring.  It is crucial that patterns of trade are promoted to deliver real advances in the form of new and increasing employment.  Without that sustainable growth –not only in the developing countries but in the industrialized world too-will become a mirage.”

“The next measure of success must be equity–how effectively will the trade system share out the benefits between and within nations?”

Kinnock noted that OECD/World Bank studies recognize that the gains of the GATT Uruguay round will not be a net loser, hurt by the rising costs of food imports and the likely fall in prices of commodities like tea, coffee and cocoa, upon which several African economics depend.  “Just as it has been said the quality of a society should be judged by how it treats its weakest members, so the world trade system must be judged by what it does to address the needs of the poorest countries, “he declared.  “Measured against that criterion, GATT has failed.” Any new world trade management system has to ensure that the poorer countries are not locked out of prosperity.

The third benchmark against which the success of the developing trade system must be justified is ecological.  “Will trade rules promote environmentally sustainable forms of production, or will absence of rules promote unrestrained environmental exploitation?” In considering this issue, trade agencies must take into consideration the fear many developing countries feel that environmental rules wil be a cunning new protectionist device to keep out their products.

The fourth criterion must relate to democracy.  The critical questions here, he said, are to what extent governments will have a meaningful say in trading regimes and to what degree they will be influenced by giant transnationals.  And whether governments will engage in open discussion with their people about trade decisions that affect everyday life.

To be truly effective, Kinnock said, the World Trade Organization should also be a forum for productive debate between rich and poor countries.  President Clinton’s conception of a “World Social Charter” as an integral part of global trade rules should be endorsed, because trade should uphold basic labor and human rights.  Here the International Labor Organization could provide valuable input.

Lastly, he said, it is essential that the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations rethink their policies and work closely with the World Trade Organization.  They must help eradicate poverty, increase employment opportunities and work towards developing an equitable distribution of wealth and resources in the new economic world order.

In the debate that followed Kinnock’s address, Dent Ocaya-Lakidi of the Senior Fellow Africa Program at the International Peace Academy, said that only a “Marshall Plan” could help Africa join the world economy.  He suggested that apart from debt restructuring, biodiversity should be given a commercial value and its fruits should be treated as technology, with the same value that industrialized countries.

Inge Kaul, director Human Development Report, UNDP, endorsed Ocaya-Lakidi’s view and said tropical forests should be considered in the global context, since they are a vital world resource and their preservation should be paid for by rich countries.

Industrialized countries should realize, Kinnock said, that in the long run it is to their benefit to have a redistribution of capital to create new markets for their products.  He said studies show that money invested in helping African countries today would in five years expand trade for industrialized countries by 30 percent.

Duncan Pruett of Freidrich Ebert Foundation told The Earth Times that Kinnock’s views on development and trade were especially significant in that they offered a fresh perspective on Western aid and the vital links between trade and development.  “The Labour party in Britain has always had an international outlook and Mr. Kinnock has been a moving force in the party for many years,” Pruett said.

‘We don’t want structural adjustment….’

Chief Bisi Ogunleye is the National Coordinator of the Country Women’s Association of Nigeria and Co-Chair of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization, and a member of The Earth Council.  Excerpts from an interview she gave this week to The Earth Times:

What do you hope will come out this PrepCom and the Beijing Conference?

We from Africa are very hopeful that something will come out from this and from Beijing.  We have to realize that women from all over the world are finding it easier to communicate.  We are very proud to have had a lot of input into the Platform for Action, which was left out when we were not around.  We have been able to tell people what is actually missing.  People think that in Africa we are dying and we are poor.  We are not dying and we are not poor.  We don’t like the world to think that we don’t have the ability to make decisions.  In fact when you get to Africa the true decision makers are women.  They make decisions for the family.  When things go wrong then African women talk.  We are going to Beijing as women who are strong, women who make decisions and women who have initiative.

Are there any issues that you have not been happy about?

The issue we have not been very satisfied with is the issue of finance and institutional arrangements.  We trust that our delegates are doing the work adequately and we are behind them. 

We must make sure that the issue of finance is cleverly treated and that we go away from here not begging people for money but that governments take out of military expenses and give it to the women to go to Beijing and talk.

We are tired and we are sick of war.  The money is there.  We need it to implement the Platform for Action.  We believe that we could get it.

Do you think that your views are embraced by the majority of women at this PrepCom?

Not a hundred percent but the work is in progress.  We told the African delegates who are representing our governments that this is the material we are giving you, that you must look line by line and we told them the areas of priority and we told them how to argue it.  I would also like to mention our sisters from Canada, they took the issue of debt that we are all facing in the South and they are circulating papers informing women all over the world that when the IMF and World Bank celebrate their 50th anniversary we should all do something to tell them to cancel the debt and let us live in peace.  We do not want the structural adjustment programs.  They have made us much poorer.  We want more humane programs.

If you had one wish for the outcome from the Beijing Conference, what would it be?

The wish is for the whole world to see the African women as strong, capable and ready to slow the way.


Donkey carts and TV. Driving through Upper Egypt is like living through the pages of Natioal Geograhic.  Villages from a past century dot the landscape interspersed with sugarcane fields and banana groves.  Local transportation is by donkey carts, an occasional camel and the life-giving Nile. No one can forget the presence of this majestic and timeless river or the fact that just a few miles away on either side of its banks is the desert stretching for miles.

The only reminder of the present day are the television antennas that one sees even in the remotest villages.  When the Aswan Dam was built electricity came into the lives of people and with it television and ratio.

Giza at night. Giza at night is a spectacular experience when the pyramids and Sphinx come alive at the Son et Lumiere. The Sphinx looks lifelike and imposing, the pyramids glow in the darkness as one is transported back in time through several centuries to the days when the Pharaohs reigned supreme.

There is a strange sense of being caught in a timeless web, where history is relived as promised in an Egyptian proverb, “To speak of the dead is to make them live again.”

Silver and brocade. The Khan El-Khalili bazaar in Cairo is a treat for tourists.  Silver and gold earrings, necklaces, frames and tea sets with beautiful workmanship can be bought at bargain prices.  Low brocaded sofas, gleaming brass vases and delicately carved camel bone chess sets make excellent gifts but you have to negotiate a good price.

The critical link.  Egypt is not only about the pyramids, the sphinx and the magnificent treasures of the tomb of Tutankhamun, it is a country with strong Islamic traditions going back hundreds of years.  It plays a significant political role in the Middle East.

Egypt was the first country in the region to recognize the critical link between population stabilization and development. President Mubarak has given family planning programs the highest priority on his agenda.  The 26 Gvernorates headed by governors are committed to promoting literacy, health and family planning.  Dr.  Mahran, Egypt’s Minister for Population and Family Welfare said that to succeed in their efforts the government provides overall health and counseling services to Egyptian women.  In just 10 years the use of contraceptives has increased from 24.2 percent in 1980 to 47.6 percent in 1990.  It proves that political will is a major factor toward achieving progress.

Family planning: three Egyptian women

TALMIA, Egypt– Soria has lived here all her life.  This village in Upper Egypt located in the Government of Qena has a just over 5,000 people and is one of the poorer districts in Egypt.  Soria is 24 years old and has three children.  She was married at 16 and is pregnant with her fourth child.

When she heard that a mobile, clinic to look after mothers and counsel wives on family planning and pre-natal care was coming to her village she came for a check-up.  She says she is really happy that the government is providing this service because she cannot afford private clinics.  Even though she had only a fourth grade education she is determined that her seven-year-old daughter finishes school.

Through television and extensive media campaigns the government of Egypt has achieved progress in its family planning programs that is rare in other countries of the Middle East and Africa.  One of the more innovative projects is the mobile clinics for family planning and maternal and child health-care, which started with the help of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Aluminum Company of Egypt  and the National Population Council (NPC). JICA donated two mobile clinics equipped with the latest technology including an Ultra Sound Scanner and helped to train personnel.  The Aluminum Company of Egypt bears all the operational costs and provides the doctors and nurses.

According to Dr.Mohamed El Hawry, the director of the project, for a village to qualify for a mobile clinic it has to have a population of at least 5,000 and should not have existing health units.  In addition the villagers have to agree to have the village hall used as a waiting room on the days that the mobile clinic visit’s the village.  Patients pay a nominal charge of one Egyptian pound (about 30 cents) and the facilities offered are prenatal care, reproductive care, fertility and a “well baby” clinic.  The two clinics serve 12 villages and visit the same village at least once a week.  Dr Maher Mahran, Egypt’s Minister for Population and Family Welfare, said, “We hope to expand these services to other areas, to the poorer districts and remote villages.”

In the nearby city of Qena, NPC has a Clinic Service Improvement Center which provides the same services to women from urban areas.  Thany Kasim Abed Rahim, 32, is a mother of four.  She was 18 when she got married.  She has been on an IUD to space out her pregnancies.  Her doctor, a gentle looking woman in her thirties, helped her to choose a contraceptive that suited her.  Thany said she likes Dr. Janette and is comfortable with a female doctor.  She is keen for her 12 year-old daughter to finish high school and have a profession and would like her to marry after the age of 22.

Nawal Abd Hamid is married to Thany’s brother.  She was only 13 when she got married to a machinist and has four children.  Now at 29 she has decided not have any more and is on the IUD.  Both women learnt about family planning from television commercials and decided to visit the clinic for advice.

Dr. Mahran said, “In the area of family planning and health care for women.  I would like to see Egypt becoming a donor to other countries in the Middle East and Africa. I think we are well equipped to provide technical help and expertise.

April 11


Language.  The French will not like this and the Latin Americans might think otherwise , but English is definitely the predominant language at PrepCom3.  Every country in the world is represented, and the colorful attire of the women from saris to beautiful African dresses, are a delight to see in the  otherwise dull corridors of the UN,  but you don’t  often hear different languages at meetings.  In fact  NGO and delegation documents in English get snapped up fast while French and Spanish  translations can be readily found at the end of the day.

Viennese Café. The Viennese Café is an especially good venue for a reporter to hear the unedited version of who said what to whom and the theme of the day.  Unlike the delegates dining room it is casual enough for both NGOs and delegates to get a quick cup of coffee away from the rigors of draft documents and speeches.  Today’s topic was about a growing confrontation between some NGOs and their delegations.  The Indian NGOs were particularly upset and said that India has taken a position of the PrepCom to limit NGO participation, along with countries like China, Colombia and Iran.  Mirai Chatterjee from Seva said, “We’re trying to have a dialogue with the delegation but they only see their point of view.  It’s not the official Indian position, we are mystified as to why they are trying to cut us out.”

People’s Agenda.  Suggestions for an alternative name for the Program of Action was discussed by another group.  A catchy title like “Agenda 21,” is needed to identify the final document to make it a household word.  One of the ideas tossed around was “People 21” but perhaps readers  of The Earth Times could come up with more suggestions.

Evenings.  After a long day of discussions, cocktails or dinner is very much a part of any PrepCom, but more so with the Population PrepCom3.  With delegations, NGOs, UN Agencies and Missions hosting various events, the delegates dining room is doing brisk business.  Although the four-course menu is not as good as the buffet at lunch, guests generally have a good time and are able to meet and exchange views on the day’s events.  One NGO was heard saying, “I have finally got someone who matters to listen to me.”

Women edge closer to center stage

UNITED NATIONS –At the start of the second week of PrepCom3, even while the language of the draft document is being debated by delegates, one fact has clearly emerged: non-governmental organizations and women can no longer be ignored, marginalized or excluded from decisions that governments make at the international level.

The momentum building up within the Women’s Caucus, within the more liberal governments, and within the rank and file of NGOs, will definitely influence the outcome of the critical debate in PrepCom3.  And even if the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development may not achieve much in the areas of getting additional resources and the implementation of the Program of Action, the Cairo Conference will have already “succeeded,” in a manner of speaking, because of the unprecedented participation of NGOs and women.

Consider this: Taboo subjects like abortion, female circumcision, violence against women, religious fundamentalism and the problems faced by a “girl child” are now being discussed openly.  Especially significant is the fact that while women are at the forefront of these issues, men are very much involved in the ongoing debate; and “male responsibility” is one of the key themes.  Governments can no longer afford to ignore these issues, not in a world where hi-tech communications make it possible for NGOs to say to diplomats, “The whole world is watching you. “To shrug off responsibility or accountability will soon prove impossible, particularly when the rich countries link trade regimes to human rights.

In the current debate, “human rights” has taken on a whole new meaning .  It is no longer just freedom, democracy and free speech that are at issue; “human rihgts” includes the right of each and eery human being on this planet to have access to development opportunities, jobs, food, shelter education and health care.  It is the right of women to equality, to have a say in public life and to be empowered enough to have choices in reproduction.

An American friend explained to this writer the debate on abortion and the political ramifications involved, when President Bush was running for re-election in 1992.  She asked how we viewed the subject in India. I told her that in a country where millions live below the poverty line, we don’t have the luxury to debate the issue of abortion.  Surely, a poor illiterate woman with six children living in the most subhuman conditions should have the right to decide whether she wants to bring another child into this world.  Surely her rights as a mother and a human being are more important than those of an unborn child?

Later, talking to another friend, I realized that abortion is not only the concern of the poor and the underprivileged, it is also a major issue with the young people of America. My friend told me that the most horrendous experience of her life was when she had to take a friend who could not afford a doctor to an abortion clinic.  In the many hours that she had to wait at the clinic, she saw women with AIDS, drug addicts and one who was even five months pregnant desperate for an abortion.  My initial reaction was disbelief.  Surely, the most advanced and richest country in the world could have better care available.  If America could not afford to educate, inform and provide better health care facilities for its young what hope was there for a poor country of 950 million people?

The Vatican, as to be expected has simply missed this point.  The Pope advocates against any form of contraception except the “natural” way and recommends abstinence.  As a result, many Catholic countries in the developing world have a high teenage pregnancy rate and women are denied rational choices.  Also, by playing up the morality issue the Holy See overlooks the ramifications of the AIDS pandemic.  To expect billions of people to practice abstinence is to ignore the reality.  I asked a Catholic friend of mine how he dealt with all this.  He told me he had asked his priest for advice and was told to listen to his own conscience.

There are millions of practicing Catholics like him who make their own choices.  The danger is that developing countries that follow the Catholic doctrine are putting a generation of young people at risk.  The poor don’t have access to education and information on contraception.  By ignoring these issues the Catholic Church is creating a dangerous precedent which is already being followed by other religious fundamentalist groups.  As has already been established at PrepCom3 there is more at stake in the Cairo Conference that the issue of population stabilization.  If some of what the NGOs and the women representatives are demanding is accepted, then the Program of Action will truly be a “People’s Agenda,” and can be effective in more ways that the international community believes.


APRIL 13 1994


Grassroots reality in India


Mirai Chatterjee, 34 has been working with women at the grassroots in India for the last nine years for the Self Employment Women’s Association (SEWA).  A magma cum laude graduate of Harvard, Chatterjee obtained her master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University.  Excerpts from an interview with The Earth Times:

Why has India been so unsuccessful in population stabilization even thought it was one of the first countries to realize the need?

The developed model India chose, I think, was the main reason for this.  The government left out a vital sector –the women, particularly incentives for development for poor rural women.  Our experience in SEWA, which started 22 years ago, has been that when women are given a means of earning an income, basic security, health and child care, they begin to feel a sense of power, collectively and individually.  They have different hopes and aspirations.  They want smaller families and want to educate their children.  So one of the main reasons family planning was not successful was because the government did not take into account the realities at the grassroots level.

How much does the government of India rely on NGOS to help implement grassroots projects?

There is an increasing involvement of NGOs, but one major area for disagreement is the approach and strategy—NGOs focus on women and children at the grassroots level and build up from there.  The government on the other hand, makes a national policy and works downward, without really knowing what is needed at the grassroots level.

There are 20 Indian NGOs here representing different organizations, which have a common concern for women.  I think the official Indian Government position has been progressively pro-NGO but that has not been reflected by the delegation here.  They have tried to reduce the role of NGOs, particularly when it comes to NGOs, collaborating on policy.   We are consulted but not as partners. With regard to Chapter 15 of the draft document,  India took the lead in reducing NGO participation supported

by China, Iran, Colombia, and Sri Lanka and some of the French speaking West African nations.

Why did  they do this? What is What is their concern regarding NGOs?

The Indian delegation says that it is

less of the government and the

‘epresentatifes of the people to

:;ramsand make policies.NGOs

n a position to do it, as they do

esent the people. They objected

S proposal that NGOs are

-centered” and should have

a role.

:an you and SEWA achieve

Ig present here?

reason I’m here is that in

,we believe organizing poor

and creating a strong grassroots

limportant for development. We

lieve that the experiences and

es of NGOs should be put to use

mlating’a regional and national

IThe real needs of women should

~cted in the document. Otherwise

..icymakers will repeat the same


ihould the Indian Delegation

gree to this, after all

!ss stories make

“nment policies look good?

.~Indian Delegation has brought

umber of points which are

rted and suggested by NGOs. In

~r 7 they brought up the issue of

:ed for reproductive health care,

Ilingsafe abortion services and theearly detection of cancers for women.

. So they are positive about these issues.

But the main point of difference is on

the role of NGOs and collaborating

with them. In Chapter 13.4, India was

the only country which asked that the

reference to collaboration with NGOs

and the international community be


What do you hope will come out

of Cairo?

I hope we get an agenda which

reflects the reality, that is the

perspectives and experiences of the

world’s women, most of whom are poor.

I also hope that resources will be

directed to these priorities.

What happens between now to


What has emerged here is the need

for dialogue with our respective

governments. In the case of India, the

National Population Policy is being

formulated. Ultimately, a grassroots

membership organization like SEWA

hopes that the needs of the women at

the grassroots level will be recognized.

We hope that these women and

children will be able to haveHow can family planning

programs be effective in India?

On a conceptual level there should

be an understanding that work and

employment are the foremost priorities

of the poor. Family welfare policies and

income-generating programs must be

the basis of an action program .

Empowerment of women, is essential •

along with education, information and

awareness. Finally, women should be

viewed as a valuable resource,

and not a liability.

early detection of cancers for women.

. So they are positive about these issues.

But the main point of difference is on

the role of NGOs and collaborating

with them. In Chapter 13.4, India was

the only country which asked that the

reference to collaboration with NGOs

and the international community be


What do you hope will come out

of Cairo?

I hope we get an agenda which

reflects the reality, that is the

perspectives and experiences of the

world’s women, most of whom are poor.

I also hope that resources will be

directed to these priorities.

What happens between now to


What has emerged here is the need

for dialogue with our respective

governments. In the case of India, the

National Population Policy is being

formulated. Ultimately, a grassroots

membership organization like SEWA

hopes that the needs of the women at

the grassroots level will be recognized.

We hope that these women and

children will be able to have

their voices heard at an international

their voices heard at an internation
Companies lauded on environment

Awards given by watchdog group


The Council on Economic Priorities (CEP), a non-profit, public research organization, has named the Brooklyn Union Gas Company, S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., Stonyfield Farm Inc., SAS Institute and Levi Strauss & Company for its 1994 America’s Corporate Conscience Awards.  To mark its 25th Anniversary, CEP also selected Xerox and Shorebank Corporation for its special Silver Anniversary Awards.

Alice Tepper Marlin, Founder and head of CEP said in an interview with The Earth Times, “To qualify for the award the companies have to have a good overall social rating over a long period of time.  The priorities we look for are community involvement, environmental stewardship, responsiveness to employees and international commitment.”

Xerox, a previous America’s Corporate Conscience Award winner, was recognized for outstanding attention to equal opportunity employment and community involvement.  Marlin said, “Xerox has a good record for the advancement of minorities, for extraordinary environmental programs such as eliminating CFCs, impressive product modification and a system for worldwide auditing, which involves maintaining the same high standards in their operations abroad.

Shorebank Corporation, a small bank in Chicago was rewarded for its leadership in development banking and commitment to investing in depressed communities.  “Since 1974 the bank has loaned more than $225 million to over 8000 borrowers all in local communities.  In fact President Clinton said more banks should be modeled after it,” said Marlin.

The CEP has been in the business of rating companies for their environmental and other “ethical concept” policies for a quarter of a century.  Its paperback book, “Shopping for a Better World,” has sold more than one million copies since 1989, Marlin said, “The attitude of corporate America has changed dramatically since 1969.  Now every company recognizes that it has a social responsibility and investors and consumers have a right to information on the company’s environmental and social policies.”

CEP’s big break came when the study of the cost effectiveness of nuclear plants revealed that nuclear power was not cheaper in the long run.  CEP’s study made headlines news in The New York Times, The Washington Post and science magazines.  By 1978 not a single nuclear power plant had been ordered.  This, according to Marlin, was one of the their greatest achievements.

MAY 14, 1994


Bill Clinton’s global forum:

Did it tell the whole story?


On May 3, 1994, at a “global forum” televised by CNN and available to more than 140 million people in 200 countries, President Clinton was asked what the United States could do to stop genocide in Rwanda.  This is what Clinton said in response: “America cannot solve every problem, and must not become the world’s policeman, but we have an obligation to join with others to do what we can to relieve the suffering and restore the peace.”

What the president didn’t say–and what the development community and myriad non-governmental organizations frequently fret about –was that last -minute measures to stop a civil war or avert a famine are very costly, requiring sudden and huge commitments from the international community at a time when even rich countries find themselves strapped for funds. Moreover, such band-aid measures usually don’t solve the problem–you have only to look at Somalia where, despite the best intentions of Washington and the United Nations, things went terribly awry.

The killing fields of Rwanda may not be the result of any one factor, even though it seems to be the fashion among commentators to say that “ethnic rivalries” are responsible for the carnage. But surely lack of economic opportunities, social disparities, over-population, poverty and debt are among the causes of civil war, famine, mass migration and large-scale murder.  To recognize this well in advance and make resources available today can prevent costly intervention later.

The world media have a critical role to play.  By addressing development issues and offering a forum for the voiceless, newspapers magazines and the electronic networks can help draw attention to incipient tragedies, and not wait until they become international disasters.  They must move beyond sensationalism and attempt to inform the world how such tragedies can be avoided.

Nafis Sadik, Secretary General of the International Conference on Population and development, said Friday that she was especially pleased by the fact that two important chapters of the draft final document were approved by governments in the

first two weeks.

On Chapter 15 which deals with “Partnership with Non Governmental Groups” and  focuses on strengthening the role of NGOs and ‘their networks at the local, national and

international level, she said, “No other UN document has achieved such far reaching

consensus to include NGOs.” She felt that governments have finally realized the importance of NGOs especially when it comes to implementation of programs

at the grassroots level. The link between NGO participation and the Chapter

dealing with gender equality and empowerment of women which

was also approved by governments was in Sadik’s view significant, since NGOs have

played a decisive role in highlighting gender concerns. However, on the issue of

abortion, Sadik said, “there is a great deal of misinformation on , the Program of Action

concerning abortion.” She added: “Nowhere in the document is abortion said to be lefact, Sadik said, the document recommends that countries should have stronger programs

on’ contraception, counseling, education and reproductive rights.

Sadik said that the most surprising turn of events in the last two weeks was that some

countries that were now supporting the Vatican and opposing sections of the draft

document, had very active family planning programs at home.  “This raises a question: How can countries that supported family planning and reproductive rights

at the Mexico Conference and even agreed to many of the issues at regional conferences and are . implementing them in their own program of action, now oppose

the same issues? Obviously they have been strongly influenced,” she said.


The Craft Museum has a small gift shop which features unusual jewelry

pieces by artists from all over. There are

one-of-a kind objets d’art-all at

moderate prices. The Museum is open

daily from 10AM to 5 PM, Tuesdays until

8 PM.

,galized;” in

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concerned, “a great deal can be ( j

money” and we have to make tlii

resources go a longer way by bei

environmentally sensitive.

On the question of providing

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MAY 27,1994


been helpful in giving direction to the UK

AID program. Of the CSD meetings she

said, “I hope we can be positive. Look at the

distance we have come in changing people’s

minds. Even developing countries are

committed to sustainable development.”


Baroness Chal/(£!; British Minist er of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Aft


The Baroness is especially supportive of

NGOs and their participation in sustainable

development. “We provided £20,000 to

Southern NGOs to enable them to attend

this meeting,” she said. NGOs have also




oft-spoken, gracious but with a

determination borne of

conviction, Baroness Lynda

Chalker, Minister of State,

Foreign and Commonwealth

Affairs and Minister for

Overseas Development Administration

(ODA) for Britain, has a commitment to the

Rio process that is outlined in the overall

objective of the ODA’s aid program. “I feel

that the process of annual sessions of the

CSD will make an important contribution to

the Rio process,” the Baroness said

Thursday afternoon in an interview with The

Earth Times.

Chalker has been head of ODA for 6

years and is particularly interested in

working toward making the promises of Rio

a reality. She spoke of seven priorities areas;

promoting economiC reform, good

government, undertaking projects that

directly benefit poor people, enhancing

productive capacity, human development,

the status of women and helping developing

countries tackle national environmental

problems. In 1991 she launched a

population initiative for the British AID

program entitled, “Children by Choice,”

with a budget of £100 million. The program

was so successful that they have 17 new

projects all over the developing world.

S he has always beeing interested in

population issues, and has been an active

participant in the promotion of the Rio

Agemda. She is also a strong supporter of

the Commission on Sustainable

DevelopmeThe Baroness is especially supportive of

NGOs and their participation in sustainable

development. “We provided £20,000 to

Southern NGOs to enable them to attend

this meeting,” she said. NGOs have alsobeen helpful in giving direction to the UK

AID program. Of the CSD meetings she

said, “I hope we can be positive. Look at the

distance we have come in changing people’s

minds. Even developing countries are

committed to sustainable development.” Chalker feels that as far as resOli I

concerned, “a great deal can be ( j

money” and we have to make tlii

resources go a longer way by bei

environmentally sensitive.

On the question of providing

GENEVA-The International

Labor Organization, which observes

its 75th anniversary this year, will

host the 81st session of the

International Labor Conference

here starting June 7. It is an occasion

for looking back with pride on the

organization’s accomplishmentsand

for sharpening the ILO’s focus,

according to top officials.

In his report for the Conference,

entitled “Defending Values,

promoting change,” Director

General Michel Hansenne

underscores the ILO’s raison d’etre,

“Does the ILO-which was set up to

contribute to world peace by

promoting social justice-still fulfill

its mission’? If so, what should its

objectives be’?” In a world

undergoing enormous political,

economic and social change, a reevaluation

of international

institutions, many feel, is a much

needed exercise, particularly within

the United Nations system.

The ILO was founded in 1919,

along with the League of Nations by

the Treaty of Versailles and is built

on the constitutional principle that

universal and lasting peace can be

achieved only if it is based uponsocial justice, respect for human

rights, humane working conditions,

employment opportunities and

economic security for all.

“I think the achievements that

the ILO can be most proud of,”

Hansenne said in an interview, “is

the body of Conventions that have

been ratified by the member states

and implemented over the past 75

years. This body of Conventions

make up an international labor code

and is a general framework of

reference for all those who are