THE EARTH TIMES
MARCH 31- APRIL 14, 1995
‘We should never lost sight of women on whose behalf we are fighting
BY ASHALI VARMA
Principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal declaration of Human Rights. Certainly, at Beijing, governments will recall that 1995 has been designated the International Year of Tolerance and that the UN stands for respect of diversity, open dialogue and promotes the process of consensus building.
What do you have to say about Amnesty International’s statement which is critical of the direction of this conference where governments seem to want to limit rather than promote women’s civil and political rights?
This is an intergovernmental conference. Indeed, it will be the role of governments to decide on the platform for Action. However, civil society has significantly influenced the preparatory process and will be represented at Beijing by thousands of NGOs. One of the main accomplishments of the past decade has been that NGOs have broken the silence around the violation of human rights of women and held governments accountable .
Have you received assurances that the Chinese Government will allow all accredited members to attend the conference?
In 1994, the United Nations and the Peoples’ Republic of China signed the agreement for holding the Fourth World Women’s Conference in China. As the host country for a global UN conference. China has agreed to admit into the country all those who the UN states should participate.
On a more personal note is there an experience in your life that you feel has best prepared you to head this conference on women?
As an African girl child I survived! This was advantage. My years as a teacher taught me communication skills and teaching skills. Later the position of Cabinet Minister in the government of Tanzania provided me with invaluable experience in the art of negotiations and tolerance towards other points of view. It also taught me that we should never lose sight of those women on whose behalf we are fighting for. Their needs and concerns must be foremost as it is through us that their voices can be heard.