International Alliance of Women (IAW) … Herstory in the Making: Pt 1

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Introduction

The International Alliance of Women is the oldest existing international women’s organisation established at the turn of the 19th/20th century. Originally a part of the International Council of Women, in 1902 it came into being as the women founding it believed that the International Council of Women was insufficiently radical and too ‘establishment’. Then, in turn, in 1919, a group of members exited the International Alliance of Women – ironically deeming IT ‘too establishement’ and insufficiently radical: although IAW was opposed to war and ‘for’ peace, the exiting group of women founded WILPF – Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – seeing peace and freedom as inextricably intertwined. WILLPF women believed peace was the major cause for which to struggle and that concentration upoon other aspects of rights and freedoms was a diversion from the centrality of the ‘peace and freedom’ aim.

Almost a century later, in September 2013, IAW held its three-year Congress in London at Lincoln’s Inn, one of the four Inns of Court housing members of the English Bar. The Congress was held in the main hall and environs, surrounded by portraits of ‘very important men’ – judges, barristers, queen’s and king’s counsel … As these portraited men looked down upon the women gathered beneath then, voicing uproar and outrage at the ravages wrought by warring in Syria, denial of rights to children born but not formally registered so running the risk of being ‘seen’ as non-existent, the oppression, damage and destruction lying at the base of child marriage, the importantce of ecological balance and taking action to undo the damage of climate change … what would these men have thought? Would it ever have entered their comprehension, when they lived, that one day these hallowed halls would be filled with the sound of women’s feet and laughter, that the walls would be assailed by women’s voices, women’s support for one another and for changing the world? Would they ever have thought that resolutions would be passed by women – articulate, angry, compassionate, forthright, brave, courageous, indomitable?

Whatever their thoughts, whatever their comprehension, Lincoln’s Inn was the site for energy-filled resolutions composed and passed by women determined to fulfill the hopes of the women going before them – that together, working soundly and with wisdom, women can change the world. Women will change the world.

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Resolutions – IAW 36th Congress

The 36th Congress of the International Alliance of Women (IAW) taking place in London, from 8th to 14th September 2013 adopt the following resolutions –

I.

Conflict in Syria

IAW

Deeply concerned by the more than 100,000 dead and millions of displaced persons in the Syrian conflict and especially concerned by the use of chemical weapons in defiance of international law

  •  Wishes to express solidarity with the Syrian people, who are victims and survivors of this conflict.
  •  Calls on all countries to open their doors to Syrians trying to escape the massacre in their country.
  •  Further calls on United Nations and other international bodies to find a negotiated solution to the conflict with respect for Human Rights.

Moved by Monique Bouaziz,Vice President AFEM-France & Janicke Karin Solheim, The Norwegian Association of Women’s Rights

Seconded by: Meher Kermani, APWA

 

II.

IAW for Peace

IAW

Recalling the words Nobel Prize Winner, Albert Camus ‘Whatever the cause we defend, it will be forever dishonoured by resorting to the blind massacre of an innocent crowd, when the murderer knows in advance that he will kill women and children’,

calls on its members to put pressure on governments so that they join forces in order to prevent the slaughter that continues in so many countries, to help achieve peace by respecting and valuing the sentiments of every human, thereby spreading the message of love and sisterhood to make world a better place to live in.

Moved by Monique Bouaziz, Vice President of AFEM and Ananya Dasgupta, All India Women’s Conference

Seconded by: Rosy Weiss, Honorary President of IAW

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III.

The Invisible Child in the World

IAW

Considering that

  • Annually 50 million children (representing 40% of the total births) are not registered.
  • A birth certificate is essential for the enjoyment of human rights,
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Article 7 and 8 declares that national governments must register children immediately after birth and that child enjoy the right from birth to acquire a nationality.

Recalling that the Human Rights Council passes a resolution every year urging governments to have a civil registration system including birth registration.

Decides that the IAW President and Board urge governments to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child and withdraw any reservations.

Asks its member organizations to either influence their governments to put a birth registration system in place or to urge their governments to help countries do so through the Inter-Parliamentary Union, for instance.

Moved by: Lyda Verstegen, President of IAW

Seconded by: Lene Pind, Secretary General of IAW

 

IV.

Let girls be girls – not brides

IAW is highly concerned about the persistence, extent and consequences of child marriage. The practice is deeply rooted in gender inequalities, tradition and poverty and severely hampers girls’ right to education, sexual and reproductive health rights and their right to lead a life free from all forms of violence. Lack of progress in ending child marriage will exacerbate demographic and socio-economic problems in countries with an expanding youth population through an acceleration of the succession of generations.

IAW therefore decides

1) To fully support all human rights initiatives and actions, at national, regional and international levels, to end child marriage.

2) To urge governments to translate their commitments to relevant international conventions and treaties into national law, and implement legislation regarding

a) The protection of the rights of girls and women from all abuse, neglect or discrimination

b) The provision of the best-available opportunities for self-fulfilment, through education and whatever means possible

c) The age for marriage fixed unambiguously for both girls and boys at 18 years.

 3) To lobby for monitoring of the implementation of legislation by third parties like human rights experts and NGOs.

 

Moved by by Gudrun Haupter,

Convenor of the Commission on Health

Seconded by Jessika Kehl- Lauff, adf/svf

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V.

Girls’ right to education

IAW considering that in some countries women and girls are threatened, killed and abducted on their way to school; that schools are systematically bombed and destroyed, leaving those women and girls deprived of their most elementary fundamental Human Rights to education and to a decent life.

Calls on the President and the Board of IAW

  •  To put pressure on the governments of such countries to take measures to put an end to these awful practices and allow women and girls the right to attend primary school, high school and university in a safe environment.
  •  To demand that these crimes are punished.

 

Moved by Monique Bouaziz, Vice-President AFEM France

Seconded by: Mmabatho Ramagoshi, Mmabatho Foundation for Women’s Development

 

VI.

‘Eliminate all kinds of injustice, discrimination and violence against women’

Injustice, discrimination and violence against women concern every human being. This demands a considerable change in the mindset of people.

IAW therefore calls upon its members to act in solidarity against femicide of all kinds and the denial of human rights to women

Moved by:

Dr Lata Sinha, Bettina Corke, Bushra Hussain and all the delegates from All India Women Conference New Delhi India – Asha Deshpande – Vijaylakshmi – Santha Das – Rakesh Dhavan, Ananya Das

Seconded by: Seema Uplekar

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 Lene Pind (c) 03 October 2013

Introduction – Jocelynne A. Scutt (c) October 2013