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July 26, 2007

The Congress Closed

The Congress has officially closed. The new officers are convening an International Board meeting (formerly IEC mtg). I'm wrapping up my blogging from Congress - for the next 2 days I will truly be on vacation. Adios por Santa Cruz!

Posted by cj at 1:52 PM | Comments (0)

Election Results

Observer's Report: Recounted 3 times to make sure there were no mistakes.

80 eligible to vote, 2 votes disallowed. Sometimes people didn't mark 4 choices for Vice-President

President:
Regina - 37
Kirsten & Annelise - 40
Hannan - 0

Vice-Presidents:
Samira - 55
Felicity -51
Amaparo - 41
Kozue - 61

Marta - 40
Martha Jean - 38
Nadine - 3

Tamara -65

New Team:
Kirsten & Annelise (Co-President)
Samira, Felicity, Amparo, Kozue (Vice-Presidents)
Tamara (Treasurer)

Posted by cj at 1:17 PM | Comments (0)

Waiting for Election Results

While we wait for the EC to count ballots, we approved several items. First, a change to the aims & principles.

Then Special Advisor to the UN re-accepted.
Reps to UNESCO approved.
Reps to FAO approved.
Reps to Intl Labour Org (ILO) approved.
Reps to ICC: next mtg is in NYC, therefore decision delayed.

With no other non-controversial items to approve, we were dismissed for a 15 minute break.

Posted by cj at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)

Resolutions and Election Committee Reports

Resolutions

The Resolutions Committee suggests that we pass a ME resolution in principle, but wait until the Palestinian Section approves the resolution and statement before it becomes official. Our Israeli Palestinian sister, Taghrid, strenously objected to this approach, explaining that our work is based on past work and that the ME Committee wants the organization to move forward immediately. Our Lebanese sister, Samira, agreed with Taghrid and urged us to pass the resolution & statement and trust the work of the women in the committee.

Resolutions are distributed to all sections, relevant governments, and UN entitites.

All resolutions in the packet distributed to tables were passed, some with the understanding that further work on language would happen. The ME Committee agreed to a one week period to smooth the language and confer with the Palestinian Section.

Election Committee Report
Introduction to the process.

Received a written vote from one delegate who had to leave before the vote. The Constitution is silent on this issue, but the Committee feels the vote cannot be accepted because this is a controversial election. EC suggests that the Constitution be amended to clarify this issue for the future.

Preferential Voting - a process that EC recommends someone write a report and present to the IB.

We want to propose that the counting of the votes be done with observers. We thought this would be a good opportunity allow Y-WILPF to be part of the process. They asked for Y-WILPFers who were not voting delegates to volunteer to be observers in the counting process.

The Constitution tells the EC to attempt to form a slate, a slate to recommend to the Congress. We were not able to agree on a slate this year. We are reporting information to you because we could not agree on a slate. The EC is presenting 2 teams and the EC believes that each team can work well as a team, but would be difficult to mix the teams.

EC recommends not mixing the teams, even though you can vote for any individuals.

Team A:
Regina Birchem (USA)
Marta Benavides (El Salvador)
Martha Jean Baker (UK)
Kozue Akibayashi (Japan)
Samira Khoury (Lebanon)
Tamara James (USA)

A representative from the EC explained the reasons for choosing this team. I did not write down the entire statement, it was primarily about continuing the work of the previous officer's team (3 of the people on this team are current officers).

Team B:
Kerstin Greback (Sweden) & Annelise Ebbe (Denmark)
Felicity Hill (Australia)
Amparo Guerrero (Colombia)
Kozue Akibayashi (Japan)
Samira Khoury (Lebanon)
Tamara James (USA)

A representative from the EC explained the reasons for this team. The reasoning included that this is a younger slate, more knowledgeable about issues of racism and classism.

A point of clarification: Marta Benavides announced that she was removing her candidancy and leaving the organization.
Several people spoke after Marta.

Flowers were presented to our Bolivian sisters, thanking them for hosting the Congress. Nepal presented them with a Buddha statue.

Ballots were passed out. Counting done after lunch.

Posted by cj at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

Morning Reports from Committees, Working Groups, etc

Reports from Committees, Working Groups, and Regional Meetings
Our meeting was called to begin at 8 a.m. We started around 8:30. For health reasons, I couldn't have breakfast until 8:30, so I was unable to take notes on early reports.

Committees that reported:
Communications Committee (ComCom)
Organizational Development (OD)
Peace & Security Working Group
Economic Justice Working Group
Middle East Committee

Extra Report:
Colombian Delegation

Regional Meetings:
European: discussed methods for more cooperation, "security policy," EU constitution, a European newsletter is being produced by the Dutch Section, and European Social Forum.
Middle East: yielded time because they already reported during their plenary last night & with the committee report
Asia Pacific: noted the lack of voices from Pacific countries. India gave a report and are happy to be supported by Ghandi University, Japan reported on the push to change their constitution to allow aggressive militarism, Nepal: we recognize the difficulty of getting to Congress from Nepal and we took a moment to honor Neelam, who has been imprisoned for her WILPF work. New Zealand: Pleased to announce 3 women at the head of government, including the Prime Minister. Also noted that there hasn't been enough progress for indigenous people's rights.

Report on the Manifesto Project
The Boston branch of the US Section worked on synthesizing the comments received yesterday and presented them to the plenary. Comments were allowed from the floor.

Report from the Program Committee
PowerPoint presentation presented while paper copies of the resolutions were being passed out. In 2005, a 1325 Working Group was created, which has not been active. Who can convene this group?
Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR): how WILPF sections can coordinate on a regional level on this issue that is being led by women from the Global South?
Human Rights: indigenous rights, racism - followup on Durbin Conference, right to water, 60th anniversary of Declaration of Human Rights
Economic Justice: find funding and continue to expand the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) project. Women's engagement in trade negotiations and development negotiations. Regional Trade Agreements. Boycott Coca Cola.
Disarmament: biological weapons, conventional weapons - especially cluster munitions, coordinate annual 8 March Seminar. Coordinate annual NGO statement to the Commission on Disarmament (CD), uranium weapons
Environment: adress false solutions to global warming, including bio-diesel, genetically modified food, 2006 mtg emphasized a focus on environmental focus of militarism
Middle East 5 Priorities: Nuclear Free Middle East, Islamophobia, discrimination on basis of race, ethnicity, religion, class, nationally; expand sections in ME with emphasis on Jordan and Egypt; Y-WILPF conference in Jordan planned by Y-WILPFers
LIMPAL Colombia: all sections should subscribe to the boletina from WILPF Colombia - limpalcolombia.org, Continue the focus on economic and political empowerment, esp with displaced women. Coordinated advocacy. Friends of Colombia groups, Colombia as a Commission on the Status of Women 2008 Case Study. WILPF Norway and Switzerland to ask their Foreign Ministries if they're funding the peace negotiations, where are the women. Colombia 1325 Case Study to present at world and regional Social Forums.
Additional Items: Trafficking in Women, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (including facilitating the accreditation of professional immigrant and refugee women). Campaign Against Imperialism: against the establishment of new and maintenance of US military bases in 121 countries around the world. Another delegation to Cuba: Judy Gallant (Canada) will facilitate this, Cuban Women have asked that it be limited to 10.
International Days of Action: 8 March - Intl Women's Day, 28 April - WILPF's Birthday (fundraising)

Process Suggestion: WILPF choose 5 priority issues: ME, UNSCR 1325, Environment, Peace & Demilitarization,
3 year work plan, what is the objective, who will will work on them,
specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound

Build WILPF: maintain contact and continue developing core group in Rwanda, Jordan
Strengthen existing sections
Membership Drive - build up to the 100th Anniversary
Section to Section Partnerships: make more transparent, continue good work, establish new partnerships, continue to build solidarity, link with Y-WILPF

100th Anniversary: Mans van Zanderbergen is the current focal point for preparations, This Congress should send an official request to the Netherlands WILPF to host this event, Presentation of the Manifesto, Women's World Peace Forum?

We are few but powerful, let us be many and unstoppable!

Discussion: Want ICC emphasis. English translation of Bergen Report, Global Day of Action Against Poverty, look at violent actions against undocumented persons, peace within the organization as a project, would like more information on Durbin followup, GEAR: bits and pieces from UN that work on women's issues and gender issues are referred to as Gender Equality Architecture, also a power point presentation available from Sam's workshop.

Decisions on next international meetings:
The Congress approved going to India for the next IB meeting. Albania invited WILPF to have the next IB meeting after India in their country. No section has offered to host the next Congress, please ask your sections about this.

Posted by cj at 8:01 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2007

Constitution and By-Laws Decisions

Many changes were made to the Constitution and By-Laws. It was rather difficult to follow if you didn't have a copy of those documents in front of you.

There was discussion, some clarification, and I added some comments myself, which I believe was the first time I spoke before the entire Congress.

To allow Co-Presidents, the vote:
45 yes, 20 no, 3 abstentions

To only pay for one President to go to any particular meeting, except IB and Congress meetings, the vote:
36 yes, 6 no, 21 abstentions

The entire day, including the decision to more than double the US Section fees, was an interesting and enlightening experience. But I don't feel my reactions to the day are appropriate in this venue.

I will say that I was a guest at the Middle East Regional Meeting and I consider that the highlight of my day.

Posted by cj at 4:03 PM | Comments (0)

Presentation of the Idea of Creating a WILPF Manifesto

Manifesto
100 Years of Work for Peace and Freedom - Where Do We Go From Here?
A draft proposal for the 100th anniversary of WILPF in 2015

Introduction by Samira Khoury.

Presentation of Edith Ballantyne's proposal by Felicity Hill
They created a video to introduce the proposal, but the projection equipment didn't work, so we listened to Edith's explanation.
This was done in conjunction with a 3 page proposal. Below are some excerpts from that proposal, along with some notes from the audio presentation.

Suggestion: spend 8 years creating a manifesto that explains what we're for as well as what we're against.

Who? The WILPF membership facilitated by a coordinating group made up of individuals with this as their major responsibility in WILPF.
WILPF has always been an organization that works to change policy and structure, rather than a funding organization or an aid organization. This idea is part of continuing that process.

What? An analytical and prescriptive Manifesto that includes (a)analysis of where we are today (b) articulation of alternative political, economic and social models for a sustainable future (c)concrete proposals for organising with others to achieve our vision.

When? A living process launched at the Bolivia Congress that incorporates current events, helps WILPF reflect and look forward to refine its position and role in the world, completed for our 100th anniversary in 2015.

Why? WILPF (and the broader peace and justice movement) needs clarity and a courageous and comprehensive vision to inform analysis and programme. The development of a Manifesto would be a school for learning and searching, for developing actions and not just reactions, and to help give our members the tools to assume the right and duty to take matters into their hands, and not be the victims of the "inevitable." WILPF needs to embark on a membership campaign, and this process should be part of that, inviting and attracting new members into WILPF to participate in not only timely analysis and discussion about current events, but also in action.

How? The project can succeed only through the participation of WILPF members and branches. They have to be involved in helping to develop the framework and in the ongoing discussion, search, outreach and action that will constitute the final text of the Manifesto. It means involvement from ground 0 to the finish in 2015. Clearly no member could be expected to commit herself for an eight-year period, but there should be commitment to complete a specific task and prepare for a successor. (There are further details on the How within the document.)

Responses
The Dutch Section: invited WILPF to hold its 100th anniversary celebration at The Hague and suggested that we invite government officials and UN officials to our 100th celebration / presentation of this Manifesto.

The German Section (presented by Irene Eckert): The German Section began thinking about this idea at their annual meeting earlier this year. Would like us to deal with the positives and negative aspects of our history. We should analyze the current global situation and figure out how we can be an effective, prominent women's Peace organization. We have to concentrate on the global state of affairs before we can focus on a plan of action. We cannot just focus on the disastrous situation, nor must we narrow down to the advantages for a handful of career women in parts of the world. Let's look at the unipolar world of US dominance, including the effort to marginalize the UN; so-called "security policies" such as the war on terrorism and the war on drugs. As the military has taken the logistic and financial lead in so-called conflict zones and the civil section has been losing its legitimacy. "Peace enforcement" by troops is a contradictory notion. We have to bear in mind the originally positive intention of the UN in SCR 1325. Privatization of warfare make it so that companies have a vested interest in continuing warfare because they make a profit off of it. The mass media in the hands of private companies poses a serious threat to the freedom of information. Women are being treated more disrespectfully than any other group not just in the media but in reality. Let us work together as daughters, mothers, and grandmothers and move forward

Discussion
1. How will this help us with our work?
2. What are the essential elements of the Manifesto?
2. Any concerns?

Posted by cj at 8:45 AM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2007

Candidates Forum

Announcements
A group spoke who would like us to deal with the "buzz" in the room.
Martha Jean Baker spoke re the International Criminal Court - help get new members for the three vacant judge seats
The Resolutions Committee gave their first report back on resolutions: several were referred back for clarification, some were referred to committees.

Open Forum: Presentation of Candidates for Election

Presidential Candidates
Note: two candidates are only standing for the president position. Prior to the forum, 2 were standing for both President and Vice President. At the forum, one candidate announced she was only standing for the Vice President position.
Regina Birchem Fantastic community of women and men. Why I'm a member of ILPF: after being attacked on the street, a professor suggested that I join a women's organization and the best one he knew was WILPF. Please read my President's Report. We want to be organic and start forward with confidence. Without a formal blueprint, but to move forward in an organic way.
Annelise Ebbe I have been thinking since yesterday, since the tensions that were here, how I should introduce myself. I am a very priviledged person. I have met women from around the world: I have not been there as a tourist, I have learned about racism, sexism, extreme humiliation and extreme abuse. I started on this work before I became a member of WILPF. When I joined WILPF, I found a combination of pacifism and feminism that I have been looking for.
Kirsten Greback The first time I came to WILPF Congress was in 1989 in Australia. My grandmother was a WILPFer. I've been working a lot in the union and anti-Vietnam War movement. I really became a feminist in Nairobi in 1985 - when I went to the first Women's Conference and saw how women are struggling all over the world. I have 5 kids and 17 grandchildren. My motto has always been: think globally, act locally. I became the Secretary General of WILPF Sweden and started working a lot on the Middle East. Now what I want to do, now that I was nominated for the Presidency of WILPF, I would like to share the position. We should continue our great projects and start another one on Economic Justice and increase our fact-finding missions to Africa.
Felicity Hill I would very much like to stand for Vice President, and will withdraw nomination as President. I have been part of different aspects of WILPF: as an intern, as a staff member, and now working on a book with Edith Ballantyne. The WILPF officers backed me when I said I think we can get this Security Council Resolution passed and they said to drop everything. And its really because of that support from WILPF that we got SCR 1325. I think we should focus on projects and that officers should be focused on Get Published, Get Members, and Get Cash. Our major WILPF day should be our birthday, so that we have a culture of doing that before our 100th anniversary.


Vice President
Kozue Akibayashi Joined WILPF in 2001, I identify myself as a researcher / activist. It is impossible to make a living as an activist in Japan, so I decided to be a researcher and now after years of struggle, I have a full-time teaching position at a university in Japan. I have been working with Okinawa women on de-militarization issues. I would like to see WILPF work on this issue and I would like to work to support the work of the President. I am 39 and would like to work
Martha Jean Baker When I was first nominated by the young women of UK WILPF to be a nominee for Vice President and I would like to work with the young women if elected. I grew up in WILPF - my mother was a life member and my father continued his membership after my mother passed away. Its been about 30 years since the UK was represented on the international officer's team. I would like to see 3 M's: More Missions, More Money, More Members. If I do something that offends you, I hope you will tell me immediately so that I can grow from the experience.
Marta BenavidesI need a commitment from you, more than I need a commitment from me. We need to create an organization that speaks to the world. I believe that we should be working on climate-change. I need WILPF to be our instrument for peace in the world. I just don't want us to make statements. A new and different and best world is possible. I call on all of us to make a commitment to be about this in the world. If we are in WILPF we should not be doing "doggy paddle" - we should not just be surviving. It is our responsiblity to stop the process if it is a bad process. North and South, South and North being as one. We must own and learn the Constitution.
Amparo Guerrero I come from the Colombian section. My reflection is that I personally do not want to reproduce patriarchal system that is about power. Manipulative actions diminishes the roles of others and they can't express themselves. Patriarchal systems are inconsistent with feminism. It is not enough to say I work for peace if you continue to collaborate with systems of oppression that oppress women. i do not think it is important to have personal accomplishments. I do not want to have WILPF lose more individual members because it diminishes the ability of the organization to work against the war powers.
Samira Khoury I am a Lebanese of Palestinian origin. I am an activist for peace for many long years. I am a teacher by profession and I write stories for children about human rights and gender rights. I am involved in a project in South Lebanon for remedial kids who are on the edge of dropping out. I think part of the different paradigm for WILPF should be promoting women's handicrafts as a part of a women's budget.

Treasurer
Tamara James I've been more nervous listening to all these fabulous women speaking than I was in the Standing Finance Committee talking about Section fees. I've been involved in the US Section board for the last 7 years. When I became the Co-President of WILPF US, I became a member of the International Finance Committee. For the past 9 months, I have been living in Geneva. I've gotten to know Susi, Marie, and the interns very well. I've been excited about the opportunity to continue living in Geneva and working with the Geneva staff. I've been inspired by the words that these Officer Candidates have said, I'm excited about working to make this organization not just more sustainable, but more dynamic.

The election committee will interview the candidates and formulate a slate that the delegates can either accept or decline.

Questions from the floor:
1. Amparo, how do you consider yourself a representative of Colombia when you live in the US?
2. How many hours a week can you devote to the Intl office you are nominated for?
Kirsten: I just went into pension, so I can give all my time to WILPF.
Annelise: I am not a pensioner, but I am a freelancer. For now, I choose to work for WILPF. I have withdrawn from all of the things that I did to work for the Danish.
Samira: 5 hours each week generally, and 10-15 hours each week during international crises.
Martha Jean: I am lawyer and I devote most of my working time to doing work for women's organizations.
Felicity: I am working full time on the book with Edith until after
Regina: I turned down all teaching positions to work for WILPF. I work for WILPF everyday. Sometimes 3, sometimes 10 or 12 a day.
Tamara: I've been working full time as a volunteer for WILPF for the last 8 months, and would be
Amparo: I would expect to work several hours a week.
Kozue: Several hours a week, unless I'm not teaching and then I can work

It is late at night and I have a stomach ache. I just want to remind readers that I am human and can only keep up with things for so long. So, below are the questions that were asked of the candidates without their responses.

3. Responsibility to the President as a candidate for a position other than Presidency.
4. Kirsten: leadership and international experience
5. Regina: Do in 2nd term what you didn't do in 1st term?
6. Annelise and Kirsten: What would you like to do as Co-Presidents and how would you deal with the added cost to Intl of 2 Presidents?
7. Marta: how will you continue working on water and oxygen issues as a part of the Officer's Team?
8. Samira: how will you be able to focus on international issues when you are dealing with life in a conflict area?
9. Do you think that WILPF is Euro-centric and how should WILPF deal with the racism within WILPF?
10. Specifically, what would you do as an officer?
11. Presidential candidates: increase sections in Latin America and engage with women in Africa.

Posted by cj at 6:50 PM | Comments (0)

Workshops and Committee Meetings

Tuesday morning and afternoon were devoted to workshops and committee meetings. In the morning, I presented a workshop on Online Activism. There were many workshops presented during the morning and afternoon. Unfortunately, since you can only be in one place at a time, I can only tell you about my workshop. It was well attended. For the first portion, I gave an overview of online activism and during the second portion we discussed an action plan.

Lunch was absolutely delicious - including more Bolivian delicacies than previous meals. We are very lucky to be well fed; it helps since the work can be difficult.

After lunch, I attended a meeting of the International Middle East Committee. Attendees included the Lebanese delegation, the Israeli delegation, an individual from Sweden, and several individuals from the United States. Unfortunately, our Palestinian sisters did not make it to the Congress and were therefore unable to join us. We reviewed previous statements - the Committee's Statement from Berlin in May 2007 and the Israeli Section Gaza Strip Statement, June 2007. Our purpose was to create a draft resolution to present to the Resolutions Committee so that the resolutions passed during the Congress would include resolutions on the Middle East.

That meeting happened during a workshop time period because of conflicting committee meetings. All of the standing committees and working groups met during the same time. Due to this conflict, the Communications Committee meeting had three attendees, though several more committee members are attending the Congress. The bright side is that we've already recruited two new committee members from Latin America!

During the previously scheduled social hour the report from the Quito Conference to Abolish Foreign Military Bases is occurring. (More info to follow.)

If you follow this post after the jump, you'll find my presentation on Online Activism.

For those who don't know me, my name is Cynthia Jane Minster - I go by C.J. I've been a member of WILPF since 1999 and am serving my second term on the US Section national board. I am currently the US Program Chair, overseeing 2 campaigns and 7 committees. I am also a member of the International Communications Committee and active in the Los Angeles branch. I work in direct marketing and I am a recent thyroid cancer survivor.

This workshop is an overview of the world of online activism and how to harness the power of the net to further WILPF / LIMPAL's mission.

WILPF has a great deal of knowledge and does incredible education and advocacy. In recent years, we have increased our use of email and we're starting to use our listservs. But there's so much more we can do. The goal of this workshop is to break down the barriers between tech junkies and technophobes.

Many people think of me as an expert in the field of online activism. I'm honored by the designation, but want to be clear - there is much I don't know. My first year of college in 1996, I was scared of my computer and had never been online. It took me awhile to understand that I would not break a computer by using it regularly. It also took me awhile to learn how to feel comfortable with online communication.

My goals for this workshop are:

Online Advocacy is Already Established
How people gather on the web

Blogs
Blogs have been around for 10 years. Recently, the Wall Street Journal featured an article about the importance of blogs. While we have nothing in common with the editorial goals of the WSJ, it's important to realize that this is a forum that is being taken seriously by the mainstream media. A blog is a website written in reverse chronological order on any topic. The large community of blogs on the web is generally known as the blogosphere. I believe this is the easiest way for WILPFers to become more visible: in addition to emailing each other our opinions on world events, we can publish those same words on the web for the entire world to read. By identifying ourselves as WILPFers, by publishing on our official websites, we can enhance the world's understanding of WILPF and remind them that we are still active, and not just something you read about in history books.

This is easy and free - there are many free blog publishing tools, including Blogger. We're working on creating blog capabilities on the international website. The US Section's blog was recently moved to its official website, so that can show you an example of WILPF blogging. Personally, I've been reporting on the official portions of this Congress on my own blog - www.socialupheaval.com - so that our sisters who cannot be with us can share in what we're doing.

Social Networking Groups
These include MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook. I don't want to go into detail, but just want to point out that by having discussions on these sites, we can build an opportunity for WILPF to increase its younger members. I created WILPF groups on Friendster and MySpace and without any work, we've gathered 48 people on Friendster and almost 30 on MySpace. I would love for other people to join and take responsibility for generating discussions on these boards. It's free and a way to increase our visibility.

Comments sections of major sites
In the information age, commenting on major news sites and blogs is the 21st century version of writing letters to the editor.

Structure Decisions are Political Decisions
People shun hierarchy publicly, but still use it. What I mean is that we say we want open access to decisions and discussions, and then we do things that limit access. When we use email instead of listservs, we are limiting the access to our words and we limit the historical record of our work. What I mean is that our committees are large and it’s easy to forget people when sending out an email to individual addresses, rather than the single address of a listserv. Listservs also serve as a historical record of our communication, something that is very difficult to do when using email alone.

Online activism is a way to democratize our process - to allow more people a voice in the decision-making process. We can have a Members-Only section to discuss policies and procedures that would be open to all members. This could help us focus our communication. Rather than the flood of news articles and reports of other organizations that often occurs on our Intl listserv, we could use this space to work on building our organization.

Online Activism is Already Thriving
As many of you know, most advocacy organizations have more robust websites than WILPF. At the same time, most organizations do not have as much information on the web as WILPF. This is the key difference between how we have presented ourselves on the web and how other orgs present themselves. We offer our knowledge and we monitor international fora, but we are not at the forefront of mass activism. What I'd like us to do is expand our use of online petitions, online fundraising, and online networking.

Discussion Questions

Posted by cj at 2:47 PM | Comments (0)

Why WILPF Doc and Report Out from Discussions

Last night, after dinner, the Y-WILPF (Young WILPF) facilitated the creation of a documentary, "Why WILPF?" It was an amazing experience. I took some notes on the speeches given, but I'm hesitant to put them online because I do not have the names of all the speakers. The history of WILPF is truly inspiring. And the breadth of the current work is amazing. Hopefully, it will be online (perhaps on YouTube) soon.

Originally, the election of the Election Committee was supposed to occur as the first order of business after dinner. Instead, we continued on with the program-style agenda. The presentation on the Quito Conference on Military Bases was shortened to a summary statement to make time for the report out from the discussion groups earlier in the day. Mary Day Kent (US Executive Director) and Irene Eckert (from Germany) spoke briefly and encouraged people to attend their workshop.

There was a slight kerfuffle at this point - I objected to moving forward with the program agenda without beginning the election process for the Election Committee. My objection was dismissed and then one of the candidates for the EC announced that she was taking herself out of the running (partially because she had another meeting to attend at that time). So, with only 5 candidates left for a 5 candidate committee, we agreed without a paper ballot election to the formation of the Election Committee.

Then the people in charge of coalescing all of our ideas from the discussion earlier in the day came forward to present the findings. I apologize - by that point in the evening, I was simply exhausted and did not take any notes on the presentation. Hopefully, there will be an official report from this portion of the meeting.

I left a bit early from this event to attend a US Section delegate meeting. I was told people did not like the fact that we left the meeting and that we should have set an example by not starting our own meeting until the official plenary was complete. While that is very reasonable and diplomatic, I have to say that I'm a bit exhausted and I can't keep up with the pace of Congress. I actually left my delegation meeting a bit early because I simply had to get to sleep.

Posted by cj at 5:14 AM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2007

Committee Reports

Treasurer's Report

Report from the International Treasurer, Michaela Todd. Presented by Tamara James, Co-President of WILPF US. Michaela was unable to join us due to work commitments, and Tamara - a member of the Standing Finance Committee - volunteered to help with the presentation of our finances.

Request to increase the Geneva budget: to hire a development director, a part-time intern.
PeaceWomen Project is funded through December 2007, grant proposals are pending

Budget Forecast created for the next 3 years
Section Fees: IEC 2006 discussed and approved the recommendation of a new section fee structure based on the Netherlands proposal
Quasi-Endowment: 30% of a donation/bequest over 50,000 CHF in a quasi-endowment

Decisions to be Made
2006 audits approved
2008 budget approved
Section Fee decision approved

Assessment: 110,000 CHF. Actually received: 95,000 CHF - 57,000 CHF received, 40,000 CHF expected by end of year.

WILPF Constitution Committee Report


Questions from the floor:
There was serious concern about the fact that people don't have hard copies of the amendments and that the fact that they were available on the web was not clear.
Serious reservations about removing "political" from our aims.

Announcement
WILPF India officially invited the International Executive Committee to hold its next meeting in India.

Appointing the Election Committee
Discussion of whether to accept the proposed 5 person committee from the pre-Congress IEC meeting or to accept a proposal from the Swedish section or to allow 3 observers on the committee.
Decision to have a ballot election following dinner

Resolutions
Reading of the resolutions submitted before Congress. Statements from the floor on resolutions submitted at Congress. Proposed Resolutions Committee accepted.

Program Committee
To observe the proceedings of Congress and propose a set

Cuba
3 February 1962: the US blockade began
This presentation was very detailed and included a powerpoint presentation. I want to apologize for not capturing the entire presentation - I'm having a lot of trouble following the translator.
Cuban people chose to launch an economic system to combat the capitalism of the US. They specifically chose not to launch a military war. In response, the US issued an economic blockade on Cuba and makes it very difficult for its citizens to visit Cuba.
Colin Powell is the head of a commission created by G.W. Bush in October, 2003 "the Commission to Help a Free Cuba"
Presented statistics on how the revolution has made Cuba a 100% literate country, more doctors, more electricity.
Cuban Principles:

We decided to move the remaining program items to after dinner. It's now after dinner, so I better get back into the plenary room.

Posted by cj at 4:31 PM | Comments (0)

The President Speaks, the Vice Presidents Respond

After the SecGen report, WILPF International President Regina Birchem gave her report. She gave a political analysis of the state of the world and asked many questions about WILPF. Hopefully, the full report (which was also presented in written form) will be online soon.

The Vice Presidents, Annelise Ebbe, Samira Khoury, Dulcy de Silva, and Marta Benavides, were given five minutes each to respond to the President's report.

After these presentations, we had lunch. It was a great meal and quite significant for me - I shared a discussion with a member from the Congo and a member from Lebanon on the state of the world, in particular the state of Israel and Jewish people's participation in global affairs. As a Jewish activist, it was quite an intense conversation for me - because while I do not believe in the apartheid policies of the government of Israel, I am still proud of my heritage, my culture and ethnicity.

After lunch, we came together for discussion groups on the future of WILPF. We are currently reporting out from those discussion groups.

Posted by cj at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

The Congress Opens, Sec Gen Report

The Congress began with a presentation by our host section, Bolivia. They welcomed us with an explanation of La Bolivianita, a unique combination of amethyst and citrine that only occurs in the region de la "Gaiba" Santa Cruz. They presented a bolivianita to each participant in Congress.

Roll Call

Each section was called by name and asked to say how many people were at the Congress as officially voting delegates.
Each section under 5,000 members is allowed 5 delegates plus the International Executive Committee member from their section. Any section over 5,000 members is given 3 additional delegates.
A section with only one person present gets 2 votes.

Sections present: I apologize, I was watching everyone stand to see who was from different sections, so I didn't write down the list. I will update this later today.

Sections not present:
Finland, Belarus, Burundi, Italy, Palestine, Peru, Phillipines, French Polynesia, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone.
The Irish Section asked to be dissolved; Bulgaria asked to be dissolved last year.

Secretary General Report
The full report will be available online at the Intl Website, /www.wilpf.int.ch
Structure of the Report

Peace Women
monitors and advocates 1325 in intl fora
Security Council Monitor - resolution report watch
women & UN reform
monthly PeaceWomen E-news
online advocacy
Advocacy for Implementation: within the UN system and with governments
present every year at the Commission on the Status of Women
training UN staff on gendered perspective in preparation of them going into the field
translation of the resolution: 78 currently. Looking for more and want to know how the translations are being used
Moving towards focusing on the Security Council itself: to help democratize the council
Women's participation and gender perspective checklist
Peacebuilding & Peacekeeping: peacebuilding is building sustainable peace in post-conflict situations
Committee of 34 that monitors peacekeeping situations
Gender Equality Architecture in UN Reform: what is it in this intl system that promotes gender equality?
Coordinating NY PeaceWomen work with the human rights work done at the Geneva office
CEDAW is moving from NY to Geneva

Reaching Critical Will
to increase quantity and quality of civil society engagement in multilateral disarmament processes
GA: 1st Committee, Conference on Disarament: only place mandated to make disarmament treaties, UN Disarmament Committion, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Recent book publications:
Model Nuclear Inventory: comprehensive review of all nuclear weapons capable countries and their fissile materials holdings
Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security: Review of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commissions recommendations and suggestion on implementation in the US
Looking ahead


Jennifer Nordstrom completed her contract, Ray Acheson is currently filling in part-time while we search for a full time associate.

In Geneva
Information Hub: people are asking what is happening in other sections
Deadline for monthly update is the 12th of every month
Communications: looking to change the website and to get the money to do it.
Listservs are a great resource for keeping in touch between
Human Rights Council:
Instituion Building - first year just concluded.
Balance between Economic Social Cultural and Civil Rights
link between peace and human rights
Economic Justice: site linked through wilpf.int.ch
Disarmament: monitor all Geneva disarmament fora
Political opportunities


Cluster Munitions
Katherine Harrison from WILPF Norway has represented us at the first meeting in Oslo and the second meeting in Lima.
Biological Weapons, Gender Architecture
Commission on the Status of Women 2008: Women in Armed Conflict in regard to women's participation
CEDAW moving to Geneva

Coalitions
Conference of NGOs (CONGO) - recently nominate to the board

Staff
Marie Boroli, Intl Office Manager, Geneva
Sam Cook, Milkah Kihunah PeaceWomen Project Associate
Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will
In NY, many short term interns that facilitate the maintenance of the websites, do research and support the projects in innumerable ways
In Geneva, two long-term paid interns:
Disarmement: Katherine Harrison, Human Rights: Julia Federico; We encourage sections to nominate candidates for these internships
Swedish Cooperation: 10 weeks in Stockholm, 10 weeks in either NY or Geneva
Standing Committees: Finance, Communications, Personnel, Organizational Development
Working Groups: Peace and Security, Environmental Sustainability, Economic Justice

Our Sections
Losing sections in some sections, gaining members in other sections
Section Coordination:
3 days a year when all WILPF sections have an event
Section to Section Partnerships: Norway/Lebanon, Norway/Colombia, Sweden/Costa Rica

100th Anniversary
Mans van Zanderbergan, focal point

Advocacy - from the Local to the Global
Need to clearly articulate our goals and objectives

We are few but powerful, let us be many and unstoppable!

Posted by cj at 7:27 AM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2007

Cochabamba, night on the town...

The final session of the day was a report back from a Swedish delegation who went to Cochabamba.

Emma de Torres lived in Sweden for several years and went back to Cochabamba for a visit. She decided it was safe enough to return, and she and her family moved there to set up a daycare center for a factory. The women were very untrusting - they were used to working side by side with their children. So, instead of bringing in outside trained employees, she trained women from the factory to work as childcare workers. And that way, the women trusted who was supervising their children while they worked.

The Swedish delegation - Maj-Lis Mansson, Berit Tybrand, Gunilla Wingo-Anderberg and Boel Bruce - described their ten days traveling in Cochabamba.

The day was a seminar on Latin America. It was wrapped up by Marta Benavides and Regina Birchem.

Then we went to dinner. Which was quite a shame because there was more (dare I say better) food later in the evening.

After dinner, we traveled by bus to the city square. Not only did we have a fleet of buses, we also had a police escort. It was quite an experience.

We went to the House of Culture in Santa Cruz to see an exhibition on 1000 Peace Women. After viewing the exhibition we were offered traditional Bolivian food: apetizers and pastries that were absolutely delicious, along with red wine, soda, and water.

We watched a cultural show in the square and then had an hour to wander around. I picked up a bracelet and earrings. Some of us chatted over beer at a bar, and then we boarded our buses for the return trip. Of course, several of our younger members stayed in town to enjoy the night life. I decided to return to enjoy a night swim at the amazing pool in our hotel.

Tomorrow the Congress officially begins.

Posted by cj at 7:22 PM | Comments (0)

WILPF delegation to Colombia

We had lunch. It was great. Then we had a presentation by the delegation to Colombia. The following is basically me re-typing the written report they gave. They had different areas of their report and separated it out by Issue, Findings and Recommendations.

Delegation members were: Amparo Guerrero (Colombia), Adriana Gonzalez (Colombia), Marta Benavides (El Salvador), Tagrid Shbia (Israel), Mary Day Kent (USA), Elin Christiansen (Norway), Liss Schanke (Norway).

The title of the presentation is:
Women Constructing Peace in the World: The Case of Colombia
Findings and recommendations of the WILPF delegations to Colombia July 15-19, 2007

Introduction

What is Happening?

Armed Conflict


Not because of Drugs

Not because of communism or terrorism

Conflict over natural resources: land, minerals, and oil


More than three million displaced persons, mainfly farmers, indigenous people and afro-colombians

Extremely dangerous situation for the Unions

Government initiatives

Peace negotiations

Colombia is a good 1325 case study

There will be a 3 hour workshop on Colombia during the Congress, and the participants will have time to discuss all the relevant issues in depth - including the follow up.

Posted by cj at 1:06 PM | Comments (0)

Other Speakers During the First Session

After the first plenary speaker, individual women from Latin America spoke about their experiences. Below is a summary of their speeches.

Nelida Faldin, Bolivia
Indigenous woman from the Santa Cruz department. She explained that the women of her area create products to sell - weaving, clothes, etc. - but do not know how to get it to markets. They are not looking for handouts; they are looking to sell their products so that they have the money to send their children to school and get healthcare.

Carmen Chuve Casique, Bolivia
From the city of La Paz, representing the Women's Center. She came looking for unity: we cannot be divided; all Latin Americans have to unite. While there are differences between us, we cannot dwell on those.

Ailia Caravaca, Costa Rica
The people of Costa Rica are involved in their first major anti-imperialist uprising. They are coming together against the impending "free trade" agreement with the US. They took to the streets - people from all different walks of life - to protest the agreement. The president wen to parliament to ask for a referendum on the agreement, in response to the protests. So there is now a coalition - Women Against the Free Trade Agreement that is dedicated to this struggle. And the challenge for WILPF Costa Rica right now is to get people to come out and VOTE. This is one of the most transcendental struggles they have.

With the struggle has come an increased presence of the police. The leaders of the struggle feel more exposed and more oppressed. So, she would like us to be aware of their struggle because it is very likely that they will need international solidarity in the coming months.

Luz Baretto, Peru
I'm running out of break time, so here are my notes from her speech as it was translated into English:

The struggle of many Latin American countries is not about a lack of resources, it is about the proper distribution of resources.

For example, perhaps you know about our former president, Fujimori? He stole our money and left us a broken government and is now hiding in Chile. He also oversaw the mutilation of many women – many indigenous women were mutiliated and now cannot have children. You have no idea what that menas to an indigenous woman; it is like killing her alive.

Last week, our country was in an upheaval. Fortunately, we have created some dialogue to really think how this economic bonanza will really help people...

Osiris Zarahy Bojorque, El Salvador
El Salvador suffers from extreme violence, but not armed conflict. The problem in Central America is gangs; some children join at the age of nine. They force people to pay a "safety tax." This is a problem particularly in the poorest, least industrialized countries.

The police are also abusing their power. The government is about to sign a free trade agreement and the US dollar is the local currency. Their economy is based on remittances from family members in the United States; and these individuals are being discriminated against and thrown in jail because they are undocumented workers.

I'm publishing this during the coffee break because the internet access is poor in our plenary room. Now there is a discussion about what we just heard.

Posted by cj at 8:18 AM | Comments (0)

Live from Santa Cruz, Bolivia

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom's 29th Triennial Congress just began. First, there were introductions. Keynote Speaker, Paola Pena just began speaking. She is a historian and a defender of women's rights.

Women have to give the light...and we have to commit ourselves to this fight...We have a big movement...It's not casual to have this movement. This movement has realized how international cooperation, activist women and men, the world is starting to have challenges...just because of the economic policies that are trying to divide us. ..The World Women's March.. women have said that it is time to ask those who are placing economic restrictions..the challenges for women are poverty and violence...That's why the different movements are questioning. Another movement at the international level are the cry of those who are being excluded. Why are the budgets more geared to military, to arms? Why spend more on that when have millions and millions who are suffering?

We have the example of the Social Forum held recently in Sao Paolo, Brazil to show us the way forward...to take on the capitalists who take and take without giving anything in return. ...We believe that Latin America has emerged with many answers, with many challenges, but it's not easy. We have to see that the fights that we have experienced that it is time for women, basically i say this because of experience, that women have to be more open to the world. Many of our problems are between ourselves. And that's when people take over our economic resources, who give orders, who we have to fight with. If we see the context at the international level and at the Latin American level, we have advances that are important to pick up.


At this time, Latin America has presidents with other points of view. We have Nicaragua, Venezula, Bolivia.. to a certain extent the presidents of Argentina and Ecuador are also picking up the feeling of Latin American change. But we cannot stop mentioning the historical fight of the people of Cuba...

I believe that experiences have to be picked up...We have to come together based on the national symbols, like the cantuta?...and that's where we go to see the context of what our representative said. We're going through a very exciting moment but also a moment of contrasts. Bolivia, to understand what it is happening - the Bolivian crisis that we're going through will be a historical moment in the future. The crisis that we're going through has to do with economic, social, political interests. Because Bolivia is a very rich country. Many of you who have come here have to ask why is there such poverty in Bolivia? Because it is such a rich country - full of gas, water, ....However, the errors are built by men and women and those who have the economic power. The world already knows who decides upon our life and continue to do so are those who have the money, the economic power. The result is misery, that is mistakenly called the "feminization of poverty." Do you think women are so stupid that they cannot have the answers?

...Women, sisters, and brothers, throughout the world I believe we show the path. In Bolivia, women have played a very important role. That's where we can see that in Bolivia and throughout the world, the relationship between men and women is much better. And who shows the face is the women.

Ask yourself, is Bolivia having a challenge - between departments, between individuals, between classes....We are not building islands. Bolivia has a context. We have rich departments with natural resources such as gas, oil. Evidently this will define the obtaining of more funds. On the other hand, the vision of the country is to give everyone the chance.

When we talk about peace and freedom - we want a better world, a just world. Bolivia wants more equality, we want to share with those who have more and who have less.

..We wanted to have a country where geography was the same, where resources was the same. But we have diversity. We have more resources in some departments, but that doesn't mean we'll be divided.

..Today it seems that we have a challenge. Bolivian men and women voted for a change - we did not vote for the person himself, we voted for a change. ...Not long ago, Bolivians did not know how to work with budgets, we have knowledge that we have to pick up.

I do not support any political party.

...Bolivia is working towards a new constitution....we believe it is time to make some changes. On the other hand, we can see that as never before the policies with the current government show us that there are resources coming in. Something that we did not know about before. That type of resources that come because of gas and oil sales....We are now getting that money - Bolivia had never seen a 5 year old child receiving support for the educational process. We believe this is very directly related to the Millenium Goals that tell us by 2015 we will eradicate poverty...It is nice to pick up these recommendations given by the United Naitons...Here in Boliva, we believe that we have found some surprises. That the country was receiving some income and that income was taken by a few individuals. We working to redistribute that money....

Women have more representation and more participation..

Bolivia is a country of many different cultures. That's why we say it is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic countries. We not only speak Quecha and Mayari (?) How can we reach all these people who speak different languages? In recent years, social movements have increased. And we believe that indigenous people's lives have improved....We have to learn from them. ...We have to learn from their innate connection to indigenous people around the world. ..

...This is the struggle between the guidelines of the economy of this country. And finally, it's the fight of different fronts to take advantages of the resouces because of the availability and that's why we want to recognize that yes, it is possible to suffer, to wait. But it is also possible for peace and freedom. We are able to make our limitations our potentialities. It is very easy to mention - it is easy to say "Bolivia will have a confrontation." We think that Bolivia has not been divided. Bolivia is struggling, but that's very good because the struggling will reaffirm. We'll see where we're making mistakes. The error is to rebuild. It is easy to criticize. It is easy to destroy....Bolivia is a unitied country. However, when the economic interests are divided, that is where there will be struggle. We are fighting the free trade treaty.

I know my time is almost over. But I'd like to thank the people who came to have a dialogue, to have a discussion. We as Bolivians do not want to receive gifts; we want to build solidarity; we want to have peace and freedom.....Thank you friends.

Posted by cj at 6:33 AM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2007

Don't Let More Girls Die Trying to Learn to Read

If you listened to the the current US administration, you'd think Afghanistan is a great place to live if you're female. You'd think the Taliban is a thing of the past and that safety and stability has been flung out over the nation. You'd be sorely mistaken.

How'd you like to be the target of random acts of violence because you dared to be female and a student? How'd you like to watch as thugs murder your sister as you are leaving school with her?

Welcome to the new Afghanistan. Where there's money for roads, but not for schools. Where to decide to learn means accepting the very real possibility that you've made yourself a target.

"Education in Afghanistan: A harrowing choice," by Barry Bearak in today's International Herald Tribune.

Shir Agha, whose neice was murdered on the steps of her school, said the following:

"We have a saying that if you go to school, you can find yourself, and if you can find yourself, you can find God," he said proudly. "But for a child to attend school, there must be security. Who supplies that security?"
Where indeed. Perhaps instead of trying to build a client state in Iraq, the US military should be transferred to Afghanistan where there is real need for some plain and simple security...

article found via UN Wire

Posted by cj at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day...

I'm trying to figure out what I do with this holiday. I had a full day of work yesterday and I'll have another full day tomorrow. I'm not completely clear what I'm celebrating today. Am I celebrating the country that condones torture in undisclosed locations and on a prison built illegally on land belonging to another country? Am I celebrating a country that refuses to acknowledge that most women in Afghanistan are no safer today than they were under Taliban rule? Am I celebrating a country that thinks its system of corporate "free-trade" capitalism should be exported to every corner of the earth, despite having the largest income inequality of any industrialized nation?

Maybe I'm celebrating the country that cares more about the nuclear power industry and the military industrial complex than it does about its citizens' health? Because you know, I've really appreciated how the lax environmental standards in this country gave me thyroid cancer and allowed me to have a vital organ removed and replaced by a daily pill.

Or am I celebrating a country that managed to convince its citizens that Iraq is somehow related to the terrorist bombings of the World Trade Center? Am I celebrating a country that tries to convince me to be wary of every Muslim and every Latino who crosses my path? Apparently, my Arab brothers and sisters "hate my freedom" and my Latino neighbors are "taking away my job."

Of course, there are those who will say I should leave if I'm so unhappy. But, you see, this is my home. And the thing I'm happiest about today is the opportunity to be near family. Then again, I'm contemplating bailing on the family get-together because I'm wary of being on the road so much today. Angelenos are notorious for drunk driving, especially around major holidays. So, uh, Viva los Estados Unidos!

Posted by cj at 8:02 AM | Comments (0)

July 1, 2007

Sunday Morning Chatter on a Sunday Afternoon

Sec "Homeland Security" Chertoff was on both This Week and MtP today. George tried to get him to give up the deets on Britain - the way he's done in previous crises - and this time he demurred. Here's the deal on his constant reiteration of "I'll let the Brits determine when they say what:" that's how the Brits deal with the press. They don't try cases in the Court of the Media, the way the Shrub administration has done since they got the White House bully pulpit. For goodness sake, they regrouped domestic security units into the biggest misnomer ever - "homeland" security. If its really security for the homeland, I guess only Native Americans deserve to be secure in this country. Let's go talk to the folks who hacked up the sacred Black Hills to create Mount Rushmore (and steal the gold) about that idea...

Right. Back to the Sunday morning blather. George gathered an all-female panel. Appears the men were too busy bbq-ing. There was still only one woman of color on the panel and they seemed to all be over 50. I've got nothing against my older, DC-conservative sisters, but for goodness sake, are there no younger, articulate females available to ramble for an hour in the morning?

The maternalistic white women tried to explain to the lone black woman on the panel that the Supreme Court decision that over-turned Brown v. the Board of Education was actually a good thing. Because, you see, the important thing is to create great public education in all communities, not integration or color-blind openings. It's Appalling. Simple Appalling that more of the country is not renouncing this horrific, racist decision. Public education has taken another blow. Our problems started when we made it dependent on real estate tax revenue which makes it inherently unfair. Next, we have completely unreasonable expectations of public schools: for a variety of reasons, public schools have never had higher than 50% high school graduation rates when all students who started in first grade are counted. We want quick fixes: so instead of dismantling bloated bureaucracies, we grant charters and privatize larger and larger chunks of our public system. We treat students like cattle and force them to "learn" to standardized tests, rather than learning in depth on multiple subjects.

In Memoriam told me Joel Siegel died. I didn't even know he was sick.

Onto MtP - Chertoff blathered and managed to say even less he did on This Week. Then Tim talked with Senator Patrick Leahy...and then he had his own round table that included one of the most annoying men in politics - Tavis Smiley. The man who named himself the Communicator for All Black People. They rehashed the recent Dem Pres candidates debate, which occurred on the campus of a historically black college.

Other things happened. But it all happened yesterday and by today, most of the banter seeped out of my head.

Posted by cj at 2:39 PM | Comments (0)