ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Evolving a Women s Agenda-Report from Beijing

Evolving a Women's Agenda Report from Beijing Indu Agnihotri IN the history of world conferences on women, the Beijing meet stands out for its reassertion that women's struggles are integral to the mounting challenge to the existing world order, and that women's issues could not be segregated from larger issues related to development. It is also clear that women's struggles in various countries are not disaggregated and dissipated. Beijing and Huairou reaffirmed the vitality of the movement. At the same time the perspective of groups which advocated even issue-based initiatives made the connections with the global reality clear. While the U'N document assumed this reality to be a given, there were serious contestations of this given' order from women in the developing countries. In this way participants challenged the feasibility of the draft document directives in addressing fundamental problems given its explicit endorsement of the current process of globalisation at the behest of the World Bank-IMF. This was tantamount to a challenge to the developmental model being pushed by the G-7 nations. The official conference was also witness loan attempt at the consolidation of the G-77 grouping. This was compelled by the shift of political forces from the last world meet in 1985 in Nairobi where the emphasis was clearly apolitical, a reflection of the complacency of the NAM alignment and the confidence of the first world. With the collapse of the socialist bloc it became clear that the struggle for women's rights was up against political forces which were pushing the agenda in favour of fundamentalism and tearing out of context the very goals sought to be achieved. At Nairobi a clear attempt was made to deflect attention from a systemic perspective of issues focusing instead in a fragmented and ineffectual way on particular manifestations of women's oppression. Gender sensitisation and training was being bandied as a panacea while it became clear that the movement itself did not set the agenda. In Beijing, the initiative rested clearly with the movement. The failure of the developed countries to cope with the crises in world capitalism was brought out by pointed critiques of the gamut of liberalisation strategies and trade agreements from within the developed world itself, drawing attention to the effects of the 'dismantling' of the welfare state. This provided the backdrop to a consolidated critique from the perspective of the international women's movement. 'It showed the relevance of the international political context in the framing of any meaningful women's agenda, rather than it being based merely on biologically based sisterhood. This is not to understate the domination of the advanced west in the international political configuration which was apparent right from the preparatory stage of the conference and in the selective nature of accreditation given to NGOs. Here the influence of the donor agencies was clear. The first world dominated in terms of the presence of their governments and in the say that the first world based donor agencies had in deciding who went to Beijing. The gap between the aspirations articulated by the movement and the commitments governments were willing to make remained, nevertheless.

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