Archive for February 27th, 2008
The United Nations has never run out of statistics to reinforce its arguments against one of the most troubling issues the world over: gender discrimination.
The Asia Pacific region alone is losing between 42 billion and 47 billion dollars annually because of women’s limited access to employment opportunities, according to a U.N. study, and another 16 billion to 30 billion dollars annually as a result of gender gaps in education.
The world body also says that one in three women in the world is likely to be subjected to violence in her lifetime.
And according to the World Bank, a sister institution of the United Nations, women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, motor accidents, war and malaria.
The U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), on the other hand, points out that women make up about 70 percent of the world’s poor and 67 percent of the world’s illiterate.
Elizabeth Mataka, the U.N.’s special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, estimates that nearly half of all adults living with HIV worldwide are women.
And perhaps one of the most neglected gender-oriented issues revolves round the under-funding of women’s activities around the world – and also at the United Nations.
All of these issues will be debated at a two week session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Feb. 25 through Mar. 7, which is expected to draw over 5,000 participants from governments, civil society and international organisations.
The meeting is scheduled to feature more than 240 side events, both inside and outside the U.N. headquarters in New York.
“Where is the money to sustain women’s movements for justice and empowerment,” asks the NGO (non-governmental organisation) Committee on the Status of Women.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon complains that the global commitments on gender equality and empowerment of women since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, and the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) in Monterrey, Mexico, “have yet to be implemented”.
“Despite a growing body of evidence demonstrating that gender equality makes good economic sense, and the calls for gender mainstreaming in economic policies and public finance management, adequate resources have not been systematically allocated,” he says in a 21-page report to be discussed at the CSW session.
Among other things, the study calls for an increase in the share of development assistance specifically targeting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
According to a study by the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit in London, of the 69 billion dollars in official development assistance in 2003, only 2.5 billion dollars was allocated to gender equality, as a principal objective. The situation has not changed significantly since then.
In his report, the secretary-general also urges international financial institutions to take gender perspectives into account in loan approvals, debt servicing and debt relief, in compliance with commitments to gender equality.
A follow-up to the FfD conference is scheduled to take place in Qatar in late November, where funding for gender activities is expected to be on the agenda. The secretary-general has asked the CSW to ensure that the preparations for, and outcome of, the Qatar conference “fully incorporate gender perspectives.”
Meanwhile, women’s organisations have also complained that the United Nations itself has failed to provide necessary funding for gender-related activities in its own backyard.
The combined budgets of all of the U.N. women’s entities — including UNIFEM, the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues (OSAGI) and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) — totalled only about 65 million dollars in 2006 and twice that amount for 2007.
Still, it pales in significance to the annual budget for the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, which was about 2.34 billion dollars.
Charlotte Bunch, executive director of the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University, told IPS that the CSW sessions will be an important forum to discuss strengthening resources for women’s rights at the United Nations.
With the theme of “Financing for Gender Equality”, there is an opportunity for the CSW to address the serious under-resourcing of women’s rights and gender equality at the United Nations which women’s groups have been raising ever since the Beijing World Conference in 1995.
At that time, and at both the five and 10-year reviews of that conference, women’s groups emphasised that the only way the Beijing Platform for Action can come close to being realised is to increase dramatically the funding for women’s rights at the national and global levels.
“We hope that this CSW will address this seriously and recommend actions that can be taken by the General Assembly to redress this lack,” Bunch said.
The issue of creating a consolidated and strengthened U.N. entity for women can be seen as one of the important steps that the United Nations could take to address this problem because it provides a way for the work on gender equality to be more effectively organised as well as better funded, she added.
A proposal for a new U.N. women’s agency — to be headed by an under-secretary-general, the third highest ranking position in the world body — has remained in limbo, despite support from the secretary-general.
The proposal can be a reality only when it is eventually approved by the 192-member General Assembly. But member states have been dragging their feet — either for political or financial reasons.
Bunch said the issue is still very much alive with NGOs and with many governments, “and we hope that the CSW will give added momentum to last year’s call by (a high-level) panel of world leaders for initiating this key U.N. reform that has been endorsed by both the previous secretary-general and the current secretariat.”
Certainly, she added, the CSW should include support for strengthening the U.N.’s institutional arrangements for gender equality in its agreed conclusions.
“There are many scenarios for how this can be done but the CSW, as the U.N. political body mandated to address this issue, should lead the way in moving this agenda forward,” Bunch declared.
The United Nations launched on Monday a campaign to combat violence against women and girls, calling it a global scourge affecting a third of the world’s female population.
“At least one out of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a meeting of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. “Through the practice of prenatal sex selection, countless others are denied the right even to exist,” he said.
In India, female infanticide and the deliberate abortion of female fetuses are illegal but still prevalent as boys are traditionally preferred to girls as breadwinners, and families have to pay huge dowries for their daughters’ marriage.
Ban said the weapons of war in the 21st century included rape and other forms of sexual violence and the kidnapping of children who are forced to be soldiers or abused as sex slaves.
Ban urged women’s groups, men across the globe, the private sector and U.N. member states to help the new initiative succeed. But he added that every country will have to adopt its own measures to address violence against women.
The campaign will run until 2015, which is also the deadline for the U.N. Millennium Development Goals aimed at halving poverty.
A new £10m campaign to crack down on domestic violence is to be launched by the Scottish government. It is hoped the money will help reduce the misery caused by attacks and assaults in the home which is estimated to cost the country’s economy around £1.5bn a year.
Latest figures estimate that there were 47,000 such incidents in Scotland last year, however, experts believe that figure to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Heather Coady of Women’s Aid Scotland said that, in her experience, most victims endure up to 35 attacks before even bothering to formally report them. “We know that many, many women do not come forward at all,” she said. “Alcohol, drug and sexual abuse as well as health and poverty issues can all be traced back to domestic violence.”
Another problem is the number of children who witness, almost daily, attacks in the home. The trauma of what they see can remain with them for years. Coady said the number of youngsters caught up in this situation in Scotland could be as high as 100,000.
“It does not matter where you live or how much you earn, domestic abuse cuts across ever social divide,” said Coady. “And sometimes, for women whose husbands are outwardly respectable and pillars of society, it can be harder for them to be believed or find an outlet to make a complaint.”
Last night, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “In spring we will launch the National Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan, which will outline our plans to improve the lives of children and young people affected by domestic abuse. Ministers have allocated £10m over the coming three years to support its implementation.”
The project will see more counsellors being trained to liaise with families affected by domestic abuse and the setting up of special referral centres where victims can go if they have been attacked.
* Stereotypical media representations of rape are damaging conviction rates when cases come to court, according to a Home Office funded study.
* The study recommends fundamental changes in the way rapes are reported in newspapers and broadcasts.
The report, entitled Just Representations? Press Reporting and the Reality of Rape, concluded that highly selective and sensational reporting of rape cases has distorted public perceptions to such an extent that juries can no longer recognise the more typical rape when they are presented with it in during a trial.
Commissioned by the Lilith project, an organisation which carries out research into violence against women, the report highlights the enormous impact of prevailing press “myths” about rape.
The study identifies a press “construct” about rape – namely that it is an outdoor crime, suffered by an unimpeachable woman at the hands of a monstrous deviant – a scenario that actually contradicts all research and crime statistics, distorting public perceptions and feeding into the criminal justice system.
The widespread belief among the public is that women are most at risk of being raped when walking alone in dark or remote areas. Although instantly recognisable, the scenario bears little resemblance to the reality of most rapes.
More than 80 per cent of rapes in the UK are perpetrated by men known to their victim, and only 13 per cent happen in public places. The widespread misconception is largely generated by the media, according to the report.
Vera Baird, the solicitor general, said: “Jurors sit down expecting to hear what they have read about in the papers, and what they get is real-life rape. After reading all the sensational stories, this does not tally, and they think ‘normal’ rape is not the same offence.”
Statistics revealed in the report – which surveyed a random selection of articles about rape and sexual assault over a 12-month period – show that vastly disproportionate press coverage was given to false rape allegations made by women, attacks by foreigners, and attacks on young girls.
Currently only 5.7 per cent of rapes reported in the UK lead to a criminal conviction, a figure which has fallen from 33 per cent in 1977. The report coincides with the launch of a campaign by women’s rights group the Fawcett Society to secure greater justice for rape victims.
Jon Collins, a senior policy officer for the Fawcett Society, said: “A more accurate media portrayal of the realities of rape will lead to a better informed public, which in turn will lead to juries and a criminal justice system that can better deliver justice for victims of rape.”
The report criticises the way in which rape is usually written about on a case-by-case basis, rather than discussed as a wider social issue, in contrast to gun and knife crime, which are typically linked to poverty or gang culture. An important recommendation of the study is the development of guidelines on the reporting of sexual violence, to be enforced by both individual newspapers and the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).
A spokesperson from the PCC said: “This new report has identified that the press heavily reports unusual incidents of sexual violence. However, this is what the media do – they report on things that are unusual.”
1. Is prostitution a business like any other, which should be legalised?
There are a number of reasons why prostitution is not just a business like any other. Women who sell sex report high levels of physical and sexual violence, including verbal abuse, threats and intimidation – one UK study of found that 63% of women in street and indoor prostitution had experienced violence (Barnard et al 2002). Selling access to the body also has a negative psychological and emotional impact for women. A study in five different countries found that two thirds of women in prostitution met the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Farley et al, 1998).
The majority of those in prostitution are women, and the majority of buyers are men. Prostitution arises from and perpetuates gender inequality. The majority of women who sell sex were socially marginalised even before entering prostitution. Legalisation only serves to entrench and give government sanction to this commodification and the discrimination inherent in it. Those who profit from the legalisation are the pimps and brothel owners who become third party organisers. Legalised regimes of prostitution also cultivate the illegal dimensions such as trafficking and exploitation of children and young people.
2. Would legalising and regulating prostitution make it safer for women in prostitution?
Prostitution itself is not illegal in the UK. Activities associated with prostitution are, such as soliciting or loitering on the street and brothel management (where more than one woman sells sex) illegal, as well as a range of offences in respect of exploiting children and trafficking.
The latest research on legal brothels in Nevada shows that legalisation does not protect prostituted women from the violence, abuse and psychological and physical injury that occur in illegal prostitution (Farley, 2007). In many senses the opposite might be true. A pan-European study also found that levels of violence were high in both indoor and outdoor settings and where brothels are regulated (Transcrime, 2005). In the Netherlands, where prostitution has been legal since 2000, the government is rethinking its approach as it is seeing more and more signals that abuse of women is continuing. A research study in Germany, where prostitution was legalised in 2002, found that the reform has not delivered the hoped for benefits to women in prostitution. There is an important question about whether legalising prostitution and making it a job like any other would further reduce the already limited services for women in prostitution, including programmes for helping them exit.
3. What about women who choose to sell sex?
Research consistently finds that women involved in prostitution have backgrounds of abuse, neglect and disadvantage. Sexual and physical abuse in childhood and adolescence, family breakdown, running away, homelessness and poverty are all known factors that precede entry into prostitution. These vulnerabilities make it very difficult for women to exit destructive cycles as they may not have had the opportunity to develop life skills to manage the pressures. Accessing welfare support – housing particularly – is also very difficult for women who are socially excluded, may have criminal records and experiences of prison, and erratic lifestyles.
That it is the most vulnerable women who see prostitution as a ‘choice’ as a viable means of making money tells us that we should be thinking about how we define ‘choice’. There is no real choice unless there is a range of acceptable life options. Where there is poverty, abuse, lack of opportunity and gender discrimination, women’s real choices or options to earn a living are very limited. To take analogous example: as a society, we have decided that we won’t allow the general sale and purchase of body parts, such as kidneys. This is in no small part because we know full well that it would largely be the poor and disadvantaged who would exercise their ‘choice’ to sell body parts for cash and those more fortunate who would be able to ‘choose’ to live a healthier and longer life.
There is a group of women who say they have freely chosen to work in the sex industry. It is not clear how many of these women have sex with many customers each day as opposed to being an escort and/or doing telephone sex. There are also a small number of women who do make large amounts of money in a short space of time. These women are the tiny minority – most prostitution here and globally is prosaic and decidedly unglamorous. A recent economic analysis showed that over the lifecourse, prostitution is a route into poverty for many women (DeRiviere, 2006). Even women in legalised brothels report having to pay extortionate sums for rent, food etc and to pay pimps inside and outside the brothels. They are not always free to come and go. Whether they drink or take drugs before they enter prostitution, many end up using both drugs and/or alcohol afterwards as a way of numbing their experiences of having sex with many men every day.
4. Would legalising prostitution help sexually exploited children and young women?
As sexually exploited children and young people are found wherever there is a sex market, approaches that would expand the sex industry, such as legalisation, will increase the number of underage young women who are forced or drawn into selling sex.
Research suggests that approximately 50% of women in prostitution began selling sex under the age of 18 years old. There are a range of precipitating factors including family disruption and/or breakdown, experiences of abuse, poor educational achievement, disenfranchisement from school, running away and homelessness and substance misuse (Melrose et al 1999, O’Neill 2001, Pearce et al 2003). There are also known links between experiences of local authority care and routes into prostitution (Coy, 2007). These experiences render young women vulnerable to ‘grooming’ by older men and being forced (pimped) into selling sex. Sometimes it also appears as if young women and girls are ‘choosing’ to enter prostitution. The children’s charity Barnardos refers to this as ‘constrained choice’ (Harper & Scott, 2005), recognising that sexually exploited young women have histories of social and personal disadvantage that shape their decision-making processes.
In England and Wales, young people under 18 are recognised in government policy to be victims of abuse through sexual exploitation and should be offered statutory multi-agency support. However, there is a clause within this policy that means young people who ‘persistently and voluntarily return’ to selling sex can be prosecuted and criminalised. This fails to recognise the ways in which young women find a sense of belonging in street prostitution communities, have emotional/financial pressures, a lack of other options, and therefore find it very difficult to withdraw from selling sex (Melrose et al, 1999, Pearce et al, 2003, O’Neill, 2001, Coy, 2007). Young women involved in prostitution need intensive support services and effective diversions. Legalising prostitution would suggest to young women, particularly those already vulnerable and marginalised, that selling sex is a normalised career option.
5. What are the wider social effects of legalising prostitution?
The sex industry is sometimes cited as a public service that reduces levels of rape and sexual violence. However, there is no evidence that prostitution reduces rape. In fact, the opposite can be said to be true if you consider all the rapes of women involved in prostitution. Evidence from Nevada, where prostitution is legal in some counties, indicates that legal prostitution fosters a general ‘prostitution culture’ that affects all women and children in the community (Farley, 2007). This results in increased sexual harassment. Nevada’s rape rate is twice that of New York and 25% higher than the US average (Farley, 2007).
Men also say that they are more likely to buy sex when it is legal and more socially acceptable (Coy, Horvath and Kelly, 2007). There are many destinations within Europe that men visit for ‘prostitution tourism’, such as Germany and the Netherlands but also the Czech Republic and others (Coy, Horvath & Kelly, 2007).
6. Would legalising prostitution reduce the stigma attached to women who sell sex?
Legalising prostitution only reduces the stigma attached to the sex industry, not women who sell sex. This is partly because the stigmatisation of women who sell sex is rooted in how society thinks about women’s sexual behaviour. Think of the language that is used to be negative about women in prostitution – how many times do you hear the same words about women who have lots of sexual partners? We have no similar words for the men who use women in prostitution. Even “pimping” has been re-worked in popular culture to mean something cool and desirable.
That women in the Netherlands and Germany choose not to register tells us everything we need to know. Legalisation does not erase the stigma of prostitution and could even make women more vulnerable because they must lose anonymity (Bindel & Kelly, 2003). Legalisation improves the position and status of those who buy sex.
7. What support is available for women to leave prostitution?
Although support provision has increased in recognition of the specific needs of women in prostitution and their alienation from mainstream services, less than one in ten local authority areas have specialised support services for women in prostitution (Coy, Kelly & Foord, 2007). Women in prostitution are often homeless or in unstable housing, have drug/alcohol problems, few personal support networks, and histories of abuse. Criminal records (for street prostitution related offences) and unresolved welfare benefit claims make it difficult for women to find jobs and alternative sources of income.
These complex needs require holistic models of service provision (Hester & Westmarland, 2004). This includes outreach to women on the street and indoor premises; sexual health and safety advice and information; advocacy and liaison with mainstream services, housing advice, drug treatment, arrest referral, diversion schemes and provision of safe space. Very few services are funded for ‘exiting’ work, which focuses on enabling women to leave prostitution. There are only two statutory-funded specialised residential support projects for trafficked women in the UK (the POPPY Project in London and the Tara Project in Glasgow).
8. Who are the men that buy sex?
A number of international and UK studies show that men who buy sex are just as likely to be in relationships and/or married as men who do not buy sex. Recent research on men who buy sex in London found that 36% were in a relationship and a further 16% were married (Coy, Horvath & Kelly, 2007). Similarly, of the profile of men arrested for kerb crawling, in one study almost half were married (Hester & Westmarland, 2004) and in another 73% had a regular sexual partner (Elliot et al, 2002). Some US research has found that men who buy sex are less likely to be married, but the differences are very small (Monto & McRee, 2005). In the London study, 40% of sex buyers were in their twenties. What is rarely discussed is the fact that the majority of men have not paid for sex.
9. Why do men do it and what do they say about it?
Men provide a range of reasons for paying for sex, all of which link in some way to beliefs about ‘male sex drives’ and a sense of entitlement (O’Neill, 2001, Mansson, 2004, McKeganey & Barnard, 1996): that men not only ‘need’ sex but also have a ‘right’ to it. The idea that men ‘need’ sexual release is frequently invoked when suggesting that prostitution prevents ‘innocent’ women from being sexually assaulted.
They also express a range of views about the women they pay: from clichéd ‘tarts with hearts’ ideas to viewing them as less intelligent, inferior and ‘dirty’ compared to other women (Elliott et al, 2002). Many men are instrumental, using the language of consumption moving here from notions of ‘value for money’ to seeing and treating women as just another commodity on the market (Coy, Horvath & Kelly, 2007). The focus is predominantly on the bad character and baseness of the prostituted woman rather than any self-reflection on the harm buyers of sex are inflicting. However, a minority also report feelings of shame, guilt and ambivalence, albeit that some of this group continue to pay for sex.
10. What would the criminalisation of the buyers of sex achieve?
Making the purchase of sex a criminal offence means defining the demand side of prostitution as the problem, rather than women who sell sex. Currently, kerbcrawling – picking up women in the street – is the only illegal activity associated with buying sex. Criminalising paying for sex altogether enshrines in law the principle that is the act of buying women’s bodies and male entitlement to do so that is the problem, not the setting.
Sweden made buying sex illegal in 1999, as part of a wider campaign to end violence against women and achieve gender equality. The Swedish government says that ‘prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem.’
There is debate over not only the impact of the Swedish reforms, but also how its success should be measured. Despite many claims there has been no official evaluation of it, other than to canvass public opinion and 80 per cent of Swedes support it. Sweden does not evaluate ‘success’ of legal reforms in the quantitative measures we expect in the UK – how many men have been prosecuted etc. Rather they use law in a normative way, and will assess the impact in terms of generational changes with respect to the acceptability of paying for sex. This is the same process as when in the early 1970s they outlawed smacking children: success was not how many parents were prosecuted, but that they changed understandings of the relationships between adults and children at first at home, and then more widely.
11. Is there any good practice in the UK that we can learn from?
In Scotland, prostitution is recognised as ‘a form of abuse of women’ and is included in strategic approaches to addressing violence against women. The Scottish Executive has introduced measures aimed at reducing demand through new legislation that criminalises buying sex on the streets (Prostitution (Public Places) Act 2007). A significant percentage of UK support services for women in prostitution are in Scotland (Coy, Kelly & Foord, 2007).
12. What is the link between prostitution and trafficking?
Trafficking of women into the sex industry is a direct consequence of demand for women and girls in prostitution. In countries where prostitution (or most aspects of it) is legal, sex industries are larger and create a demand for more women to sell sex, attracting traffickers and others who exploit women for financial gain. The legal sex industry acts as a magnet for traffickers, thus increasing the number of women who are being exploited. It also results in the growth of a parallel illegal sex industry. Recently, the Dutch government responded to estimates that as many as 3,500 women are trafficked to the Netherlands each year by announcing the closure of almost two-thirds of brothels in Amsterdam.
Barnard, M. A., Hurt, G., Benson, C. & Church, S. (2002) Client violence against prostitutes working from street and off-street locations: A three-city comparison, Swindon: ESRC Violence Research Programme.
Bindel, J. & Kelly, L. (2003) A Critical Examination of Responses to Prostitution in Four Countries: Victoria-Australia, Ireland, The Netherlands, Sweden. Child and Women Abuse Studies Unit, London Metropolitan University.
Coy, M. (2007) Young women, local authority care and selling sex British Journal of Social Work.
Coy, M, Kelly, L & Foord, J (2007) Map of Gaps: The Postcode Lottery of Violence Against Women Support Services London: End Violence Against Women Coalition
Coy, M, Horvath, M & Kelly, L (2007) It’s just like going to the supermarket: Men talk about buying sex in East London London: Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit
DeRiviere, Linda (2006) ‘A human capital methodology for estimating the lifelong personal costs of young women leaving the sex trade’, Feminist Economics, 12:3, 367 – 402
Elliott, K., Eland, H. & McGaw, J. (2002) Kerb crawling in Middlesbrough: an analysis of kerb crawler’s opinions. Safer Middlesbrough Partnership Unpublished.
Farley M. (2007). Prostitution and trafficking in Nevada: making the connections. San Francisco: Prostitution Research and Education.
Harper, Z. & Scott, S. (2005) Meeting the Needs of Sexually Exploited Young People in London, Essex: Barnardos
Hester, M. & Westmarland, N. (2004) Tackling Street Prostitution: Towards an Holistic Approach. Home Office Research Study 279. London, Home Office.
Mansson, S. (2004) Men’s practices in prostitution and their implications for social work. In S. Månsson & C. Proveyer (eds) Social Work in Cuba and Sweden: Achievements and Prospects. Göteborg/Havanna: Department of Social Work/Department of Sociology.
Melrose, M et al (1999) One-way street: retrospectives on childhood prostitution London: The Children’s Society
McKeganey, N., & Barnard, M. (1996) Sex work on the streets Buckingham, UK: Open University Press
Monto, M. & Mcree, M. (2005) A comparison of the male customers of female street prostitutes with national samples. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 49, 505 529.
O’Neill, M et al (1995) ‘Juvenile Prostitution: the experience of young women in residential care’ in Childright Dec 1995 no 113
Pearce, J, Galvin, C and Williams, M (2003) It’s someone taking part of you: a study of young women and sexual exploitation London: National Children’s Bureau
Transcrime, (2005) Study on National Legislation on Prostitution and the Trafficking of Women and Children, Brussels: European Parliament.
Resources and research about young people and sexual exploitation can be found at http://www.nationalworkinggroup.co.uk
The EFF which was planned for 13-15 June 2008 in Warsaw, will not take place.
The European networks that have been cooperating since 2006 on the platform for debate and sharing entitled European Feminist Forum have decided, due to financial reasons, that the culmination of the process with the conference will not take place. This is the face-to-face meeting of European feminists, which we had scheduled to take place from 13-15 June 2008. Instead, the process will be concluded with a comprehensive publication.
The other parts of the European Feminist Forum process have taken place and we are very proud of the achievements. The process has set up a vivid field of knowledge creation, knowledge sharing, movement building and agenda setting in Europe. 21 Affinity Groups have debated urgent issues, and shared their information and knowledge through the European Feminist Forum website. Our process of visioning a feminist Europe was driven by many feminist-inspired voices, from young, migrant, male, minority and marginalized voices. The European Feminist Forum was constructed and has been an inclusive and joint platform of all of these groups from the start.
As organizers, we wish to acknowledge and thank the hundreds of feminists that have contributed to this initiative, often on a voluntary basis, and the thousands of interested feminists who wanted to be part of a renewed debate on feminism in Europe.
We acknowledge the members of the Steering Committee and the network organizations they represent, The Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning, Babaylan- Philippine Women’s Network in Europe, IFOR’s (The International Fellowship of Reconciliation) Women Peacemaker’s Program (WPP),KARAT Coalition, The Network of East-West Women (NEWW)-Polska (http://www.neww.org.pl), the Joint Roma Women’s Initiatives (JRWI), Network Women in Development Europe (WIDE), for their continuing commitment to the success of this process.
We acknowledge the interns and staff at the European Feminist Forum Secretariat for their vision, enthusiasm and willingness to make a difference.
We acknowledge the staff and Board of the International Information Centre and Archives for the Women’s Movement, who are willing to take risks and who understand that to be an information sharing organization requires participating in communities of practice and who hosted the European Feminist Forum Secretariat.
We also acknowledge our many funders, Cordaid, Global Fund for Women, Hivos, ICCO (http://www.icco.nl), Mama Cash (http://www.mamacash.nl), Open Society Institute , Oxfam Novib , Unifem. They too are visionaries and committed to a feminist future in Europe.
Lack of funds is a political issue
Karat Coalition, the host organization in Poland, and the IIAV where the European Feminist Forum secretariat is housed, invested extensive personal and institutional resources in the fundraising efforts, which included visiting potential funders in Scandinavia, Poland and Brussels. Apart from those named above, funder after funder made clear this activity could not be funded from their limited budgets. It was not fundable by local or State governments (because it went over State boundaries), it was not a priority for many development aid budgets and it did not fit in to European Union tenders and Calls. The lack of funds for this type of new initiative is an indication of the current difficult context in Europe for the feminist movement, as observed in “Where is the Money for Women’s Rights?” (AWID report 2007). The European Feminist Forum program committee correctly identified this as a pressing issue for debate, especially in Europe.
Reflecting on the results so far of the European Feminist Forum, the programming committee has identified three topics to for further debate, as published on
The initiating networks believe it is important to bring the activity to a close with a document that will be used to further efforts in Europe to provide women with full access to all their social, economic and political rights.
A publication will bring together the threads of the discussions among the Affinity Groups and report on the process of the European Feminist Forum, it will present the state of art feminist knowledge on the most pressing feminist issues, made up of many different voices it will map the state of the movement in Europe, and conclude on what the consequences are for Europe. The anticipated publication date is December 2008.
Future of the European feminist forum
We are proud to have been involved in the very first attempt to build a renewed vision on pressing pan-European issues, from a feminist perspective, and moving beyond the European Union’s new divisive boundaries. Europe is composed of more countries than those inside the European Union.
We hope that our collectively developed ideas and work will survive in another form. We still strongly believe in the need for a European Feminist Forum face-to-face meeting, and we hope that new initiatives will spring up elsewhere along the same lines. We offer everything we have learned in the process, our skills and contacts, plus the body of content work that we now have, to everyone who wishes to work on a European Feminist Forum in the future.
We hope that our publication will substantially contribute to a future European feminist forum initiative.
The website will remain online for at least two years. You are welcome to send your comments to the EFF discussion link http://europeanfeministforum.org/spip.php?rubrique1 or send them to the Secretariat (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The organizing networks of the European Feminist Forum:
The Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning
Babaylan- Philippine Women’s Network in Europe
IFOR’s (The International Fellowship of Reconciliation)
Women Peacemaker’s Program (WPP)
The Network of East-West Women (NEWW)
The Joint Roma Women’s Initiatives (JRWI)
Network Women in Development Europe (WIDE)
International Information Centre and Archives for the Women’s Movement (IIAV)
Feminist Summit: The future of feminism in Europe
An international summit discussing the status of contemporary feminism, the role of arts and media and the participation of women in business and politics.
The summit will consist of a central opening discussion, two simultaneous roundtable discussion workshops and a concluding speech.
As part of the annual London Festival of Europe(see below), the Feminist Summit aspires to bring together a group of people across borders, genders and generations who have a shared interest in feminist issues today.
We hope to contribute to a revival of the feminist debate in Europe and to challenge participants to revaluate how feminism might contribute to the European Project.
* Intergenerational experience and perspectives on feminism in Europe today, and how feminism might be a useful framework to critique and contribute to the evolution of Europe.
* Sexualisation in the Arts and Media, and the role of the media in inspiring, reinforcing or modifying role models and stereotypes.
* Feminist engagement in the world of business and politics, how feminists are changing institutions of business and politics from the inside, and what some of the current forms of formal feminist political engagement are in Europe today.
Confirmed speakers to date include:
* Claire Fox, Institute of Ideas, London
* Dominique de la Garanderie, Founder of l’Association Française des Femmes Juristes
* Rosalind Gill, Open University, London
* Helen Mees, Women on Top, the Netherlands / New York
* Members of the Feminist Activist Forum, UK
* Loredana Rotondo, Filmmaker and Member of Altravista, Milan
* Teresa Rees, Cardiff School of Social Science, Cardiff
* Nima Sanandaji, President Captus think tank, Sweden
* Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Campaigner
* Lynn Turner, Goldsmiths College, London
* Patrizia Bisi, novelist, Rome
* Hampstead Town Hall, 213 Haverstock Hill (Belsize Park tube)London NW3 4QP
* Saturday 15 March 2:30 – 6:30 pm
* Registration from 2pm, Reception to follow
* Ségolène Pruvot, Shandi Miller, Anne Marthe Koeman, Federica Ambrosini
Download the Summit programme http://www.euroalter.com/project_pages/project2european.html
Contact us and confirm your attendance email@example.com
(The London Festival of Europe 2008 6th – 16th March 2008 http://www.festivalofeurope.eu)
Research into working conditions, everyday experience, strategies and policy development in women’s organisations
I would like to invite your organisation and the people working for it to participate in my research project on working conditions and everyday experience in care and community work for women in London. The following will give you a short overview of what this means for you and the information you decide to give me. Before you decide it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take time to read the following information carefully. Do not hesitate to talk about the study with other people.
* Who am I?
My name is Amanda Ehrenstein and I am a PhD student at Cardiff University. I am supervised by two Senior Researchers in the School of Social Sciences. The research has the approval of the School Research Ethics Committee and is funded by the School of Social Science at Cardiff University.
* Why am I doing this research?
Although there have been some studies on the reorganisation of funding for care and community services and the impact of recent government initiatives on smaller and highly specialised voluntary and community organisations in the UK, the effects of theses changes on working conditions in care and community work for and by women have not been examined in close detail.
* Who can take part?
I am approaching people in women’s voluntary and community organisations in London. As part of the overall research project I will also approach people working for local authorities and relevant government agencies as well as representatives of trade unions and social movement activists campaigning for better care and community services in the UK.
* What would be involved?
If you choose to participate I would like to discuss your views on the process of changes occurring in the Women’s Voluntary and Community Sector (WVCS) in London. This would last about one hour. I would like to talk to you about the following topics:
- How do you think your organisation is affected by the current reorganisation of funding for care and community work in the UK?
- What strategies have been applied and which proved to be useful to deal with these changes in the WVCS/in your organisation?
- What are the everyday experiences at work? How does your organisation deal with difficult living and working conditions related to care and community work?
- Have there been changes you would like to comment on regarding the content, direction, terms and conditions of work in the WVCS?
The interview will be digitally recorded. If you are interested I will come back to you for further interviews to clarify aspects of our conversation or to continue it on other aspects.
* What will be done with the information?
I will transcribe (parts of) the interview and if you are interested I will give you a copy of the transcript. The transcript will only be read and used by me for my research project and not be used for any other purpose. The information from these discussions will be the basis of my PhD thesis which will be assessed in order for me to gain the PhD degree. The transcripts might also be used to write and publish articles in academic journals or to give presentations on conferences and in academic seminars. You are welcome to see the final thesis and/or a copy of the articles/papers before they are published.
* Will everything said be kept private and will your taking part be confidential?
You can say as little or as much as you wish. The transcript and recordings will be kept in a secure place. In the transcript the names of yourself, the organisation(s) you work for and the names of the people you mention will be changed or omitted so you will not be identifiable.
* What if you change your mind about taking part?
If you decide to take part then this is your voluntary decision, therefore you are also free to withdraw from the study at any point you wish, without giving a reason.
If you would be interested in taking part or have any questions concerning the research, feel free to contact me at 020 7737 6189, 079 4694 2128 or email: EhrensteinA@cardiff.ac.uk. I would be happy to answer any questions and look forward to meeting you.
Position: Finance and Administrative Officer
Part-time: 3 full working days per week
Location: London (Archway)
The London-based International Coordination Office (ICO) of Women Living Under Muslim Laws – International Solidarity Network (WLUML) is currently inviting applications for the position of a part-time Finance and Administrative Officer. WLUML is a not-for-profit organisation.
The role involves general office administration, financial management of a small office and project financial management (budgeting and donor reporting.) The ideal candidate should have excellent organisation, IT and financial management skills. A high level of competency in MS Excel is essential while working knowledge of Sage is desirable. The minimum qualification required for the role is NVQ Level 4 and 2 years experience of book-keeping. Familiarity with NGO budgeting would be an advantage.
* This position is only open to candidates who already have the legal right to live and work in the United Kingdom.
* The closing date for receipt of applications is 29th February, 2007 although the competition will remain open until the vacancy is filled.
* All completed applications marked ‘WLUML FAO’ should be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to WLUML P.O. Box 28445, London N19 5NZ, United Kingdom.
* Committed to being environmentally friendly, we prefer to receive applications by email unless candidates do not have access to the Internet.
* Please note that only short-listed candidates will be contacted.