• Stephanie Vonwiller

Together we could be stronger – 189 States agree for women's rights

What is it about?

I'm badly interested in Woman's Health and Human Rights. They are based on the Consensus Declaration of 189 States of the World Conference on Women in Beijing 1995.

"The states commit themselves to promote gender equality - in politics, society, and the economy. They also undertake to protect women's rights, combat poverty, and prosecute violence against women. Gender-specific differences are to be reduced (health system, education system)" (Wikipedia).

I found out that the first World Conference on Women was held in Istanbul as early as 1935 under the leadership of Kemal Atatürk. (The Global 1930s – The international decade by Marc Matera, Susan Kingsley Kent / 2017 / ISBN 978 131 520 097 2 by Routledge).


Photo by Lona on Unsplash

What surprises me?

Two things surprised me. Firstly, the fact that there has to be such a world conference at all makes it possible to look deep into the abysses of society; secondly, it takes 50 different points to state that women all over the world must not be abused or disadvantaged. Likewise, the statements that development and peace for all will be promoted appears, seems to be a farce after 25 years ("…to promote the goals of equality, development, and peace for all" [Beijing Declaration, Annex I/3]).

What surprised me further was point 16 of the Declaration, which the WHO has also adopted, with the statement in favor of better health for women. This is, therefore, not a new WHO agenda addendum, but a commitment that has been open for decades and which countries - sometimes more, sometimes less - have failed to honor.

Point 9 leaves one speechless because the implementation of human rights for women and girls has only been established as an integral and inseparable part of human rights since 1995.

For me, the most amusing and also most thought-provoking point is No 25 - "Encourage men to participate fully in all actions for equality." This obviously does not work very well yet. Why do men - even in Western countries - react so sluggishly? Is it perhaps due to the appearance of many young feminists today? Do they not hold up a mirror to men with their behavior, and at the same time, give the impression that they want to be just like them in the future? Do the majority of women want to be like men in behavior? I hope not.

Point 28 seems questionable to me: I do not see how a nuclear ban treaty can promote equality for women. It does not even contribute to health, because by 1963, the nuclear powers also detonated a total of around 500 nuclear bombs above ground, whose radiation will continue to affect us for many hundreds of years to come. Strontium can be detected in the teeth of people born after 1965.

For Example:

  • The first reactor accident occurred in 1952 in the Chalk River in Ottawa, Canada.

  • For 30 years, the Soviet Union kept the disaster of 1957 (Mayak/Ural) secret, which contaminated the area twice as much as Chernobyl.

  • 1957 Sellafield (formerly Windscale) in Great Britain (nuclear reactor Pile No. 1).

  • Simi Valley California / USA 1959, where an accident released iodine-131 in unprecedented quantities. The accident was also kept secret for a long time.

Numerous accidents are not mentioned here due to a lack of space. The list can be continued for a long time–many accidents across the USA and the Soviet Union with the most infamous example Chernobyl. But accidents in Great Britain, France, Argentina, Czechoslovakia, Japan (Tokaimura and Fukushima), Belgium and Switzerland are also included. (Glowing Times from Stephanie Vonwiller 2020 / ISBN 979-8649478229).

Is the commitment realistic?

Point 13 calls for "Women's empowerment and their full participation based on equality in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision-making process and access to power." Point 18 and 19 said, "Peace only possible through equality between men and women". It does not matter whether women or men or both genders get power, there will always be only a few, and thus peace is not possible. Demanding power is not a solution; it is rather counterproductive and gives here the impression that women want more power than men.

From the beginning, the stronger one won, the one who has the power. Often it is men, but there are also women. Unfortunately, that does not mean that we should make progress on the issue of equality of people or, for example, reduce violence against women. Among them are women like Cleopatra, Empress Dowager Cixi from China/Qing Dynasty, Elisabeth I, Catherine of Medici, Margot Honecker, and Kim Yo-jong (sister of Kim Jong-un). Therefore, the question is not whether women should be given more power and influence. I think it's wrong. Such demands and formulations endanger the equality that could be achieved. For me, the question is rather how it can be excluded that power is abused–and that completely independently of which gender someone belongs. After all, this abuse of power is ultimately the evil that leads to inequality–among women, among children, but also among men.

Further reactions - what still moves me

Defining what we want or what we don't want is easy. What is not easy is the question of how. And this how it is not clear or is left to the individual countries, which inevitably means that over the last 25 years, too many points have given way to economic and political interests. Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, India, China, to name a few.

I am also worried by the fact that there seems to be a lack of information, or rather a lack of interest, in the Western world. Women's rights are often so self-evident that the fact is not noticed, that absolute poverty among women has increased by 50% worldwide in the last 20 years. Even the annual International Women's Day does not change this.

For me, the question arises whether it would make sense to hold another World Conference on Women? I believe that together we could achieve much more and, above all, more quickly. At the moment, however, I do not have the impression that the countless local organizations, e.g., Azad Foundation in India or Vimochana in Bangalore and international organizations, e.g., Amnesty International are well networked or work well together. In a global world as it is today, a lead organization (possibly the reorganization of CEDAW), could take into account the different prevailing opinions and bring about a consensus (e.g., Islam/Sharia or other religious, political and/or cultural characteristics in Western and Third World countries). In this way, exceptions that the states can currently claim for themselves could be further minimized or eliminated.