Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Women's values and Civic Rights

When women’s values and civic rights are to be discussed out of a philosophical perspective, then always in relation to the dialectic of securalization. The latter entails not only the question about the relationship between reason and law, state and church, but also what group specific dynamics affect the 'subconscious' and responds to what Klaus Heinrich has called 'the tension between the sexes'. This includes as well the key question dealt with by Rosemarie Seidl in her treatise about women facing the question whether or not they can uphold their femine identity even after having joined organizations with structures determined by men? Naturally that implies the female identity is specific and different enough so that this needs to be distinguished from that of men. No one can be sure about the neutralisation of gender specific identities when such forces in society force both men and women to do military service as is the case in Israel, or when in historical terms women join the men fighting in resistance against the German occupier as was the case in Greece during Second World War.

Women in the Islamic world

Naipaul, in his novel “Beyond Belief” describes many situations concerning women in Iran and Pakistan. These two countries have converted to the Islam and have gone through various phases of discrimination against women. In the end, Naipaul is relieved that at least the younger generations departs from strict religious notions and regard at least their bodies as theirs. Consequently they provoke the religious and traditional law system wherever possible.

“There were rules and more rules. But young people, those who had known nothing but the religious state, were learning their own ways of disobedience. They had their bodies; their bodies were their own. There were stories of a sexual revolution among the young; and there were other forms of disobedience.” (p.246)

One of the forms of disobedience is to show the skin or the hair supposed to be covered up completely by the chador:

“Another kind of person, another kind of disobedience. In the high, well-lighted watch-post at the entrance to the commercial centre, a young girl stood blank and unabashed before the Guard. ‘He’s got her’, Feyredoun said. Some un-Islamic behaviour; something against the rules, something perhaps about showing too much of her hair. Mehrdad said, ‘He’ll talk to her and let her go.’

When we were in the coffee shop Mehrdad showed a girl in the reflection of the glass. He said, ‘She’s drugged.’ The girl’s eyes were blurred, unfocused; her scarf had fallen verly low at the back of her head. The corner a khaki-clad Guard was talking to the proprietor. It was the big, yellow-jacketed waiter who came to the girl and told her to watch her chador. She merely touched the top of her head, and after a while the Guard, perhaps not wishing to make a scene, or to appear to have been challenged, went away. A little later, when the girl staggered out, I saw that her long chesnut hair was hanging out of her scarf at the back. It was a fashion, Mehrdad had told me some days before and also a display of disobedience.” (Naipaul 2001, Beyond Belief. London, p. 248)

Naipaul describes all of this happening in Iran ten years after the revolution under Chomeiny. The political upheaval had put other rules to those of the Shah in place.

Power, in its simplistic way, imposes such rules that disobedience can be identified immediately. For women that means abiding to the Islamic law of how to dress, move in public and demonstrate at all times complete humbleness to the man who is otherwise frightened by the emancipated women.

In Afghanistan the Taliban had driven that rule by religious power over women much further and into more extreme controls than ever before. The women were not allowed to work and to pursue any education. Women predicted then that this would leave them but one possibility of making money: prostitution, and that under the constant threat of death, if found out. Not the men, but they would be punished severely.


'Women do not want to be mainstreamed into a polluted stream. We want to
clean the stream and transform it into a fresh and flowing body.  One that
moves in a new direction-a world at peace, that respects human rights for
all, renders economic justice and provides a sound and healthy environment.'

Bella Abzug, WEDO co-founder and honorary president (1920-1998)

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio
de Janeiro, 1992, was an important event for women worldwide, underlining
their crucial role in achieving a different type of development-one that is
socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. Agenda 21, the
official document of the conference, acknowledges the need to integrate women
and gender at all governmental levels and in the related activities of all UN
agencies in a chapter entitled, Global Action for Women Towards Sustainable
and Equitable Development.
The extent of the involvement of women was one of the most important aspects
of UNCED. Women entered the UNCED process with a comprehensive and integrated vision that emerged from the First Women's World Congress for a Healthy
Planet, organized by the Women's Environment and Development Organization
(WEDO) in November 1991. At the Congress, 1,500 women from 83 countries
formulated and adopted their own platform - Women's Action Agenda 21.
Women's Action Agenda 21 covers following issues:


Women's Action Agenda 21

Level of awareness / institutional readiness

Problems in need to be solved

Governance and decision making



environmental ethics and accountability;







global economic issues
such as trade and debt; poverty, land rights and food security;



rights, reproductive health and health and environment;.



biodiversity and






science and technology;



women's consumer power;



information and education

Not only how they are educated, but how they educate their children – information flows and ways of perceiving things

Children abuse, child sex tourism, slave labour, all pre-emptive steps before entry into prostitution and other forms of exploitation based on infringing human rights.













These issues remain critical in efforts to achieve sustainable development
from a gender perspective - even though the framework and approaches may have changed.
Recognizing this, WEDO, partnering with other women's organizations and NGOs in different parts of the world, is undertaking a major review and revision of Women's Action Agenda 21 in the lead-up to Earth Summit 2002, to be held in
Johannesburg, South Africa. The updated version, Women's Action
Agenda for a Healthy Planet 2002, will be launched at the Johannesburg Summit
and will include feedback from broad consultations organized throughout the
preparatory process.
Women's Action Agenda for a Healthy Planet 2002 – as a vision and point of entry to gain experiences with UN procedures, that is how international politics is shaped and influenced by various share-holders and powerful actors.

Mile stones at international level:


There are key UN Conventions and Treaties

Intention at Johannesburg was:

“In the international meetings of the preparatory process for Earth Summit
2002, WEDO will convene the Women's Caucus, a space for women from all
regions to plan and coordinate their lobbying efforts. The Working Group will
support the efforts of women's groups in South Africa to advance a gender
agenda and showcase women's projects in the region, as part of the Summit
activities. The group will also seek gender balance among NGO participants at
the regional and global meetings and consult widely with women at these

Some observances as to this point of equality of women and the importance to protect them against religious police and holy law ritualisation e.g. the possible stoning of a woman for having a child out of marriage, although with the husband she divorced at an earlier stage.

Case in Nigeria:
Amina Lawal, the Nigerian woman who's been sentenced to death by stoning. It's due to take place after she has weaned her baby daughter. At that time there was an appeal to go to http://www.mertonai.org/amina/ and click on "sign our letter" to support Amnesty's campaign.


*  WEDO (Women's Environment and Development Organization)
355 Lexington Ave, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10017, USA. Tel: 1.212.9730325;
fax: +1.212.9730335; e-mail: june@wedo.org; website: www.wedo.org
*  REDEH (Network for Human Development)
Rua Alvaro Alvim, 21/16 andar, Rio de Janeiro, RJ 20031-010, Brazil. Tel:
+5521.2621704; fax: +5521.2626454; e-mail: thaisc@redeh.org.br
*  UNED Forum
3 Whitehall Court, London SW1A 2EL, UK. Tel: +44.2078397171; fax: +
44.2079305893; e-mail: minush@aol.com; websites: www.unedforum.org and
*  ELCI (Environment Liaison Centre International)
P.O.bos 72461, Nairobi, Kenya. Tel: +254.02.562022 / 576154; fax:
+254.02.576125; e-mail: elci@alphanet.co.ke
*  WECF (Women in Europe for a Common Future)
c/o Irene Dankelman, Univers.Nijmegen, Hatertseweg 41, 6581 KD Malden,
Netherlands. Tel: +31.24.3652091; fax + 31.24.3564834; e-mail:
*  COWAN (Country Women Association of Nigeria)
7, Awosika Crescent Ijapo Estate, P.M.B. 809, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria.
Tel/fax: +234.34.244489 (office); e-mail: cowanhoney@infoweb.abs.net
*  Network of NGOs of Trinidad & Tobago for the Advancement of Women and CWN
(Commonwealth Women's Network)
P.O.Box 410, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Tel/fax.+868.6289655;
e-mail: network@wow.net
*  Korea Women and Environment Network (KWEN);
c/o Eun-Kyung Park, e-mail: ekpj@hotmail.com
*  World Council of Churches Ecumenical Team
c/o Gail Lerner, 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA. Tel:
+1-212 867-5890; fax: +1-212 867-7462; e-mail: unlo@wccia
*  NGO Committee on the Status of Women
c/o Leslie Wright; Wold Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, 135
Earsteran Parkway, Brooklyn, New York 11238, USA, Tel +1 718 398 3561, Fax +1
718 789 4640, e-mail: wagggs@yahoo.com
*  SAGE Strategic Analysis for Gender Equity
c/o Anita Nayar, 20 Watersude Plaza #23K, New York, NY 10010, USA, Telefax:
1-212-683.4389; e-mail: nayaranita@hotmail.com
*  Heinrich Boell Stiftung
c/o Annekathrin Linck, Hackesche Höfe, Rosenthaler Straße 40/41, D-10178
Berlin, Germany

Women's Caucus Information
Website: www.earthsummit2002.org/wcaucus/csdngo.htm
Listserv: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/women-csd/


Dr. Minu Hemmati
UNED Forum
3 Whitehall Court
London SW1A 2EL
Tel +44 207 8397171
Fax +44 207 9305893
Mobile +44 7949 777 453
Email minush@aol.com
Web www.unedforum.org AND www.earthsummit2002.org

Document and further information see, for example:

Website: http://fsw.kub.nl/globus/conference ; www.terracuranda.org

Email address: ahumaneworld@kub.nl


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