The Great Debate UK

Confusion and disorder reign at Beijing + 15

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Annette Lawson

- Annette Lawson is chair of National Alliance of Women’s Organisations in Britain. She has an OBE for services to diversity and is founder and Chair of The Judith Trust, which works for better lives for people with both learning disabilities and mental illness needs. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.–

It is 15 years since the great women’s conference – the 4th World Conference on Women – was held in Beijing.

“Beijing + 15″ is supposed to have been a great celebratory and participatory event assessing what has been achieved over these fifteen years in terms of women’s empowerment, reduced poverty, raised status and equality globally, and what has definitely not.

Governments together in the 54th Commission on the Status of Women at the UN in New York, would, we hoped, make new commitments to women in their States.  We also hoped they would agree to a new ‘gender architecture’ for the UN – i.e. a single body instead of the four now operating to provide leadership and programmes for women around the world. A group has already put together a spoof paper which headlines the Secretary-General as having announced this and the donors pouring money in.  If only!

Re-energising for change on Women’s Day

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Annette Lawson- Annette Lawson is chair of National Alliance of Women’s Organisations in Britain. She has an OBE for services to diversity and is founder and Chair of The Judith Trust, which works for better lives for people with both learning disabilities and mental illness needs. Any opinions expressed are her own. -

International Women’s Day on March 8 has a contested history. Perhaps beginning with a protest of women textile and shirt makers in New York in 1857, perhaps arising from the Socialist movement in Russia, it has been marked by women more recently all over the world both to express solidarity and sisterhood and to demand afresh every year that women’s human, political and civil rights be recognised and achieved. Some might wish to argue there is no need for such an event, nor for women’s demands. In this case, ignorance brings no bliss.

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