Searching for socio-ecological and socio-economic transformation: a feminist perspective on the 4th De-Growth Conference in Germany
In this article Christa Wichterich reflects on the discourses and strategies discussed during the 4th De-Growth Conference. De conference brought 3000 people together in Leipzig, in September 2014, through 450 workshops, cultural events and plenaries.
In terms of discourse the current “de-growth” discourse can be seen as a third wave of growth critique. It stands for a concept and grassroots social movements in Europe responding to the interlocking crises. The movement is diverse and the concept offers a broad range of critique of capitalist growth strategies. This was clearly shown at the conference in Leipzig. Also the concept of de-growth itself was at times critiqued, especially as model for the global South.
A key message at the conference was that “many small people who in many small places do many small things can alter the face of the world”. It echoes the feminist saying that the private is political in a reverse way: the political is private. Related to this focus, (traditional) political power plays, violence and wars were not discussed.
The answer of the conference on how to bring about change in societies remained located at the grassroots level in the diverse initiatives such as city farming, public kitchen, alternative care-arrangements, etc. The many small initiatives and alternative projects are a kind of practical critique of the corporate-driven neo-liberal globalization.
It was difficult to asses whether the conference helps to overcome the fragmentation of critical social movements. Nevertheless it provided a huge potential to learn, reflect and be inspired.
While in scholarly discourse on de-growth feminist positions are marginalized, the feminist approaches in particular the care approach were prominently represented at the conference. In the feminist approaches the ultimate goal is good living and secured livelihoods. It was an important addition that the perspective of care and with it alternative forms of caring were discussed and connected.
WIDE+ member TIYE International released statement at NGO Forum and UNECE Meeting “BEIJING + 20”, November 2014
From 3 to 7 November the UN regional meeting for Europe and Central Asia was held in preparation to the next Commission of the Status of Women will focus on 2015:20 years after the Beijing Platform for Action. The official meeting and NGO forum reviewed the position of women’s rights in the region.
Tiye International, the Umbrella NGO of National Associations of Black, Immigrant and Refugee Woman and Youth in the Netherlands, and WIDE+ member presented a statement on Violence against women and girls.
Their statement focuses particularly on the fragile position of undocumented women in the Netherlands.
In this respect Tiye’s concern is that experiences have shown that these women have become easy victims of several kinds of violence: domestic violence, trafficking, and violence within the sex industry. And because of their state they will not seek for help at judicial instances as the police. This because of the risk for being punished or sent back. Also access to health care is limited because of the same reason.
The statement also highlighted the need for the Dutch government to improve its policies targeted to women living with HIV/aids. The government reports that 871 people were diagnosed as HIV- positive in 2006, of which 166 infections were diagnosed in women. Most of these Dutch women are of non-Dutch origin, as the government already indicated, whereas most HIV infected men originate from the Netherlands.
Spanish NGOs, including WIDE+ members CEIM and WIDE+E, are critical towards Spanish Action Plan UN 1325
In 2007 the Spanish Government approved an Action Plan to Implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security in which it seeks to promote the construction of peace and an integration of a gender perspective in armed conflicts, while undertaking to provide annual followup reports in that regard.
A group of Spanish NGOs that incudes WIDE+ members CEIM and WIDE+E have reviewed the third and fourth follow up report and conclude there are many gaps for the Spanish government to work on.
‐ To prepare annual follow‐up reports, as Provided for in the Action Plan.
‐ To establish an adequate institutional framework in each Ministry, defining their tasks and responsibilities, as well as a calendar for action and a budget for implementing the initiatives to be carried out within the scope of Resolution 1325.
‐ To make the Inter‐ministerial Group operational, which requires defining its mandate, identifying persons of reference and setting up a calendar of meetings.
‐ To establish a transparent system for gathering information and monitoring, and to develop standardized assessment criteria that would facilitate clear information concerning achievements made toward each of the Plan’s objectives. To do so, internationally‐established progress indicators can be used as a reference.
‐ To promote the participation of civil society, especially relevant women’s organizations, NGODs and Centers for Peace, within the inter–‐ministerial group. Adequate financial support is also needed to implement their activities as well as support for training for participating in significant incidents.
‐ To identify good practices in the area of women, peace and security, to be inspired, supported and promoted from the various ministries.
‐ In conclusion, implementing the Action Plan requires the political will to do so and providing the necessary human and financial resources.
Recently the Polish NGOs report was sent to the CEDAW Committee. One can find it on the Committee website for 59th CEDAW session (October 2014). Karat coordinated the work of 13 Polish organizations involved in writing chapters of the report.
Since 2007 a neoliberal conservative party has been in power, now governing for the second term. Yet, gender equality has not constituted a priority for its two governments. The recent legal and institutional changes related to the gender discrimination resulted rather from the obligations linked to the membership in the European Union than from a political conviction or will of politicians. Consequently, the present government has not reacted to a strong intimidating “anti-gender” campaign, which was began by the Polish Roman Catholic Church and ultra conservative circles in November 2013.
Key Recommendatrons for the Government of Poland:
1. Introduce anti-discrimination legislation which includes the definition of discrimination (including intersectional discrimination), as specified in Art. 1 CEDAW, and which protects women from discrimination in all spheres of life;
2. Establish a permanent governmental body responsible for gender equality and women’s empowerment, located at the highest governmental level with a significant separate budget; as long as there is no such body, ensure a separate budget for the Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment and financial means for implementing gender equality within the National Program for Equal Treatment.
3. Create, in cooperation with women’s organizations, a long-term National Action Plan for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment;
4. Develop a strategy and action plan for applying gender mainstreaming at central and local governmental level;
5. Collect gender disaggregated data taking into account intersectional approach in case of groups particularly vulnerable to discrimination (such as migrants, LBT, rural women), concerning the respective forms of discrimination (e.g. direct and indirect discrimination, sexual harassment, forms of violence) and other factors (such as age, socioeconomic status).
Now available! The conference brochure in Spanish: wide_switzerland_libre_de_Cuidados_esp_2013-14
You can join WIDE+ and become a member of the network as individual or as association. If you want become one of the founding members, you need to send in the membershipform before 28 October 2014 to: email@example.com. Your application well then be treated at the first WIDE+ General Assembly held on 30 October in Berne, Switzerland.
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