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CSD NGO Women's Caucus




October 26-30, 2001; Bangkok,  Thailand

Ninety-five  representatives of  NGOs  and women business councils from Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, Nepal, Hongkong, Mongolia and the United States of America ; political and local women leaders of the Philippines; and representativesof regional and international organizations came  together on  26-30 October this year, in Bangkok, Thailand,  for the Asian Women’s Conference on Gender, Finance and Sustainable Development . The conference primarily discussed the problems and situation of women in the Asia-Pacific regioN, the Women’s Action Agenda for a Healthy Planet 2002 (WAA2002 ) Preliminary Draft (October 23, 2001 ) and the negotiations and preparations for the coming United Nations International Conference  on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico and the World Social Summit (WSSD ) in Johannesburg in 2002 .

The following document is the Declaration of the Conference  and represents the results of  three days of discussions:

We,  the women of the Asia Pacific, claiming our place as  the majority of the world’s women, declare our resolve:

To strive for  sustainable societies where resources are  sustainably used, equally shared between women and men and equitably distributed within and between States;  where equal participation of all citizens, interest groups, stakeholders, creeds, and nations  ensures global and gender justice; where women are active, creative and fully empowered ; where women’s rights are human rights and discrimination against women is absent ; where women are free to make decisions and choices and express themselves without fear of violence; where  women participate equally in the definition of structures, systems and policies which determine the framework of our  lives; and

To help build a  sustainable region in which militarism and terrorism  find no refuge; where there is peace and mutual respect between and among  nations eliminating  gross inequalities and disparities which have resulted from globalisation;  where cultural diversity  is celebrated, enriching and strengthening  the role of women in society; and where conflicts and practices  which cause irreparable physical, psychological and social harm  to women and girl-children are eliminated.


We reaffirm our commitment to the principles and to the general framework of Agenda 21,  the Beijing Platform for Action, CEDAW, ICPD, the Human Rights Convention, Rio, Vienna and other UN declarations for the achievement of  equality, development and peace for all women.

Although we acknowledge that there are some gains, we deplore the governments’ failure  to meet the obligations or fulfil the responsibilities which they have committed themselves as  many national and regional assessment reports clearly indicate. Sustainable development remains elusive  for most  women in the Asia-Pacific region: poverty is deepening, pressure on natural resources is increasing and human security is diminishing .

We deplore the fact that  approximately ten years after the Earth Summit in Rio, a number of global environmental problems are growing more severe  :  climate change, loss of biological diversity, land degradation and desertification, deforestation and forest degradation, pollution of fresh and marine waters, depletion of stratospheric ozone, and accumulation of persistent organic pollutants leading to a  hapless situation where physical and biological systems may not be able to meet human demands for adequate food and clean water, energy supplies, safe shelter, and a healthy environment.

We  object to the overwhelming dominance and acceptance of  unsustainable development paradigms , the lack of education and public awareness on  and excessive influence  of  national and transnational corporations over government policy  which  prioritizes economic growth and trade  liberalization  over social and environmental concerns ; we  support the view that development finance and the international trading system must be thoroughly reviewed and reformed to support sustainable development for all.

We  support a  common vision of sustainable development and gender justice  based on a shared set of values which guarantees equity between men and women in accessing natural resources and eliminates the gender divide relegating women marginalized, impoverished and propertyless.

We  work for new systems of governance  which fully engage all stakeholders, and partnerships are a critical tool.

We are distressed  by  worldwide concerns  on the  the failure of governments to challenge the widespread adverse impact of of globalisation on  peoples  particularly  women and children   and  the inability of governments  to ensure corporate accountability, where governments are  responsible for the framework within which corporations operate in a global corporate accountability and liability convention that should  balance the power of corporations with citizens’ and workplace rights,  and secure  effective compliance with multilateral environmental and social agreements;

We note that the developmental philosophy of globalization fostered by multilateral institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) is incompatible with the women's empowerment and human development philosophy adopted by  Rio, Beijing , ICPD and otherUN conferences and convention . We demand that where there is incongruence among these commitments, the government should uphold the primacy of a holistic development of the majority of its people and not just the immediate economic considerations of the powerful few that the WTO intends to achieve.

We  deplore the lack of  participation of women particularly , grassroots women  in  the decision-making processes  of  the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other financial institutions and mechanisms;

We recognise the challenges posed by new trends that perpetuate injustices, threaten world peace, and impede women’s  empowerment and sustainable development in the region.

These include:

The  widespread negative impact of globalisation and structural adjustment programmes on women’s sustainable development  which threaten to obliterate gains made so far ;  the damage caused by the restructuring of economies to maximise profit without adequate safeguards for the resulting impacts on populations; health sector reforms that reduce women’s access to quality, affordable health care; the transformation of the media from a public utility to a transnational enterprise; the increased feminisation of poverty; decliningwork conditions, wages and labour rights resulting from deregulation and the failure of governments to monitor and control foreign investment;

The increasing influence of multi- and trans- national corporations in international, domestic and local accountability and governance ;

The wresting of economic, legal and political control from local and indigenous communities and the progressive control of natural resources, science and technology including the patenting of life forms by multinational and transnational actors;

The alarming increase in armed and other forms of violent conflict and the perpetuation of the systematic use of violence against women, including rape, mutilation, forced pregnancies and sterilisations, trafficking and forced prostitution and other forms of violence by State, para-State and non-State actors;

The increasing militarisation and nuclearisation of the region;

Among political systems in the region, an escalation in the use of religious, ethnic, cultural and other forms of identity-based constructs to deny women equality, enjoyment of rights, access to resources and a voice, particularly through the use and threat of violence;

The continued existence of regressive elements and attitudes towards women’s empowerment;

The failure to provide high quality, affordable services addressing the primary health needs of women and the persistent, narrow approaches to reproductive and sexual health which have resulted in the failure to ensure effective programs in these areas by many governments;

The lack of comprehensive, gender sensitive educational policies that would contribute to the elimination of attitudes towards women which act to limit their role in society;

The continued degradation and depletion of the environment and the failure to develop effective national, regional and international policies to protect natural resources and ensure their sustainability;

The actual and potential effects of modern biotechnology and information and communications technology which lead to health and environmental hazards, the globalisation of western, consumer culture and value systems and the concomitant exploitation of our lands and resources; 

The inadequate attention given to the needs of women and girls who are marginalised because of their disability, or because of race, language, ethnicity, culture, religion, or socio-economic status or because they are indigenous people, refugees or displaced persons, migrants or migrant workers, or because of their sexual orientation, reproductive choices or marital status;

The inadequate mechanisms for ensuring that governments are responsive and accountable to citizens for the fulfillment of their international obligations to implement commitments to sustainable, social and economic development that empowers women, eradicates poverty and safeguards natural resources;

The lack of gender-fair  projection and  greater role and participation of women in politics (in both appointive and elective positions) ,  in public policy, media, science, and technology; the  failure to consider gender  as a high-impact factor on  income, education, power / decision-making, access to credit, division of labour; access to, ownership and control of natural resources, etc.

Despite these  grave  challenges and obstacles to women’s empowerment and sustainable development, we draw inspiration and strength from:

The growth of NGOs , peoples organizations  and civil society  councils for sustainable development working for women’s empowerment;

A growing acceptance and commitment towards addressing women’s needs by groups within civil society, governments and international organisations; and  

The partnerships which have developed between NGOs working for women’s empowerment facilitated by the International Instruments and Conventions and other advocates in civil society, governments and the UN system.

We therefore commit ourselves to translating our vision for the world, our region and ourselves into a  sustainable  reality.  To achieve these goals, we must:

Acknowledge the diversity of our circumstances as women and communities, celebrate and find strength in the richness of our plurality and ensure meaningful spaces for each of our voices;

Ensure that our differing realities replace an abstract, undifferentiated concept of women and that these differences are reflected in legislation, policies,  programs and initiatives and in the articulation of human rights issues;

Ensure that the areas of concern addressed by  Agenda 21 and other international instruments and conventions are based on a holistic approach to women’s human rights rather than fragmented, sectoral views and that gender mainstreaming policies and monitoring mechanisms  are fully integrated into the work of all government ; strategies towards gender balance in governance and sustainable development  encourged ;

Protect women’s access to the power of science and technology and RICE (Research, Information, Communication and Education) ensuring  women’s participation in whatever regional RICE-based structure that will be formed in the Asia-Pacific Region e.g. Regional Research, Information, Communication and Education Center;

Ensure that governments, societies and individuals adhere to non-violent forms of conflict resolution and respect the human dignity and rights of women affected by conflict and violence ;  and  that governments ratify International agreements that regulate the arms race and protect humanitarian rights: the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949), and its additional protocols (1977)  which provide that women be protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against humiliation and degrading treatment, rape, enforced prostitution or any form of indecent assault; and also the  World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, 1995 which decided that “violations of human rights of women in situations of armed conflicts are violations of the fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian law.”

Furthermore, we call upon governments, the UN system and civil society:

To reaffirm their commitment to equality, development and peace  in  a sustainable community of  nations through the effective implementation of  Agenda 21, the BPFA, CEDAW and other human rights instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; Convention on the Rights of the Child; Declaration on the Right to Development;

To ensure that women have control over all aspects of their lives including their sexuality as well as equal representation in decision-making at all levels and in all spheres, including leadership positions and governance structures;

To re-examine and re-orient macro economic and development policies to ensure the protection of women’s human rights and to redress the growing feminisation of poverty.

Finally, as we confront the problems and challenges of  this century of  great turmoil, rapid change and development, we call upon the governments of the world to have the courage and commitment to translate the high hopes of  all women in the Asia-Pacific region into concrete actions that help us move from conflict, inequality and injustices which characterise our region towards mutual respect, equality and justice as reflected in the vision shared by the women of the Asia Pacific region.