Statement of the ‘Politics and women going together’ international women’s conference, March 25-28, 2013, Kathmandu, Nepal

April 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This gathering of left women’s organisations and activists from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Kurdistan, Nepal, Philippines and Sweden thanks the Nepalese women’s movement, especially the All Nepal Women’s Association, for hosting this historic event. We have participated in three days of intense discussions about the issues confronting the struggle for women’s rights and gender equality in our countries. While we are aware that there are important differences in our specific country contexts, nevertheless, we are also united by the common problems and challenges that we face.

We are deeply concerned with the rise in religious fundamentalism of all varieties, as they seek to impose extremist forms of religious codes and conducts upon women and girls, which savagely oppress and contribute to extreme forms of violence against them.

We condemn all feudal cultural practices, such as honour crimes and witch burnings, that target women. We call on our governments to take all possible measures to implement laws and legislation to protect women from such practices. We also condemn practices such as sex-selective abortions, which are gender biased to the detriment of girl children and undermine the status of women in our societies.

We strongly oppose all forms of economic fundamentalism, such as the blanket and even forcible imposition of neoliberal policies – privatisation, de-regulation, subcontracting – as these policies hit women the hardest. They rob women workers of their jobs and livelihoods, undermine women’s living conditions and impoverish millions of urban and rural women. We demand that our governments repeal all anti-union laws and enact and implement legislation to protect women workers jobs, wages and living conditions, including their right to strike and organise in trade unions. We urge our governments to ratify ILO Conventions 177 and 189 to ensure the protection of home based and domestic workers.

We would also like to highlight the unpaid “care work” or “reproductive work” of women in the home, caring for their family members. This work is essential for the maintenance of our societies and our economies, but continues to be under-valued or ignored. We will continue to campaign for women’s necessary but unpaid work in the home to be accounted for by our governments.

While we support the struggles of all oppressed peoples for self-determination, we also believe that women are the most vulnerable in situations of armed conflict, waged by the oppressor against the oppressed. Therefore, we support genuine peace processes based on political negotiations, to bring about a peaceful resolution of such conflicts. We further call that such political negotiations be conducted through open, transparent and democratic processes, which seek to maximise the participation of affected women.

We are also opposed to the rise in militarism, as imperialist governments arm and position themselves, to protect their geopolitical interests. The militarisation of regions and societies poses a real and increasing danger to women, as they directly contribute to the increase in all form of violence against women, from prostitution to rape. We are opposed to the occupation of nations by imperialist powers and demand the immediate withdrawal of troops and military forces.

In all our countries we see an increase in the trafficking of women, associated with prostitution and “slave” labour. We demand our governments to implement the international conventions and national laws that prohibit and criminalise trafficking and establish effective mechanisms to do so.

We are deeply concerned about the rising incidence of climate-induced disasters that affect especially the poor, and especially women and children in our countries. We call on governments in the industrialised countries to acknowledge their historic responsibility and impose the necessary cuts on levels of greenhouse gas emmissions. We demand that they take responsibility for the “climate debt” that they owe our countries. We also urge our national governments to play their role and pursue environmentally sustainable development.

We understand the importance of raising awareness of these and other gender issues. We will continue campaign and reminding all our governments to conduct extensive and on-going gender awareness raising programs in our countries, as an essential part of enacting and implementing gender equality laws, to protect and advance the rights of women. We also emphasise to develop mechanisms for ensuring the women’s meaningful representation in political parties including reservation in local bodies/authorities.

Finally, we have also assessed that while there is still a long way to go, that our struggles have made some partial but important advances. The international solidarity that we have experienced in this gathering has inspired and empowered us. We understand that this international solidarity with each other’s struggles is necessary to advance the struggle for women’s rights and gender equality worldwide.