01 September 2000
The Women’s Conference of the United Nations held last June was attended by 10,000 women as well as delegates from 189 countries. The theme was Women 2000: Gender, Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century and its purpose was to review the Beijing Platform for Action that was adopted in Beijing in 1995.
Women throughout the world have a common thread that unites them. All are concerned with strengthening their families, ending domestic violence, equal access to education, health and equal opportunities.
Since the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 laws against domestic violence have been strengthened in many countries. Women have been guaranteed equal rights to inheritance. Forced marriages, honor killings, dowry related violence and genital mutilation have declined.
However, the increase in trafficking of women and children for sexual purposes and sweatshop labor has become a critical area of concern. It is the fastest growing business of organized crime involving Russians, Asians, Albanian and Turks. It is the biggest international crime after drug trafficking. Societies are degraded, neighborhoods are endangered and women and children are robbed of their dreams. This form of forced slavery has to be eradicated. The United Nations works with governments, community groups and religious organization to develop initiatives that eliminate such concerns as trafficking of women and children, forced labor of children, and the forced recruitment of child soldiers.
It is heartening to lern that the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly approved a wide-ranging measure that toughens laws against the trafficking of women and children for prostitution and sweatshop labor. It also helps states and localities fight domestic violence.
The measure would also require the State Department to report each year on the efforts other nations make to stop trafficking and gives the government the authority, starting in 2003 to withhold some foreign aid to countries found not to be making reasonable efforts.
- Women produce, process and market 3/5 of all food
- Women own 70 percent of all small business
- Women repay loans promptly 97 percent of the time.
However, women receive only 1/10th of the world’s income, comprise 2/3rds of the world’s illiterate population, are victims of violence in 1/3rd of all families and compose 80% of the world’s refugees.