and men

Women´s Issues After Beijing
Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women
Positions - Networks - Results

A Basic Introduction

Beijing, September 13th, 1995

Hi Susan,

my outrageously expensive high-heeled Italian sandals that you were so envious of have fallen to pieces - they fell apart in the rain and mud of Huairou. It is really a joke. I should have brought my wellingtons! The weather is a disaster in this corner of China. I am coughing not only because of too many cigarettes, I am dead tired, in fact more dead than alive and at the same time completely crazy. When I see my bed for a couple of hours once in a while, even in my dreams I am still on my way from caucus to causus in the Beijing Recreation Centre (you remember: the theme-related meetings to coordinate lobbying activities), undiluted chaos! Lobbying on the spot is a tough business. And by the way, excuse my bad writing, I am scribbling this in the bus on the way back to the Beijing Conference Centre, my fingers are numb and the journey will probably again take about two hours today, even here they know what a rush-hour is, though it looks slightly different from back home. As I said, the whole situation is a complete mess and still I am happy, in fact quite euphoric. Just imagine, Susan, I was able to add a whole half-sentence to the Platform for Action! After tedious and painstaking work, umpteen consultations and by treading delicately in cooperating. It is absolutely great to add something really vital to the Platform at the very last minute! Of course, this was not an heroic act of mine, single-handed. Cooperation between the NGO-delegates, at least those from development activities, works pretty well; here at least everyone still listens to what the others have to say and gets down to it: if you support my cause, I back up yours. In spite of stress, too little sleep, too much work. It should always be like this, a damned good experience. This at least I will take home.
We had to work pretty hard as it is to keep the twenty/twenty regulation from Copenhagen. No one from the governmental delegations was awfully keen on it and certainly not willing to get into a fight over it. You must apply pressure, otherwise it is always going to be a minimal consensus. I really can´t bear it anymore: "not covered by the minimal consensus... not consensually agreed...".
It pays to be at the top of the three-tier community of NGOs. You are sitting pretty if accredited to the governmental delegation: direct access to all the latest information and advice stands. You are always up-to-date about events and always find a woman to talk to. That Europe is speaking here with one voice is quite helpful for lobbying. For those who are simply accredited it is not too bad either. Even if there are certain access restrictions one can get around them. Before Beijing, I had been a bit sceptical about being part of the governmental delegation, but here on the spot you realize how valuable it is when cooperation between the NGOs works all right.
But the non-accredited NGO-women in Huairou are really out of it all, they depend on us to tell them what is going on. After Beijing we must seriously consider new forms of cooperation, bundling of capacities will be an important subject. This is a point where we waste a lot because of friction and at times even wear ourselves down. It can only get better.
Dear Susan, I am freezing to death, but just a few words about the Platform. I am quite drunk, in fact intoxicated with it. This thing is going to be an authentic feminine document with a claim to world-wide recognition. Never before in the history of the United Nations has there been a manifesto which brings together all our concerns, sufferings, hopes, aspirations and demands in such a comprehensive manner. This is only a first step. If we really put our hearts into it, then it is the beginning of the end of male claims of exclusive rights in shaping the political conditions in this world. If we really start down this road. In my present state of intoxication about so much feminine poetry, which - the Goddess knows - has come from so much sweat and back-breaking work, I regard the risks involved as minimal. This has got to change after Beijing. I know that. Because one thing is clear, the thing will turn into a terrible overfilled monster. Incomprehensible to normal humans, simply unreadable, piled together in a package through negotiations, confused and without discernible style and diction. A semantic adventure playground, a linguistic jumble. I see the danger: it is only one step from the jumble to the dump. We will have to completely distil the thing to make it politically productive! We must always have at hand what its real message is. If we succeed in this, we can turn the world back home completely round! Three conferences on women of only therapeutic value are enough of a warning!
So get ready for action, my dear!
Lots of love

PS: Perhaps you will hear from me again from Beijing!


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