Wednesday, 27 June 2007

New aid, expanding trade - what do feminists have to say?

Information sent by Barbara Specht, WIDE

WIDE – Network Women In Development Europe PRESS RELEASE:

Brussels, 22.06.2007: The WIDE 2007 Annual Conference (14-17 June 2007) took stock of the changes in international trade policies, regulation of financial flows and investment together with international development policies and their impact on women’s realities, rights and gender equality. The discussions also focused on strategies on how to tackle the new aid and trade architecture from feminist perspectives. Entitled "New aid, expanding trade - what do women have to say?" the conference, hosted by the Spanish WIDE national platform CONGDE (Gender and Development Working Group of the Spanish Platform of Development NGOs) in Madrid, brought together more than 150 women activists from over 40 countries.

"The WIDE AC is a great opportunity for activists to exchange views and a good space for feminist exchange on trade and development issues.
Globalisation and development issues are themes that need to be analysed within a feminist framework. The Capacity -Building day helps to build more public-awareness raising and sharper policy analysis. Presentations from trade experts such as Mariama Williams and Zo Randriamaro provide us with tools that can inspire future debates."
commented Mabel Au from Hong Kong.

In lively debates and interactive panels participants confirmed even so new international development architecture has developed on the basis of shared commitments of the international donor community in the areas of trade, debt, investment and financing for development, the structural causes of gender inequality persist all over the world. Various speakers highlighted that the current mainstream development agenda is embedded in an ideological framework that promotes trade liberalisation and economic growth at the expenses of women and men’s rights and livelihoods. Indeed, the feminisation of poverty is a global problem. Participants engaged in analyses of the causes of these structural problems and discussed the implications these developments for women in the South, the East and also in the West.

"The conference was a success in bringing together so many women from such different places and it was a great opportunity to meet activists who agreed on the same ideal of social justice, even if their own conditions varied from one locality to another." remarked Venna Dholah from Mauritius.

In various workshops and presentations, participants further developed feminist proposals and alternative visions to the policy mainstream in the area of trade and development and discussed concrete strategies for change at different levels. Women activists not only identified opportunities for ensuring the implementation of political commitments and legal obligations regarding gender equality, democracy and human rights, the quality of aid, and policy coherence. They also highlighted the importance of building up a common alternative strategy to "attack patriarchal structures on a global scale, as women’s emancipation can not be achieved in isolation" as Rosa Cobo Bedia from Spain explained.

The three-day conference also provided an important space for joint learning, sharing experiences and building alliances among women’s organisations from all over the world to find feminist alternatives. As Pam Rajput from India commented "I like the policy from WIDE to invite women from the south and provide a platform for sharing and learning and working out global strategies for issues of common concerns."

All contributions and presentations of the conference will soon be available on WIDE’s web-site: For more information, please contact Barbara Specht, WIDE Information and Advocacy Officer:

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