Necessity for a UN Global Conference on Women

Premise: A UN Global Women’s Conference would accelerate empowerment and equality for women and girls. Without equality, peace is unattainable. Without peace, sustainability and development falters. The Millennium Development Goals and other UN declarations and resolutions about human rights for women will not be achieved until violence toward women and children is morally and spiritually unacceptable with legal consequences, and until governments and leaders are responsible for their agreements.

Premise: Women need to become activists on their own behalf, otherwise women are sidelined, subordinated to men’s needs or the priorities of institutions or political parties. This was the conclusion reached by the largest study ever done on violence against women (American Political Science Review, 2012). Conclusion reached “Only strong feminist movements are able to voice and organize around their top priorities as women.” A UN Global Conference on Women would bring women and organizations concerned with women and children together to lead, inspire, and facilitate progress for women and girls. We also urge the inclusion of women active in civil, environmental, religious, meditative and spiritual organizations.

Joint Statement on International Women’s Day

“Given that women make up half of humanity and given the importance and relevance of women’s issues for global progress. it is high time that such a world conference is convened. It is all the more important because of the enormous changes the world is going through, with both positive and other implications for women.”

~From the Joint Statement on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2012 by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and the President of the 66th General Assembly. (Click here to read entire statement.)

The request has not been withdrawn nor has it been taken up and supported. We urge the current General Assembly to act on this. Once a resolution is passed, the Secretariat and UN Women the new entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women would have responsibilities to implement it. A global women’s conference would create an awareness of UN Women, become a cause to support financially, network women across class, race, religious and national boundaries, and be a foundation for equality and empowerment of women.

Premise: A world that is safe for children will not breed terrorists in homes or in countries; a world that is safe for women is a world where children are safe. For this to come about the feminine principle expressed in circles and the masculine principle of hierarchy must come into balance, otherwise the acquisition of power over others prevails and no one can be safe.

The Psychology of Power Over Others: The Dominator Model

When power over others is the model in families and societies, female children are not important, and male children are taught to dominate others or be dominated; they learn that one is either a strong winner or a weak loser, and that practicing dominance through ridicule, physical means, intimidation or acquisitions means you are respected. This is how patriarchy socializes its boys and men. Boys who are unprotected from being bullied fantasize getting even. They can grow into men who do to others what was done to them (identifying with the aggressor). They can seek revenge as a group to counteract feelings of helplessness, lack of worth and humiliation of others like themselves. Women are defined by their relationship to men, and are the means through which men humiliate other men by raping their women.

The antidote to this dominator model is partnership which was described by Riane Eisler (Chalice and the Blade 1967). For this to be achieved, differences between masculine and feminine--as genders, as values, as principles--would need to become complementary, rather than superior-inferior. The empowerment and equality of women in all dimensions of life are the means through which this can be accomplished.

The Millionth Circle: Critical Mass/Tipping Point

In Urgent Message From Mother: Gather the Women, Save the World (2005) and The Millionth Circle: How to Change Ourselves and The World (1999), Jean Shinoda Bolen described how major social change comes about once a critical mass is reached and that which was resisted or unthinkable becomes the new norm; such as recently happened in the United States with the sudden acceptance of same-sex marriages or 1920, when American women finally got the right to vote after a seventy year effort. “The millionth circle” is a metaphoric number for the women’s circle with a sacred or spiritual center that reaches critical mass. It was inspired by the allegory of the Hundredth Monkey that supported the anti-nuclear proliferation activists to keep working on this cause while no apparent change was evident, until the unexpected happened between Reagan and Gorbachev and an anti-nuclear proliferation treaty resulted.

Two mechanisms to do with critical mass explain how cultural change can come about through a proliferation of women’s circles. Rupert Sheldrakes' Morphic Field Theory (A New Science of Life 1981) provides one explanation. Sheldrake is a biologist, who describes how a new attitude or behavior becomes normal once a critical number of a species adopts it. The human morphic field is what C.G. Jung called the Collective Unconscious. In Sheldrake's theory, as the millionth circle movement grows through the formation of new circles, it will draw upon the energy or patterns of similar present or past circle movements, which could include Alcoholics Anonymous.

Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point (2002) contributes a second model of how an idea can spread and take hold based on epidemics. The name given to that one dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything appears to change all at once is the "tipping point" or the moment of the critical mass. His thesis is that social epidemics behave similarly with the appearance of sudden change, and that like its disease equivalent, it takes a small percentage of the population to bring it about. Epidemics depend upon the people who transmit infectious agents, the infectious agent itself, and the environment. Social epidemics work in the same way, with it mattering who spreads the idea, that it takes hold, and the receptivity of the environment or context.

Using Gladwell's criteria, for there to be a millionth circle tipping point, the idea has to be spread by three types of people, some who are enthusiastic and energetic, are widely known and held in high regard by their peers, by others whose knowledge is valued and who pass on information about the millionth circle with the sole purpose of wanting to help others, and by still others who sell the idea and overcome resistance. All types need to believe that change and transformation is possible through circles and want to make a difference through what they are doing to further the goal of reaching a critical mass. These are the kinds of women who would be attending a UN global women’s conference and would return home to spread what they learned and now advocated.

It has been predominantly women who have grasped the idea of the millionth circle. While the feminine principle is potentially present in the psyches of both women and men, women have a gender and cultural advantage. Women use conversation to build up trust and similarities. Men, in contrast, use conversation to determine hierarchy (Tannen, Deborah. You Just Don’t Understand Me: Women and Men in Conversation 1990). Circles support finding mutually acceptable solutions. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 recognized the need for women to be involved at all levels of conflict resolution but it is not always followed in practice. Also to be truly effective, women need to have equality and be empowered at peace tables.

Holding a UN Global Women’s Conference would be a major step toward the equality and empowerment of women and girls. It would be a means to energize a global women’s movement through raising consciousness, seeding circles to reach the millionth circle, creating affiliations and communicating through technology and the internet that were not available at the UN 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, 1995.

“Until women’s equality is established in all spheres of human activity, the human right to peace is not possible. Without peace, development is impossible, and without women, neither peace nor development is possible.” ~Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, past president of Security Council at the UN High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace,
September 6, 2013

The request from the Secretary General for a UN sponsored Global Women’s Conference has not been withdrawn nor has it been taken up and supported. We urge the Commission on the Status of Women to recommend this as a step toward a UN 5th World Conference on Women two decades after Beijing. We urge member states in the General Assembly to initiate, support and reach consensus to hold this conference within three years.

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