WEDO Enews & Views
Women's Environment & Development Organization

November 2007
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In This Issue
The WEDO View: Climate Change is a Women's Issue
In the Spotlight: Q & A with Srilatha Batliwala
Women Sound the Alarm: More Funds Needed for Development
The Global 50/50 Campaign Galvanized
Women's Rights Activists Continue to Push on GEA Reform
Meet the WEDO Fellows!
Quick Links
Securing Our Future
Why WEDO Needs You to Give

In my tenure here at WEDO, I sometimes take for granted how much we, as a small women's rights advocacy organization, achieve on the global stage. This year, WEDO was among the first to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on women and the important role they play in generating solutions. We continue to push the envelope in documenting corporate violations of women's rights and in promoting gender parity in decision making. And we have succeeded in persuading many government representatives at the United Nations - both North and South - to move away from the rhetoric of promises to a deeper understanding of the systemic changes needed to improve women's daily lives. Our new Development Director, Mary Fridley, who you'll hear from below, reminds me just how unique our work and significant our accomplishments are in today's world.  We hope her appeal will move you to make an even larger contribution to WEDO this year than before.                     
                                            June Zeitlin, Executive Director

When WEDO hired me nine months ago, I was honored to become the first Director of Development for an organization that I have long admired.  I wasn't, however, very familiar with WEDO's work, which means I've had a great deal to learn about the organization and its history. As I become more familiar with WEDO and its many advocacy accomplishments, what I've been especially moved by is its dedication to building a grassroots movement that gives voice to the poorest of women, even as it works to create a just and sustainable planet for everyone.    

What I have come to see more clearly in my months at WEDO is that this commitment to grassroots activism should not only shape our programmatic initiatives but its fundraising strategies as well.  As WEDO prepares to launch several new initiatives over the next few months, we do so in a dramatically less stable world than the one in which the organization began 16 years ago.  The foundations and governments that support us are to be applauded, and we are working tirelessly - and with success - to increase their numbers (not to mention the size of their gifts!).  As we do so, however, it is with the recognition that institutional support can - and does - disappear very quickly as funding priorities change and/or political winds shift. 

Thus, it is imperative that WEDO be able to count on the "grassroots" - in this case, the many friends and colleagues we have now and the many more we will meet in the future - for ongoing financial support that is unattached to strings.  For me, the empowerment of women, especially poor women, is too important to our planet's future for us to ask anything less. 

If you have never contributed to WEDO, I hope you will do so today; if you have, please accept our heartfelt thanks - and give again even more generously. 

To give a tax-deductible contribution online, click here.

Checks can be made payable to WEDO and mailed to:

Holiday Appeal 2007
355 Lexington Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, New York  10017

Your support really will make all the difference in (and to) the world.

On behalf of all of us at WEDO, I'd also like to wish you the happiest of holidays and a most peaceful New Year. 

                                                        Mary Fridley
                                                        Director of Development
The WEDO View: Climate Change is a Women's Issue
by Rebecca Pearl, Sustainable Development Program Coordinator

On September 21st, WEDO teamed up with the Council of Women World Leaders (CWWL) and Heinrich Böll Foundation to organize a high-level roundtable entitled "
How a Changing Climate Impacts Women."

One of the first high-level sessions to ever focus on the linkages between gender equality and climate change, the roundtable was a landmark event. A diverse group of over 60 government, UN and NGO representatives, featuring Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and the Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Climate Change, and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, participated in the special session.

"The impact of climate change on women is important from a justice perspective. Women are responsible for 75 percent of household food production in sub-Saharan Africa, 65 percent in Asia and 45 percent in Latin America," said Robinson. "Erratic weather causes women to spend more time gathering food, which means less time for education, personal and family life."


In the Spotlight: Q & A with Srilatha Batliwala
With Anna Grossman and Cate Owren, Communications Program

Women as agents of change have made enormous contributions to social movements worldwide. But global trends, such as income inequality, increased militarization and over-consumption, are stifling progressive change and undermining many of the prior gains women have made. New strategies and alliances are emerging to advance a comprehensive human rights agenda. We asked WEDO Board Chair and feminist scholar and practitioner Srilatha Batliwala to share some of her views on social change and the international women's movement.

Q: Working towards the empowerment of women has been your life's work, across sectors, issues, geographies, and organizations. What are the areas in which the international women's movement is having the most impact, and what do you feel most discouraged about right now?

A: I think in fact that the international women's movement's capacity to have global impact has been steadSrilatha Batliwalaily declining since the Beijing World Conference, though it has scored some significant successes in three key areas: in pushing the UN - especially the reform process - to create a much stronger and better resourced gender entity within it, an important campaign led by WEDO and Center for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL); in the recent success of the Association for Women's Rights in Development's (AWID) "Money and Movements" action-research to bring donors to account for their consistent de-funding of women's movement-building work; and in bringing gender perspectives to some of the debates and activism around poverty and economic justice, led by the Gender and Trade Network, DAWN, and others.  But I feel somewhat discouraged that there are very few spaces left in which women can build a coherent common agenda at the global level, and that the level of specialization, diversification, NGO-ization and "project" orientation that has occurred within women's activism worldwide has reduced our collective voice, power and impact.


Batliwala is currently Civil Society Research Fellow at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University where her work focuses on transnational civil society, particularly on transnational grassroots movements, and on bridging the divide between practitioners and scholars. She is also Scholar Associate at the Association for Women's Rights in Development where she is providing intellectual leadership to AWID's Building Feminist Movements and Organizations Initiative.  She also serves on the boards of Gender at Work, Just Associates, IT for Change and PLAN International. She is co-editor of "Transnational Civil Society: An Introduction" (Kumarian Press, 2006) and author of Status of Rural Women in Karnataka and Women's Empowerment in South Asia-Concepts and Practices. Batliwala joined the WEDO Board in May 2000 and lives and works from her home base in Bangalore, India.

Featured Highlight:

WEDO continues to document and increase awareness of the impacts corporate practices have on women's rights through its
MisFortune 500 website. In the latest MisFortune Monthly bulletin, issued on World Food Day, we describe the impact that growing corporate control of seeds has on women farmers and highlighted the Rural Women's Declaration for rights to and power over reproductive resources and land.  You can also read an Open Letter to John Ruggie (UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights), endorsed by over 200 NGOs and individuals, demanding attention to the corporate violations against human rights worldwide.  Finally, from 25 November to 10 December, WEDO and MF500 will participate in the global campaign 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence by highlighting some of 2007's leading stories about women taking action against corporate violations of their rights, lives and livelihoods. During those 16 Days, check every day - and read more now at!

Women Sound the Alarm:  More Funds Needed for Development
by Moutushi Islam, Economic and Social Justice Graduate Fellow

Only 0.1% of official development assistance is spent on gender equality, according to a 2005 Eurostep/Social Watch report. Alarming statistics like this illustrate just how little money and resources are actually allocated for women's empowerment. 

As member states converged at the UN General Assembly High-Level Dialogue on
Financing for Development (FfD) on 23-Financing for Development24 October at UN Headquarters in New York, women's groups stressed that the current financial architecture continues to undermine gender equality, women's rights, and sustainable development.

WEDO participated in the two-day long FfD dialogues, part of international efforts to generate financial resources necessary to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - a set of eight goals that emerged from the 2000 UN Millennium Summit to improve living conditions and remedy key global imbalances by 2015 - in the next seven years.
But women's groups maintain that unless more funding is allocated to gender equality, which largely depends on addressing the structural inequalities in the global economic system, the MDGs won't be met.  Neither will the world's larger development agenda that goes beyond the targets set in the MDGS.

It's easy to support WEDO. 
Using JustGive, you can easily (an
d safely!) donate to WEDO online.  Just click on the button at right to support WEDO today.  Because when women lead, the world benefits. 
The Global 50/50 Campaign Galvanized

's Global 50/50 Campaign has been launched in over twenty countries throughout the Get the Balance Right!world and endorsed by dozens of organizations since it began in 2000. The Campaign promotes gender parity in decision-making in governments and international institutions.

WEDO continues to monitor developments in national parliaments and cabinets and report on the resu
lts. Until now no extensive research has been conducted on women's representation in cabinets. Getting the Balance Right in National Cabinets shows that the number of women cabinet ministers is increasing slowly, but steadily. In 1999, women comprised 8.7 percent of cabinet ministers worldwide. By July 2007 women's representation in national cabinets had risen to 15.2 percent.

Getting the Balance Right in National Parliaments documents that women's representation in national parliaments continues to slowly increase. Essential tools for policy-makers, activists, and academics, these factsheets available in English, French and Spanish are must-reads for anyone committed to ensuring gender equity in governments worldwide.

Interested organizations are invited to join the Campaign and help us give women a voice in policy-making. Send Colette an email at if your organization would like to join, or visit our website for more information and to download the campaign kit.

Women's Rights Activists Continue to Push on GEA Reform
by Colette Tamko, Gender and Governance Program Coordinator

More than a year after women's groups around the world demanded that the High Level Panel (HLP) on the Coherence of the UN system include specific recommendations on gender in its report, we continue to press for the adoption of a stronger gender equality architecture (GEA) at the United Nations.

Women's groups have been lobbying for an independent women-specific agency with adequate stature, resources, operational capacity and high-level leadership that would deliver consistent results on gender equality, both at global policy and country levels.

Despite everyone's hard work, the 61st session of the General Assembly (GA) closed last September with no action on these recommendations. Supporters of a stronger GEA at the UN continue to lobby governments and the UN secretariat, both in New York and in capitols, to gain broader support for the adoption and implementation of a stronger women's entity by the General Assembly during the 62nd session.

One forum for action and strategizing will be the next annual meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), held February 25 - March 8, 2008, where women from around the world will gather to discuss the theme of financing for gender equality.

Meet the WEDO Fellows!

WEDO is currently hosting three extraordinary Graduate Fellows from Brandeis University's Heller School, each pursuing Master's degrees in Sustainable International Development. A native of Kenya, Lucy Wanjiru (l) has been working on natural resource mWEDO's Graduate Fellows: Lucy Wanjiru, Leah Stern, and Moutushi islamanagement as a social mobilizer and rural water and sanitation consultant in Sub-Saharan Africa for over ten years. At WEDO, she is helping to build our climate change adaptation and advocacy program in developing countries. Focusing on U.S. advocacy on climate change, Leah Stern (middle) has long been passionate about recycling and planting trees and applied her agroforestry skills in Senegal for several years before returning to the U.S. for graduate school. Moutushi Islam (r) is originally from Bangladesh where she worked for five years in community development and macro-economic planning. She is working in WEDO's Economic and Social Justice Program exposing corporate malfeasance against women's rights and safety worldwide and assisting in critical U.N. processes like Financing for Development. Our three Fellows are invaluable, and we extend enormous thanks to them for their great work!

Editors:  Anna Grossman & Cate Owren
WEDO is an international organization that advocates for women's equality in global policy.  Working in key global forums such as the UN, WEDO advocates for and seeks to empower women as decision makers to achieve economic, social and gender justice, a healthy, peaceful planet and human rights for all. For more information, visit