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The Johannesburg Implementation document that emerged from the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) was not an action plan and contains few targets for implementation, many of which are reiterations of the Millennium Development Goals and other UN agreements. Nevertheless, progress was made on women's access to land, an issue of particular importance to women in Africa. For the first time in an official document, and due to concerted advocacy by the Women's Caucus, language is included that explicitly guarantees the right of women to inherit land, according to a report on the WSSD from the Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO).

Below you will find:
-a brief report on our activities at WSSD
-women's major group documents, which will be posted on WEDO's website

A Brief Report on WSSD

The purpose of the World Summit on Sustainable Development was to focus
on international action and implementation. Throughout the WSSD process,
delegates were reminded by the Secretariat that commitments made at Rio
and other conferences were not open for renegotiation. Governments were
urged to build on past commitments by setting concrete targets and
timetables, backed by improved financial resources and governance
structures. However, following the 4th PrepCom in Bali, it was clear
that the political will and commitment of resources needed to implement
the still far-reaching Agenda 21 was missing. Women's plans for
Johannesburg, along with those of many other NGOs as well as some
governments, shifted to focus on reaffirming commitments agreed to by
governments at previous UN conferences over the past decade and
achieving at least some incremental gains.

The Johannesburg Implementation document is not an action plan and
contains few targets for implementation, many of which are reiterations
of the Millennium Development Goals and other UN agreements. Although
some governments committed to higher standards in specific sectors, like
water and energy, and others, like the United States, formed voluntary
partnerships, these individual efforts should not replace an
over-arching international movement toward sustainability.

Nevertheless, gains were made. New targets were set for increasing
access to basic sanitation, as well as clean water, both of which were
key goals of women activists. Progress also was made on women's access
to land, an issue of particular importance to women in Africa. For the
first time in an official document, and due to concerted advocacy by the
Women's Caucus, language is included that explicitly guarantees the
right of women to inherit land. The NGO community was also successful in
deleting language on "ensuring WTO consistency" and gaining at least a
reference to corporate accountability.

Beyond these few specific gains, women had to focus much of their
lobbying energy to prevent going backwards on the issue of reproductive
health and women's human rights. The paragraph that dealt with health
care contained the phrase "consistent with national laws and cultural
and religious values." At the 4th PrepCom in Bali, women's groups and
many governments opposed this language and there was some dispute
afterwards as to whether this text was still bracketed, and therefore
open to amendment. In prior UN Conferences (Cairo, Beijing, and even the
recent Special Session on Children), such language was always balanced
by the phrase "in conformity with human rights and fundamental

WEDO, the Women's Caucus and many governments, led by Canada and the EU,
pressed for the addition of the human rights language. We argued that
the paragraph as it stood posed a serious threat to women's rights in
every region of the world, making women more vulnerable to harmful
cultural practices such as female genital mutilation, forced and child
marriage, honor killings, death by stoning, and gang rape. The Women's
Caucus-with the support of other NGOs, government delegates, and UN
actors such as High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary
Robinson-intensified its actions in the last 24 hours to successfully
put a public spotlight on this issue through media attention and a
strategic lobbying campaign. Despite strong opposition by the US and
other countries, women succeeded in getting the human rights language
agreed to by all the governments.

Although we were forced to simply hold our ground on many fronts, it is
an important achievement given the current climate. As more countries
elect conservative administrations-first and foremost in the United
States, but also in Australia, Denmark and other traditional allies of
progressive movements-it is critical that we do not allow the dialogue
to be pushed backwards.

Overall, the final document integrates gender through much of the text
and contains specific references to: ending violence and discrimination
against women; reducing mortality among girl infants and children;
increasing women's participation in decision-making; ensuring education
for all; mainstreaming gender in policymaking; access to health; access
to land; and developing gender disaggregated data. However, the Summit
failed to establish the international governance structures and
resources necessary to ensure that these words will be transferred into

What we need now is the development of new ideas and a new dialogue
about the expanding role of civil society in implementation. The
Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue process was a significant experiment in
formalized non-government participation in UN activities. While it was
far from a perfect model, the process opened up the possibility of new
structures in international negotiations and governance. In addition,
the town-hall discussion style of negotiations advanced by the Major
Groups, and exemplified by Jan Pronk during the Partnership Plenary
sessions at the WSSD, is being considered by the UN for other

Despite its shortcomings, the Summit provided a critical opportunity to
advance an agenda for sustainable development and to bring women's
issues to the forefront. Women will continue to press governments and
development agencies to commit to sustainable policies in developed and
developing countries. We have the words, now we must persist in
demanding action.

The Women's Caucus was guided by the Gender Analysis of the
Implementation Plan and gave priority to two specific issues, which were
among the most contested issues at the Summit: land rights, specifically
the right of women to inherit land, and reproductive health, grounded in
human rights. The Caucus developed alerts that highlighted demands for
language that was based on precedents from previous UN conferences.
Several press conferences were organized to highlight and raise the
visibility of these issues. The Women's Caucus reached out to other
major groups for support on these issues - the trade unions drafted a
statement in support of the women's caucus position. Many thanks also to
the Japanese women's organizations that secured space outside Sandton
Convention Center for the Women's Caucus meetings.


WEDO facilitated the participation of women in the following sessions:

Statement to WSSD Plenary: Muborak Sharipova, Open Asia Institute
(Tajikistan) - presentation of WECF peace petition
Statement to WSSD Plenary: Halima Mamuya, WISE (Tanzania) - elected by
women's caucus

Partnership Plenary on Health: Litha Musyimi Ogana, ACEGA (Kenya)
Partnership Plenary on Biodiversity/Ecosystems: Margarita Velasquez,
Gender and Environment Network (Mexico)
Partnership Plenary on Agriculture: Vandana Shiva, Diverse Women for
Diversity (India)
Partnership Plenary on Cross-Sectoral Issues: Cecilia Lopez, Cartagena
Initiative (Columbia)
Partnership Plenary on Water: Vasudha Pangare, Gender and Water Alliance
Partnership Plenary on Energy: Sheila Oparaocha, Energia (Netherlands)

Roundtables with Heads of State and Ministers (please send a note to
[email protected] if you were one of the four

Multi-Stakeholder Event during closing session: Jocelyn Dow, WEDO
(Wangari Maathai was unable to attend the Summit at the last minute)

Women's Action Agenda for a Healthy and Peaceful Planet 2015 was
launched in Johannesburg as an official side event at Sandton Conference
Center on the first day of the Summit. The event was well-attended by
government delegates and several ministers, NGO and women activists, and
the media. An international working group, led by WEDO and REDEH
(Network for Human Development, Brazil), facilitated a year-long
consultation process with approximately 2,000 women worldwide that led
to the final document, in two different formats. The full-length primer
version includes a historical perspective on the original Women's Action
Agenda and a critique on the present state of the world, while the
shorter brochure format summarizes the recommendations and focuses on
action. The brochure version has so far been translated into French,
Spanish, and Portuguese.

At the NGO Forum, WEDO's activities were concentrated in a five-day
Women's Action Tent, which was jointly organized by WEDO and the South
African women's organization Ilitha Labantu. The Women's Action Tent
offered a space where women's achievements in communities around the
world over the last decade could be shared and assessed. The Tent
program was organized around the five themes of Peace and Human Rights;
Globalization; Environmental Security and Health, Access to and Control
of Resources; and Governance, involving over 150 women's organizations
from all over the world. For each day's theme, the morning sessions were
devoted to African-centered programming on issues such as NEPAD (the New
Economic Partnership for Africa's Development) and HIV-AIDS, while the
afternoon sessions brought in more global perspectives and experiences.
Sessions were facilitated by ACEGA, AFRUS, AWEPON, Diverse Women for
Diversity, Energia, Gender and Water Alliance, GROOTS, Ilitha Labantu,
LIFE, Malibongwe, Popular Coalition to Eradicate Hunger and Poverty,
WAG, Women's League, Women's National Coalition, WILPF, WILDAF, Women in
Europe for a Common Future, Women's League, WEDO, and others. The Tent
also provided space for women to network and strategize on how to move
beyond the Summit. WSSD Secretary General Nitin Desai and South African
Deputy President Jacob Zuma participated in the closing ceremony.

Throughout the Summit, WEDO facilitated the representation of the
Women's Major Group in the ten designated plenary session seats; women
presented the Gender Analysis of the Implementation Plan in meetings
with President Thabo Mbeki and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan; WEDO was
part of a small group of NGOs that worked with the UN to address a
number of issues related to access and security, which met several times
with WSSD Secretary General Nitin Desai and South African officials;
women's caucus was active in parallel forums, including the Women's
Centre (at the former women's jail in Johannesburg), IUCN events, World
Sustainability Hearings, Water Dome, ICLEI Local Governments session,
etc; WEDO organized a stand at the Ubuntu Village with materials on
gender and sustainable development.

WEDO produced and distributed the WSSD Women and Gender Survival Kit
(see ) via an online journalist
database, and conducted extensive outreach to South African and
international media. Coverage of women's activities at WSSD included
the Jim Lehr show in the US, BBC television and radio, CNN
International, South African television and radio, and radio interviews
throughout the US. Print coverage included articles in The Los Angeles
Times, The Chicago Tribune, Associated Press, Agence France Presse,
Panafrican News Agency, The Independent, Terra Viva, The Summit Star,
The African Gender and Media Publication (GEM), UN Connections,
Interaction's Development Newsletter, The Earth Negotiations Bulletin,
Stakeholder Forum Lisistrata, and Taking Issues. Online coverage
included articles on the websites of Population Reference Bureau, and, in addition to the websites
of the print publications listed above.

A coalition of African women's organizations, led by Litha Musyimi Ogana
of ACEGA (Kenya) and Mandisa Monakali of Ilitha Labantu (South Africa)
organized the ten-day Women's Peace Train that began in Kampala, Uganda
and traveled through Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana
before reaching Johannesburg on 26 August. The Peace Train carried a
symbol for peace in the form of a Peace Torch, donated by UNIFEM, which
women passed along from country to country along the route. The journey
began on 15 August when Rwandan women, on behalf of the Great Lakes
Region, gave the Peace Torch to women in Uganda in a colorful ceremony
in Kampala's Freedom Square. The ceremony was attended by five Ugandan
Ministers, among them Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Rebecca Kadaga,
who delivered a speech on behalf of President Yoweri Museveni. President
Museveni had planned to see the train off at the Kampala station, but
was required to travel to Gulu in northern Uganda to attend to urgent
peace matters and sent Minister Zoe Bakoko Bakoru in his place.

During the course of its journey, over 70 women's groups and more than
10,000 people participated in Peace Train ceremonies at the 18 official
stops, demonstrating African women's commitment to an end to war and
conflict on the continent. Many Ministers, Mayors, Ambassadors, and
other government officials participated in the Peace Train ceremonies,
but we would like to specially mention the commitment made by two First
Ladies-the First Lady of the Republic of Botswana, Barbara Mogae, who
drove 500 kilometers to the border town of Fransistown to receive the
Peace Torch as it crossed the border and then traveled on the Train to
the Gaborone, where she passed the Torch to the Minister of Health, and
the First Lady of South Africa, Zanele Mbeki, who met the Train at the
Johannesburg station at 5am. Upon greeting the Train, Mrs. Mbeki said
that "if the Peace Train, which was conceived and delivered by African
women, could travel from Kampala to Johannesburg, then the dream of
lasting peace could also be converted from a dream to a reality. ...And
if African women could enjoy their rightful place in society, they could
conceive and deliver the dream of a peaceful and prosperous Africa." The
Peace Torch was then brought from the train station to the Women's
Action Tent at the NGO Forum for its opening ceremony, and it remained
there through the week as a constant reminder of the sacrifices African
women have made to call for lasting peace.


Women's Major Group documents (to be posted at ):

Women's Action Agenda Global Consultation Meetings (Northeast Asia,
Europe, Africa, Latin America, Asia Pacific, North America 2001)
Women's Dialogue Paper (December 2001)
Analysis of the Secretary General's Report for PrepCom II (January 2002)
Women's Major Group Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue Statements
(January-February 2002)
Women's Caucus input into WSSD issues and proposals (February 2002)
Women's Caucus Statement on Partnerships (March 2002)
Women's Caucus Comments on Governance (March 2002)
Women's Caucus Priorities at PrepCom III (April 2002)
Women's Caucus Statement to the Press (April 2002)
Women's Dialogue Paper (May 2002)
Women's Caucus Comments on the Chair's Text (May 2002)
Women's Major Group Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue Statements (May 2002)
Women's Political Declaration (June 2002)
Gender Analysis of the Draft Plan of Implementation (July 2002)
Statement on Peace to Plenary at Summit (August 2002)
Statement by Women's Caucus at Summit (August 2002)
Women's Caucus Press Release on Health and Human Rights (September 2002)
Statement at the Women's Major Group Multi-Stakeholder Event (September
Women's Caucus Participant list from PrepComs and Summit (2002)