Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Welcome to Paradise!

Welcome to Paradise! You are entering Tierra de Suenos (Place of Dreams) in Playa Chiquita. It is located eight miles outside of Puerto Viejo, a tourist retreat on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

Tierra de Suenos was the magical place where my daughter, Kaleema and I first came to begin our work together after leaving San Jose, the busy capital of Costa Rica. We traveled four hours by bus through some of the most beautiful mountains for hours before we began to see the Caribbean Ocean with it rolling waves washing up on shore. We later returned with my friend of thirty years, Stephanie Berry who is also Kaleema's godmother. During our time there we engaged in healing rituals and nurturing ourselves.

At a later date I will be saying more about the purpose of the trip and more details on what it entailed. Just know, it was magical beyond words, as the pictures will convey!
Blessed Be! Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman

A Focus on Peace and Security in the United Nations

The report below is an excerpt taken from the edited version of the original report entitled, Women and Gender: The Evolution of Women Specific Institutions and Gender Integration at the United Nations, edited by Thomas G. Weiss and Sam DAws, London: 2007. The excerpt addresses the evolution of the United Nations gender equity efforts and specifically how the intersect with peace and security issues.
Blessed Be! Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman

Peace and Security – One of the first issues that women’s NGOs addressed in the early days of the UN was peace; it was a prominent theme in the UN Decade for Women, and in 1974, the GA adopted a Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict.(37)Nevertheless, not until the 1990s did real changes come in international law in this area and efforts to
alter the traditional approach to peace-keeping and security as male terrain begin to get a hearing in the UN. By the early 1990s, women’s groups around the world had brought VAW in many forms out of the closet. The recognition of rape as a systematic tool of war was spurred on by the rapes in Bosnia and by the Korean former “comfort women” who broke the silence about their subjugation to military sexual slavery by the Japanese in World War II. Both of these situations were highlighted in women’s
organizing at Vienna in 1993, and helped gain global attention to VAW in armed conflict there as well as in Beijing. Soon after, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia began to prosecute rape andsexual violence as war crimes, and the Tribunal for Rwanda prosecuted rape as genocide. When negotiations for the Rome Statute to create an International Criminal Court got underway, women organized the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice to ensure that sexual and gender crimes were included. As a founder of the Caucus explains: “The Rome Statute names a broad range of sexual and reproductive violence crimes – rape, sexual slavery including trafficking, forced pregnancy, enforced prostitution, enforced sterilization…as among the gravest crimes of war….and [as] crimes against humanity….[It] also encompasses groundbreaking structures and processes to ensure that crimes will be
prosecuted in a nondiscriminatory, respectful manner that minimizes the potential for retraumatization and overcomes women’s reluctance to participate.”(38)
Another major gender integration advance was the unanimous passage of Security Council Resolution 1325 on 31 October 2000. This is the first resolution by the Security Council that specifically addresses the impact of war on women and recognizes women's contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. It adds to the growing attention to VAW in war, and also calls for involving greater
9 numbers of women in both peace-making and peace-building activities. In 2002, the Secretary General made a special report on women, peace, and security and work to implement this resolution is a focus of OSAGI and UNIFEM, as well as of many NGOs.(39) Gender awareness has also grown in humanitarian assistance. For example, UNHCR began to recognize
refugee women as a particular group and issued guidelines on the protection of refugee women in 1992and for preventing and responding to sexual violence against refugees in 1995. Implementation of such guidelines on the ground amongst both UN and NGO humanitarian workers continues to be thechallenge. This challenge was made more explicit as the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by both UN peacekeepers and NGO personnel was exposed recently. In response, the Secretary General of the
UN commissioned a report on strategies to eliminate abuses in UN peacekeeping, which has resulted in the establishment of specialized units addressing personnel conduct issues in UN missions and the strengthening of mechanisms for investigation and sanction of such abuse.(40) Thus the UN is seeking to address issues of women, peace and security both internally and as the body the world hopes will help to prevent such human rights abuse.

Gender and the United Nations

Women and Gender: The Evolution of Women Specific
Institutions and Gender Integration at the United Nations

This is a slightly edited version of the Women and Gender chapter of the Oxford Handbook on the United Nations, edited by Thomas G. Weiss & Sam Daws, London: 2007.

For anyone interested in an historical overview on the United Nation's efforts around gender equity, this is an excellent source of information.
Blessed Be! Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman

The principle of women’s equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex was inscribed in the United Nations from the beginning through the UN Charter in 1945, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. These were unprecedented breakthroughs, but they did not happen without struggle. A handful of women delegates (from Asia, North and South America) attending the UN Charter Conference worked together with 42 non-governmental organizations to ensure inclusion of sex in the anti discrimination clause as well as to change ‘equal rights among men’ to ‘equal rights among men and women.’ A similar effort had to be made in the drafting of the UDHR.(1) This example of women working across geographic boundaries as well as across the lines of governmental delegates, non-governmental organizations and UN staff members to advance equality is repeated often in the history of women and the UN. Precisely because the numbers of women in
governmental delegations have been small, women’s organizations and movements have played an important role in bringing the views of women into the UN.
Even the terms to use in this discussion are under debate, but the distinction between women and gender is important – and often misunderstood. “Women” are an identifiable group based on biological sex, while “gender” refers to the ways in which roles, attitudes, privileges, and relationships regarding women and men are socially constructed, and gender shapes the experience of males as well as females.
For example, one can speak of the need to empower women as a defined group and to increase their numbers in decision-making, while gender is more appropriately used to talk about how social attitudes shape perceptions of issues and of who gets invited to the table. Men as well as women can be (or not be) “gender conscious.” To be aware of the impact of gender and committed to women’s equality is at
the core of a political perspective called “feminism.” As used in this chapter, these terms are overlapping but not synonymous.(2)

One of the ongoing dilemmas in work on this issue has been whether to pursue women’s equality through separate entities or through the other UN bodies. Some have argued that without women specific units, these concerns would be neglected and women’s efforts diluted, while others maintain that women will always be marginalized unless gender is mainstreamed into all areas of the UN. History indicates that both strategies are necessary, and indeed should be mutually reinforcing. This chapter
explores how both have evolved and influenced each other. Another dilemma has been where to place women and gender in terms of the UN’s division of work. The obvious answer is everywhere as such a broad topic does not fall into one box – social, political or economic, rights or development, etc. As Devaki Jain points out in her book as part of the UN Intellectual History Project, one of women’s contributions to the UN has been questioning the knowledge base with its embedded hierarchies and “critiquing ideas such as the dichotomies of development and rights, public and private, theory and practice, women’s rights and human rights, home and workplace.”
(3) The practical matter of where to place work on women/gender continues, but
addressing the inter-relatedness of this topic has fared better as the UN has grappled with the overlapping nature of its work in development, human rights, peace, security, humanitarian affairs, etc.2

This chapter cannot cover everything about women and gender in 60 years of the UN, much less reflect the vibrant work at the national and regional level, which has fed and been fed by the global. It does outline the major international institutions, standards, and trends as they have evolved: from the initial emphasis on political participation and citizenship to development/health in the 70’s-80’s and then
human rights, peace and security, and gender integration in the 90’s onward.

I. Women Specific Institutions, Conferences & Standard Setting
Women specific entities and events have primarily driven the agenda on this topic in the UN and have served as the incubator for ideas about women’s equality and gender to develop, and then often move into the mainstream. Without these, it is hard to imagine how this work would have progressed. Yet, women specific work has largely remained marginalized, and the miniscule resources and power invested in it has plagued efforts to achieve implementation of the high standards repeatedly espoused
on this topic.(4) The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the UN inter-governmental policy body on women, was initially established in 1946 as a sub-commission of the Commission on Human Rights. There was debate amongst supporters about where to place women’s rights, but after pressure from NGOS and an appeal by the chair of the sub-commission (Bodil Begtrup of Denmark) not to make women dependent on another Commission, where they would end up “in the queue” competing with many other human rights issues, it was made an independent entity that first met in 1947.(5)The mandate of the CSW is to prepare policy recommendations and reports to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on promoting women in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields and on urgent problems of women’s rights. The resources of the Commission are small, and it only met
every other year until 1987, but it draws upon the active engagement of NGOs. NGOs have always been a significant presence at the CSW – averaging 30-50 in the 1950’s and swelling by the 1990’s to over 600 with the growth of civil society articipation in the UN more generally.(6)The early years of the CSW laid the groundwork for legal equality with a primary focus on political rights of women – including the right to vote and status in marriage, on access to education and vocational training, and on women’s rights as workers. Several declarations and conventions were adopted building in particular on the pioneering work of the International Labor Organization (ILO), and in collaboration with UNESCO.(7) While weak on implementation, these documents began to set standards on women and were often accompanied by the gathering of statistics - the first real data
globally on women’s status – a critical role that the UN has continued to play, illustrated by numerous reports, including a 2005 report on the state of data in this field.(8) The work of the CSW was transformed by the UN World Conferences on Women from 1975-95 discussed below. In 1987, it began to meet annually, as it was mandated to monitor implementation of the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies from the ‘85 conference.” Much of its work since has focused on monitoring implementation of both Nairobi and the Beijing Platform for Action from 1995, and on conducting the UN’s five and ten year reviews of that conference. The Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) is the current name of the unit in the UN Secretariat that provides substantive servicing to the CSW. Based in New York within the Department
of Economic and Social Affairs, it elaborates global policies and norms on women mandated by theCSW, ECOSOC, and the General Assembly, and conducts research, prepares reports, and develops policy options as needed. It also promotes and supports the mainstreaming of gender perspectives 3 within the UN system as well as provides substantive and technical servicing to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women discussed below. (See www.un.org/womenwatch for
information on UN activities on women and gender specific websites in the UN)
International Women’s Year: A number of factors converged leading to the declaration of 1975 as International Women’s Year (IWY), and of ‘76-85 as the UN Decade for Women: Equality, Development, and Peace. The UN had designated several theme years and the second UN Development Decade had just begun when the Women’s International Democratic Federation suggested designating a women’s year to the CSW.(9) Proposed by Eastern and Western European women concerned with peace during the Cold War, many women in North and South America in the midst of a feminist resurgence took it up with enthusiasm. Meanwhile women from newly independent states in the Third World saw it as an opportunity to address women’s role in development and move
the work of the CSW “beyond the negotiating tables in New York and Geneva and into the fields and rice paddies of the developing world.”(10)The first World Conference on Women held in Mexico City in 1975 was tumultuous and ground breaking in bringing global attention to a multitude of issues raised by the 8000+ people who attended
the conference and/or the NGO parallel Tribune. Government delegations - 73% female and primarily headed by women – brought many into the orbit of the UN for the first time; both events introduced activists to the potential of pursuing their interests through the UN, at a time when there were few international venues for women’s rights. The conference developed a Plan of Action and, recognizing that a year was hardly enough, called for a UN Decade for Women. Further, over 100 governments set
up “national institutions” dealing with policy, research and programs on women during IWY.(11) Awareness-raising about women’s status prevailed even amidst differences in Mexico, but the Middecade Conference on Women in Copenhagen in 1980 brought out the heat in debates North-South, as well as over political divisions, especially around Israel. Nevertheless, especially at the NGO Forum, women listened and networked - a learning experience that prepared the groundwork for
greater understanding of the enormous diversity of women and their needs.(12)
The Third World Conference on Women in Nairobi in 1985 ushered in the era of the
international women’s movement, with its multitude of diverse regional and global manifestations. Women’s groups and feminist leaders had being emerging over the decade in all regions, and more Southern voices now took center stage. For example, DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era) – a new Southern network of researchers - launched its feminist critique of development in Nairobi.(13) The vibrant NGO forum embraced women’s diversity as strength and reflected the
growing consensus that all issues are women’s issues and all would benefit from gender analysis. The “Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women Towards 2000” coming out of the Inter-governmental conference contained a detailed and sophisticated approach to what achieving women’s equality required.
The UN Decade for Women proved to be an enormous catalyst for women’s organizing, providing resources, space, and legitimization of the issue nationally, as well as bringing women together regionally and globally. As Peggy Antrobus notes: “It was within this context that women from around the world first encountered each other in a sustained and ever-deepening process.…[that] was to nurture and expand this movement in a way that not even its strongest protagonists could have imagined.”(14)
The Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 showcased this movement and
consolidated its gains on the UN agenda. The largest UN conference held to date, it had delegations from 189 governments and 17,000 (governments, NGOs, journalists, and UN personnel) in attendance.4 Meanwhile some 35,000+ people attended the NGO Forum.
(15) Beijing illustrated the enormous interest in this topic globally as well as exposed its controversial aspects and the growing political strength of opponents to women’s rights. The Beijing Platform for Action covers the human rights of
women in 12 critical areas of concern, ranging from poverty and education to violence against women and armed conflict, and including the girl child – a topic that African women advanced.(16) There have been no more world conferences on women, but the CSW has conducted two well attended reviews of implementation of the Beijing Platform – in 2000 and 2005. Both of these events reaffirmed the Platform and added to it in areas, such as HIV/Aids, but they are less bold in spirit and reflect the impact that conservative forces have had on governments’ attitudes toward women’s issues, especially in areas like sexual and reproductive rights.(17)

The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) began as the Voluntary Fund for the UN
Decade for Women in 1976 to promote the Decade and support implementation in developing countries of the Mexico City Plan of Action. As the only UN Fund mandated solely to assist women, it is a catalyst both within the UN system and through support to innovative activities at the national level. In 1984, it was made a separate operational entity, renamed UNIFEM and placed in association with the
UN Development Programme (UNDP). With headquarters in New York, it has regional offices and is linked to UN development activities at the country level. The scope of UNIFEM’s work has expanded with a growing understanding of what is vital to development for women, and now includes programmes on women and governance, peace, security and violence against women as well as economic justice.(18) The International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women
(INSTRAW), also came out of a recommendation in Mexico City, and was created in 1976 but then established its headquarters in the Dominican Republic in 1983. INSTRAW carries out research programmes related to gender and development in areas, such as valuing women’s household production, and identifies gaps in order to promote further studies. It also conducts training seminars and has elaborated training materials and methodologies related to research on gender and development.

The Office of the Special Advisor to the Secretary General on Gender Issues and
Advancement of Women (OSAGI) resulted from a recommendation made at the Beijing
Conference that there should be a higher level gender post (Assistant Secretary General) who reported directly to the SG. The office provides leadership for the work on gender mainstreaming and for the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality, as well as for the Inter-Agency Task Force on Women, Peace, and Security. It also includes the Focal Point for Women in the Secretariat which works to improve the status of women internally within the UN.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women – adopted in 1981 as part of the advances made during the Decade for Women, CEDAW or the Women’s Convention as it is commonly called, is the key international legal instrument on women’s rights. CEDAW incorporates the provisions on sex discrimination in previous UN conventions and spells out social and economic as well as political and civil rights for women, addressing the private as well as
public sphere. Ratified by 180 governments to date, this treaty also has the largest number of reservations, reflecting state’s ambivalence about many of the provisions including the very concept of discrimination, and especially with regard to culture, family, and reproductive rights. CEDAW also provides for a Treaty-monitoring body that meets several times a year in New York to hear and comment on governmental reports on their obligations under the treaty. The CEDAW Committee also receives information from NGOs about what governments have done (or not done),and many NGOs have produced “shadow” or alternative reports which they use to pressure
5 governments and call attention to issues nationally. In 2000, the Convention was strengthened when an Optional Protocol was adopted that allows the committee to hear and act on complaints from individuals on violations of the Convention in countries that have ratified the protocol.

Violence Against Women (VAW) on the UN Agenda – while some aspects of VAW, such as
trafficking and harmful traditional practices, had been addressed by the UN earlier, generally VAW was still seen as private and not taken up substantially by the UN until the 1990’s. For example, VAW was not mentioned in CEDAW and UNIFEM had to commission a concept paper to justify funding projects on this topic as late as 1991. (19) However, work on VAW has advanced rapidly in the past decade, reflecting innovations in standard setting that cross over women specific/general lines, public/private, and demonstrate its cross-cutting nature. The primary standard setting, but non-binding, instrument is the Declaration on the Elimination of
Violence against Women (DEVAW) developed over several years by CSW/DAW and adopted by
the GA in 1993. DEVAW identifies violence in three spheres: family, community, and state. In 1992, the CEDAW Committee adopted a General Recommendation affirming that VAW is a form of sex discrimination, and thus, should be included in states’ reports. UNIFEM initiated the InterAgency Trust Fund on the Elimination of VAW in 1996, which provides resources in this area. The most comprehensive cross-cultural data on VAW has been collected by the World Health Organization,(20)and the GA called for a Secretary General’s report on the topic to be presented in 2006, illustrating that gender has moved onto mainstream UN agendas – at least somewhat.

II. Gender Integration and Women’s Advances on UN Agendas
Women and gender perspectives have been propelled forward by women specific entities, but they have influenced and been advanced in other areas of the UN as well. Gender integration received a big push from the international women’s movement in the 1990’s, when Antrobus argues feminists changed the terms and outcomes of global debates “in ways that clarified linkages between social, cultural, economic
and political factors and pointed the way to more credible solutions to problems of environmental degradation, sustainable livelihoods, poverty, human rights and population.”(21) During this decade, the UN mandated ‘gender mainstreaming’ described as “a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and
evaluation of policies and programmes.… so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated.”(22) Most UN agencies created gender focal points and/or programs in this area, if they did not already have them. Much has been gained from mainstreaming, but it should not be seen as a substitute for women specific work which must pioneer new issues and be an unconditional advocate
for women. Since this chapter cannot cover all the complexity of gender integration throughout the UN,it highlights four major areas.
Development – Given the importance of development within the UN and in the Women’s Decade, it has been addressed by women extensively for some time. Jain contends that women “brought new ways of looking at the conceptualization of work; challenged the hierarchies of how economic and social
contributions are valued; insisted that women have a right to development …and that the degree of access of women…was a measure of the stage of development of a nation.”(23) Initially labeled “women in development (WID),” this work built upon Ester Boserup’s 1970 study of women’s work that provided evidence of their crucial (but often unrecognized) role in national economic activity and helped
to legitimize looking at women’s productive (and reproductive) roles in development processes. The integration of women in development was recognized in the plans for the UN’s second Development Decade (1970-80) and became a focus not only of the CSW, but also of the Commission for Social Development (CSD) and of the UN’s regional commissions.(24)6 Planners began to recognize the importance of women to the success of development and the need to include them in design and country-level implementation. More attention focused on women’s education as key to family improvement, and on micro-finance for women’s enterprises, through
institutions such as Women’s World Banking, the Grameen Bank, and other similar initiatives. But as the feminization of poverty continued, a feminist critique emerged that went beyond women’s inclusion to looking at how gender was inscribed in models of development in a way that disadvantaged women. This “Gender and Development” (GAD rather than WID) approach put more emphasis on the need to
change models of development.(25)In the 1990’s, as women organized to bring feminist critiques into mainstream UN World Conferences,the first to see this impact was the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Women held their own World Congress in advance of Rio, prepared a Women’s Agenda 21 and then lobbied to ensure that their perspectives were included in the conference’s analysis of environmental degradation – linking it to
sustainable development and other “economic, political, social and cultural factors.”(26) At the Social Summit in Copenhagen in 1995, women again brought their critiques of development – linking the feminization of poverty to the impact of structural adjustment and unfair trade policies. The Secretary General of the UN at the time concluded that Copenhagen “was the international community’s most
forthright acknowledgement that the problems faced by women lie at the heart of the global agenda.”(27) Women’s growing influence was also reflected in the decision of the UNDP Human Development Report in 1995 to focus on “Gender and Human Development,” where it launched the Gender Development Index to measure women’s status. Yet, in 2000 women again found themselves marginalized at the Millennium Summit. Gender equality was one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) developed out of the Summit, but the only concrete target set for it was equal access to primary education. The other MDG focused on women - decreasing maternal mortality - only addresses women as child bearers. During the period from 2000-05, many feminists spent time with the MDG task forces, expanding the gender equality MDG into seven key target areas and seeking to bring gender perspectives into the others. Nevertheless, the first draft for the Millennium Summit +5 document again failed to address the centrality of women’s rights to this process, containing only passing reference to gender equality. Once again, women mobilized to bring
gender more fully onto the agenda, concluding after the summit that gains had been made but that governments and the UN still fell far short of both the development and the gender equality goals espoused. (28)

Health – Gender has been raised as part of the health concerns of the UN in a number of areas, such as the work on VAW done by WHO, attention to maternal mortality in WHO and UNFPA, and sex discrimination in food and health care provided to girls taken up by UNICEF and FAO. An increasingly important area where there is growing awareness within the UN of its gendered dimensions is the
HIV/AIDS epidemic. Females are the most vulnerable and fastest growing segment of those with HIV, especially in Africa. UNAIDS has begun to address this with initiatives like the UN/NGO partnership in the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS.
The most controversial aspects of health raised in the context of the UN concern sexual and reproductive health and rights. These issues were discussed as far back the UN Conference on Human Rights in Teheran in 1968, the World Population Conference in Bucharest in 1974, and the Women’s Conference in 1975. The CSW appointed a Special Rapporteur to study the interrelationship of the
status of women and family planning in 1968, Helvi Sipila, who also informally organized women in governments to ensure that women’s status was on the Bucharest agenda.(29) 7 An understanding of the centrality of women’s rights to issues of population evolved over two decades of debates, during which time women’s health movements had made strong critiques of family planning abuses and coercive practices. The paradigm shift was embodied in the Plan of Action from the ICPD
Conference in Cairo in 1994, which in the words of Rosalind Petchesky: “moves firmly from an approach based on demographic targets…to a comprehensive reproductive health
approach;….integrates women’s empowerment into population and development strategies; and …recognizes reproductive rights as fundamental human rights.”(30) The Cairo agenda has been shepherded by UNFPA, one of the strongest advocates for women’s rights in the UN system, which has been punished by a withdrawal of financial support from the US Bush administration as a consequence. The discussion of sexual rights has arisen in the UN both within the context of health and human rights, as well as in the world conferences on women. As a concept, it is implicit in the Vienna, Cairo, and Beijing World Conference documents, where reference is made to the right to control over one’s sexuality. However, a number of governments have been repudiating the concept of sexual rights as well as seeking to limit reproductive rights in a highly vocal backlash over the past few years at the UN.(31)
One of the most controversial aspects of sexual rights is the assertion of the right to live free from violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – a concept that has been raised by a few special rapporteurs and discussed at the Commission on Human Rights in recent years, but not acted upon.

Human Rights – With the CSW autonomous and separated from the UN human rights machinery based in Geneva, women were primarily seen as part of the social and economic work of the UN, and women’s rights were only rarely addressed in the human rights arena of the UN before the 1990s.While some women argued for an understanding of their rights as human rights for many years, the change in this perception came most forcefully at the UN World Conference on Human Rights in
Vienna in 1993. With the cold war over and the issue of rape in war gaining media coverage in Bosnia, women seized the opportunity to demand attention to women’s rights as human rights. They organized across the North-South divide and in all the regional preparatory processes to ensure that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action included a strong affirmation of the rights of women as universal
human rights and in particular for the recognition that all forms of violence against women are a violation of human rights.(32)
One of the specific demands in Vienna was for a Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and Consequences to report to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Geneva. This Rapporteur was appointed in 1994, and her annual reports have elaborated human rights standards on VAW and outlined government’s responsibilities to abide by those standards in concrete policy terms,
following the parameters outlined in the UN Declaration on VAW.(33)
Another call from Vienna was for gender integration into all the work of the human rights machinery - the subject of a resolution each year at the CHR since 1994. Vienna also resulted in the appointment a High Commissioner for Human Rights to elevate attention to human rights in the world, and the Office
of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has included a mandate for gender integration from its inception. Over the past decade, a growing number of human rights treaty bodies and special procedures have given attention to the gendered aspects of their mandates. For example, the UN Human Rights Committee which monitors the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) issued General Comment 28 on the equality of rights between men and women, which spells out how this violates the ICCPR.(34) Other treaty bodies are also addressing how
gender affects their mandates on Torture, Racial Discrimination, Child Rights, and Economic and Social Rights. Considerable attention has been paid to gender integration and women in the work of a number 8 of the UN Special Rapporteurs in areas, such as Internally Displaced Persons, Migrants, Housing, Extra
Judicial and Summary Executions and in the work of the Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders. (www.ohchr.org)

Another gender related issue addressed by several bodies in the UN over the years is trafficking in persons, and especially women, involving both sexual and economic exploitation. This chapter cannot cover the extensive debates over trafficking that involve questions of prostitution, sex work, human rights, migration and immigration, etc. The 1949 Convention on this subject was prepared by the Social
Committee of the GA, and trafficking is also covered in CEDAW and in the Beijing Platform. Different aspects of this topic are addressed by the OHCHR, ILO, UNESCO, UNICEF, and the UN Crime Commission. An operative definition is contained in the Palermo Protocol that supplements the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime adopted in 2000. In 2004, the CHR appointed a Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially in Women and Children.(35) The ongoing tension within the UN between the principle of the universality of human rights and
respect for cultural specificity, and between the responsibility of the international community to enforce respect for human rights and national sovereignty comes up often when addressing the human rights of women. Many UN documents consistently state variation on the idea that while cultural and religious
diversity is to be respected, it is not to be used as justification for violating human rights, including the rights of women. But the debate continues, and no where are the stakes of this debate clearer than in the resistance often experienced in seeking to realize the human rights of women.(36)

Peace and Security – One of the first issues that women’s NGOs addressed in the early days of the UN was peace; it was a prominent theme in the UN Decade for Women, and in 1974, the GA adopted
a Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict.(37)
Nevertheless, not until the 1990s did real changes come in international law in this area and efforts to
alter the traditional approach to peace-keeping and security as male terrain begin to get a hearing in the
By the early 1990s, women’s groups around the world had brought VAW in many forms out of the
closet. The recognition of rape as a systematic tool of war was spurred on by the rapes in Bosnia and by
the Korean former “comfort women” who broke the silence about their subjugation to military sexual
slavery by the Japanese in World War II. Both of these situations were highlighted in women’s
organizing at Vienna in 1993, and helped gain global attention to VAW in armed conflict there as well as
in Beijing. Soon after, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia began to prosecute rape and
sexual violence as war crimes, and the Tribunal for Rwanda prosecuted rape as genocide.
When negotiations for the Rome Statute to create an International Criminal Court got underway,
women organized the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice to ensure that sexual and gender crimes
were included. As a founder of the Caucus explains: “The Rome Statute names a broad range of sexual
and reproductive violence crimes – rape, sexual slavery including trafficking, forced pregnancy, enforced
prostitution, enforced sterilization…as among the gravest crimes of war….and [as] crimes against
humanity….[It] also encompasses groundbreaking structures and processes to ensure that crimes will be
prosecuted in a nondiscriminatory, respectful manner that minimizes the potential for retraumatization
and overcomes women’s reluctance to participate.”(38)
Another major gender integration advance was the unanimous passage of Security Council Resolution
1325 on 31 October 2000. This is the first resolution by the Security Council that specifically addresses
the impact of war on women and recognizes women's contributions to conflict resolution and
sustainable peace. It adds to the growing attention to VAW in war, and also calls for involving greater
numbers of women in both peace-making and peace-building activities. In 2002, the Secretary General
made a special report on women, peace, and security and work to implement this resolution is a focus
of OSAGI and UNIFEM, as well as of many NGOs.(39)
Gender awareness has also grown in humanitarian assistance. For example, UNHCR began to recognize
refugee women as a particular group and issued guidelines on the protection of refugee women in 1992
and for preventing and responding to sexual violence against refugees in 1995. Implementation of such
guidelines on the ground amongst both UN and NGO humanitarian workers continues to be the
challenge. This challenge was made more explicit as the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by both
UN peacekeepers and NGO personnel was exposed recently. In response, the Secretary General of the
UN commissioned a report on strategies to eliminate abuses in UN peacekeeping, which has resulted in
the establishment of specialized units addressing personnel conduct issues in UN missions and the
strengthening of mechanisms for investigation and sanction of such abuse.(40) Thus the UN is seeking
to address issues of women, peace and security both internally and as the body the world hopes will
help to prevent such human rights abuse.
In conclusion, an assessment of where women’s rights and gender equality stand in the UN after the
World Summit in 2005 is a half full versus half empty question. Much has progressed since women first
fought for their inclusion in the UN Charter, but after 60 years of struggle, one could expect more as
well from the body whose power depends on its moral authority and should be leading by example.
The UN internal mandate of 50/50 males/females in positions of power by 2000 agreed upon at the
Beijing Conference in 1995 has progressed very little; women still make up less than 30% of higher level
professional posts and that percentage gets lower the higher up you go.(41) The continuing gender
imbalance at the upper levels of the UN, and in the governments that make up its member states, points
to the need for women and male allies to keep bringing these issues forward.
As part of the UN reform process, considerable discussion took place in 2006 about the need to
strengthen the UN’s work on women’s rights and its “gender architecture.” A major proposal to
consolidate DAW, OSAGI, and UNIFEM into one stronger women’s agency with more resources was
recommended by the Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Coherence in November and endorsed
by Kofi Anan as well as by many women’s NGOs. In 2007, the GA will decide how to act on this
proposal which could alter considerably the units described here. Both this decision and how vigorously
the mandate for “gender mainstreaming” is pursued under the new Secretary General will be significant
markers for the UN’s work in this area in the future.
The next test will be how governments and the UN proceed to integrate gender and advance women in
the newly created Peace Building Commission, in the Human Rights Council and in attempts to
implement the MDGs. The UN remains an important arena in women’s pursuit of justice and human
rights; progress globally has repercussions nationally, and vice versa. The UN has provided a venue
where high standards around gender equality and the human rights of women have been elaborated, but
the challenge is how to implement these goals within the UN, and in the every day lives of women and
girls around the world.
1. Sources for the history of women in the UN: Division for the Advancement of Women, United
Nations, Women Go Global: The United Nations and the International Women’s Movement, 1945-2000. CDROM
developed with the National Council for Research on Women (NY:UN, 2003); Hilkka Pietila,
Engendering the Global Agenda: The Story of Women and the United Nations, (NY:UN Non-governmental
Liaison Service, 2002).
2. For more useful discussion of these terms see WHO - www.who.int/frh-whd/GandH/genddef.htm;
UNIFEM, Report of the Expert Group Meeting on the Development of Guidelines for the Integration of Gender
Perspectives into United Nations Human Rights Activities and Programmes, Geneva, 3-7 1995.
3. Devaki Jain, Women, Development, and the UN: A Sixty Year Quest for Equality and Justice. (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 2005), p.8.
4. Lack of resources has long been discussed, especially regarding implementation of the Nairobi and
Beijing Conference commitments. See for example, John Mathiason, The Long March to Beijing, CD-ROM,
1998; Stephen Lewis, Race Against Time. (Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2005) pp. 109-144.
5. Pietila, pp. 13-14; Felice Gaer, "And Never the Twain Shall Meet? The Struggle to Establish Women's
Human Rights as International Human Rights," The International Human Rights of Women: Instruments of
Change, C. Lockwood (ed), (NY: American Bar Association, 1998).
6. Women Go Global.
7. Pietila, pp. 19-20; Jain, pp. 11-42; For conventions and declarations on women’s rights, see Women
Go Global and www.un.org/womenwatch. and Center for the Study of Human Rights, Women and
Human Rights: The Basic Documents (New York: Columbia University, 1996).
8. The World’s Women 2005: Progress in Statistics. (UN: DESA Statistics Division, 2005).
9. Pietila, p. 31.
10. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, “Introduction,” The United Nations and the Advancement of Women, 1945-
1995. (NY: UN Blue Book Series VI, 1995), p. 27.
11. Jain, p. 69; V. Allan, M. Galey, and M. Persinger, “World Conference of International Women’s
Year,” Women, Politics, and the United Nations, Anne Winslow, ed. (Westport Ct: Greenwood Press,
12. Charlotte Bunch, “What Not to Expect From the UN Women’s Conference in Copenhagen,” Ms.
Magazine, NY: July, 1980; Peggy Antrobus. The Global Women’s Movement: Origins, Issues and Strategies.
(London: Zed Books, 2004), pp. 49-52,
13. Gita Sen and Caren Grown, Development, Crises, and Alternative Visions: Third World Women’s
Perspectives. (NY: Monthly Review Press, 1987); Devaki Jain, “The DAWN Movement,” Routledge
International Encyclopedia of Women, Chris Kramarae and Dale Spender, eds (NY: Routledge, 2000).
14. Antrobus, p. 37.
15. Pietila, p. 58.
16. Anita Anand with Gouri Salvi, UN Fourth World Conference on Women. (New Delhi: Women’s
Feature Service, 1998); Amrita Basu, The Challenge of Local Feminisms: Women’s Movements in Global
Perspectives. (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995); C. Bunch, M. Dutt, and S. Fried, “Beijing '95: A
Global Referendum on the Human Rights of Women”, Canadian Women's Studies, Vol. 16, No. 3.
17. Cynthia Meillon with Charlotte Bunch, Holding On to the Promise: Women’s Human Rights and the
Beijing + 5 Review. (NJ: Center for Women’s Global Leadership, 2001); WEDO, Mapping Progress:
Assessing Implementation of the Beijing Platform. (NY, WEDO, 1998); WEDO, Beijing Betrayed: Women
Worldwide Report,” (NY: WEDO, 2005).
18. On the history of UNIFEM, see Margaret Snyder, Transforming Development: Women, Poverty, and
Politics (London: Intermediate Technology Publications, 1995).
19. Roxanna Carrillo, Battered Dreams: Violence against Women as a Development Issue, (NY:
UNIFEM, 1992).
20. Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women. (Geneva: WHO, 2005),
21. Antrobus, p. 81; See also Putting Gender on the Agenda: A Guide to Participating in UN World
Conferences. (NY: UNIFEM and UN/NGLS, 1995), http://www.unngls.
22. Report of the Economic and Social Council for 1997 (A/52/3, 18 September 1997), Chapter IV;
23. Jain, p. 2; see also: Arvonne S. Fraser and Irene Tinker, eds., Developing Power: How Women
Transformed International Development. (NY: Feminist Press, 2004).
24. Ester Boserup, Women and Economic Development. (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1970); Women Go
Global; Lourdes Beneria, “Accounting for Women’s Work: The Progress of Two Decades,” World
Development 20, no. 11 (1992), pp. 1546-1560.
25. Caroline Moser, "Gender Planning and Development; Theory, Practice and Training. (London: Routledge,
1993); Marilyn Waring, If Women Counted: A New Feminist Economics. (San Francisco: Harper and
Row, 1988.)
26. Antrobus, p. 86; Martha Chen, “Engendering World Conferences: The International Women’s
Movement and the UN,” T. Weiss and L. Gordenker (eds), NGOs, the UN and Global Governance.
(Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1996).
27. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, p.
28. Gender Monitoring Group of the World Summit, “What’s At Stake for Women in the World
Summit” and “UN 2005 World Summit Outcomes,” www.bejingandbeyond.org, 2005.
29. Pietila, p, 32; Women Go Global.
30. Rosalind Petchesky, Global Prescriptions: Gendering Health and Human Rights. (London: Zed Books with
UNRISD, 2003), pp. 34-35; see also Sonia Correa, with R. Reichmann, Population and Reproductive Rights:
Feminist Perspectives from the South, (London: Zed Books, 1994).
31. Cynthia Rothschild with S. Long and S. Fried, Written Out: How Sexuality is Used to Attack Women’s
Organizing. (NY: IGLHRC, 2005), pp.83-120; Pinar Ilkkaracan, ed., Women and Sexuality in Muslim Societies
(Istanbul: Women for Women's Human Rights, 2000); Jennifer Butler, Born Again: The Christian Right
Globalized. (Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan, (2006).
32. Charlotte Bunch and Niamh Reilly, Demanding Accountability: The Global Campaign and Vienna Tribunal
for Women’s Human Rights, (NY: UNIFEM, 1994); Florence Butegwa, The World Conference on Human
Rights: The WiLDAF Experience, (Harare: Women in Law and Development in Africa, 1993).
33. Reports of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, United
Nations Commission on Human Rights, 1995-2006. www.unhchr.org.
34. Human Rights Committee, General Comment 28, Equality of rights between men and women
(article 3), U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.10 (2000),
http://www.umn.edu/humanrts/gencomm/hrcom28.htm; for on-going commentary on human rights and
women, see www.whrnet.org
35. Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution
of Others, 1949, UN Treaty Series, Vol. 96, no 1342, p. 271; Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish
Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against
Transnational Organized Crime, 2000, http://untreaty.un.org/English/TreatyEvent2003/Texts/treaty2E.pdf;
Radhika Coomaraswamy, "UN Human Rights Commission, Report of the Special Rapporteur on
Trafficking in Women, Women's Migration and Violence Against Women," E/CN.4/2000/68. See
www.unhchr.org for reports of the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially in women
and children.
36. Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, A/COMF.157.23.
www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/ and Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action,
A/CONF.177/20. www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform; For discussion of these concepts,
see Mahnaz Afkhami, "Gender Apartheid and the Discourse of Relativity of Rights in Muslim Societies"
(2002) www.learningpartnership.org; Radhika Coomaraswamy, “Are Women’s Rights Universal? Re-
Engaging the Local?” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism (Wesleyan University Press, 2002) pp. 1-
37. Women Go Global.
38. Rhonda Copelon, “Rape and Gender Violence: From Impunity to Accountability in International
Law,” Human Rights Dialogue 2.10 (Fall 2003),
http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/viewMedia.php/prmID/1052; See also: Kelly D. Askin, “A Decade of the
Development of Gender Crimes in International Courts and Tribunals: 1993 to 2003” Human Rights
Brief, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Washington: Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Spring 2000) pp. 16-
19; Indai Lourdes Sajor, ed. Common Grounds: Violence Against Women in War and Armed Conflict Situations
(Quezon City, Phillippines: ASCENT, 1998).
39. Resolution (S/RES/1325); The Secretary General’s Study: Women, Peace, and Security. (NY: UN,
2002); Elisabeth Rehn and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Women, War, Peace: The Independent Experts’
Assessment of the Impact of Armed Conflict on Women and Women’s Role in Peace-building. (NY:
UNIFEM, 2002); for an overview of on-going work in this area, see the website: www.peacewomen.org.
40. A Comprehensive Strategy to eliminate future sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations
peacekeeping operations, - also known as the Prince Zeid Report in reference to Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid
Al-Hussein of Jordan who served as the SG’s adviser for this report. A/59/710, 2005.
41. Office of the Focal Point for Women in the United Nations,
www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/fpgenderbalancestats.htm; For information on numbers of women in
Parliaments compiled by the Inter-parliamentary Union, see
www.ipu.org/wmn-e/world.htm. Kristen Timothy, “Equality for Women in the United Nations
Secretariat,” in Winslow.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Final Reflections from Costa Rica on Peacebuilding - South Africa and Strategic Peacebuilding Efforts

South Africa holds in its collective consciousness the deep and unsettling history of apartheid while at the same time personifying incredible possibilities of transformation. The dismantling of apartheid has birthed a profound societal shift that seeks to unite peoples of different ethnic, racial, religious and cultural customs and beliefs and to effectively weave together again, the humanity of its people and heal its wounds.

South Africa has captured the imagination of the peacebuilding community with such compelling and public rituals as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission(TRC). Such imagination could only evolve out of the depths of a nation that descended to the bowels of hell and whose rise is sanctioned by a collective memory that whispers and shouts - never again! Thus, its efforts to heal and transform have become the focal point of peacebuilders around the world. The TRC is touted as one of the most innovative national efforts spurred by human disaster and vision. The desired outcome is nothing less than the healing and transformation of an entire nation.

In our class, The Art and Ethics of Strategic Peacebuilding we will be reviewing experiences of reconciliation in South Africa as a lens to examine peacebuilding theory and concepts as well as reviewing reconciliation efforts of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

And so, it is with great excitement that I look forward to my engagment with Dr. Sharon D. Welch and seminarians at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, Illinois.
Blessed Be! Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Gendered Analysis of Globalization: Further Reflections from Costa Rica

"It is impossible to realize our goals while discriminating against half the human race." (Kofi Annan, 2006)

Our religious institutions values shape and inform our decision making about engagement in public issues. I contend that in order to live out those values we hold dear such as justicemaking and peacebuilding, we must be engaged in the larger world, thus bringing a message of hope and renewal to the suffering and poor. Rebecca Todd Peters succinctly states, “Living as justice were our calling is a critical way of defining what it means to be human.” Similarly, Nancy Cardos Pereira, a participant at the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Brazil in 2006, adamantly expressed the following, “United States churches must confront the impact of economic globalization.” As ministers of conscience we must first understand the issues of globalization to effectively engage our congregants and communities.

In this paper I will focus on globalization and its impact on women. Why the focus on women? In general, the dominant discourse fails to address the full experience of women’s realities. Radicalizing the emancipatory analysis of globalization by bringing from the margin to the center the critique of the roles and experiences of women in the developing world adds a perspective that is often lacking because of male biases. Any serious understanding of is compelled to include a gender analysis because women remain severely under-represented in almost all aspects of life. Simply put, I desire to tell the stories of women’s lives that are not being told. There are effects of globalization that no one would condone and would act to prevent these kinds of negative effects if they were more widely understood. Part of my job as I see it is to tell the story, to place these stories in the imagination of others. In doing so I am arguing for the need to enrich the political imagination of peacebuilders and justice seeking people and those shaping our economies. My niche is clergy, women, the poor and oppressed, hence, the focus on women. Thus, this essay explores the impact of globalization on women. It will identify the four globalization approaches: economic, political, cultural and religious. However, it will only focus on the economic approach.

Context of the Problem
From the tallest skyscrapers proliferating in urban cities, to the most poverty stricken ghettos and villages, someone somewhere is either directly or indirectly talking about globalization and its affects on their lives and communities. While the claim that globalization is on everyone’s mind might be a slight exaggeration, what cannot be contested is that almost everyone is impacted by globalization. Yet, given women’s alarming conditions worldwide that reflect some of the poorest health indices and highest rates of violence, what is sometimes glaringly missing from the discourse on globalization is a gender analysis of its impact on women. The leaders of the world appear powerless to halt the steady onslaught of debilitating poverty, disease and crime in developing nations, while multinational corporations accelerate their marketing efforts to garner consumers and expand global markets to the detriment of the poor whose only hope is often to resort to informal economies to acquire some semblance of the “good life.” The growing numbers of young people globally involved in illegal activity is directly related to poverty, as well as the capitalist beliefs that equate materialism with happiness. Furthermore, quality of life is equated with having access to goods and services which is seen as a way to achieve happiness and respect from others. Internationalization has made permanent and secure employment a rarity for the poorest of the poor who resort to the informal economic sector that often includes illegal and unsavory activities such as prostitution, drug and human trafficking and smuggling.

Globalization is defined as “a complex economic, political, cultural and geographic process in which the mobility of capital, organizations, ideas, discourses, and peoples has taken a global or transnational form.” In general, much of the opposition to globalization concerns the domination of wealthy countries policies and their failure to appreciate and alleviate the negative impact on developing countries and their citizens as the divide between the haves and have nots threatens to disastrously escalate out of control. What is at issue are two conflicting perspectives. One perspective is based on the rhetoric of the owners of capital which suggests that globalization is good for everyone and will produce great benefits for the developing and developed world. The other perspective is rooted in the reality of the impoverished nations of the world, the overwhelming majority that report a different reality, one that indicates they are not benefitting from globalization. Along with these general concerns, more specific gender issues have been expressed. It is the failure in earlier years to consider gender in development that proved so disastrous. For instance in the Africana world, the focus of this paper, women produce about 80 percent of the locally consumed and marketed food. The term, Africana world is used here to reference the continent of Africa and its inhabitants. Additionally, the Economic Commission for Africa estimates that females account for 60-80 percent of all labor hours in agriculture. Hence, once again, the failure to recognize gender hierarchies in society disadvantages women and contributes to their continued marginalization. Because the state is male dominated in most developing nations it distorts women's ability to shape their lives on their own terms. Furthermore, a male dominated state influences how women experience the laws, it policies and spending patterns. Women still remain severely under-represented in politics and decision-making positions. Male dominated political systems often reflect the male biases of males and often fail to reflect women's needs. What is the connection, if any, between the plight of women and globalization? How are women impacted? Those are questions this essay seeks to address.

According to UN estimates women are disadvantaged in virtually every aspect of
their lives. Women’s marginalization reveals a fragile state of affairs globally as seen in the following statistics:

*Up to 3 million women a year lose their lives to gender-based violence or neglect, while millions more are victims of infanticide in countries that value male over female children
*Women account for almost half of all HIV/AIDS cases worldwide, and in Africa, close to 70 percent of infected people are women. Elderly women, often the poorest, are left to care for the children of AIDS victims.
*As many as 4 million girls and women a year are sold into prostitution
*Two million females suffer genital mutilation, often in conditions that lead to lifelong pain, infection and premature death
*One woman in five is a victim of rape or attempted rape during her lifetime.
*The number of women over 60 is growing, but they are more likely than men to end their days in poverty.
*Women are more insecure in the working world, unemployed longer and more frequently than men.
*Women are educationally handicapped; two-thirds of the world’s 876 million illiterates are women

These statistics poignantly reveal women’s unequal access to and lack of control over resources, resulting in their subsequent vulnerabilities that place them at greater risk simply because of their gender. There are literally no limits to the ways in which women’s lives are rendered vulnerable because they are women. Women are paid less than men for the same work in the public sector, while receiving no compensation for their work in the private sector despite the fact that women’s domestic functions greatly reduce government’s costs for the care and well being of family members.

Some 600,000 women die in childbirth, many for lack of medical attention or sanitation

Pragmatically, even women’s most basic biological functions, their ability to produce and nurture future laborers for the state and the global market, are at risk because of government’s inability to effectively provide for women’s basic health care as demonstrated by the aforementioned statistic on fatalities in childbirth.
The following section provides a review of the most prevalent paradigm, the
economic model. Although the other models will not be covered they include:
political, cultural, and religious.

The economic approach, the most prevalent of the approaches includes as its supporters the “owners of capital” and “engines of big business” that drive the growth and trade in the new global economy. Its supporters contend that the global market and not ideologies or political actors determine the future of the world, hence the significance of this model. While this approach was conceived in academia, scholars usually equate its genesis with the convening of the Bretton Wood Conference of 1944. This conference was convened post World War II to negotiate recovery efforts of world leaders for Germany and Japan. This economic approach acquired a number of monikers including some of the following: Washington consensus, laissez-faire, structural adjustment, big business, neo-liberalism, trickle-down or supply-side economics. One of the strengths of this approach is its increased economic interdependence and the intergeneration of national economies into one economy within the framework of a capitalist market. Its supporters contend that markets are more efficient at providing services than governments whose regulations tend to inhibit economic growth, expansion and trade. Having addressed war recovery efforts, by the 1970s the world powers turned their attention to their former colonies, a relationship that was characterized by extreme economic disparities and equally imbalanced power dynamics. As a result of this dependency the Africana world continued its cycle of underdevelopment historically fostered through the exploitation and diversion of its human and natural resources. The militarization of African politics during the Cold War resulted in more than half of African's nation states succumbing to military rule by the mid 1980s. The outbreak of deveastatng civil wares in Africa further plagued the continent that included Nigeria and the Sudan. In the wake of rowing violence, the world's largest super powers, the United States and Soviet Union saw fit to play out its deadly Cold War politics and thus conflicts and aggressive global politics dominated the global landscape. The erosion of democratic political structures at one point leeft only two AFrican countries intact out of the fifty-four. African's growing inability to sustain its agricultural production also left her increasingly dependant overtime on the World Bank and the Intermonetary Fund for its impotent development schemes that continued to produce less than spectacular results. Thus, the reality for the average Africana man, woman and child some contend, is that they are poorer today than they were at independence. Some of the factors that contributed to developing nations dependency included: terms of trade, high interest rates, embargoes and export of inflation. Furthermore, the acquisition of arms and racial and inter-group discrimination resulted in turmoil and chaos, furthering Africa’s dependency status.

Several significant changes characterize the economic approach: 1) a shift in commodities from capital and materials to knowledge; 2) changes in the mode of production from industry to information technology; 3) production driven by decentralized and geographically scattered sites that are based on cheap raw materials and labor; 4) emphasis on cooperation between economic institutions and national politics and 5) emphasis on comparative advantage, that is, consumer demand and availability of markets. Two current examples of comparative advantage that characterize the economic approach are Singapore and Bangladesh. Singapore is now the biggest producer of computer hardware and Bangladesh is the biggest producer of men’s clothing. However, while these two countries for the most part have benefitted from globalization's emphasis on cheap raw materials and labor, cooperative trade agreements and consumer demand and availability of markets, others in the Africana world have not been so fortunate. Some of this misfortune has been due to the policies of the World Bank that have placed constraints on developing nations that were already strapped with loans that flowed to them during more lucrative times. Policies such as structural adjustment are merely one of the obstacles to development in the African World.

Structural Adjustment Policies

Structural adjustment policies were borne on the backs of women in developing nations. Structural adjustment is a generic term used to describe the process by which many developing nations reshaped their economies to a more free market orientation. The government changes who the primary decision makers are and the mechanisms that determine what is produced and how. Many developing nations “complied” with structural adjustment as a condition to receive new loans from foreign commercial banks and/or multilateral institutions such as International Monetary Fund and World Bank. During the 1950s and 1960s western economists erroneously thought that poverty in developing nations was due to a lack of capital. Thus commercial lending institutions flush with petro dollars courted developing nations with much needed loans during the 1970s. When poverty had not been eradicated it became clear that economists had erred. In an effort to render corrective measures the focus shifted to an emphasis on equity and distribution of resources. The early 1980s still produced the dismal failures of earlier decades. However, the irony was that even though some people rose out of poverty, other fell into its bottomless pit. The World Bank began structural adjustment lending in 1979. By the early 1980s commercial bank lending was dried up to all but a few developing countries.

Typically grandiose rhetoric that often characterizes the economic approach includes statements like the following, “globalization has practically ended competition and established a harmonious global market place” “The world is a much better place than it used to be, in large part because of the advances that globalization has allowed.” “The economic advancements that globalization offers can be shared with the whole human race.” “The success of growth and trade policies in the West means that globalization offers the same promise of hope to the global South.” This kind of rhetoric assumes that developing nations can easily break into export markets. Instead, not only do they face uneven playing fields but additionally non-tariff protectionist barriers are designed to keep them off the playing field. Furthermore, such grandiose statements do not address the damage inflicted on poor nations by globalization policies. Detractors of the economic approach include scholars such as Karl Poltayi, who contends that to,“ allow the market mechanism to be the sole director of the fate of human beings and their national environment would result in demolition of society.” George Soros, another detractor, declared the death of global capitalism with his doomsday prediction that, “Global capitalism is coming apart.” Additionally, Robert Reich, former United States Secretary of Labor warned against the erroneous assumption that focuses on the economic rather than what he contends is political.

Case Studies in Globalization
Two case studies of globalization run amuck are gleaned from Coca-Cola and Pepsi in India and five multinational oil firms in Nigeria; Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Italy’s Agip and Exxon Mobil and Chevron from the United States. Beginning with Coca-Cola and Pepsi, there appears to be a double standard when it comes to multinational corporation (mnc) products. Coca-Cola and Pepsi have continued to sell their soft drink products in India even though they have been shown to contain high levels of pesticides. Three years ago the Indian government confirmed the danger. On at least ten different occasions since January 2005, the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) has rejected the shipment of Coca-Cola products made in India coming into the United States because they did not meet (USFDA) regulations. The products were considered unsafe for the United States public but the same products continue to be sold in India. Plachimada, Kerala, one of Coca-Cola’s largest bottling plants has been closed since March 2004 because of community opposition based on the disregard for the well being of Indian consumers. It appears that Coca-Cola and Pepsi have not practiced corporate social responsibility in India. For example, they use millions of liters of water every day, yet pay nothing for the water. Coca-Cola has placed many of its bottling plants in “drought prone” areas that were already experiencing severe water crisis. Since the arrival of Coca-Cola five years ago tests indicate that the water levels have dropped ten meters. Tests conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board found excessive levels of lead and cadmium in all of the Coca-Cola waste that it surveyed. Prior to the survey, Coca-Cola was distributing its toxic waste to surrounding farmers as fertilizer that was produced in its bottling plants.
In Nigeria, the oil companies have come under death threats because locals feel exploited after forty-five years of no visible benefits. The five oil companies at question are Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Italy’s Agip and Exxon Mobil and Chevron from the United States. While the fragile Nigerian landscape has suffered from the imprint of 4,500 miles of pipelines, 159 oil fields and 275 flow stations that burn night and day and are visible for miles, the fishing and farming ecosystem have been badly damaged and perhaps permanently destroyed. Locals are demanding a share of the oil wealth in their territories and have essentially declared war on the oil companies. This has resulted in bloodshed between the government militia and local resisters who have resorted to kidnapping oil personnel for ransom. Meanwhile, prior to the advent of the oil industry in 1960 Nigeria produced agricultural products such as palm oil and cacao beans that made up nearly all of Nigeria’s exports. In an ironic twist, Nigeria now imports more than it produces. Nigeria is now among the 15 poorest countries in the world with 70 percent of its people living below the poverty line. The Nigerian government documented 6,817 oil spills – practically one a day for twenty-five years. Nigeria rates below all other major oil nations and its annual per capita income of $1,400 is less than Senegal which exports mainly fish and nuts according to Tom O’Neil, a journalist that visited Nigeria and witnessed the devastation first hand. In 2006 Shell and the other multinationals experienced record profits. Meanwhile, Ken Saro-Wiwa, a national hero and seven others were hanged by the Nigerian government to make an example of them and to discourage others from taking up militant protests. Meanwhile, things have not improved according to a recent Human Rights Watch Report:
Multinational oil companies operating in the Niger Delta have become drawn into the region’s conflicts in a way that had made the companies central parties to them. While there are real constraint on the companies ability to extricate themselves, they
have often failed to meet their basic responsibilities towards the communities around them. Companies have generally not responded effectively to human rights abuses committed by security forces assigned to protect their operations. They have also
failed to curb environmentally harmful practices such as gas flaring, or to eliminate the occurrence of oil spills caused by aging and poorly maintained infrastructures.

In one of the most comprehensive studies on globalization titled, Scorecard on Globalization 1980-2000, a team of researchers including Mark Weisbrot and Dean Baker concluded that key measures of progress have declined globally in the past twenty years:
Economic growth and rates of improvement in life expectancy, child mortality, education levels and literacy all have declined in the era of global corporatization
(1980- 2000) compared to the years 1960-1980—a period in which many countries maintained protectionist policies to insulate their economies from the international market to nurture their domestic industries and allow them to become competitive. Those policies are the same ones on which U.S. economic prosperity was built. From 1980-2000, most countries followed the paths of public spending cuts, corporatization of public services, implementing fees for health care (and education in many cases), and removing government protection for young industries. Many of the world’s poor and mid-income countries experienced unprecendented levels of foreign debt and loss of their wealth to interest on loans during the period. . . Reduced progress in education as evidenced by declining school enrollment rates and literacy. Slower growth in domestic spending correlates to decreased educational spending.

Analysis of Globalization’s Impact on Women
The best clue to a nation’s growth and development potential is the status and role of women.

Before discussing globalization’s impact on women it is helpful to provide a brief overview on gender. Gender roles are socially constructed and represent the economic and institutional factors that define male and female roles in most societies. Gender as a term refers to the social and cultural determinants which reflect the existing differences between men and women; as opposed to biological differences determined by factors which are anatomical, hormonal and physiological in nature. In other words, women and men’s roles are created and not inherent. Men and women, females and males acquire gender scripts throughout their lives. These scripts reflect the systematic and structural differences that society ascribes to men and women. Socio economic processes cannot be understood in isolation from the cultural perceptions which people have of those processes. The changing ideas about males and females influence the transformation of production relations in a society under going radical changes. Individuals and groups of people may experience gender tensions during this period of transition. The position of women in a male dominated society is shaped by tradition, policymakers, and political economies, just to name a few of the influential factors. Gender is a way of signifying relationships of power. Women tend to be at a disadvantage in a male dominated society because of the tremendous power imbalances. Power is often transferred from males to males, thus denying women opportunities to participate in the brokering of power for the most part. Women's work in most societies to some degree or another reflect this deference of power. This sexual division of labor means that much of the work involved in reproducing labor power is done by women.
In situations concerning financial constraints, gender concerns are inevitably given a low priority, thus women are marginalized. This is the experience of many women in developing countries, that is, those governments that have a commitment to promoting women's equality, when confronted with fiscal realities compromise "women's issues". Women's issues are seen as "soft" and less important. If it appears there are benefits in supporting women's issues then the ruling elite will do so. Generally, the pattern in Africa has been that women are excluded from the decision making process.

Sources of Women’s Inequalities

According to Welch, women in Africa, especially those in rural areas, suffer more in comparison than in most other parts of the world. The primary source of women’s suffering identified by some scholars are cultural barriers interacting with low levels of economic development. In order to understand the unique nuances of women’s oppression in different cultural contexts, it is necessary to understand both the systems of production and the culture that supports the status of women in a given society. Thus, violence against women then is interrogated using the lens of a conceptual framework that recognizes the phenomenon of gender based violence which is merely the end result of both the material and ideological aspects of women’s status in a misogynist society that views women as property. Nicola-McLaughlin notes the international nature of the struggle of women and concludes that , “women are oppressed in a multidimensional fashion and all oppressions are not necessarily exhibited in economic relations but at the levels of the cultural superstructure.” The issue of violence against women will be addressed more fully at a later time in this paper.

Women's changing relationship to the state is often mirrored by their economic reality. Because state formation is a gendered process and overwhelmingly controlled by men in developing nations, women are never central to state power, thus, the laws, policies and resource allocation reflect the interests of males. Additionally women are far too often invisible entities and their markedly different access to and their relationships with the state tends to place them at a disadvantage, particularly in the developing nations. The following factors have been identified as concerns that impact women differently in globalization:
*Multinational corporations target women employees
*Lack of opportunities for females
*Reinforcement of gender stereotypes
*Hazardous work conditions
*Family roles
*Double standards
*Discrimination against women workers
*Structural adjustment loans
*Retaliatory actions from males or family members
*Multinational corporations target women employees – Multinational corporations have determined that female employees are better suited for assembly work. Women tend to be compliant and eager to please. Additionally, in many developing countries assembly work is considered “women’s work” and so males will not consider such work.

*Other women are attracted to the work because of the lack of opportunities in other industries. Furthermore, women are expected to and will work for less and multinational corporations exploit this factor. The lack of opportunities for females is often due to their subordinate status in society that precludes education. Thus women start off with more obstacles. In some settings it is more difficult for females to obtain employment in the public sector. In some societies it is not acceptable to work outside the home and to do so the woman will be going against the social norms. And yet, women are becoming the breadwinners when males for whatever reason are not available. Off shore sourcing is another way that multinational corporations are targeting women. While the upside is many women work for wages that exceed local expectations, the bottom line is the company is still exploiting her and she making considerably less because she is a “third world citizen” and because she is a woman.

*Reinforced gender stereotypes - In many instances globalization has reinforced gender stereotypes in the following ways: offering lower wages than males, relegating women to “women’s work” and failure to consider women for supervisory or management positions.

*Hazardous work conditions – women are subjected to unregulated and therefore, unsafe working conditions that can cause health problems and injuries. Women in textile factories are exposed to dust and lint that can lead to lung ailments. Women working in electronic factories are often exposed to carcinogenic chemicals and not versed on appropriate ventilation. Speed ups to make production can cause women to feel stressed and under pressure. In some instances women are not allowed to take adequate breaks for fear that production will run behind. Supervisors, usually males, may subject the women to verbal and physical abuse to intimidate them into pushing their quotas. Unfortunately, another occupational hazard for women is sexual harassment. Being subjected to inappropriate sexual touching, innuendos or forced to have sex with a superior in order to keep their job is a common abuse of power by some males in authority.

*Family roles – World wide women are forced to endure double days, that is, time spent on a paid job outside the home and then they return home to work a second shift of domestic chores. Or another scenario might be that she cannot assume a job because of her responsibilities at home, yet she is expected to contribute.
Double standards – Females are often less valued in many societies. Therefore females begin life in utero subjected to being aborted. When they are born there may be less cause for celebration. House hold chores and child care are all assigned at an early age to females. Higher Education is commonly reserved for males. This cycle then limits female’s life choices. Some women working in a non traditional role such as a factory setting may begin to assimilate and assume western dress. Family members may reject her. Once no longer employed some women may find it difficult to reenter into their family system and resume their life. Some women leave their jobs because they realize the price is too great and that they will not be able to find a husband.

*Discrimination against women workers – While MNC’s have been guilty of targeting women workers because they make better employees than their male counterparts, the same women are discriminated against once hired. Single young women without children appear to be the preference of MNC’s. If any women are unfortunate enough to become pregnant while employed they are usually fired. Pregnancy is considered undesirable and has nothing to do with the woman’s ability to sustain her output but the biased perception of pregnancy as a prolonged state of sickness and therefore a liability to be avoided. In work places where there are often no employee benefits such as sick leave for the occasional cold are not available. Sick days for morning sickness or doctor’ appointments are inconceivable. The possibilities of returning to work after pregnancy are nonexistent. Other discriminations include failure to provide feminine hygiene products and clean wholesome bathroom and break environments.
Structural adjustment loans (SALs) – SALs require cuts in public expenditures. These all impact women disproportionately. Women are nutritionally, culturally and economically less affluent than men in most instances. In a Zambian Integrated Rural Development Project increased instances of child malnutrition surfaced. Upon investigation, it was determined that among the children that had developed malnutrition the women had increasingly less time to care for them because they were working on their husbands cash-crops. At a time when more resources needed to be directed towards families, spending was directed towards large-scale prestige projects that tied development assistance to exports and the promotion of foreign policy objectives.

*Retaliatory actions from male or family - A Sri Lankan woman participated in a local credit card program that allowed women to process cashew nuts in their homes. As a result of her economic success the woman initiated a legal separation from her abusive husband. Her husband and friends reacted hostilely. They subsequently labeled her a “hard” woman and allegations of prostitution were leveled against her. In another instance in a Mexican project the participants experienced increasing levels of domestic violence from their partners. Once it was understood that the males were using violence to reclaim their authority programs were created for the males. Globalization is affecting the social relations between women, men and their communities. It is important to understand that the improvement of women’s status can upset the fragile social relations between genders traditionally based on men’s power and control over women.
Gender based violence has been shown to increase as a result of development in the form of globalization, hence an effort is made to provide at least a basic treatment of this growing phenomenon.

Domestic Violence as a Development Issue
Never before has international trade been so crucial to the prosperity and even the survival of local economies. Central to the prosperity and survival of local economies in the global economy is women’s roles. Women constitute a large and increasingly critical segment of the labor force in many industrializing and industrialized countries. Yet women’s potential to contribute to their country’s development is threatened by traditional customs and power inequities that exist in a context of economic and cultural domination. Power inequalities that are imposed by local institutions and individual males in society are mirrored in economic relationships between powerful and powerless males in their mostly Southern countries and more powerful men in northern countries. And women are caught in the cross fire
Decades after efforts to integrate women into development, the visibility and recognition of gender based violence as a development issue still poses obstacles to development programs and policy goals. Women, development and gender violence have only converged in recent years as a critical issue partly due to the synergy generated by the UN Decade for Women. Women’s global advocacy and feminist discourse helped to shift the development model from a Women and Development (WAD) and Women in Development (WID) model to the more current model of Gender and Development (GAD). During the earlier years of WID and WAD there were few efforts to link these issues prior to the Nairobi conference goals. For too long violence has been viewed as a personal issue between partners relegated to the private sphere. Robin Morgan’s lengthy examination of the state of women’s conditions in the 1980’s and more recently in seventy countries in 1996 dramatically depicted the heightened visibility of gender violence on a global agenda. Nearly all of the 70 contributors identified gender violence in their respective countries as a pervasive problem. Reconceptualizing violence against women as a social problem rather than an individual problem has helped to transform the perception of the problem.
In Papua New Guinea battery is identified by women as the main reason for divorce. In China 25 percent of the divorces are due to battery or family violence. In another instance in Madras, the Working Women’s Forum almost collapsed according to Carrillo when the most articulate and experienced women dropped out of the program after they experienced increased incidents of domestic violence after beginning the Program. The Association for the Development and Integration of Women (ADIM) in Lima combined its income generating project with support services from the local legal aid to battered wives and women abandoned by their partners. This decision reflected their understanding of the connection between the shift in power dynamics with the women’s access to outside resources and spouses resorting to the use of violence in an effort to control his partner.

Although we most often think of development in southern countries, Seitz’s work with impoverished Applachian women in the United State of North America reminds us of the parallels that are captured in the poignant words of one of her research participants, “Working outside the home, that sometimes makes it worse because the men can’t handle the women not being slaves.
UNIFEM funded projects from various regions of the world and has increasingly identified violence against women as a major barrier to women’s participation in or capacity to benefit from developing projects. In a review of the Country Human Rights Reports that surveys 70 countries, almost without exception, the “women sections” designated violence against women as a social issue. MATCH International, a Canadian NGO conducted a global survey in which violence against women was also identified as the most frequent concern. The findings inspired MATCH to launch a program linking their development mission with that of violence against women as a top priority.

Violence Against Women as a Human Rights Issue
The recognition of women’s rights as human rights has taken place in a global arena in the last two decades. It is not the false beliefs and bad attitudes of males, although that contributes to women’s oppression, but according to Narayan and Harding, it is the , “institutional, societal and civilizational or philosophic forms of sexism that have exerted the most powerful effects on women’s lives. Furthermore, these are the forms they note, that are least visible to women’s daily lives.
Some of women’s basic human rights articulated in the Declaration of Human Rights are
the following:
1) right to movement and to work outside of the home, 2) right to bodily integrity, that is, freedom from violence, 3) healthcare, 4) adequate standard of living and , 5) housing . Unfortunately, women are discriminated against in all of the world’s countries. This discrimination is often justified as being in accordance to religious aspects of many of the cultures practiced in the world today.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948
A global tribunal on non-governmental organizations met in Vienna in 1993 in conjunction with the Second World Conference on Human Rights to urge that violence against women be recognized as a violation of human rights. This request was an attempt to highlight the connections between the murder, torture and sexual coercion and abuse of women and their economic vulnerability.p24 A major worldwide petition drive was launched. The petition urged the conference to, “comprehensively address women’s human rights at every level of its proceedings”

Research findings indicated that the 1970s were marked by rapid growth of American and European multinational corporations in the developing world. While these companies expanded markets and made new goods available, they also exerted predatory competition on local industries that disproportionately impacted women. Women’s generally more vulnerable status is captured in the following expression, “When the man catches a cold, the woman catches pneumonia.” Some of the factors that result in globalization’s disproportionate effects include some of the following: 1) women are overburdened with "women's work," that is, work perceived as less valued, menial, undeserving of time and attention by husbands, developers, planners; 2) researchers, historians, etc. have failed to consider the work of women. This has had dire effects on women and in too many instances has rendered women invisible; women's work is not included in the Gross National Product of many countries, developed or industrialized; 3) Africana women use more primitive equipment and tools than men, and consistently work under more austere conditions; 4) traditional society views women as subservient to men and often imposes rigid gender roles. This sexual division of roles has serious implications in women’s development 5) Many Africana nations have failed to prioritize women equitably on their development agendas and have thus sent a message to Africana men that there is support for society's sexist behavior and attitudes; and 6) women have fewer options to support themselves and many become more dependent on males and are vulnerable to men's abuses of power, that is, battering, abandonment, sexual abuse, as well as economic fluctuations.
Two theoretical debates emerged in developing countries, particularly in Latin America and Africa. These two theories, dependency theory and underdevelopment theory provided a counter analysis to modernization theory that left many unanswered questions in the light of developments failures. Both theories are particularly relevant to the current discourse on globalization because they address one of the greatest concerns, that is, the unequal power dynamics that result from the relationship between the North and South. It is also a reminder that globalization is not new and that the concept of a world economy that presumed movement within and between the strata of an economy regulated by market forces was indeed not new.
The fiscal crisis of the 1980s resulted in developing countries inability to pay their external debts. The measures imposed by the IMF and the WB) in order to borrow money disproportionately impacted women. The previous years of generous loans from the IMF and WB came back to haunt developing nations as a result of changing policies. Loans were still available but with increasing policies calling for cuts in public expenditure, development of a more efficient and transparent and accountable state. During the 1990s the IMF maintained their Structural Adjustment Plan, while the WB began to gain a deeper understanding of other factors that affected economic performance. Factors such as non-market behavior, welfare economies, transaction costs, property rights and institutions were explored.

This essay explored the complex phenomenon of globalization and its impact on women with a focus on the Africana world. It described the theological foundation that compels our involvement as Unitarian Universalist seminarians and ministers with this issue. This essay demonstrated that globalization can bring about the transformation of society in the following ways: raising living standards, reducing poverty, strengthening the environment through development models and policies that are sustainable and establishing durable, deep-rooted policies under girded by societal transformation that accompany democratic processes. Aspects of globalization that threaten successful human development include: rising inequalities, marginalizing of labor and growing economic insecurities as a result of shifting geographic sites based on available cheap labor. Thus, it is necessary to propose a theory of globalization that affirms growth and trade as vital elements of economic development, while addressing poverty, degradation, insecurity and the rising disregard for personal well-being, all while considering the impact of globalization on women. We are compelled to promote justice and inject our ethics in every day issues. We must wrestle with a disenchanted world that is increasingly susceptible to nihilism all seeking to build new theologies and ideologies that strive toward right relations and model justice in the world.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Afrocaribbean Roots in Costa Rica

My preliminary research on the presence of Africans and their decendents, Afrocaribbeans in Costa Rica indicates that they share a similar history with African Americans in that they too were kidnapped and brought to the "New World" in the 17th century as slave labor. In 1655 Spain was defeated by the British and one of Spain's possessions, Jamaica became a colony of Britain. Sugar plantations based on free labor renewed the demand for slave labor. The majority of these slaves were forcibly taken from the Ashanti Empire in Ghana. Many slaves resisted the oppressive conditions of plantation life and escaped to freedom. It took almost two centuries of waging a bloody war for Jamaicans to gain their legal freedom. An economic crisis devastated the sugar cane industry in 1860. This crisis had an equally devastating affect on Jamaicans, forcing them to seek their livilihoods in places like Panama, Cuba and Costa Rica.

Worker Migration
In 1870 Costa Rica's President, Tomas Guardia, obtained a loan from the British to build a railway line to link with the port of Limon. Thus, the second wave of Afrocaribbeans came from the Antilles, especially Jamaica, around 1872 to help build the railroad that eventually linked the Atlantic Coast with the Central Valley. The construction began in the small village of Limon which caused it to expand to a flourishing city. (Alvin Williams. Black People: Struggle for Equality Continues. Mid Ocean News, 28 Feb. 2003, Tues 4 May 2003) http://hartford-hwp.com/archives/471366.html)

On December 20, 1872, the ship Lizzie pulled into Puerto Limon from Kingston, Jamaica carrying 123 Jamaican workers that had come to work on the railroad. A year later about 1000 Jamaican workers, most of them orginally Ashantis had already arrived. While most of the workers over the years migrated from Jamaica, others came from the Caribbean, Honduras, Curacao, Belize and Panama.

The Plantation Economies
The plantation economies were based on several major crops including cotton, coffee, tobacco, indigo and sugar. In the Caribbean and South America, sugar plantations created the biggest demand for African labor from the 16th to the 19th centuries. During the 17th century, enslaved Afrocaribbeans were taken against their will primarily from the Equatorial region and Western Africa and included the Congo and Angola, in the basin of the Congo River. Those taken hostage and eventually shipped to the New World included the Asaras from the Dahomey Empire (Benin), the Wolofes (Guinea), the Mandingas (Gambia), the Puras (Sudan) and the Ashantis from Ghana. The cocoa industry in Matina forced the escalation of the slave trade, particularly in Limon, according to the Caribbean Way, a Costa Rican tourist handbook.

Slave labor also promoted and made possible cattle farms in Guanacaste, the Central Valley Plantations and the cocoa farms of Matina. Some sources contend that the working conditions were most harsh on the cocoa farms in Matina.

Costa Rica gained its independence in 1821 after many years of colonial rule by first the Spanish then the British. Slavery was officially abolished in 1832. In 1821, miscengation, that is, intermingling of Blacks, Whites and Indians despite social norms to the contrary, resulted in 17% of the total population having  African bloodlines.

This brief essay is the result of my desire to better understand the presence of Afrocaribbeans in Costa Rica. It appears that the two most significant circumstances that resulted in a large presence of Africans in Costa Rica is linked to the slave trade during the 17th and 19th centuries and the huge migration of workers drawn to the railway line that began development in 1872. The greatest influx of railway workers migrated from Jamaica and were decendants that were orginally forcibily brought from the Ashanti Empire in Ghana to work on the plantations. Thus, workers were drawn to the railway from the Caribbean, Honduras, Curacao, Belize and Panama.

Perhaps, I will be able to continue tracing the diapora of Africans as I am able to travel. Until then, Blessed Be!
Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman