WEDO – World Social Forum 2013, Tunisia MAR 26-30

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Our Story

WEDO_large_Poster3-223x300 (1)In 2011-2012, WEDO is celebrating its 20th Anniversary!

Visit the WEDO20+ pages for stories, photos, video and more.. Celebrating those who have helped make the organization what it is today – and those who will help shape its future!

READ our NEWEST Historical Publication ‘Celebrating Momentum and Milestones: A WEDO History of Women’s Organizing Toward a Healthy and Peaceful Planet’.

In 1979, Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, Brownie Ledbetter and other extraordinary women leaders incorporated Women USA; in the early 1990s, out of that convening and in the interest of particularly influencing the upcoming Earth Summit, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) emerged. WEDO was legally established in 1991 by former U.S. Congresswoman Bella Abzug (1920-1998) and feminist activist and journalist Mim Kelber (1922-2004).

Wangari-MaathaiIts visionary founding committee included Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai of Kenya, Thais Corral of Brazil and Vandana Shiva of India.

Since its inception, WEDO has been considered a trailblazer in organizing women for international conferences and actions.

In 1991, WEDO organized the World Women’s Congress for a Healthy Planet, bringing together more than 1,500 women from 83 countries to work jointly on a strategy for the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), more commonly known as the Earth Summit, held in early 1992.

The result was Women’s Action Agenda 21, an outline for a healthy and peaceful planet that was the basis for integrating gender equality issues in the official UNCED final documents, Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration. This was an amazing feat that quickly positioned WEDO as a leader for promoting international women’s rights – particularly on environmental issues.

WEDO Womens-agenda (1)Since then, WEDO has built on that experience by mobilizing women’s participation to advance women’s perspectives at the UN and other fora.

Throughout the 1990s, WEDO played a key role in ensuring that gender was included in the outcomes of major UN conferences. ENTREPRENEURS’ TOOLKIT HERE

In the 2000s, WEDO elaborated thematic expertise in areas such as water, corporate accountability and women’s political participation.

Today, still focused on and nurturing the inter-linkages between women’s rights and leadership, sustainable development and good global governance, WEDO recognizes that policy commitments alone are not enough to improve women’s daily lives.

WEDO is working to support national governments to turn ‘words into action,’ collaborating more deeply with Southern partners on implementing global policy gains at the national level and holding governments accountable to their commitments on Women’s Rights.

UNEPlogo-unepIn 2006, WEDO was recognized with the Champion of the Earth award by UNEP, citing WEDO as “a champion in the field of women’s economic, social and gender rights and a beacon for the empowerment of women across the environmental and development debate.”

WEDO listed the following recommendations.

They are, but not limited to:

  • Implement programs to achieve full literacy for all, ensuring that rural and urban people, especially the poor, benefit from education relevant to their needs.
  • Ensure international trade and investment policies are transparent and that mechanisms are established to allow participation of all stakeholders.
  • Apply the precautionary principle of bio-safety and social justice to all genetic modification.
  • Phase out the production and use of nuclear energy and toxic substances while developing and expanding the use of safe alternatives including renewable energy sources.
  • Increase access to sexual and reproductive health care for all women by 2015 through the primary health care system.
  • Implement the UN Millennium Goals to reduce maternal and child mortality by 2015.
  • Narrow the gender gap in primary and secondary education by 2005 and ensure that by 2015,  all children complete a full course of primary education, as agreed in the UN Millennium Goals.

In 2010, WEDO was recognized by the National Council for Research on Women for its transformative advocacy work on gender and climate change.

Vision & Mission
As a global women’s advocacy organization, WEDO envisions a just world that promotes and protects human rights, gender equality and the integrity of the environment.

To contribute toward its vision for the world, WEDO’s mission is to ensure that women’s rights; social, economic and environmental justice; and sustainable development principles-as well as the linkages between them-are at the heart of global and national policies, programs and practices.

WEDO views strong and diverse partnerships as integral to meeting its goals. It allies with women’s organizations; environmental, development and human rights organizations; governments; and intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations, to achieve its mission. WEDO’s core competency has been high-level advocacy in international arenas, while building bridges among a range of stakeholders.

WEDO works on a range of cross-cutting issues—from climate change and natural resource management, to global governance and finance and UN reform—toward three interlinked goals:

WEDO Goals1

Research and raising awareness, fostering and facilitating networks and campaigns, and building capacity and training—with women and women’s organizations, gender advocates, government and UN actors, and many others—comprise strategies to meet WEDO’s goals. While WEDO works at the international level primarily, it supports regional and national stakeholders, networks and governments to turn policy commitments on gender equality into action—striving to improve the lives of women and men around the world.

There are many ways you can help us and join us, including making a donation, joining our newsletter list (see HERE), and Taking Action.

Civil Society Participation
wedo teamSince its founding, WEDO has worked to ensure women have official, recognized space at decision-making tables, at all levels and across sectors, and particularly on sustainable development issues. Put simply: women have a right to participate in all decisions that impact their lives, just as men do.

For equitable and sustainable policy-making and programming that reflects the real needs and expertise of the global community, women’s direct participation and leadership is integral – and that includes women as diverse experts, stakeholders and rights holders amongst civil society.

Known to many as the founder of the ‘women’s caucus’, WEDO champions the essential role of civil society in inspiring collaboration, innovation and solutions to global problems, holding governments accountable and pushing a transformative agenda on the global decision-making stage.

Women as a ‘major group’ have been recognized in a number of important processes now, including many that WEDO has been active in creating: the outcomes of the 1992 Earth Summit established a major groups system that recognized women as among nine key constituencies, and this legacy has translated into women’s official spaces in, among others, climate change and biodiversity policy making spaces.

Currently, WEDO plays a role in facilitating or partnering in the Women’s Major Groups of the following processes:

  • UNFCCC – Together with GenderCC, LIFE, WECF, Energia and others, WEDO is a founding member of the Women and Gender Constituency
  • Rio+20 and its follow-up – WEDO is one of four steering committee members of this Women’s Major Group for Sustainable Development, along with WECF, DAWN and Global Forest Coalition.
  • CBD – WEDO convenes and facilitates the Women’s Caucus at the major meetings of the Convention on Biological Diversity
  • WEDO is also a member of the women’s major group to UNEP and is joining with many women’s organization allies to establish a women’s coalition around the post-2015 development framework, which must be anchored by gender equality and sustainable development.
  • WEDO supports women’s organizing in countless offshoots of the above processes and holds the Alternate seat for women and gender civil society representation at the meetings of the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs).

World Social Forum 2013 – [ March 26, 2013 to March 30, 2013. ]

WEDO_PubCover-smallThe social and citizens movements of Tunis and the Maghred invite you to the World Social Forum in Tunis, Tunisia 26-30 March 2013 to discuss the international situation and how to build an “other worldHERE.

The organizing committee comprises, among others, Tunisian organisations who were driving forces in the revolutionary process which helped end the dictatorship and who continue the struggle to defend and expand social and democratic rights.

For the first time since…

Cate Owren, Executive Director

wedo ceoCate4A lifelong women’s rights and environmental activist, Cate found a natural home at WEDO six years ago, when she joined the organization to work on its gender and climate change portfolio. Her first major project was research, outreach and consultation with women’s and environmental organizations to help develop a gender and climate change alliance and national mobilization and advocacy projects.

She supported numerous additional WEDO efforts, including the 50/50 women’s political participation campaign, as well as the 16 Days of Activism campaign. Serving as Sustainable Development Coordinator, she organized the international team of advocates working to integrate gender equality language into the UNFCCC negotiations and outcomes; then as Program Director, Cate developed and supervised the interlinked programming across Sustainable Development, Women’s Leadership and Global Governance themes. She was appointed Executive Director in February 2011.

Prior to coming to WEDO, Cate worked for various NGOs – from grassroots to international – on gender equality issues such as reproductive health and rights and AIDS education; microfinance; extractive industries and fair trade. She enjoyed living and working in West Africa and the Caribbean before re-settling in the New York City area with her family.

Cate has a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the New School, where she concentrated in socioeconomic development with a focus on gender and women’s empowerment. She has an undergraduate degree in English Literature and Theater, and she was an early member of a NYC-based theater company, with whom she wrote, performed and produced for 10 years. She officially swapped her hobbies for her career almost a decade ago, but she appreciates the more ‘dramatic’ aspects of global advocacy, too.

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