|The History of FAWCO as an NGO|
by Paula Daeppen
Obtaining NGO ECOSOC Status
True to its founding goals of promoting international goodwill, world peace and multicultural understanding, it was natural that in 1993 under the leadership of President Barbara Johnson and 1st Vice President Peggy Rigaud, FAWCO would set its sights on obtaining recognition by the United Nations as an affiliated NGO (non-governmental organization). The first step was to apply for accreditation with the U.N. Department of Public Information (DPI).
On June 15, 1995, FAWCO was approved for association with the DPI and in August, FAWCO representatives joined world leaders and 30,000 women from all over the world as official NGO representatives to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.
After that exciting start and wishing to strengthen its position in the global community, FAWCO applied for membership in ECOSOC, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. A comprehensive evaluation process followed with FAWCO receiving Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC on August 14, 1997. This status allows FAWCO participation in ECOSOC meetings as well as oral interventions and written statements on agenda items of the Council. It brings invitations to UN meetings, international conferences and U.N. General Assembly special sessions. It requires that FAWCO file a quadrennial report every four years detailing its activities in support of the United Nations. FAWCO's ECOSOC Reports are impressive compilations of FAWCO's work in the fields of women and children's rights, education, health, literacy and the environment.
FAWCO Representation at the UN
FAWCO had early NGO representation at U.N. headquarters by Lise Chase and Pam Perraud in NY, by Joanna Gallagher in Geneva and Phyllis Reimer in Vienna. FAWCO's permanent New York Liaison and NGO specialist, Pam Perraud, was from the beginning instrumental in promoting FAWCO at the UN and guiding FAWCO as a new NGO.
In 2001, Paula Daeppen was appointed as FAWCO's first NGO Director, charged with expanding FAWCO's involvement at the U.N. and linking this involvement to FAWCO's global committees and member organizations. During the same period, FAWCO joined CONGO (Conference of NGOs with ECOSOC), to facilitate its participation in U.N. debates and decisions. Paula Daeppen was also appointed as FAWCO's representative to CONGO. This has increased FAWCO's involvement, with membership on the Committee on the Status of Women, the Special NGO Committee on Human Rights, the Committee on Ageing, as well as the CONGO committee on HIV/AIDS, of which FAWCO was a charter member
FAWCO's commitment to U.N. issues was highlighted at the 2001 Luxembourg Conference with an adopted mandate "to urge the United States to ratify the International Convention on the Rights of the Child" asking Washington "to take a position of moral leadership to ensure the protection and respect of the youth who will shape the world's future". This has remained an important FAWCO priority.
Continuing its concern for children's rights, FAWCO took part in the 3rd U.N. Preparatory Meeting for the Special Session on Children in May 2001 and the U.N. Special Session on Children in NY in May 2002. At these two U.N. meetings FAWCO representatives worked closely with other NGO groups to influence the US position on both the CRC and the Outcome Document of the Special Session on Children.
UN Conference and UN Committee Involvement
In 2002, representatives of FAWCO attended the U.N. World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid and presented the US Delegation with a statement adopted at the Florence Conference "urging recognition of the special needs of ageing women, the largest percentage of the ageing population and those who are often the primary caregivers despite limited financial resources". FAWCO also continued its association with the Geneva International Network on Ageing, working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) on health and ageing issues.
The new FAWCO NGO/U.N. website re-enforced the importance of information technology as an effective and manageable way of communicating and accessing U.N. related information. It was therefore appropriate, that FAWCO participated at the U.N. PrepCom on the Information Society in 2002 as well as at the World Summit on the Information Society in 2003, concentrating on the importance of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) as a tool for social and economic development and focusing on the needs and protection of women, the elderly and children.
Since 2003, besides the major conferences and CONGO committee meetings, FAWCO representatives attended the annual, Sessions of the Commission on Human Rights and the Committee on the Status of Women Forum in Geneva; the annual September DPI Conferences and the U.N. Conference on Water and Health in NY; meetings of the NGO Committee on the Family in NY and Vienna; the Second World Urban Forum in Barcelona; the Asian Civil Society Forum in Bangkok; meetings on the Millennium Development Goals and U.N. Reform in Geneva and NY and various U.N./NGO meetings on issues of concern.
FAWCO has worked within the U.N. framework to promote the rights and welfare of women and children. It has also worked to support health services and programs aimed at preventing, controlling, and treating diseases such as HIV/AIDS and practices harmful to women. In July 2004, in support of the work of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)FAWCO issued a statement of concern on the decision of the U.S. Administration to again withhold U.S. Congress approved funding for the UNFPA. These were funds destined to help improve the health and survival rates of women and children worldwide. In the official statement, FAWCO asked the U.S. "to honor the rights and dignity of women and children by supporting life-saving programs sponsored by the UNFPA and commit to the future and health of millions of women and children".
FAWCO's Resolutions and Recommendations have increasingly set strong mandates for endorsing the United Nations as a forum for the peaceful resolution of conflict situations. They set strong mandates for promoting the rights and welfare of women and children with support for CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) and the CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child). They support efforts to protect women and children in abusive and conflict situations; promote special programs for literacy training of women and children and support health services and programs. In addition, they encourage involvement in environmental protection, to reduce pollution and combat global climate change.
UN Millennium Goals and NetWorks
FAWCO was an early supporter of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, which set a powerful agenda for global partnerships in solving some of the world's most critical problems by the year 2015. Starting with an initiative by Environment Chair Valerie Garforth, FAWCO's Millennium Forest Project demonstrates the ability of FAWCO's members to make a positive impact in the achievement of these goals. Organized by the AIWC of Casablanca, this project was submitted as a MDG success story for an ECOSOC publication in 2004.
The 2005 FAWCO Conference in Birmingham ended with a renewed commitment to the MDGs with the delegates unanimously agreeing to: "take up the global challenge for reducing poverty and improving lives by promoting and supporting the Millennium Development Goals. More specifically, they resolved to address the tragedy of malaria by encouraging FAWCO's members to make a significant commitment to worldwide malaria prevention. In a shared vision to halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria, FAWCO set a target of $75,000 to be reached by its 75th anniversary in Berlin, March 2006."With this mandate FAWCO marked 75 years of involvement with NetWorks, a project created to provide insecticide treated bed nets (ITNs) to some of the world's most vulnerable women and children. The goal of supplying at least one net for every member of FAWCO is another example of FAWCO partnering with the U.N. in support of the MDGs and a better world.
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