FEMINISTS RESORT TO DIRTY TRICKS TO GET THEIR WAY AT U.N.
CONFERENCE IN BEIJING
by Vernon Kirby
Jesus speaks of yeast in the Gospels, warning his disciples to "beware the yeast of the
pharisees, which is hypocrisy." That yeast was in great evidence in Beijing this
September when the United Nations held its Fourth World Conference on Women. The
United Nations, which touted, bankrolled and controlled the conference with its theme
of "Equality, Development & Peace," has its own formidable glass ceiling keeping
women from advancing to top positions.
At one press conference in Beijing, U.N. spokeswomen admitted that women make up
only 11.8 percent of U.N. officials at the rank of undersecretary general or higher.
Moreover, U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has handed out to women
only seven of 50 top-level appointments in the last three and a half years.
But then U.N. conferences like Beijing are less about the welfare and equality of women
and other groups as they are about storming walls and breaking down traditional
beliefs, customs and taboos.
An official press release issued at the close of the conference noted that, in confronting
controversial issues, "the Platform for Action in particular and the Beijing meeting as a
whole have generated new international momentum to address previously taboo
subjects ... The World Conference on Women marked the first time that an in-depth
international discussion was held on the issue of discrimination based on sexual
And there were other instances where it was clear traditional beliefs and values were
under open attack.
During the conference, the European Union blocked attempts by the Holy See to
include "female feticide" among the number of harmful practices which this women's
conference should try to stop. "There is no room for ethics in medicine," the E.U.
spokeswoman declared in another session. "No type of religion or culture should have
any influence on medicine, which is purely a service."
The situation prompted the Holy See to issue a press release noting that, at Beijing, "an
active coalition has aggressively sought to remove all references to religion, morals,
ethics and spirituality, except where religion is portrayed negatively (e.g., as associated
with intolerance or extremism.)" The Holy See also noted that "a determined coalition
of Beijing negotiators is making vigorous efforts to remove all references to human
dignity from the Beijing draft."
Wall of opposition
In another episode, the Holy See ran into a wall of opposition from E.U. feminists when
it attempted to raise a discussion that should be of concern to anyone who truly cares
about the health and well-being of women. The Holy See delegates were seeking to
ensure that women would be informed about the increased risks of developing cancers
as a result of abortion, promiscuity and hormonal contraception based on established
medical facts. The U.N. chairwoman agreed with the E.U., and the Holy See attempted
to raise a point of order. The chairwoman refused. "The Holy See has only Observer
Status here and has no right to make a point of order," she said. When the delegate got
up to leave. the chairwoman backed down, acknowledging that the Holy See did, in
fact, have the right to fully participate. But, she boorishly lectured, "don't abuse points
of order too much."
Also at the conference, a group of 11 international rad-fem organizations, including
Catholics for a Free Choice and the National Coalition of American Nuns, circulated a
petition calling on the U.N. to remove the Holy See's Permanent Observer Status
because the Holy See "acts as a religious body, not a state." The move is the
continuation of an effort begun a year earlier when the pro-abortion Center for
Reproductive Law & Policy in New York published a paper criticizing the Holy See's
U.N. status and launched a similar petition drive.
The China connection
At first, many pro-lifers were puzzled that China should be chosen as the site of such a
conference. After all, China is the nation with the world's worst human rights record
for women. There, the one-child policy is vigorously and often brutally enforced.
Women pregnant with second or third children are dragged into facilities where their
children are forcibly ripped from their wombs. Couples who flee are hounded down
Other family members are subjected to harassment and abuse. Forced sterilizations,
monitored menstrual cycles and coercive police state "family planning" are
commonplace. Culturally, male children are preferred over female children and
(although the government officially frowns on the practice) sex-selected abortions are
not uncommon. If they can only have one child, many couples want to make sure it's a
boy. If twins are detected, one must die.
While it at first seemed a most unlikely choice, China was a perfect backdrop for the
FWCW, since discussion of its barbaric practices was virtually muted. The pro-abortion
Western media wasn't about to make it a major angle to the story, although a fair and
objective press would have found the irony irresistible. Participants in the conference
(either out of fear of reprisal, perverted notions of good etiquette or diplomatic
considerations) by and large stayed away from criticizing their host nation. After all,
China is a key member of the U.N. Security Council. Besides, its barbaric population
control measures have long been praised by some feminists and population controllers
(e.g., Molly Yard of NOW and Paul Ehlich of ZPG) and tacitly approved by others.
When feminists (such as Hillary Clinton in her rather oblique reference) did raise the
issue of China's draconian policies, it only had the effect of making their own extremist
agenda in Beijing appear to be enlightened and benign by comparison. Yes, the
decision to hold the conference in China turned out to be a masterful stroke on the part
of its organizers. And the Chinese government, repressive as it is, could have taken
some tips from feminists running the Beijing conference.
A litany of abuses
Those delegates who weren't bought and paid for by the U.N. and its various agencies,
or by the International Planned Parenthood Federation and similar groups, sometimes
found the going rough in Beijing. American pro-lifer Dale O'Leary, British activist John
Smeaton and others chronicled a sampling of the more flagrant abuses:
1) When some delegates, particularly those from the poorer countries in Latin America,
spoke up to defend their countries' pro-life/family laws and constitutions, their
presidents received threatening phone calls from the UN staff, implying that these
delegates should be silenced or called home. In several cases, the leaders complied
rather than risk loss of funding.
2) Translations were not supplied in small groups where actual document wording was
being hammered out.
3) Hand-picked chairwomen changed meeting times and places so delegates were
forced to wander from room to room only to learn the meeting was over.
4) One delegate reported that the wording reported back from the group he attended
was the opposite of that which was approved.
5) Translations from English into other languages were distorted to disguise the radical
ideology being promoted.
6) Delegates were stonewalled when they called for the definition of controversial
terms like "sexual orientation" and "gender."
7) A banquet room at a hotel next to the convention center that had been the site of a
successful press conference organized by an HLI-led pro-life coalition was suddenly
made unavailable the next day. Hotel officials said the room had been booked. A check
of the facility showed it was empty at the time of the press conference, which then was
held at another hotel farther from the site.
8) "Why won't you speak up about female feticide and he need to call for an end to the
deliberate killing of girl babies in the womb?" a pro-life lobbyist from Australia asked
one of the Guyanan delegates who was appalled at the manner in which the European
Union was blocking the Holy See's pleas for this to be included in the final document.
"Aid," was the Guyanan's simple reply.
9) Canadian delegate Sharon Hayes, a member of Parliament, went to Beijing thinking
she could make a difference, but realized after she arrived that she was the token pro-
lifer among the 42 Canadian delegates. "Once there, I learned that only six negotiators
actually had the opportunity to present the positions of the Canadian delegation," she
said. "The rest of us were to serve as observers."
These are just some of the abuses known at this time. Attempts are being made to
document others, particularly the allegations that several nations were threatened with
cutoffs of financial assistance from various international agencies unless their
delegations towed the line.
The gender perspective
A "transparent" web forming a feminist network is being woven behind the scenes to
implement the Platform for Action by the year 2000. Governments will be the key
implementers of the plan, supported by the work of the media, non-governmental
organizations, private and public institutions, educators and U. N. agencies.
Implementation "would be facilitated by transparency," the document says. Effective
implementation will require changes in the internal dynamics of institutions and
organizations, "including values, behaviour, rules and procedures that are inimical to
the advancement of women" (289).
The primary goal is to "mainstream the gender perspective" into all aspects of social life
under the auspices of national regional commissions and with the help of assorted
agencies, including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. But national
governments will kick in much of the money. At the conference, it was announced that
several nations, Germany, Canada, the Nordic countries, Japan and the United
Kingdom were specifically mentioned, have already made financial commitments and
efforts will be made to mainstream the gender perspective into all national budgetary
Taken from the December 1995 issue of "HLI Reports."
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