Feminists Resort to Dirty Tricks to Get Their Way at U.N. Conference In Beijing

Author: Vernon Kirby


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 orientation."

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 and arrested.

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 decisions.

Taken from the December 1995 issue of "HLI Reports." To subscribe contact: HLI Reports 7845 Airpark Road, Suite E Gaithersburg, MD 20879