Welcome to the Center for Women's Global Leadership

Women 2000: A Symposium on
Future Directions for Human Rights
Sunday, June 4, 2000 . 12:30PM-6:30PM
Alfred Lerner Hall, Columbia University, New York, USA

The Honorable Mary Robinson,
UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights, delivers her opening address.

Organized by the Center for Women's Global Leadership in collaboration with many organizations from around the world.
Photos by Debra Liebowitz.

On Sunday, June 4, 2000, the Center for Women's Global Leadership hosted "Women 2000: A Symposium on Future Directions for Human Rights." The Symposium was held at Alfred Lerner Hall at Columbia University in the city of New York. Over 1000 people attended the event.

The Symposium took place on the eve of the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly for the Beijing Plus Five Review Process (B + 5). Drawing on the presence of women's human rights activists from many countries, it was designed to provide an opportunity to reflect on the work that has been done so far and to hear about new and innovative organizing that is being carried out around the world.

Senator Piedad Córdoba of Colombia
speaking on the economic rights of
women and the countries of the South.

The Symposium opened with speeches by United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, the Honerable Mary Robinson and Global Center Executive Director, Charlotte Bunch.

A panel consisting of Asma Jahangir, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Executions; Piedad Córdoba, Colombian Senator and President of the Human Rights Commission of the Colombian National Congress; and Florence Butegwa, feminist lawyer and human activist from Uganda, drew attention to the great deal of work that is yet to be done if full human rights are to be achieved for all.

Abena Busia reads her feminist poetry.

Human rights activists from ten countries spoke of the ways women are organizing to address specific human rights issues. Examples ranged from strategic alliances formed to confront overt human rights abuses, to demonstrations of innovative approaches to human rights teaching in the schools and the larger society. The spoken presentations were highlighted by poetry and song shared by activists who use art to communicate their human rights message.

Pierre Sané, Secretary General of Amnesty International and Sunila Abeyesekera of the Sri Lankan organization INFORM provided commentary on the presentations that focused on the work being done from the perspective of the international human rights framework.

The Women 2000 Symposium was co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Human Rights, the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, the Law and Policy Project at Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, MADRE, the Human Rights Institute of Columbia Law School, and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). The Global Center wishes to thank all of the many people and organizations who contributed to making the symposium a success by generously sharing their time and expertise as well as the many organizations around the world whose work inspired the event.

Joy Butts of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union explains how U.S. government policy violates the human rights of poor people.    


Duska Andic-Ruzicic of INFOTEKA talks about organizing against violence against women in war-torn Bosnia.


Nadera Shaloub-Kevorkian of the Palestine-based Women's Center for Legal Aid talks about the concept of femicide and her organization's work with women who's lives are threatened for perceived transgressions to the code of "family honor."

Center for Women's Global Leadership

Center for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University

The Center for Reproductive Law & Policy; the Law and Policy Project at Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; MADRE; Human Rights Institute, Columbia Law School; and United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

Slide show compliments of International Women's Tribune Centre


Elizabeth Thunder Bird Haile, Shinnecock/ Montauk
Tohanash Tarrant, Shinnecock/Hopi/Ho-Chunk

Erhyu Yuan, Assistant Director, Center for the Study of Human Rights

Charlotte Bunch, Executive Director, Center for Women's Global Leadership

Opening Speaker
Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Asma Jahangir, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Executions

Piedad Córdoba, Senator, Colombia

Florence Butegwa, Feminist lawyer and human rights activist from Uganda

Ana Castro of "Claroscuro," Costa Rica

Presentations of Innovative Praxis

Moderator: Raijeli Nicole

  • Fiji Women's Rights Movement- Sapana Pradha Malla (Nepal)
  • Using the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women to gain women's inheritance rights- Sara Mukasa (UK)
  • Akina Mama wa Afrika
  • Organizing for immigrants' rights- Olga Rivas (Guatemala)
  • GRUFE- Labor and economic rights in the work of the Central American Maquila Workers' Support Network


  • Poetry: Abena Busia (Ghana/US)
  • Joy Butts (USA) Kensington Welfare Rights Union-Economic rights violations in the United States
  • Ayesha Imam (Nigeria)
  • BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights- Human rights education campaigns in schools

Moderator: Roxanna Carrillo

  • United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
  • Elizabeth Khaxas (Namibia)
    • Sister Namibia-The Namibian Women's Manifesto and organizing for sexual rights
  • Ivonne Macassi (Peru) Centro de la Mujer Peruana Flora Tristan
    •  Reproductive rights and the right to respectful conditions in health care
  • Nadera Shaloub-Kevorkian (Palestine) Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling
    • Redefining and confronting honor killings as femicide
  • Poetry: Bojana Blagojevic (Bosnia)
  • Duska Andric-Ruzicic (Bosnia) INFOTEKA-Confronting domestic violence and violence against women in war and conflict
  • Indai Lourdes Sajor (Philippines) Asian Center for Women's Human Rights (ASCENT)
    • Recognition of rape and sexual violence as a war crime and the Tokyo Tribunal for Asian comfort women

Mallika Dutt (India)

Moderator: Mahnaz Afkhami, Women's Learning Partnership

Pierre Sané
Secretary General, Amnesty International

Sunila Abeyesekera
Executive Director, INFORM


Akina Mama wa Afrika-London Women's Centre; Alliances for Africa; Amnesty International; Amnesty International/USA; Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development; Asian Centre for Women's Human Rights; Asian Women's Human Rights Council; Assembly of First Nations; B.a.B.e; BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights; Centro de la Mujer Peruana Flora Tristan; Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era; Equality Now; Feminist Majority Foundation; Fiji Women's Crisis Centre; FXB Center for Health and Human Rights; Human Rights Watch/Women's Rights Division; INFORM; International Alert; The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; International Human Rights Law Group; International Women's Health Coalition; International Women's Human Rights Law Clinic- CUNY Law School; International Women's Rights Action Watch; International Women's Rights Action Watch-Asia Pacific; International Women's Tribune Centre; ISIS International Manila; ISIS- Women's International Cross-Cultural Exchange; ISIS Internacional Santiago; Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights; Kensington Welfare Rights Union; Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network; Masimanyane Women's Support Centre; The National Women's Information Center- OSKA; Profamilia - Colombia; Research, Action & Information Network; Sister Namibia; United Methodist Office at the UN; WILD for Women's Human Rights; Women's Caucus for Gender Justice; Women's Environment & Development Organization; Women, Ink.; Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; Women in Law and Development in Africa; Women's Learning Partnership; Women and Media Collective; Women Living Under Muslim Laws; Women for Women's Human Rights/Kadinin Insan Haklari Projesi.

Co-Producers: Cynthia Mellon and Linda Posluszny.
Charlotte Bunch; Lisa Clarke; Jewel N. Daney; Diana Gerace; Claudia Hinojosa; elmira Nazombe; Mia Roman; Lucy Vidal.
Interns: Amy Bain; Isabelle Barker; Jessica Bates; Jacqueline Emery; Katie McGivern.
Elena Arengo, MADRE; A. Widney Brown, Human Rights Watch/Women's Rights Division; Roxanna Carrillo, UNIFEM; Bisi Adeleye Fayemi, Akina Mama wa Afrika; Kathy Hall Martinez, Center for Reproductive Law and Policy; Lynn Freedman, the Law and Policy Project at Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health; Ilana Landsberg-Lewis, UNIFEM; Ali Miller, Law and Policy Project, Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Madeleine Rees, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; Cynthia Rothschild, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; Donna Sullivan NYU School of Law.
*Organizational affiliation is listed for identification purposes only.

Mónica Alemán; Edna Aquino; Bojana Blagojevic; Abena Busia; Anoki Casey; Karen Cervas; Jenny Drezin; Jill Earick; Dora Espinosa; Susana T. Fried; Maria Gouamba; Johanne Labriere; Sandra Lanman; Alice Lida; Debra Liebowitz; Fred Michael; Danica Piché, Catherine Powell; Shanthi Dairiam; Elsa Stamatapoulou; Erhyu Yuan.

The Global Center acknowledges the financial/in-kind support of The Ford Foundation; The Gaea Foundation; The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; The Moriah Fund; Open Society Institute; The Ruben and Elisabeth Rausing Trust; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; The San Francisco Fund; Shaler Adams Foundation; UNFPA; UNIFEM.

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