International Council of Women (ICW)
NCWC is a national affiliate member of the International Council of Women (ICW). NCWC joined ICW officially in 1897, and has remained an active and involved member ever since. Over the years, many members of NCWC have served on the ICW Board of Directors and as Conveners of ICW Standing Study Committees. ICW had been founded a few years earlier, in 1888, at a meeting in Washington, D.C.
The idea of a Canadian Council was developed at the ICW World’s Congress of Representative Women, meeting in Chicago in May 1893. A group of women attending from the Dominion of Canada took the opportunity to form a provisional executive for the possibility of a new Canadian Council.
ICW represents the National Councils of Women in more than 70 countries, and of the Regional Council of the Americas, which represents National Councils of Women in the Western Hemisphere. It has Consultative Status (Category I) at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The ICW General Assembly met in September, 2012, in Seoul, Korea. Rosemary Mallory represented the National Council of Women of Canada, and prepared this report ICW 2012.
ICW Standing Committee Plans of Action – 2012-2015: ICW 2012 – 2015 Action Plans
ICW Newsletter – 50: ICW Newsletter 2012 No 50
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ICW was founded in 1888, at a gathering of women in Washington, DC, on the fortieth anniversary of an 1848 meeting of early feminists in Seneca Falls, NY. Forty-nine delegates were present at the 1888 meeting, representing the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Norway, Denmark, Finland and India. Lady Ishbel Aberdeen, from Canada, accepted the invitation of delegates to become the first President of ICW.
In May of 1893, the National Council of Women of the United States organized another meeting of ICW, held in connection with the World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago, and attended by a delegation of women from Canada. Later that year the Canadian women who had been in Chicago called a meeting of interested women in Toronto, and on October 27, 1893, the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) was created. Lady Aberdeen, at that time the wife of the Governor-General of Canada, became its first President.
ICW has Consultative Status, Category 1, with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), as well as permanent and accredited representation to such UN agencies as the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
ICW continues to provide a forum and a network for women from around the world to work together. Standing Study Committees of ICW examine major concerns of the women in its member Councils, and bring to its Triennial meetings recommendations and resolutions, which, if approved, become part of ICW policy. To review ICW Policies (pdf format), ICW-CIF Resolutions.
NCWC was a founding member of the Regional Council of the Americas (RCA/CRA), which brings the special concerns of National Councils in the Western Hemisphere to the attention of ICW.
ICW remains unique as the international voice of National Councils of Women with diverse yet universal concerns.
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In endorsing this powerful theme marking the International Day of the Girl Child Day, the International Council of Women applauds the advances that have been made to improve the status of the Girl Child and to recognise her rights, such as her worth as a human being: to be treated with dignity and respect free from harmful practices which girls may be subjected to: to have the right to such necessities as food, shelter, holistic health care and, very importantly, to an education.
With 2015 marking, the 20th Anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action which supports the Convention on the Rights of the Child first ratified 25 years ago, the International Council urges all Governments to ensure they honour both the the Platform for Action and the important Convention by seeing they have good active policies in place that do not discriminate against girls
2015 also sees the completion of the Millennium Goals (MDGs) which has done much to improve the status and general well-being of girls though not all targets were met. With the advent of the Sustainable Development Goals, girls born during the 15 years of the MDGs reach adolescence. Thus investment in the power of adolescent girls, who are our future, is all important for breaking the cycle of poverty, violence, and discrimination in general thus leading to their full empowerment.
The International Council of Women in advocating for the rights of the Girl Child supports the work of its affiliated Councils many of which are focusing on ending early forced marriage, defined as a form of slavery.
Several countries, England, Wales and Scotland (Great Britain), have put legislation on the statute on forced marriage in the past few months. In Wales, the first person has been successfully convicted, in June 2015 under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which came into force in June 2014.
There are cases in countries without specific legislation such as South Africa which has convicted a man for a forced ‘’marriage’’ in March 2015. (He was 28-years-old, she was 14-years-old at the time of the forced ‘’marriage’’)
In Zimbabwe two child brides took the government to court in March 2015 to get forced marriages ruled illegal and unconstitutional. And, in Australia, an Australian man who consented to an Islamic ‘’marriage’’ between his 12-year-old daughter and a man more than twice her age, has been jailed for six years. (March 2015)
Forced marriages of girls are known to cause poor health outcomes for both the mother and her children, and contribute to the dissemination of HIV since teenage girls are often forced to marry much older men. Also young girls in forced marriages often don’t continue their education.
It is heartening that progress is being made against this form of slavery, although it is slower than one might want.
In working to achieve the SDGs, the International Council of Women will continue advocating for the rights of the Girl Child, all girls, that they may fulfil their potential as future leaders They are the Vision for 2030.
ICW’s Statement for International Day of Peace
This year, 2015, the international community is marking the 15th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR 1325) on “Women, Peace and Security”.
In October 2000, for the first time, the UN Security Council dealt with gender issues and women’s experiences as agents in building peace, preventing conflicts and guaranteeing security. What has been achieved in the last 15 years on that specific domain? Whilst indeed some progress should be noted, unfortunately, in different parts of the globe women and children continue to be the major victims of conflict, and struggle day by day in trying to survive and to overcome the hardships which are still their present lot…
More than ever, women need to be critical actors in peace building. Their participation in the political process and their contribution to the substance of peace negotiations is now widely recognized as a tool for attaining sustainable results. However, 15 years after the UNSC Resolution 1325, women notably continue to be excluded from participation in peace processes and their pivotal role in conflict resolution and in the planning of the future society is still marginal – and that despite the intense efforts of women’s organizations and movements throughout the world.
How then can women change this situation?
There needs surely to be kept in mind that one of the most important contributions that women can make in peace negotiations is precisely to “think outside the box”, and to get out of the accepted paradigm that brought about conflicts in the first place. Most especially, they need to let their voice be heard on the matter!
Why women’s voice? Why it is so important that we insist that there is a women’s voice? This is because resolution 1325 highlights (inter alia) the challenge of education and the challenge of making people aware. More than ever then there is a need for women in leadership positions – women who will make their voices heard, especially when the foundations of society are in danger.
As emphasized, one of our most important tasks in the promotion of peace, is thus to give women a voice by giving them the courage, strength and commitment to take risks that will lead to change and to development. But there are no shortcuts to such
empowering which emanates from education and consciousness-raising. Moreover, the need for action must also be encouraged to follow the rhetoric. It is here, at this juncture, that women’s organizations throughout the globe can play a major role through pressure and perseverance. As a past President of the Israel National Council of Women, Leah Aharonov, said many years ago “The road to peace and development is not an easy one. It is long and frustrating, with many setbacks, but we must provide a framework for dialogue and democratic participation. We are promoting the political and economic empowerment of women. We are educating for tolerance and respect and we are certain, that all our efforts, will ultimately lead to peace building and the promotion of sustainable human development…”
Accordingly, in the world of today (one which sadly sees military conflicts in varying regions still continuing, and where the humanitarian impact of the consequential plight of refugees has grown into great significance of late), let ICW-CIF therefore call to women throughout the globe to imagine peace… and dream peace and never give up… With shared technologies and resources, the results could thus be endless… But even more important to all of us women is the prospect of a future which could be filled with peace and prosperity for our children and for generations to come.