Ursula Sottong: What are your strategies looking ahead? You have some ideas what could be done, what should be changed and how to work with the media, how to co-operate?

Susan Cohen: In terms of strategies, the most important challenge is to get our message first to the media, with which we have had not enough success. It has been difficult to break through. Our main strategy is building a larger coalition of groups beyond traditional women's organisations, pro choice organisations and family planning organisations to encompass groups that care about free speech. And to get them for example to sign on to a letter that we are about to send to the President next week that has about 30 organisations signed on to it now representing the range of groups I just mentioned in environmental organisations.

Stirling Scruggs: We try to get the media more involved since they don’t seem to want to report on success and what works and helps peoples lives change we try to do more „man bites dog"-stories, human interest stories. We’ve started using special ambassadors: for example, a woman from Somalia who has to undergo genital mutilation, who was sold into marriage at 13 and somehow ran away and became a well-known model, tells her story in the media.

We have moved more in that direction but we would rather talk about success. The stories that we don’t get out are the stories that donors need to hear, foundations need to here, that is working. People beginning to be able to make choices and the media is just not interested, at least, the media that we deal with they are there.

Eva Regenhardt-Dein: Pat, I have a question to you. What kind of support has been given by the international community for the nations or to the people of the nations of Africa to take part in the programmes?

Pat Made: One thing that has happened in this whole context of globalization is that a civil society is emerging in Africa. It is actually beginning to have more linkages with international movements in the same area. For example, within the context of Africa, around the question of women’s empowerment this is where you find a real growth of civil society. At the same time, because of globalization and the economic values that are coming in, our governments are also beginning to lose a bit of the strength that they once had.

Of course they hold on to power quite strongly, many through the barrel of the gun, but the actual governments themselves are going through a transition. As they go through that transition and civil society gets stronger, we are beginning to find this confrontation as space opens up. So this is perhaps why now there is a climate of more reform and action in Africa, this is why you are perhaps seeing more of a climate of African organisations from civil society beginning to move also in the international arena.

Ursula Sottong: I think, Pat you pointed out the problems with the men in the population programs. There is indeed one view that in the area of reproductive health it is not only necessary to have women as a target group but to focus on programmes for boys and men because, I think it is clear to everybody, that no pregnancy takes place without the boys. But if you look at who are holding the key positions even in the media world wide, it is not the women, it is the men. They control the programmes. Do you think that we as women have a chance or is there a chance or how to give us a chance to fulfil this task of the platform, to have programmes for men? Is it a real chance, is it possible?

Pat Made: I think it is not only the media, and not just in Africa, it is the world over...It’s always interesting how the U.S. is championing a lot of the international value systems that move around the world. It does not practice those value systems at home. But in regard to population, to the question of gender equality and also within the mass of society, if you look at some statistics even on heath and education among certain groups you have the same statistics as in our so-called developing world.

So I think what we are talking about Africa is not just in Africa alone. And when we are talking about the population policies and programmes and who is implementing, who is signing out there, nine times out of ten it is men. Because they are in positions of power within the African governments. But the first step is that space has been provided because they have acutally signed the international agreement. That has been signed with all the package of values that it brings and then that means the groups back at home on the ground have something now they can work with. Linking the local to the global. That has been the space provided for them and they are beginning to keep governments accountable.

Now within the media what we need to do, women are not in position of power, but when we do education of men and women in the media we begin to actually challenge all of them to keep governments accountable. We begin to actually ask them to look at the international conventions that our governments have signed and begin to follow through on what we are doing.

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Dezember 1998

Previous Page TOC Next Page