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Audio Guide: The Next Page - Transcripts

Welcome to the UN Library and Archives Geneva's Audio Research Guide! Here you'll find episodes from our own podcast, The Next Page, as well as podcasts and audio from or on the UN system and multilateralism.

Women and the UN: A New History of Women’s International Human Rights, with Fatima Sator, Ellen Chesler and Dan Plesch

by Natalie Alexander on 2022-02-09T10:30:54+01:00 | Comments

Fatima Sator

One of the goals of this book is really to create role models to which we're hoping thousands of women and men will be able to identify to. And for me, I was really hoping that it will trigger maybe a movement of researcher having this mission to reveal hidden figures of international relations.

Natalie Alexander

Hello everyone, I’m Natalie Alexander, and welcome back to The Next Page, the podcast of the UN Library & Archives Geneva, designed to advance the conversation on multilateralism.

Today’s episode brings us on a journey of archaeology. Not the type with shovels and brushes, but rather a restorative archaeology that sheds light on the stories of women who are not well known in the history books. I spoke with Fatima Sator, Ellen Chesler and Dan Plesch, two of the authors and the co-editor of a new book published this year called Women and the UN: A New History of Women’s International Human Rights. It documents the stories of women, many from the global south, who dedicated their work to ensuring women’s human rights were recorded in UN conventions, treaties and documents. Yet despite this work, there is very little known about them and their contribution.

Together, we talk about why documenting these stories of women in our history matters for our understanding of multilateralism today, and consider how we define multilateralism might to evolve to fully comprehend the contribution of women to key multilateral decisions and documents that exist today. Let’s take a listen.

Hi everyone, welcome to The Next Page and a really big thanks and welcome to Ellen, Fatima and Dan. Thanks for joining the podcast.

Dan Plesch

My pleasure.

Fatima Sator

Thanks for the invite Natalie.

Natalie Alexander

Of course, you're joining us from three different locations, so different time zones, a global group, we really appreciate your time today. Before we kind of launch in and explore the book, I have a rapid fire question to you all, you are scholars, you are researches, you are passionate explorers of history. Why does studying women in history matter to you? In just a few words, let's begin with Ellen.

 Ellen Chesler

Well, I have to acknowledge my age here. Half a century ago, I was a graduate student and earned a PhD in American history at Columbia University in New York when women were not part of the landscape of history. So I was one of the pioneers who made that happen. I quickly found that the pressing policy and political concerns of the day kind of grabbed my attention more than scholarship. So when I finished my PhD, I left and became a part of the administration of the first woman who's ever elected to a city or statewide office in New York. This is not 1870. It's 1970. I remind our viewers, I'm old, but I'm not that old. But it took, you know, more than 100 years for women to become part of the fabric of political life, even in the United States. I worked for Carol Bellamy, who many of you on this podcast may know because she ultimately had a brilliant career in global public policy. She is head of UNICEF. I went back to the academy and sort of led a double life going back and forth between scholarship and activism, but then made my career in philanthropy. So as I end my career now, 50 years later, I very much want to leave a record and a narrative of the extraordinary women, agents of change who I have had the privilege to work for over this long five decades.

Natalie Alexander

Amazing. Thanks, Ellen, over to you Fatima.

Fatima Sator

I think for me, the importance of studying history, also looking at it with a gender lens is to find other voices because the way we see it is very political. Who said history impacts the way we see history. So for me by finding other voices, and women voices have been invisible as Ellen was saying, this part of history and finding new voices to tell history is really crucial because it gives you another perspective on what we know, and the way we look at the world.

Natalie Alexander

Last but not least, Dan.

Dan Plesch

The women in my family were always just very strong and active participants in society. So growing up when I went out of the family situation, I kind of found it weird that this was not the norm. It's probably a starting point. I also had very strong Democrats since the English Victorian period in my family and there are no statues to them. The status in London are all generals and maybe slave owners but they're not English Democrats. And I think leaders as well, CLR James, EP Thompson, people who, when I was a student were huge role models of history from below. As I guess I like to say to students, you know, so often in societies like in the family, what isn't being said is more important than what is being said. And often people will acknowledge that. So I think what we've shown, and it's regrettable that this volume had to be written at this time. This volume should have been written decades ago to be frank. That's a bigger question for what's it like to be called the academy. I think this history is of a huge reinforcement. Some colleagues even now propagate the nonsense that human rights are a Western middle-class invention, including women's rights. And this is deadly dangerous nonsense. This volume, I think it's part of combating that.

Natalie Alexander

So let's dive in then and speak about the book. It's an incredible volume of stories of women in history, who've shaped key documents, declarations, UN conventions, and policies that are relevant to the international human rights of women across the world. So back to you, Dan, as one of the editors of this book, together with Rebecca Adami, in the commentary chapter which is chapter 10, you speak of the restorative archeology of knowledge about the role of women in the history of the UN. Walk us through the inspiration for this book, and what do you actually mean by “restorative archaeology”?

Dan Plesch

Well, it's really Rebecca’s idea that I've dealt with followed along with. Her work on Women and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights demonstrated, for the first time, the critical role in drafting declaration by women from the Global South. And in parallel, in roughly the same period, the work I've been doing is, so is with Fatima and Alyssa, did the same job on the Charter. So in coming together, I think we've made a powerful double message analysis of that. Then came well, that's the Declaration and the Charter, what happened since then? Is this a continuing story? And I think we found that it has been a continuing story. That time and again, it was Southern women who wrote and negotiated key texts, the mandate empowerment for women. And that time and again, they have been neglected, not least by female Western writers. So our effort, I think, is to excavate and restore to glory, a pantheon of heroic ancestors that can hopefully inspire and build on our collective democratic heritage. And the idea of restorative archaeology, What the restorative archaeology idea says is that there are valuable things in the past, some of which can be even more advanced than we have today. It isn't that we carry on making these better. There were better things and better creations in the past that have been buried and forgotten. So part of I think what we've done in this volume is to bring together people who have dug up and dusted down and cleaned off ideas and actions of great value in the contemporary world.

Natalie Alexander

Have there been any kind of surprising or new ideas that came through for you from the contributing authors? Something that you were surprised by?

Dan Plesch

I think every chapter has that. I think overall, I would say, it is not known even to, let's say, people ought to know that the hall rights and documents establishing a norm of equality and equal rights is the product of the work of women from Namibia, from Ghana, from India, from Pakistan, from Brazil, from Dominica, and many other nonwestern white middle class nations. This is not what ought to be, but this is revolutionary, and I think empowering. And the even if you ask feminist professors, or other professors, you should know, all too often they will attribute these actions to the white North, the westerners, whether it's Eleanor Roosevelt or Ford Foundation funded activists around Security Council Resolution 1325, which is incredibly well then resolution on women peace and security. But I've yet to find anybody who really understands that this was the creation of Namibia as a state and women from Namibia who thought of and crafted the strategy, even frankly, when you get into acknowledging this Namibia, there's almost a patronizing "Oh, well, we gave them that right language and data standards, put it through the meeting." Well, the Security Council doesn't work like that. But also this resolution and this initiative came out of the liberation struggle in Namibia after crafted by Namibian women in Namibian government.

Natalie Alexander

I guess that kind of brings me to my next question, which was the idea or the concept of agency in international relations, which is an occurring thread throughout the book. The book talks about women who brought forward different types of agency to bring about change. Can you walk us through briefly what does agency mean? What are the different definitions, I guess that are brought forward in the book? And why does looking and studying at these types of agency matter for understanding the contribution of women to the UN and to its different activities throughout history?

Dan Plesch

If you're not a scholar, and you used the word agency, or agent, people either think about a car firm, or James Bond.

Natalie Alexander

007, yes.

Dan Plesch

Setting that aside, an agency, broadly speaking, is about people or organizations that make a difference. And if you are analyzing how did things happen? Who were the agents of change? Who made the change? That's what we mean. All too often, there is an assumption that it's only people in the visible centers of power in the United States and its allies, or the then Soviet Union, who would get to determine outcomes. And people who are periphery, in the developing world, or the periphery of society, typically most women just don't have any influence, or they haven't really thought about these issues.

Natalie Alexander

Yeah, and I think it's really interesting as the book kind of puts aside that idea by looking at the idea of the pluralization of agency, and, perhaps now to Fatima and Ellen. One of the contributors to the book Amitav Acharya looks at pluralization of agency and what this means for multilateralism. I'll just read out a little excerpt here, “[a]gency should not be equated with states, or organized nonstate actors, but also individual women and men. While these individuals may be working for or associated with governments, intergovernmental organizations or NGOs, they do leave their own distinctive mark on international agreements and institutions, which may not necessarily reflect the positions of the organizations they work for.” What are your thoughts on this pluralization of agency? Perhaps first over to you, Ellen?

Ellen Chesler

Well, I think what I found in my chapter is that not only were these women representing governments, which is the only way they're identified in UN documents. In other words, if you look at what remains, if any kind of public conversation about something like the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, individuals aren't identified, only countries are identified. But within countries there are many different forms of agency. What I found in looking at the biographies of the two principal rapporteurs, a UN term that the people who were tasked with actually writing out the early drafts of this document, is that their lives explained their commitment to the principles within the documents. If you actually looked at their own pasts as women, they were pioneers in terms of their education, they were the products of families where women had agency as traders or as teachers. The women worked, in other words, they were not “Western” in the sense that their mothers hadn't been employed. There were many aspects of their own lived experience that explained their commitment to the principles in the document. That's the agency I try to capture in my snapshot in the piece. It's just a little bit about that history; it is by no means comprehensive.

Natalie Alexander

We'll get to it in just a moment. I'm interested to hear more. Firstly, Fatima, what are your thoughts on these different types of agency?

Fatima Sator

For me, there is a tendency to limit women's advocacy to their gender. For a while, for example, when you look at the UN Charter, we were reading that four women signed the charter and fought for gender equality in the Charter, which is wrong, because there were four of them but only two of them pushed for gender equality. By doing so, we sideline the contributions of women from the Global South. So those women from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and other Latin American countries, were not only representing the government, but they were also known as strong feminists in their countries. They had been doing a lot of things to advance gender equality in the past before the Charter. So I believe, I'm not a diplomat, but just putting myself in their shoes. I think you really need to strongly believe in what you're fighting for to have such an impact. And looking at the challenges that they face, and even diplomats today, I believe that it's much easier to advocate for something you strongly believe in and leave the sustainable impact.

Natalie Alexander

We'll explore a bit more about your chapter in a moment, Fatima, but let's head to Chapter Seven first, which is written by Ellen and it's called "Who wrote CEDAW?". So Ellen can you tell us about this chapter? Maybe let's step back a bit and firstly understand what is CEDAW? How did it come about and who were the women who wrote it?

Ellen Chesler

CEDAW is the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. It was adopted by the United Nations in 1980, has today the participation of more countries than any other UN human rights convention, with the notable exception of the United States. Because of their very high bar for treaty ratification in the United States Senate, it's never been passed. That's an interesting point to make about it to start, because, again, it's always been assumed that it was imposed on the rest of the world by Americans and Western European women. Actually, we're the only country that as a developed country does not have an equal rights amendment to our constitution for women. We have never constitutionalized women's equality.

While we were debating this in the 1970s, women at the UN, representing all parts of the world, the Soviet bloc, Africa, Asia, and Middle East, Latin America and Europe, were hammering out a very specific and expansive definition of what constitutes equality for women. CEDAW is fascinating in that it understands that equality for women should not be simply giving them parity with men. Women are very different than men and in order to achieve full participation in life and in public life, many aspects of their family situation have to be addressed. CEDAW has 23 articles so many articles that spell out “all forms of discrimination” in detail and category the necessary responses of governments to address inequality. It understands that women's inequality is rooted not only in law, but also in customs and in family situations. Basic discrimination must be addressed. The state has an obligation to fulfill women's human rights by addressing their situation in the family not only as state actors, but ten more articles spell out discrimination in civic life, politics, education, employment, finance, agriculture, healthcare, sports, the media, criminal codes, governing things like prostitution, and sex trafficking, employment. CEDAW talks about equal pay and paid maternity leave. These were ideas far ahead of their time. They remain ahead of their time. It's a very extensive document. The two women I focus on are its authors. Those who were rapporteurs for the development of DEDAW (Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) a declaration that preceded CEDAW by 13 years and was actually adopted in 1967. And again, the rapporteur for that group was a woman named Annie Jiagge from Ghana, who was sent to the UN to represent that newly independent state by Kwame Nkrumah, its first elected president. She outlasted his controversial reign and remained at the UN through 1980 and the adoption of CEDAW. She was the first, actually the second woman lawyer in Ghana and the second Justice of the courts, both in Ghana and in Africa, educated at the London School of Economics, having been a teacher before the war. The rapporteurs of CEDAW, and its principal architect is Letitia Shahani. She was from a ruling family, the first cousin of Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, educated in the United States where her father was a diplomat, representing the Philippine Government right after World War Two. She went to Wellesley College and then the Sorbonne, changed her directions, thinking she would be a literary scholar and came to the United States after her marriage and followed her father's footsteps as a diplomat at the UN. I stopped there.

Natalie Alexander

Yeah, I mean, these are fascinating stories of two women. You talked quite in depth about their stories, their backgrounds, the kind of really, really difficult and hard work they did to get to a convention, and to play this role of bridging differences, bridging divides in terms of opinion, geography, ideology, cultural differences, etc. So what are your thoughts on this enormous task they had of bridging divides? And what did their backgrounds inspire them to be able to bridge these divides?

Ellen Chesler

I think they understood that sex discrimination is deeply embedded in families and cultures. As I said, they had to address not only the law, but also customs and practices. These assumptions about women reached geography, reached class, reached racial divides and reached the margin, the small states. And that was where they were able to come together, also the UN as an institution providing them a safe haven. These disagreement were hammered out in the Commission on the Status of Women, which was created early in the US’s history immediately after the adoption of the Charter, independent of the larger human rights enterprise that included men, again brought back together during the debate on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the women as Rebecca Adami, our editor has pointed out, were important architects of the Universal Declaration, but they've been given space to hammer out these issues related to women quite independent again.

There's a debate, actually in history, and I think a worthy one, whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I think most would argue that's been a very good thing, because women have had this institution on their own and been able to hammer out these issues. Because again, it's not that easy to figure out how women can achieve equality and we're not there yet. Although we've made a lot of progress, I would argue, over the last 50 years, we certainly have many, many more miles to travel. Those who would argue that possibly being separate is not equal would say that it took a very, very long time as a result of the fact that these conversations happened among women largely, to have men take them seriously. I think what's really changed since Beijing in 1995, in the last 25 years of this history, it is that major institutions and men now take these issues very seriously. And I think that's because of the failed development practices that took place in the prior 25 years, men from the West went into the governing world with certain assumptions about class and about gender, it actually didn't work on the ground. And I think women who were the principal architects that I focused on, understood the tremendous importance of formalizing the labor of women, of ending discrimination against women in the laws of their country and in the cultural practices, and making certain that women were part of the development of their nations. These countries wouldn't achieve peace and prosperity without full participation in women. Therefore, finally, and it's taken half of the century, the men who run development banks, the major players are no longer just playing with what I like to call boys toys, they began to play with girls toys a bit. So that we really, I think, transformed international development, ultimately, diplomacy and peacemaking as well. I think we're a little less further along there. But I think development practices are now really recognizing how important the inclusion and absence of discrimination is to development. So that CEDAW is not only an important and innovative tool of feminist jurisprudence, it's also an tremendously impactful contribution to development practice.

Natalie Alexander

Yeah, I guess that leads onto my next question, which was exploring one form of agency that you mentioned in the chapter where weaker states and representatives are faced with advancing their ideas in the face of powerful states and representatives. Continue on from what you were mentioning there about entering cultures and ideas, thinking we know what's right. Do you have anything to share about that kind of agency and how it played out in terms of this particular story with CEDAW?

Ellen Chesler

Even though there was this discussion on the status of women, it wasn't independent of the larger forces playing out at the United Nations in this period. And so the new international economic order that was being debated in the 1970s at the UN, has a tremendous relationship to, this is what I discovered that was most revealing to me, was how very much women changed the larger human rights conversation, because they really talked about inclusion and about absence of discrimination that you couldn't develop in the world by having prosperity trickle down. It had to come up from the bottom, and in order for it to come up from the bottom, women have to be empowered. And again, that means that empowering women is not just the right thing to do for women. It's not a moral question only, although that it's a very important moral question. It's also a smart thing to do irrespective of the objectives of your development policy or foreign policy is to raise prosperity and make prosperity a foundation for peace. That's something that Hillary Clinton in this country gave voice to and made an international mantra, and she deserves a huge amount of respect, and thanks for having done so. But she didn't get this idea. It was invented at the United Nations in the debate over CEDAW.

Natalie Alexander

Wow, we could definitely keep talking about this chapter. But let's leave a little bit for our audience to taste and then to read the book, hopefully, and that chapter. There are some more stories over in chapter two. So over to you, Fatima. The chapter is co-written with Elise Dietrichson. It's called "The Latin American women", how they shaped the UN Charter and why Southern agency is forgotten. The chapter opens with this incredible quote. “The mantle is falling off the shoulders of the Anglo-Saxons and we Latin American Women shall have to do the next stage of battle for women.” Who is this? Who's the author of this quote and what is your chapter about?

Fatima Sator

The author of this quote is Bertha Lutz who was the Brazilian delegate to the San Francisco conference in 1945. She wrote this for the ambassador of New Zealand back then. He said that the Latin American women of the conference, deserve the thanks of democrats everywhere, because it was owning to their efforts that Article Eight made its way into the UN Charter. So our chapter looks at what really happened in 1945. We try to understand how did we get women's rights included, in the UN Charter.

From our findings, it is clear that if it wasn't for Latin American women the Charter would have included very little to no mention of gender equality. So thanks to them that Article Eight which is the article that ensures that women should contribute in the same capacity as men in the UN. And Latin American women haven't only ensured that this was included in the Charter, they also fought for the word "sex" to be added in the preamble of the Charter, noting that the promotion of human rights is without distinction of race, sex, language, or religion. So without them, the word "sex" wouldn't have been included in the preamble.

They the Latin American women also saw the need for a special commission on women, which is CSW, arguing that there were no countries in the world where women had equality with men. And the women I'm talking about are among the signatory of the Charter were Bertha Lutz, and Minerva Bernardino. So Bertha Lutz is from Brazil, Minerva Bernardino from Dominican Republic, with support from Uruguay, Mexico and Australia. Bertha Lutz on her side was specifically sent by the Brazilian government to ensure that the Charter included gender equality. And this research would be incomplete if we also don't mention the position that those women got from, let's say, the so-called Western countries, which were at the time the US and the British delegates. So the Latin American women were treated as the extremist feminists. And they were also told that bringing the discussion around gender equality, sex, etc., was very vulgar. For us, it was extremely surprising because this story was not only not known to us as international relation students, master students, really passionate about the history of gender equality, international relations, we had never heard of this woman. But also when we went to Brazil, and whenever we're talking to diplomats from those countries, they themselves didn't know about this part of history. So for me, we have to consciously give this visibility because the legacy is not going to happen by accident.

Natalie Alexander

There is an interesting part of the book where it looks at this kind of change in the UN documents that you mentioned. The inclusion of gender equality in the UN Charter was possible through the representation of these feminists from the global South. In fact, they were the architects of the table. Can you explain what that means being the architect of the table in terms of really being able to change these documents in the face of so much opposition?

Fatima Sator

It's difficult to claim where ideas come from. As Amitav Acharya noted, when good ideas come from the Global South, they're often seen as imitation. Bertha Lutz herself was told when she was having those ideas, that she was coming from a certain economic class, she lived abroad, she had the big network between “Western delegates”, and this is why she had those kinds of ideas, and which herself was not agreeing with, and reminded that she was coming from, and this is really what she says, "a backward country".

And as I said before, the way history is told is very political. Until now the academic field of history remains male-dominated, causing a hegemonic narrative in the presentation of history in international relations. This presentation of history often leads the Global South as passive recipients of norms originated from the West. And this narrative is used to delegitimize the global mandate of the UN, which is a direct threat for me to multilateralism. By recognizing the legacy of the Global South, including women from this part of the world, their contribution to human rights, we build ownership around the UN and multilateralism. By making visible what has been invisible in history books, we make everyone regardless of the gender, age, origins or sex included in the foundation of the UN and the postwar system as a whole. On the other hand, looking at the past is crucial to understand what we have been through to secure the rights that we have today. It's a good reminder to not take anything for granted. And like Bertha Lutz said, she has this quote that I found really interesting. She says that "[I]t is a strange psychological paradox that often those who are emancipated by the efforts of others are loth [sic] to acknowledge the source of their freedom." Basically, what she says is that countries who have reached a good level of respect of human rights, including women's rights, tend to forget how they got there. So it's a great reminder that we shouldn't take anything for granted. As I speak today, still no countries have reached gender equality at all level. I still hear whenever I do this research, I talk about it, people tell me "but why are you talking about, why are you advocating for gender equality? Fine, we have it. That's it. Let's move forward." And again, we're not there, so we shouldn't take it for granted.

Natalie Alexander

Absolutely. You do also talk about this kind of research helping us bring more global ownership of gender equality, which you just were kind of referring to, beyond the dichotomy of North and South, despite the fact we really do need to include all the contributions of the Global South in multilateralism. What do you think this kind of means in terms of our cooperation today, in terms of multilateralism, especially in the future when we look at a more global ownership of gender equality?

Fatima Sator

The idea behind our research is to go beyond North and South dichotomy and build ownership around global ideas, including feminism. It's still surprising how between “nonwestern countries” themselves are not aware of their own history and thus are not able to say it. I still remember when we were telling this story to diplomats in the diplomatic school in Brasilia how themselves were very surprised when we were telling them. For me, when we build ownership, we reduce the “us vs them” narrative. It's again building that idea that everyone is entitled to take ownership around those ideas. Again, I also remember how when we were in school in Brazil, teaching again this part of our history. At the end of the presentation, the kids were telling us how feminism, which I define as the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, is not their thing. So why we were telling them at the same time how feminism in the UN, has its origin from Latin America. And the UN Charter remains a perfect example, that it is only when diplomats move beyond the conversation defined in terms of North and South, “us versus them”, that true gender equality can ever become a reality. If it wasn't for the San Francisco conference that acted as a platform to bring together those ideas, give the opportunity to those voices to exist and to influence. So those women were not only sitting at the table, they were truly influencing the agenda. If we didn't have that platform, so thanks to multilateralism and have Latin American women influence the content of the Charter, one can really question what gender equality would have been today.

Natalie Alexander

An incredible story. Thank you, Fatima. We're almost running out of time. And so I wanted to ask you all a bit more about multilateralism. We have covered it quite a bit of ground with regard to agency. But back to you, Dan, for your opinion on this. Do we need to rethink international relations and multilateralism after understanding these different forms of agency that contribute to our history?

Dan Plesch

Well, if we want to survive as a civilization, then we need to understand its vital nature. I think decades ago some wise people started to realize that the central dilemma for humanity is that we've created a society that can destroy itself to the two World Wars, the bomb and now environment. Those issues cannot be resolved by people or states individually, they can only be resolved by cooperation and whether or not humanity is able to grasp that reality. That depends on the army outcome and whether we will survive or not. I enjoy pointing this out, but some traditional classical realist scholars, Hans Morgenthau, who still taught students for two decades. In his later work, he fully realized this and argued that civilization had to adapt to deal with the realities of the bomb, and you couldn't just try to incorporate the bomb into military affairs. So from that classical realist perspective, you have to adapt to society. He, I think, sees feminist foreign policy as classical realism, that in order to survive, we have to cooperate and we have to change our culture. Now, of course, neither feminist scholars nor realists really want to admit that perspective. But I think it concentrates the mind on what's going on here. Our work in this area is part of a broader work on revisiting the creation of the UN, originally as the definitive Anti Fascist Alliance, military and political. And people, I think, throughout the UN system have forgotten that the entire US system was created, first of all, to defeat and then to prevent the reemergence of extremist nationalism and extremist ideology. I was talking to a Middle East diplomat, he was talking about the situation in southern Syria. And I said "what do you need to do?" And he said, "well, we need jobs, and stability, and food." And I said, "you do realize, of course, that the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization in 45, was based upon the idea hunger made Hitler." In this period, it was understood that human security was central to international security, not marginal. Human security was not invented in the 1990s. It was invented in 1940s. And that, I think, is how this picture on really understanding global feminism fits into the broader mission of rediscovering the essential nature of multilateralism.

Natalie Alexander

Yeah, over to you Ellen.

Ellen Chesler

I would just put an exclamation point on what Dan said. UN has reputational problems certainly in the United States, and again, their reputational problem has some part to do with the fact that the measure of its value is from the voice choice perspective. Well, you know, there are still more regional conflicts, and there's still not perfect development in the world. But if you look at it from another perspective, from women's perspective, I think it's a great gift to the world these very well developed ideas of how to achieve women's rights and of the role that women play in stabilizing and securing societies. So I think we have a good story to tell in this book about the role of multinational institutions. And it's only because of the UN that not only were women we write about were brought together, they were the diplomats, they were the parliamentarians. Also, they were supported by a huge and very, very dynamic, non governmental society of women who help them work through their ideas and come to their conclusions. That's another aspect of the UN that I think is undervalued, that it has been a forum not only for diplomats, but also for women from civil society. While some of those women were elites, I show in my book, went back to their countries, the women particularly and founded deeply rooted movements in subaltern as the academics would say, populations in their countries. They empowered women in the marketplace, they brought education to girls. And so this is kind of a good news story, and we need to tell it.

Natalie Alexander

Yeah absolutely. Finally to Fatima.

 Fatima Sator

For me, this multilateralism, and the UN as a platform is also a great opportunity to give a voice to little countries who might not have the weight to influence the agenda otherwise, because if you don't bring all those countries all together, how can they at least discuss? And this is what I really like, when you hear criticism, at least we still have a discussion, at least we're bringing this country all together in the same room and say, "okay, now talk." And if it wasn't for that, what would that be then? And I believe it's really important to create this room for those agencies to happen. This is what multilateralisms do. It just puts everyone in a single room to discuss, and to allow change to happen. So it's really crucial to keep creating this enabling environment for ideas to become action, and impact truly the life of thousands of people in the world.

Natalie Alexander

Yeah, fantastic. Thank you, Fatima. And for those in our audience who would like to read the book, it is open access, I believe, and where can they find it? Maybe to Dan to share.

Dan Plesch

So if you just search up Women in the UN as a book, very quickly you'll find that. You can download it for free from the Routledge publishers website. So do be in touch with us individually and as editors. We're teamed to continue to take the message out and reinforce it, and to partner and talk to people. I'm sure there are many other stories in many other walks of life that need an airing.

Natalie Alexander

Thank you, Dan. We'll make sure to put the link in the show notes for the episode and made the stories continue. Thanks so much to Ellen, Fatima and Dan, for joining us today and all the best as you continue your good work.

Dan Plesch

Thank you, Natalie, and great to be talking with you, Ellen and Fatima, we'll talk soon.

Natalie Alexander

Thank you bye.

Fatima Sator

Thanks, thank you Natalie bye.


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