Speech of Lin McDevitt-Pugh, International Information Centre and Archives for the Women's Movement (IIAV) at the Commission on the Status of Women, New York, 3 March 2008
Mr Chair, distinguished delegates, valued NGO colleagues, thank you for this opportunity to address you on this most important issue.
I represent 400 women’s information organizations world wide. A century of collecting books, information, reports, research, documentation on what has to change, and how change has happened. Public policy makers know that transformation does not happen based on one good idea, or one well thought through policy. Sustained change takes thought, effort, commitment, communication. And documentation.
Civil servants come and go. Politicians come and go. Researchers come and go. But information remains. The collective memory of all our best efforts to implement policies that make a difference in women’s lives, is not in government offices. It is not in the drawers of civil servants. It is not even spread over all the women’s organisations and initiatives. You will find some of it there. Do you want to know where you can you find a copy of that magazine article? Where can you find that piece of research? It is at one of the women’s information centers in your country. If the centre is adequately resourced.
The UN recognized the importance of supporting independent women’s information organizations at the Division for the Advancement of Women, 'Seminar on Information Systems for the Advancement of Women for National Machineries' in Vienna in 1988. I quote: “National information systems should be developed. Information systems should not only include the collection, but also the processing and dissemination of information, and make use as far as possible of the most recent information and communication techniques.” The Beijing Platform for Action reaffirmed this. But today, women’s information organizations are not adequately resourced. And because of this, governments and civil society alike are losing an essential link in the information chain, the link that could guarantee continuity, the link that creates an informed citizenship.
400 women’s information organizations world wide call on you today to reaffirm this commitment. We call on you to ensure that the collective memory of change that benefits women is maintained. Ensure they have your documentation. Ensure they have a roof over their heads. We call on you to ensure that they are adequately resourced.
400 women’s information organizations are your capable partners.
You need them. So support them. Use and invest in them.
The co-signers are:
Association for Progressive Communications
Humanist Committee on Human Rights
Isis-Women's International Cross Cultural Exchange
Bridge, accredited through Womenkind Worldwide
IIAV, accredited through Nederlandse Vrouwen Raad
International Women's Tribune Centre