Madam Secretary General of the IV World Conference on Women,
Mrs. Gertrude Mongella: Ladies and gentlemen:
Deciding to come here, to the Conference on Women, has its advantages and disadvantages. A disadvantage might be that you may only see me as a male President – somehow representing the traditional male power structure. I believe that an advantage is that I am before a non- traditional audience. Here, I can communicate clearly in a candid, non-biased, straight-forward way like I ordinarily do.
In principle, I am not a suit-and-tie statesman working from the Government Palace in Lima, but a President who wears tennis shoes and blue jeans, committed to facing problems wherever they arise.
Basically, this is one of the reasons why I am here in Beijing against the opinion of my advisers. They thought, very conservatively, that male presidents have no place here. I believe, however, that this is not a simple assembly of women, but a forum of fighters that deserve respect and attention from all states and governments.
I know a great deal about the problems of women -especially poor women. Not just from statistics, but through my direct contact with the predicaments women of my country have gone through, and are Still going through. The kinds of plights which arise in almost all developing countries, many of whom have sent courageous representatives here.
Poverty has a female’s face
Poverty in our countries hits women twice as hard in times of crisis. However, women have proven that they know how to organize to fight against adverse conditions. This is no secret here.
I routinely travel four times a week, this is my style, to marginal urban areas in the larger cities of Peru, as well as to rural areas where I see the same picture: a woman carrying a baby wrapped in a blanket on her back, surrounded by an additional three or four more children. And even more unbelievably, she often carries one more human being in her womb. Many of these women are single mothers or estranged from their spouses, or the sole support of their families. These women have a daily double work load: managing the household and working outside as well.
Women as Main Agents for Change
The world is swiftly changing and luckily, new and more humane concepts are being adopted for programs and goals in order to advance economic development. Daily, modern information technology is revolutionising the relationship between people and all kinds of organizations. This seems predestined to create the foundation for a new world order. Any social, cultural or economic transformation can be sustained only if it involves women, who make up half of the world’s population, and if it also eliminates the injustices endured by millions and millions of poor women around the planet.
I am convinced that in Latin America, and other parts of the world, the time has come to abandon, once and for all, the antiquated mental schemes which hinder the full development of women and, therefore, of humankind. This does not mean that we create alliances to attack any institution, but instead we must promote a debate of the highest ethical and humane standards.
We should not be afraid of confronting any subject that affects human beings because this is the only way societies have made progress throughout history. That is why this Fourth World Conference on Women, scarcely five years away from the next millennium, constitutes a historical opportunity to advance in the right direction and lay the ground for full citizenship for women, with the same rights and opportunities that already exist for men. No more, no less.
Outlawing Violence Against Women
Peru has taken some steps on behalf of women but we still have a long way to go. Peru, for example, is one of the few countries in Latin America that has enacted a law outlawing all forms of violence against women. I am here to reaffirm that we will vigorously enforce this law.
From the “Economic Miracle” to the “Peruvian Social Miracle”
Peruvian women have played a central role in the fight my government launched against hyperinflation, which hovered around 7,000 percent in 1990, and against insane terrorism which plagued my country when I assumed office for the first time as the President of Peru. With courage and a formidable survival spirit, Peruvian women mobilized, working actively with security forces to fight ruthless terrorist violence. Women created singular mechanisms to solve the problem of hunger and unemployment by promoting popular kitchens, “glass of milk committees”, arranging for day care centers (called “wawawasi”), creating close-knitted solidarity networks which benefitted entire communities. That experience showed me how important it is for women to achieve the social and economic development that we all long for.
Now that in Peru we have achieved stability and peace, and we have built the foundations for a civilized society, we can tackle social challenges and shape our own future.
Last year my country had the greatest economic growth in the world, with a rate of 13 percent. Some people believe that the benefits of rapid economic growth do not trickle down to reach the less favored sectors of society, mainly children and women. This is correct. That is why our goal is to bring together these two main objectives: economic growth and social development.
The challenge we now face is to consolidate this process and gradually turn this ” economic miracle ” into a ” social miracle “. This strategy requires the decisive participation of women.
Women are the Architects of the “Peruvian Miracle”.
This is another reason for my presence. Over a month ago, during my inauguration address to the Peruvian people, I pledged to work for the women of my country.Women have been the force of solidarity and struggle for life during one of the worst economic crisis in the century to hit Peru. They are the true architects of the so-called Peruvian economic miracle”.
The reality of this imposes upon me a moral mandate of the first order: active participation of women in all segments of the State and civil society. I believe that when designing state policies women must be included as a main agent of development.
We agree with trustworthy studies that state that investing in women is the most rational and profitable way to reduce poverty and improve social conditions.
Women as the link between the market and the social fabric,
Women can become the greatest link between the market place and the fabric of society. That is, if we empower this social agents and allow women to leap from economic survival to productive development. Linking macro-economies to family micro economies is the key to giving social content to a market economy.
Half of social expenditures to be assigned to women’s programs
For the year 2000, my government has set as its goal to reduce extreme poverty to 50 percent. Obviously, this effort requires budgetary resources. To that end, my government proposes to progressively increase the resources allocated to women to 50 percent of social expenditures of the national budget. Let me stress this: we are putting into action what we are saying.
Integral strategy of family planning
Secondly, my government has decided to carry out, as part of a policy of social development and the fight against poverty, an integral strategy of family planning that confronts, openly -for the first time in the history of our country- the serious lack of information and services available on this matter. Thus, women can have at their disposal with full autonomy and freedom, the tools necessary to make decisions about their own lives.
I am sure that to you these concepts will not seem like we are opposing life and health, but the opposite. Unfortunately, in Peru, while people, and particularly poor women are receptive to this approach, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is reacting, in my view, in a disproportionate manner.
The Church is trying to prevent the Peruvian State from carrying out a modern and rational policy of family planning. We have been accused of trying to impose “mutilations” and “killing poor people” after a recent law was passed by Congress allowing voluntary vasectomies and fallopian tubes ligation as part as contraceptive methods.
By trying to give information to the poorest sectors of our population the hierarchy of the Peruvian Catholic Church has labeled this government’s decision an expression of the “power of darkness”. Obviously, this is a controversial subject in Peru, as well as in the rest of Latin America. There are institutions and forces that resist open and rational discussions on this issue. Of course, this is not a call to create blocs of nations or States to rise against the Vatican. In this time and age, an open debate cannot be interpreted as a declaration of war. The broad consensus reached in this Conference is a great example of fruitful debate, much to the credit of the delegations that came to Beijing and to the remarkable skills of Mrs. Mongella. Peruvian women are not going to remain confined or constrained by the intransigence of ultraconservative mentalities that pretend to turn into a dogma their incapacity to accept social change, and deny a truth so simple like the need of both boys and girls who come to this world to enjoy a dignified condition given by the Creator of human life.
These family planning methods are now legally available in Peru within the reach of women, men, and families of all social classes -so that they can use them, I underline this, free and responsibly or not use them, if they opt for a different solution according to their personal or family beliefs.
Hence, we are not going to stop our effort to carry out a vast national campaign to actively make public all these family planning methods that modern science has placed at our disposal. This is not going to be done to instate some kind of sinister power, but to light torches of hope to advance in to a new millennium that must highlight a new era of dignity for all human beings. As proof of this commitment, in the national budget we have included a special allocation for family planning.
If there is something sinister and diabolic it may be the indifference of certain institutions to this painful everyday reality. We cannot ignore the situation of extreme poverty endured by millions of women which creates conditions ripe for prostitution, even of children, and other scourges.
An Educational Crusade
In this crusade, my government is making efforts to improve the quality of education and the eradication of illiteracy plays an important role, as it especially affects peasant women. This is the third element of our strategy.
The Importance of the platform of action
The platform to be adopted in this international U.N. sponsored conference needs the commitment from all member states of this organization. I am confident that the documents to be approved in this conference will contribute to the achievement of significant social advancement in Peru.
During the next five years of my constitutional mandate I have an important task in my country: to continue, even more vigorously, with determination and political will, the struggle against poverty and secular backwardness.This is the ultimate war against poverty declared by Peru and its people.
I am leaving Beijing and this Conference, full of ideas and proposals that bring forward an authentic revolution. Whatever our differences, we are seeking the same objective: to build a free, just and equal society.
I hope that the Platform of Beijing may secure that women may be the masters of their destiny in Twenty-first century! This is my deepest wish.
Thank you for your attention.
ISO: PER ***** The electronic version of this document has been prepared at the Fourth World Conference on Women by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women Secretariat. ****AS WRITTEN UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION FROM SPANISH ORIGINAL SPEECH GIVEN BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF PERU, H.E. ALBERTO FUJIMORI, BEFORE THE IV WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN, SEPTEMBER 15, 1995, BEIJING, CHINA [PART#1]
Available at http ://www.un.org/esa/gopher-data/conf/fwcw/conf/gov/950915131946.txt