RIO + 10 Agenda 21, Chapter 24:

Global action for women towards sustainable and equitable development

Marie Haisová

Agentura GAIA
tel.: 604 946516
e-mail: marie.haisova@seznam.cz


Agenda 21 under chapter 24.2. proposes to national governments the following aims:

  • Increase the proportion of women among the decision-makers, planners, technical advisers, managers and highly qualified personnel in the field of environmental issues and development.
  • Formulate and implement a clear governmental policy, national directives, strategy and plans allowing to institute equality of women from all social points of view…

Czech reality

In the Czech Republic, the government is 100 % masculine while in the Parliament and Senate hardly 10 % of members are women. The 50 wealthiest people in our country are men, criminality is up to 95 % men‘s business. As a result a materialistic-consumerist society has developed in which profit, money and prosperity are raised to the top of human endeavors. The working of the society is subordinated to this vision. The early nineties slogan that “when we have enough money, we can permit ourselves the luxury of a sound environment”. The idolatry of money leads to the consequences not only in the extreme form of addiction to work, which does not serve to satisfy the basic necessities of life, but has become its own aim. People go to work, in order to buy a car they need to get to work. Consequences? Stress, lack of time to cultivate interpersonal relations, to care not only for oneself and one’s own health but also to one’s environment and closest surroundings. It can be affirmed that, on a worldwide scale, the present-day ideology of consumerist society is a threat to life on Earth on an unprecedented scale. Unlike the ideologies of the past, which affected the freedom of speech and thought, these threaten the basic resources, such as the need to breathe clean air, to drink unspoiled water, to have sufficient food…

Why women?

In my practice I come upon the phenomenon that hardly anybody understands why women should participate more in the social decision-making process. I can mention at random:

  • The feminine principle consists in a positive approach to life, love, care, emphasis on ”being” not ”ownership”, creativity, complexity of vision, sense of equality instead of hierarchical principles, understanding on the basis of empathy, intuition...
  • Women do not consider nature as something ”external”, but consider themselves and their surroundings as part of nature…
  • Relationships are women’s priority, they understand better interrelationships…
  • Mothers cannot wish their children to live in a life-threatening environment, or to become victims of violence. To give birth and to raise a human being is much more difficult than to take somebody’s life...


Women’s worries worldwide – Life is not for sale

In Autumn 2001, Agentura GAIA organized in cooperation with Diverse Women for Diversity an international conference on the theme “Life is not for sale” - Women, children and nature – alternative to the WB, IMF and WTO policy. The conference analyzed the policies of international financial institutions, headed by men, whose decisions control the world. Vandana Shiva from India spoke on “Globalization and poverty”, describing how multinational companies, which can afford to sell cereals cheaper than the production costs of the growers, eliminated them, raising an enormous wave of protests. Jean Grossholtz from USA informed on international corporations and the growth of their influence over natural and economical resources. Among other things, she said: “We in the USA we are taught a credo, which we are supposed to believe in, that the good life is the material life, secured with money. In the world of consumerist society you are attacked from all sides by this credo. It is very difficult for example to disregard publicity. But if we want to live in a human and humane world, then we must try to overcome the commercialization of everything around us.” Maria Mies from Germany spoke about how “The global system of free trade is a neocolonialist system of world war”, Carlos Crespo from Bolivia described the privatization of water resources in Cochabamba and the resistance to it. Ursula Oswald Spring, the former environment minister of Mexico, presented a statistically documented analysis of inequality in food consumption “The surfeited against the hungry”.

Think globally, act locally

The gist of the problem seems to lie in a patriarchal set-up of the world, in which all strategic decision-making is in the hands of men. Who heads the multinational corporations, national governments, who has the power to decide, who has the information, who has the money, the positions of authority, the wealth? I look for the solution in promoting the feminine principle. For this reason in 1997, I founded the NGO Agentura GAIA, whose main purpose is a search for new ways of interpersonal communication in the field of environmental protection, education and culture. Within the framework of this mission, we develop the following concrete programs:

  • “Green means life”, the purpose of which is the return of trees to our towns and communities.
  • “Women and the environment” emphasizing the feminine principle in understanding the world.
  • “Your purse or your life”, in which we search for a way out of the worldwide environmental crisis.

These programs Agentura GAIA organizes are further articulated into a series of projects one of which, ”Time is life”, I wish to present. The aim of Agentura GAIA’s project "Time is life " is to draw attention to the state of society in order to open a dialogue, which should bring about the awareness of the need of a more sensitive approach and harmonization of society by applying the feminine principle and equality in social roles (simplifying it means it would be good to have more women in politics, just as in education it would be convenient to have more men teaching). Why does Agentura GAIA want to work on a harmonious society? Because fostering such a society is the only way to solve the environmental crisis, our relations with the mother Earth, other living beings on Earth, our children, parents, families, and among ourselves. The instruments to implement our purpose are seen to lie in general in incrementing education, meeting people, communicating our experiences, personal creativity, developing and fostering independence in thinking and behavior and women’s self-assurance.