Beyond Beijing: The International Women’s Movement

From August 30 to September 15, 1995, two parallel events took place in China: the NGO (Non-Governmental Organizations) Forum on Women in Huairou, and the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Feminist videomaker and educator Salome Chasnoff documented the Forum through the perspective of a group of Chicago-based grassroots activists and other women who attended the Forum.

00:00Copy video clip URL Introduction to the 1995 NGO (Non-Governmental Organizations) Forum on Women in Huairou, China. Over scenes of Huairou and the Beijing province, narrator and videomaker Salome Chasnoff describes the purpose of the forum and her video project.

01:31Copy video clip URL Chicago-based grassroots activists, attendees of the NGO Forum on Women, introduce themselves and their sponsoring organizations. They are: Dorothy Jones, with Women for Economic Security; Mildred Williamson, Families and Children’s AIDS Network and the Women and Children HIV Program in Cook County Hospital; Fran Moskal, Southwest Women Working Together; Mary Abowd Union of Palestinian Women’s Associations; Martha Ramirez, Chicago Community Midwives and Alivio Medical Center; Melba Poole, Literary Exchange; Ranjana Bhargava, Apna Ghar; Joyce Love, Chicago Foundation for Women.

02:04Copy video clip URL Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Beijing. Gertrude Mongella, Secretary General for the Fourth World Conference on Women speaks. Chasnoff explains the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action (or BPfA) that resulted from the 4th World Conference on Women and gives contextual background on the international cooperation that made these events possible.

04:09Copy video clip URL Title sequence.

04:24Copy video clip URL Njoki Kamau, Associate Director for the Women’s Center at Northwestern University, reflects on her experience in Beijing.

05:02Copy video clip URL On the bus to Huairou. Image of a bus boarding pass for the 4th World Conference on Women and the NGO Forum site. Kamau narrates the process of finding workshops at the Forum and her feelings of gratitude for the presence of so many women gathered together. Chasnoff introduces the informal and formal structures of the Forum, including its 13 themes. 

07:00Copy video clip URL Scenes from the “Women Taking Their Power Through Women’s Organizations” workshop. Kamau speaks at the workshop, telling her story of overcoming abuse and finding hope through working with women.

07:49Copy video clip URL Sheila Griffin, with Genesis House, Chicago. Griffin reflects on finding her voice and what the Forum has meant to her.

10:00Copy video clip URL Griffin attending the “Gender Socialization in Hong Kong” workshop.

10:28Copy video clip URL Ranjana Bhargava introduces herself and her work with women.

11:54Copy video clip URL The Program of Plenaries: “Look At the World Through Women’s Eyes,” at the Beijing Huairou International Convention Center. Chasnoff appears on camera, explaining the situation at the overcrowded event center. Interview with Akhila Sivadas, with the Women’s Feature Service in New Delhi, who runs a media advocacy group.

13:15Copy video clip URL Christina Alberti Alonzo, Minister of Social Affairs of Spain, and Esther Ocloo, with the Sustainable End of Hunger Foundation, give speeches. Chasnoff reflects on the countering attitudes toward media at the Forum. At once the object of critique and the means to communicate to world-wide audiences the platform of women’s issues. Joyce Love examines the contradictions between how the forum was presented in the mass media and her experience of it on the ground. At a press conference with Betty Friedan, a speaker continues analysis of the misleading portrayal of the women’s conference in the mass media.

15:30Copy video clip URL Jenny Kern, an Attorney Activist in connection with the Disabled Women’s Alliance in the United States. Kern lists the organizing concerns for the Disabled Women’s Alliance.

16:27Copy video clip URL Martha Ramirez introduces herself, her occupations, and what she learned from attending the Forum on Women. Yasmeen Mohiuddin, a professor at University of the South, explains her multifaceted work as a professor, representing low-income women in Appalachia, and origins in Pakistan. Kamau reflects on the growing strength of the international women’s movement. Griffin has a meaningful exchange with two Japanese women. She tries on a Chinese concubine’s dress from the past.

20:41Copy video clip URL Sweet Honey in the Rock performs “Give Your Hands to the Struggle.” Chasnoff explains a central irony of circumstances at the Forum. Charlotte Burch, with the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, speaks on the disparities between the impact of women’s leadership at local levels and their lack of representation in policy making and macro-level decision making structures. Winnie Karagwa Byanyima, of the Constituent Assembly Women’s Caucus, speaks on demanding change for politically and socially marginalized and excluded groups of women.

24:55Copy video clip URL Bhargava describes the empowering witness of women coming together at the Forum. Xu Xiaomin, with the China Patent News, on the presence of Chinese women at the Forum. Kamau and Mildred Williamson meet at the conference and explain their longstanding friendship.

26:42Copy video clip URL Women of African Descent Caucus. Williamson gives her view on the Caucus and its impact. Kamau shares how her social identity shifted when she came to the U.S. and how she first became labeled with descriptors like “Black” or “woman of color.”

28:21Copy video clip URL Africa Cultural Evening.

30:14Copy video clip URL Francis Connolly, from the National Women’s Network based in the United Kingdom, speaks about lobbying for the inclusion of lesbian rights in the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action. On Sept. 8th at the Forum, 20 women were ejected from a plenary session for expressing support of lesbian rights. Martha Ramirez describes other ways the Forum lacked in representation. Bhargava describes challenges for organizing Asian women in Chicago. She also tells about speaking up and challenging Betty Friedan at a Forum session.

33:28Copy video clip URL Drawing upon the example of the granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad, a woman named Hoda speaks to the power of women in Islam and other spiritual communities.

34:25Copy video clip URL “Working Together in a Situation of Inequality” workshop. Tamar Grozansky, with Knesset of Israel, and Lila Shahid, the Palestinian Ambassador to France, speak on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Mary Abowd explains the precarious situation of exiled Palestinians in Chicago and around the globe. Michal Rozenzweig-Goffer, with the No Limits for Women Project, shares what she’s witnessed at the Forum. Melba Poole also explains her work and what she learned from attending workshops and her vision for the future.

37:46Copy video clip URL “Habitat Workshop.” Bhargava relates a poignant story shared by a young girl from Nepal that intersected with her own story growing up in India.

38:59Copy video clip URL “Youth Tent.” A peace and unity circle forms. Interviews with youth. A look at generational differences with G. Goedecke, North Ward Councillor from North Sunshine [sic], Australia. Barbara Nicola, with Teens in Action, Jamaica, and Misha Shubert, a feminist activist from Australia, on creating better opportunities and social conditions for young women. Scenes from a Grassroots Organizing  Training Clinic for Women Thirty and Under. Interview with Josina Morita about her vision for a better world for women. Kamau speaks on the vast range of issues raised at the Forum. Irene Hernandez, from Malaysia, at the regional network of the Pesticide Action Network for Asia/Pacific. Kathleen McGuire, a self-described ecofeminist, highlights an impromptu protest of McDonald’s at the Forum.

43:48Copy video clip URL Chasnoff describes the mass media’s contradictory role at the Forum.

44:00Copy video clip URL Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the NGO Forum. The events leading up to Clinton’s speech. Chasnoff records an “alternative view” to Clinton’s major media event. Chasnoff asks the perspective of various women excluded from the day’s main event and the continuing themes of the Forum’s inaccessibility. Despite the fact that economic globalization was one of the major issues at the Conference, Chansoff explains, it received little attention from the media. Nonetheless, women at the conference emphasized the inseparability of human rights and economic, social, and environmental rights. Ramirez reflects on how she’s changed by attending the Conference.

48:36Copy video clip URL Bhargava describes her multi-faceted negotiation of five layers of identity at the Conference.

49:49Copy video clip URL At the Great Wall of China. Prof. Lin Yi-Qing, from Beijing University, reflects on the socialization and generational differences of women in China. Gita Sen, with Development Alternatives for Women in a New Era (DAWN), on the growth of the cosmetics industry in China and the contradictions and extremes of globalization in Asia.

52:02Copy video clip URL Due to Chasnoff’s camera being damaged in the rain, a written narrative of her interview with the celebrated Chinese novelist Bi Shumin.

52:27Copy video clip URL Chasnoff asks Xu Xiaomin if the Conference made her see herself in a different light. Kamau shares final thoughts on the relationships built at the Forum and building connections with people beyond the rhetoric and conflict of national and world governments.

55:02Copy video clip URL Sweet Hony in the Rock performs onstage. Chasnoff talks about the limitations of both the Conference and the Forum, conditions that limited women’s lobbying efforts, and criticisms of the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action. She then lists the many accomplishments gained at these world gatherings and the documents and the more expansive vision of women’s rights signed by 189 countries around the world.

56:07Copy video clip URL “Beyond Beijing: The Conversation Continues…” Virginia Martinez (Mujeres Latinas en Acción), Charlotte Bunch, Mallika Dutt (Center for Women’s Global Leadership), Bella Abzug (Women’s Environment and Development Organization, WEDO), and Mildred Williamson speak before audiences to share their experiences in Huairou and Beijing and their hopes for changes in the world and the international women’s movement in the future.

58:13Copy video clip URL Credits scroll across the screen as other women continue speaking about the legacy of the World Conference and Women’s Forum.

59:38Copy video clip URL Closing title sequence.



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