Welcome to the Second Decade!

A “Call to Action” from Aileen Clarke Hernández,
Chair, CAlifornia Women's Agenda

In 1995, 40,000 women and girls - in a remarkable demonstration of global solidarity - broke through the barriers of language, ethnicity, class, race and religion to carve out a common agenda. The Fourth World Conference on Women - sponsored by the United Nations and held in Huairou and Beijing, China - ended with a commitment by 189 nations (including the United States) to take appropriate action to move that global agenda forward.

The Conference also energized thousands of participants who returned to their home towns determined to share their China experience with others and turn the message of global unity into a grassroots movement for fundamental societal change. The CAlifornia Women's Agenda (CAWA) was organized in 1996 at a statewide gathering of women and girls, held at San Francisco State University and keynoted by Bella Abzug. It was designed as a blueprint for collective action among the hundreds of organizations in California addressing the needs of women and girls. Since its founding ten years ago, CAWA has developed into an action network mobilizing millions of women (and men) in support of the global plan adopted in Beijing as a commitment to the empowerment of women.

Launched as a project of the Women’s Intercultural Network (WIN), an NGO (non-governmental organization) consultative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, CAWA has:
• expanded our state network to more than 600 organizations
• developed a state task force for each of the issues identified in the Beijing Plan as crucial to improving the status of women (each task force is headed by very knowledgeable volunteers who keep CAWA current on actions that are needed to make progress on each issue
• developed a county structure in seventeen areas of the state, guided by coordinators who mobilize local organizations into action networks on local issues; the goal is to organize all 58 counties in the state
• built an on-line electronic information and action alert system for rapid communication to the task forces, county coordinators and key CAWA activists who then forward the material to their personal and constituent networks
• re-designed and updated our web site to make it an effective tool for accessing resources and facilitating interactive discussions and
strategic planning on key issues
• created a Legislators’ Council that includes 41 state level and national level California elected officials who have indicated their
support of the principles of the Beijing Platform for Action
• received targeted grants (from San Francisco Foundation, Hewlett Packard, Pacific Bell/SBC and Wells Fargo Foundation for capacity-building and outreach projects in underserved communities to get out the vote, convene informational forums on key issues, link organizations in regional areas and conduct statewide conferences to share information and set state priorities for CAWA action.
• hosted women leaders from Afghanistan, Uganda and Japan in leadership exchanges with CAWA activists and supporters in various communities throughout the state
• shared our organizing model and participated with activists in 9 other states (in 10 Federal regional hubs) to form US Women Connect as an anchor for a US women’s agenda and national version of women’s groups linked in a global network for women’s rights (www.uswc.org)

CAWA’s success has been possible, in spite of limited financial resources, because we operate largely as a “virtual network” relying on old and new technologies to expand our reach. E-groups and telephone conference calls have helped maintain contact among the dedicated volunteers who have accepted the responsibility for the task forces, the action alerts and the local organizing. Many also serve as CAWA representatives to coalitions that have formed to address racism, hostility to the gay community, anti-immigrant policies, the plight of people with disabilities and the rights of indigenous people.

In recent years, court decisions, propositions and initiatives have whittled away at hard-won civil rights gains, civil liberties and privacy protections. Social legislation designed to provide a “safety net” for the most vulnerable among us is being undermined by the heavy financial and human cost of a war that has become more and more unpopular.

It's more important now than ever before that women's voices be heard.

In CAWA’s second decade, we must learn to use our votes wisely, to support candidates – women and men – dedicated to creating that “more perfect union”

set as a goal in the preamble to our Constitution and to hold them accountable.

We must focus on collective action – using the power of the network strategically to amplify our voices “to the millionth power” on the issues that face us. We must reach out and learn more about our communities, becoming better informed, analytical and courageous in SPEAKING UP and SPEAKING OUT – emulating women and girls in tiny villages throughout the world who have found their voices and are claiming their rights as human beings.

We want to hear from you! Become familiar with our expanded web and action site and use them! We will post information you send us and make it much easier for you to communicate with each other.

The basic WIN web site address is: www.win-cawa.org and you will find many other avenues to explore once you get to our home page. Our site now reaches out across the world to a huge and diverse audience. If you and/or your organization have not yet officially joined CAWA, do it NOW at: www.win-cawa.org/joincawa.html



Your voice counts! Give us feedback on your prority issues and progress in your county on our survey Your Voice Counts

Beijing+10 Call to Action Reports:
Health, Education, Media, Environment, Peace, Girl Child, Violence, Institutional Mechanisms, Poverty, Economic Justice, Power Sharing, and Human Rights

We are grateful to SBC Communications for hosting our third CALL TO ACTION


click to learn more about the Beijing +5 conference


last updated 1/07 by Molly Klett