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at The Global Fund for Women: Nicky McIntyre (650) 853-8305 or Julie Shaw (415) 460-0571

Women from 13 countries to discuss building a more compassionate society at Nov. 2 conference

Prominent activists, educators and public figures from 13 countries will meet at Stanford on Sunday, Nov. 2, to discuss how women in particular might work toward building a more compassionate society. The free public symposium, "Toward a Compassionate Society," will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Kresge Auditorium. It will feature panel discussions on such topics as women, religion and the politics of spirituality, leadership with compassion, justice and human rights, and the relationships between families, values and communities.

The conference was organized by the Sisterhood Is Global Institute of Washington, D.C., the Shaler Adams Foundation of San Francisco and the Global Fund for Women of Palo Alto. Stanford sponsors include the university's departments of Philosophy and Political Science, its programs in Ethics in Society and Feminist Studies, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Keck Center for Legal Ethics.

Speakers include current and former government ministers, jurists, diplomats and parliamentarians; professors of anthropology, sociology, political science, religion and ethics; writers, and directors of non-governmental organizations. Many are experts in the fields of development, health or gender, and many were involved in the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women, which was held in Beijing in 1995.

Sponsors say that despite vast scientific progress in the 20th century, "the world continues to experience the devastating violence and destruction brought about by war/genocide, the starvation of the population of entire countries and the extreme deprivation of unrelenting poverty. To meet these challenges, the world must move beyond solutions of science and technology toward solutions of common consciousness and individual good will."

How to do that is the challenge to be discussed. Speakers include the following:

  • Mahnaz Afkhami, president of the Sisterhood Is Global Institute, helped create the Asian and Pacific Centre for Women and Development and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women. A former Iranian minister of state for women's affairs and delegate to the U.N. General Assembly, she directs the Foundation for Iranian Studies and has written on Muslim women.
  • Martine Batchelor, coordinator of Buddhist College in Devon, England, co-leads meditation retreats with her husband, is involved in interfaith dialogue and edits books on Buddhism.
  • Charlotte Bunch, a Rutgers professor and feminist author, directs the Douglass College Center for Women's Global Leadership, which coordinated the women's human rights caucus for the Beijing Conference on Women.
  • Tina Choi is program coordinator at Do Something, Inc., a national non-profit organization that trains, funds and mobilizes young people to become leaders in their own communities.
  • Pat Giles, a former member of the Australian Parliament, chairs the World Health Organization's Global Commission on Women's Health.
  • Khadija Haq, executive vice president of the Human Development Centre, a research institution in Islamabad, India, chairs the North South Roundtable, a global policy research and dialogue forum.
  • Madhu Kishwar, editor of India's foremost women's magazine, Manushi, is an activist on civil liberties, human rights, women's rights and minority rights issues.
  • Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, is founder of the Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive Rights and Ethics, and convener of the International Network of Feminists Interested in Reproductive Health and Ethics.
  • Gwendoline Konie, former Zambian ambassador to the U.N. and several European countries, has chaired planners involved in Zambia's fourth national development plan and was the key organizer of agenda-setting conferences for the Beijing women's conference.
  • Susan Moller Okin, the Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society and Professor of Political Science at Stanford, writes mainly on feminist issues, and has in recent years turned her attention more toward gender and women's rights in the developing world.
  • Anne Firth Murray, consultant to the Packard Foundation and a consulting professor of health research and policy at Stanford, has previously directed the environment and international population programs for the Hewlett Foundation. She is founding president of the Global Fund for Women, which provides funding for groups committed to women's well-being internationally.
  • Kavita Nandini Ramdas, president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, was a program officer at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, where she worked on issues of urban poverty and economic development in the United States and on the population program in India.
  • Aruna Rao, president-elect of the board of directors of the Association for Women in Development, is advisor to the Gender Team of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee. She is currently a visiting fellow at Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change in Boston.
  • Arvind Sharma, professor of comparative religion at McGill University in Montreal, has published several papers and monographs dealing with the position of women in Indian religions. He is the editor of a trilogy on women and religion, including the 1994 book, Today's Woman in World Religions.


By Kathleen O'Toole

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