South Asia Women's Network (SWAN)
- Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
- Stakeholder type: Major Group
- Submission Document: Download
- Additional Document:
SWAN (South Asia Women's Network)?s
Positions on an emerging Green Economy
We, the women of South Asia, gathered in Dhaka, Bangladesh on July 2 and 3, 2011, for the Third
Annual Conference of SWAN (South Asia Women?s Network), which was dedicated to the theme of
?Women of South Asia and the Green Economy?. We come from nine South Asian countries:
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
The SWAN Annual Conference brings together eight individual SWAN networks, respectively on Arts and
Literature; Women in Peacemaking; Health, Nutrition, and Food Security; Education; Crafts and Textiles;
Microcredit, Livelihood, and Development; Environment; and Women in Media. Women working in each
of these areas make vital contributions to the Green Economy. There can be no Green Economy without
Arts and Literature that express our local traditions, and women play a central role in preserving and
disseminating these traditions. There can be no Green Economy without Peace. Armed conflict,
terrorism and all violent acts are destructive of the Green Economy. The peace we ask for cannot ever
be at the expense of women?s rights. A Green Economy is the only enduring basis for good health, and
for ensuring adequate nutrition and food security. Education for an authentic Green Economy is our
commitment. Our rich tradition of crafts and textiles does not just contribute to our rich culture; it is the
very basis of green livelihoods. Facilitating local sustainable livelihoods is the real role of microcredit and
financial systems. We will use the media to show to our region and the world that the women of South
Asia bring solutions to the ecological and poverty crises. We will define the Green Economy on our
terms, through our cultures and our lives.
South Asia is the region that bears a heavy burden of the global ecological crisis, including climate
change and species extinction. The melting of the Himalayan glaciers, the intensification of droughts,
floods, and cyclones and the rising sea level aggravate the already‐serious ecological stresses in our
region. Despite the differences and diversity within our region, we all share and depend on one
geographical space. During periods of deep catastrophe and uncertainty, we need to recognize a
multiplicity of perspectives that will offer diverse and plural solutions.
South Asia is one of the richest regions in terms of bio‐cultural diversity, but this diversity is under threat
of monocultures pushed through the Green Revolution and genetic engineering. These non‐sustainable
and failed technologies are being forced on our people, driving them deeper into debt and poverty. Our
rich biodiversity and knowledge heritage is being patented and pirated, depriving our people of the
benefits of their own heritage and resources. When environmental crises force us to migrate to cities,
we also experience loss of livelihoods due to lack of access to urban space, materials and new forms of
urban management. Our bodies are imprinted with toxics from unsustainable consumption of others.
The right to sustainable development should be inalienable. This is vital for women?s empowerment and
for preserving our planet for future generations
Women of South Asia bear the highest burden of climate change, biodiversity erosion and unsustainable
forms of urbanization. But we also bring solutions to these global crises with our knowledge, skills,
wisdom, and experience. We seek to work in harmony with nature, rather than resorting to geoengineering
that could further aggravate the ecosystem balance. That is why we bring something
unique to the global discussion on sustainable development and the Green Economy in the lead‐up to
Rio+20 and visions beyond.
Statement and Commitment
A Green Economy should be an economic system that ensures social justice and equity, protects the
ecological balance and creates economic sufficiency. Such a Green Economy should replace the current
economic order, which is based on inequity, environmental destruction and greed, which has resulted in
keeping nearly half the world?s population in poverty, and has brought the planet to the point of a
severe environmental catastrophe through climate change. The core idea of a Green Economy must be
poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability through maintaining biodiversity, and the well‐being of
all the people.
As SWANs, we embrace such a Green Economy. We commit ourselves to raising our collective voices for
it. We will transcend the fragmenting boundaries that attempt to divide us, and will unify our energies
to create a better world for all.
Our local economies have always been in harmony with nature. We have used resources prudently, and
shared them equitably. SWAN believes that agriculturists and craftspeople around the world have
always worked in tandem with the seasons and in harmony with nature. A craftswoman carries with her
the wisdom of generations that did not pillage the planet for profit. She has a deep commitment
towards nurturing the natural world for sustaining livelihoods. The only raw materials needed to keep
millions employed is a thriving green environment with rich forests, wild grasses, clean waters, and
unravaged hillsides. The dignity and creativity of hand‐work greatly contributes towards sound rural
economies. This work of women across the South Asian region must be acknowledged by all those who
wish to build an inclusive and truly integrated, ecologically balanced world.
Today, those who have created the ecological crisis talk of the Green Economy. For them, the Green
Economy means appropriating the remaining resources of the planet for profit ? from seed and
biodiversity to land and water as well as our skills, such as the environmental services we provide.
For us, the privatization and commodification of nature, her species, her ecosystems, and her ecosystem
services cannot be part of a Green Economy, for such an approach cannot take into account our
traditions. The resources of the Earth are for the welfare of all, not the profits of a few.
Sharing our vital resources equitably and using them sustainably for livelihoods and basic needs is at the
heart of our concept of a Green Economy. Our rich knowledge of biodiversity, our ecologically
sustainable agriculture, and our crafts techniques are free of fossil fuels and toxics. They generate
creative and dignified livelihoods and they provide the basis for poverty alleviation. We stand
committed to strengthening these life‐giving traditions.
It is of vital importance to spread awareness about these issues through the media and through the
educational process, which reaches out to youth and children. Awareness about the Green Economy and
the significance of its diverse impacts is essential in order to enable all segments of society to make
informed choices. Recognizing the changing face of the media, SWAN encourages the use of new media,
including social networking tools, to reach out and support the women of South Asia in their struggle to
meet the challenges of ensuring the Green Economy for sustainable development.
Our Green Economies are diverse and decentralized and therefore are a path of empowerment for all.
Women are the storehouse of knowledge and provide the cultural base to create and build economies
that increase wellbeing and happiness, joy and beauty, sustainability and equity. It is from our region of
South Asia that the concept of Gross National Happiness has spread worldwide. We will deepen this
concept and make it the basis of the Green Economy.
We stand committed to peace in our region and to strengthening these life‐giving traditions. We commit
ourselves to defending the ecological integrity of our region ? our mountains and rivers, our land and
oceans, our natural forests, biodiversity and seeds. We commit ourselves to creating prosperity and
peace through the Green Economy that protects and enriches our natural and cultural heritage. We
commit ourselves to resisting those irresponsible policies and armed conflicts that directly harm women
and children. We commit ourselves to equity and to defending vital resources, like forests, seed and
biodiversity, rivers and water, as a commons. We recognize that the Green Economy we envisage will
greatly facilitate and strengthen women?s empowerment in South Asia and in other parts of the world.
We commit ourselves to working together to show that a better world is possible. We commit ourselves
to making our voices heard at all important regional and multilateral forums where these issues are
1. Ms Veena Sikri, Professor, Academy of Third World Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New
Delhi (India) : Convener of SWAN and Coordinator of the SWAN on Arts and Literature
2. Dr Vandana Shiva, Navdanya (Research Foundation for Science, Technology & Ecology), New Delhi
(India), Co‐coordinator of the SWAN on the Environment
3. Mr. Uchita de Zoysa, Executive Director, Centre for Environment & Development, Colombo (Sri
Lanka) : Co‐coordinator of the SWAN on the Environment
4. Ms Shinkai Zahine Karokhail, Member of the National Assembly of Afghanistan : Coordinator of the
5. Ms Shaheen Anam, Executive Director, Manusher Jonno Foundation, Dhaka (Bangladesh) :
Coordinator of the SWAN on Microcredit, Livelihood and Development
6. Dr Mira Shiva, Director, Initiative for Health, Equity and Society; and Founder Member, Diverse
Women for Diversity : Coordinator of the SWAN on Health, Nutrition and Food Security
7. Dr Rasheda K Choudhury, Executive Director, CAMPE (Campaign for Popular Education), Dhaka
(Bangladesh) : Coordinator of the SWAN on Education
8. Ms Jaya Jaitly, Founder President of the Dastkari Haat Samiti, New Delhi (India) : Coordinator of the
SWAN on Crafts and Textiles
9. Ms Nandini Sahai, Director, The International Centre, Goa (India) and Founder Director, MICCI
(Media Information and Communication Centre of India) : Coordinator of the SWAN on Women in
10. Ms Razia Sadat, Member of the National Assembly of Afghanistan
11. Ms Elay Ershad, Member of the National Assembly of Afghanistan
12. Asila Wardak Jamal, Director, Human Rights & Women's International Affairs, Ministry of Foreign
13. Ms Monireh Hashemi, Theatre Director, Simorgh Film Association of Culture and Art (SFACA), Herat,
14. Ms Frozan Rahmani, Correspondent, Pajhwok News Agency, Kabul
15. Ms Hasina Safi, Afghan Women's Education Centre (AWEC), Kabul.
16. Ms Sabrina Islam, President, Women Entrepreneur's Association, Dhaka
17. Ms Farida Zaman, Professor & Chairman, Deptt of Drawing and Painting, Faculty of Fine Arts,
University of Dhaka
18. Ms Tropa Majumdar, Theatre Director, Dhaka.
19. Ms Munni Saha, Head of News, ATN News, Dhaka.
20. Ms Lubna Marium, Creative Director, Sadhana, Dhaka
21. Ms Khushi Kabir, Coordinator, Nijera Kori, Dhaka
22. Dr Kaosar Afsana, Associate Director Health, BRAC, Dhaka
23. Dr Meghna Guhathakurta, Executive Director, Research Initiatives Bangladesh, Dhaka
24. Dr Niaz Zaman, Professor, Department of English, University of Dhaka
25. Ms Rubi Ghaznavi, Managing Director, Arannya Crafts, Dhaka
26. Sara Zaker, Deputy Managing Director, Asiatic Marketing Communications, Dhaka
27. Suraiya Chowdhury, Director of Design, Prokritee, Dhaka
28. Ms Rokeya Sultana, professor, Department of Print Making, Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka
29. Ms Kanak Champa Chakma, Contemporary Free Lance artist
30. Ms Jharna Dhara Chowdhury, Secretary, Gandhi Ashram Trust, Jayag, Noahkhali
31. Ms Kunzang Choden Tshering, Chief HR Officer, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Thimphu
32. Ms Roseleen Gurung, Microfinance Specialist, Tarayana Foundation, Thimphu.
33. Ms Namgay Wangmo, Project Officer, Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAOWE),
34. Ms Meena Rai, Programme Officer, Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAOWE),
35. Ms Bharati Chaturvedi, Director, Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group, New Delhi.
36. Professor Madhu Khanna, Director, Centre for Comparative Religions and Civilisations, Jamia Millia
37. Dr Saryu Doshi, Author and Art Historian, Mumbai
38. Ms Shalini Joshi, Co‐Director, Nirantar, Centre for Gender and Education, New Delhi
39. Dr Sabiha Hussain, Associate Professor, Dr KR Narayanan Centre for Dalit and Minority Studies,
Jamia Millia Islamia University
40. Ms Sohaila Kapur, Theatre Director and Playright, New Delhi
41. Ms Sarita Kumari, Social Activist, Ghanerao, Rajasthan
42. Ms Sadia Dehlvi, Editor, Curator, Author and Art Historian, New Delhi
43. Ms Usha Ganguli, Theatre Director, Rangakarmee, Kolkata. Email :
44. Ms Arati Jerath, The Crest Edition, Times of India, New Delhi
45. Ms Yudhra Abdul Latheef, Attorney‐at‐Law, Deputy State Attorney, Attorney General?s Office
46. Ms. Aminath Shaneez Saeed, National President 2011, Junior Chamber International, Maldives,
47. Ms Thoiba Saeedh, Director, Encore Theatre Productions, Male
48. Ms. Aishath Rishtha, Programme Mannager, SWAD, Society for Women Against Drugs, Male
49. Ms Cherie Aung Khyn, CEO & Designer, Elephant House Co. Ltd, Yangon
50. Ms. Nu Nu Yee, Vice President, Myanmar Women Entrepreneurs? Association, Yangon
51. Mr Isaac Khen, Executive Director, Gender and Development Initiatives, Yangon,
52. Ms Pramila Acharya Rijal, Chairperson, SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs? Council (SCWEC).
53. Mr Bidur Thapa, Director of Field Programmes and Operations, SEARCH‐Nepal, Kathmandu
54. Ms Prativa Shrestha, Coordinator, Status of Women in Nepal Report, Shtrii Shakti, kathmandu,
55. Ms Radha Kayastha, Madhesh Foundation for Peace and Development, Kathmandu
56. Ms Abha Jha, Madhesh Foundation for Peace and Development, Kathmandu
57. Professor Salima Hashmi, Dean, School of Visual Arts and Design, Beaconhouse National University,
58. Ms Madeeha Gauhar, Artistic Director, Ajoka Theatre, Lahore.
59. Ms Madiha Kazi, Textile Designer, Thardeep Rural Development Programme, Karachi
60. Dr. Durre Sameena Ahmed, Chairperson and Senior Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Gender
and Culture, Lahore
61. Ms Marianna Baabar, Diplomatic Editor, The News, 27 A, Harkey Street, Rawalpindi
62. Ms Zoia Tariq, CEO, ZEST Media/Events/Publications, Lahore
63. Ms Ambreen Waheed, Executive Director, Responsible Business Initiative, Lahore
64. Dr Faiz H Shah, Head, Development Management, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok.
65. Ms Tabinda Alkans Jaffery, CEO, Asasah Microfinance, Lahore
66. Ms Zehra Arshad, National Coordinator, Pakistan Coalition for Education, Islamabad.
67. Hon'ble Justice Shiranee Tilakawardane, Justice of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, Colombo 2.
68. Ms Vidyani Hettigoda, Chairperson, Women?s Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Colombo.
69. Ms Nishani Jessica Marina Dissanayake, Foreign News Editor, Lakbima (Sinhala daily), and Editor,
Samudra (Sinhala magazine)
70. Ms Mano Alles, Managing Director, Abans Financial Services, Colombo
71. Ms Rohini Nanayyakara, Chairperson and Board Member, Lanka Orix Leasing Company Ltd, and
Lanka Orix Microcredit Limited, Colombo
72. Ms. Chandramali Liyanage, National Crafts Council of Sri Lanka, Colombo.