NEW YORK — Feminist groups are exultant while pro-life groups lament the appointment of Michelle Bachelet as head of a new United Nations superagency for women.
Bachelet had been the Socialist president of Chile from 2006 until earlier this year.
“Bachelet is a leftist and feminist,” said Joseph Meaney of Human Life International, a pro-life group that watches the United Nations closely. “As president of Chile, she tried very hard to undermine the pro-life laws and constitution of her country. … Now that she will be free to do what she wants at the U.N., I think she will lobby energetically within the U.N. system to support the anti-life agendas at UNFPA [the U.N. Population Fund] and other agencies there.”
As president of Chile, Bachelet promoted the distribution of the morning-after pill by public-health centers to girls as young as 14 without parental consent.
When Chilean pro-lifers took her to court, said Steve Mosher, head of another pro-life organization, the Population Research Institute, “the Constitutional Court, after considering the scientific evidence, concluded that the morning-after pill sometimes acted as an abortifacient and prohibited its distribution in Chile.”
Mosher said Bachelet ignored the decision and began a campaign that resulted in the passage of a law allowing distribution of the Pill.
“These are the actions of a politician so committed to the abortion agenda that she was willing to go against her own judiciary and spend considerable political capital to achieve her ends,” Mosher said.
But Bachelet, who was tortured by the Pinochet regime in her youth, also expanded public day care, reformed the medical system and picked a cabinet equally composed of women and men.
At least as newsworthy as the Bachelet appointment is the creation of the superagency itself by a July 2 vote of the U.N. General Assembly: Formed from four existing U.N. agencies and called U.N. Women for short, its formal title is the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
The Global Campaign for Gender Equality Reform (GEAR), the coalition of feminist groups created four years ago to lobby for the new U.N. superagency, believes Bachelet has the right stuff.
“Michelle Bachelet is the best choice because of her experience implementing measures for women in government Charlotte Bunch of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership and a founding member of GEAR, told the Register. “And as a former head of state she brings clout and credibility.”
Women’s Rights First
Also approving the appointment was Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“Selecting a leader of Dr. Bachelet’s caliber … sends a clear message to the global community that women’s rights and equality will be considered at the highest level of deliberation on international human rights,” stated Mary-Jane Wagle, the abortion and contraception promoter’s vice president for international programs, in a second news release. “Planned Parenthood and our international partners look forward to working with Dr. Bachelet and U.N. Women to improve the health and rights of women and girls around the world, starting in the places where they are most marginalized.”
Mosher warned that the new superagency, expected to start with a budget of $500 million, will seek to legalize abortion and prostitution worldwide, work towards the universal imposition of gender quotas for elective office, and “denigrate marriage and motherhood at every opportunity as outmoded institutions and roles driven by a patriarchal mentality. This is the way that the postmodern feminists who will be in charge of that organization think.”
Mosher said that these are published international agendas of many of the women’s organizations behind the creation of U.N. Women.
GEAR’s website, for example, highlights seven claims, of which five are expressed in gender-equity terms: that marital rape is legal in 141 countries; that European women make 76% of what their equally qualified male colleagues do; that one-third of women worldwide have been “beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused”; that only 18% of the world’s legislators are women; and that more than two-thirds of the world’s poor and illiterate are women.
Concerns that focus on women alone relate to the number that die in childbirth (one a minute) and the percentage who have access to medication blocking the infection of their unborn children with HIV/AIDS.
A recent example of the hijacking of women’s issues by radical feminists was their attack on the Canadian government when it proposed the G10 countries make women’s and children’s health its primary development priority but wouldn’t include abortion rights in the project.
Agreeed Meaney: “The other U.N. institutions for women, UNIFEM, etc., were not radical enough, or at least not achieving what the feminists wanted. They were actually doing projects that helped women.”
Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America says the superagency “will be used to promote abortion in countries where it is illegal. It will represent the views of a liberal elite and not those of most women.”
But Bunch says that neither UN Women nor Bachelet are anti-family. “However, she certainly believes that “women’s status or safety in society shouldn’t just be left to what happens in the family.” Protection of women from violence ought to be one of UN Women’s top priorities, says Bunch, as should improving their social conditions generally by providing supportive institutions outside the family and equal political rights. As a doctor, said Bunch, Bachelet knows that unsafe abortions are one of the causes of mortality among women so the need for safe abortions will be a priority but not her top priority.
U.N.’s Power Shift
Marguerite Peeters of the Brussels-based Institute for Intercultural Dialogue Dynamics says the creation of U.N. Women marks a milestone in the post-Cold War trend to turn the direction at the U.N. over to non-government bodies representing “a global intelligentsia and not the people themselves” or their elected leaders. Calling themselves “civil society,” this elite group of agency leaders promotes the use of U.N. money to further their own agendas, with which neither the leaders of the affected countries nor the people of the countries funding the U.N.’s operations always agree.
In the case of U.N. Women, they will seek, in Peeters’ view, “a greater concentration of U.N. reform on the reproductive health and gender-equality issues and a further shrinking of U.N. actual accomplishments.” Women’s equality and abortion rights will only be the start, in Peeters’ view: “A radicalization of these agendas will doubtless quickly broaden themselves to explicitly embrace the LGBT platform.”
Steve Weatherbe writes from Victoria, British Columbia.
This article was updated on Sept. 27 at 1:58pm.