UN Women’s Conference – Nairobi, 1985


In July 1985, Janet went as an observer to Forum ’85, one of the two two historic meetings that took place in Nairobi, Kenya. These conferences which were attended by 23,000 women from all over the world marked the end of the United Nations “Decade for Women”. Janet went to as many sessions, about as many different parts of the world as possible.

Delegates to the official United Nations conference were appointed by their respective governments, United Nations member states. The non-governmental (NGO) conference, Forum ’85, was open to anyone who could get herself to Nairobi and was attended by women of all classes and a wide diversity of cultural backgrounds. The 13,000 to 17,000 women who came to the NGO conference were in Nairobi to talk about their concerns, their lives and their work. They also came to meet their sisters from all over the world and learn about their lives.

The themes of the conferences were equality, development and peace. Over 1000 workshops took place in the seven days of Forum ’85. The issues discussed included development problems such as agriculture, water, and health care, Women’s Studies, women’s involvement in national liberation struggles, wages for housework, prostitution and sex tourism, nuclear arms, and apartheid. There are as many different views of the conference as there were participants.