Women, Information and Libraries

        Special Interest Group


IFLA Women, Information and Libraries Special Interest Group Report to

IFLA Management of Library Associations Section (MLAS)

IFLA WLIC, Cape Town, 15 – 21 August 2015


Women, Information and Libraries Special Interest Group (WIL SIG)

Unisa Women’s Forum (UWF)

Satellite Meeting, at UNISA Pretoria 11 -12 August 2015

Written report (by courtesy of Judy Henning)


Theme: “How can the Library and Information Services Profession contribute to the Post-2015 sustainable development goals related to women?”



1. Welcome

Prof. M Makhanya, Vice-Chancellor, University of South Africa extended a warm African Ubuntu/Botho welcome to participants. He confirmed Unisa’s support and commitment for the work and initiatives planned for the two days. He stated that universities or any knowledge institutions are natural homes and theatre for library and information practitioners and therefore there is a need for greater collaboration and dialogue between partners to address the issues on the agenda.

2. Opening address

Dr. Buhle Mbambo-Thata, Executive Director, Library Services, University of South Africa opened the Satellite Meeting and provided valuable context to guide the discussions for the two days. She referred to various events during Women’s month and discussions on Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals. On 2 August 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were finalized in New York and the document is awaiting approval by the Heads of States. The discussions over the two days will certainly inform the implementation of the SDG’s. It is significant that the WIL SIG was established in South Africa (Durban) at the IFLA Congress in 2007.

An overview of the goals, with specific reference to those related to gender issues, was presented to inform the discussions and group sessions and confirmed that the themes also dovetail well with the agenda 2063 of the AU. The importance of collaboration with men to achieve these was emphasized.

3. Keynote presentation 1

A keynote presentation by Dr Auxillia Ponga UN Women Multi-Country Office with the title “Where are we now, The Beijing +20 campaign and the UN Post 205 development agenda in relation to women?” focused on examples and strategies which proved to be most valuable to the deliberations. Participant concluded that support for and collaboration with the UN Multi-Country Office will be most welcome. Specific areas such as:


–          Step-it-up Campaign

–          He –for- She Campaign (http://www.herforshe.org/)

–          Planet 2050 – Picture it

–          Individual campaigns

–          Games


The importance of the use of language that hampers the empowerment of women as well as the challenge to unlearn certain practices was noted. The notion of “men of quality are not afraid of equality” was highlighted.

Reference was made to the outcomes and assessments since Beijing +20. This includes for example reviews in various regions, the UN Women in Malawi project, 2015 Gender Protocol, statistics and indicators (more than 160).

4. Presentations

Presentations and examples on how libraries support the achievement of gender equality and women empowerment were offered to guide the discussions. These included a presentation by Similo Ngwenya and Nozizwe Dhlamini on examples at the Edward Ndlovu Memorial Library in Zimbabwe. A second presentation by Dr Dilara Begum titled “Library Sponsored Knowledge Sharing Programs in Private Bangladesh: A Case Study of Female Student’s Perception”.

5. Group work

Participants worked in two groups to discuss the potential contributions that library and information services professionals can make towards the achievement of the Beijing +20 campaign and the sustainable development goals related to women.

Focus areas included:

– The Sustainable Development Goals related to women and how can we contribute

– The role of IFLA as the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users.


The outcomes of the group work was presented to plenary session and integrated in the action list.

6. Keynote addresses 2

The second keynote address was delivered by Dr Kay Raseroka, IFLA President 2003-2005 who reminded participants of the role of women in library services and that we have the opportunity /power to move into spaces where we can make a difference. Concern about lack of action (except for those were women activists) especially women in Africa after Beijing occurred. She challenged participants to take action now and seize the opportunity to really make a difference. African women in particular should take a stance. We should consider the impact of the language (empowerment of women). The importance of collaboration between the UN Women Multi-Country Office, IFLA WIL SIG and the UWF on the matters discussed was emphasiesed. She inspired women to be brave, become financially independent, create spaces to empower women and improve circumstances for women in general.

Libraries and librarians are at the heart of sustainable development for the world. Librarians are diamonds of the world- we know how to use information, how to shape your communities. Women of the struggle did not have the technology – but only the strong believe that they will walk and demand the rights for women. Today we have all the tools, intellect to create opportunities for women. We should advocate for training of women in leadership, ensure influence and play leadership roles.

7. Action list / way forward

Based on the presentations and group work the following actions were agreed upon during the meeting.

7.1 The collaboration between IFLA, Women, Information and Libraries, Special Interest Group and the Unisa Women’s Forum will continue. N Kotsokoane will coordinate the collaboration and future discussions.

7.2 The Outcomes of the Satellite meeting will be disseminated at the Annual IFLA Congress during the WIL, SIG sessions to seek input from participants at conference.

7.3 The UN Women campaign will be promoted during the IFLA Conference, with special reference to the “He-for-She Campaign”. Men would be encouraged to sign the campaign. The Unisa Women’s Forum will promote the campaign and discuss with the Unisa Men’s Forum for signatures and support.

7.4 Based on the “He-for-She Campaign” a “She-for-She campaign” will be launched to encourage women to empower themselves. Lessons learnt from the “He-for-She Campaign” will be used and the toolkits would be explored. N Kotsokoane will coordinate members as nominated at the meeting. A prototype will be developed by October 2015 for circulation and input by participants.

7.5 Advocacy

7.5.1 Seek to continue to actively work with IFLA Headquarters to work on women issues on the SDG’s and to list the required measures and outcomes of this collaboration.

7.5.2 Will continue promoting the development goals in regions – specifically those related to women issues. The required measures and outcomes of this will be defined to measure progress.

7.6. Participants committed to the personal responsibility to implement and promote these issues in the areas of their influence

8. Closing remarks

Beba Stankovic, Convener, IFLA Women, Information and Libraries Special Interest Group concluded the meeting with closing remarks and a vote of thanks to the hosts and organizers of the Satellite Meeting








Beba Stankovic

Convener, Women, Information and Libraries

Special Interest Group