Background: Salvador, Brazil was Proposed as a Possible site
In January 2003 Brazil hosted the World Social Forum. There the newly elected populist President announced that he was creating a new cabinet level Department on Women, and he named a feminist as the first minister. Stephanie Hiller, editor of Awakened Woman, attended the Forum and came back from it to share this with Jean Shinoda Bolen. Jean was inspired by the idea that under this new administration Brazil might be ideal and open to becoming the host country for a 5th UN NGO World Conference on Women, and discussed this with the MC conveners.
Ann Smith called Angela Weber in Brazil, who had helped organize an international Anglican conference in Salvador, and found Angela willing and able to get the support of the mayor of the city of Salvador and the governor of the state of Bahia. Angela talked with the Minister of Women's Affairs and found her receptive to Brazil becoming the host country.
She and Jean brought this message to the first Gather the Women Congress in San Francisco in October 2003, where a petition was signed by the international representation that was at the congress, and later taken to the UN where it was received by Secretary General Kofi Annan's office.
The need for a fifth international women's conference gathered support and momentum at the 2003 Gather the Women Congress. How to influence the upcoming UN CSW meetings in March 2004 was the question? A small strategy group of Americans and Canadians got together at the end of GTW, several of whom continued the conversation via conference calls.
Clare Peterson from Canada became our representative. Clare went to the UN as an NGO delegate with the information that there truly was grassroots support for a fifth world conference and that Brazil could be the site. The idea was to create and disseminate an information packet for all of the official delegations to the UN CSW and have flyers to distribute to others at the CSW meetings. We needed to have a website presence in order to do this effectively. Carol Hansen Grey with Victor Grey and Allan Saxon provided the interactive software, website and Internet expertise. The core group (Penny McManigal, Carol Hansen Grey, Ann Smith, Clare Peterson, and Jean Bolen) pitched in to name the site, design the logo, set up the website, write text for website and flyers, design, print, deliver and distribute them. Once at the UN, Clare was helped by Joan Whitacre and Ann Smith to get the message to delegations and to NGO representatives.