From 2 March - 13 March 2009, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meets in New York. Jane Gabriel and openDemocracy guest bloggers report from New York with tales and testimonies from a UN meeting which should place women at the forefront of the global debate. 2009's priority theme was "The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS".
We would like to thank our 5050 intern, Kadie Armstrong, for publishing the blog. Thanks also to Alice Welbourn of the Sophia Forum and Tyler Crone of the Athena Network for their help in bringing new authors to our attention during the UN CSW.
Jane Gabriel caught up with Dr. Yakin Erturk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, on her first officially mandated visit to the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
JG: Why did you concentrate on political economy in your latest report to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) ?
After almost two weeks of round-table discussions, panel debates and lobbying, the 53rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) came to an end, its legacy being the statement of 'Agreed Conclusions' focusing on this year's priority areas, including the "equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS".
After eight days and evenings of effort, meetings, draftings, lobbying, talking, to all and sundry (Senior UN officials, government, NGOs) at the 53rd Session of the CSW and a fortune spent on getting to New York and paying for our incredibly overpriced hotel beds ( as the £ dived) in order to get WIDOWS and WIDOWHOOD at least referenced in the Agreed Conclusions on the priority theme " Equal Sharing of Responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS", today I am gob smacked by our defeat.
On Thursday March 12, I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel sponsored by the United Nations Association - USA at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The topic, addressing the care-giving burdens and gender gaps in PEPFAR, seems as timely as ever as the Obama Administration has found itself dealing with the results of the Emergency Plan's reauthorization process and seeking new leadership at the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC).
"Issues of gender equality have
international attention and even the possibility of resources- but do we (the
UN Interagency and NGO community) have the crucial infrastructure and capacity
to manage that? And in the case that we are simply creating that capacity as we
go along- are we doing so effectively?"
After a decade of participating in civil society organizing around the Commission on the Status of Women, I came to this year's meetings to observe. It's an exciting moment for those of us who have worked for so many years to link the women's movement with the HIV and AIDS movement. For the first time, a central aspect of HIV and AIDS affecting women - the burden of care - is an explicit focus of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Now in Washington DC, am trying to recover from last week's circus at the UN.. Rethinking surviving that first week of the 53rd session of the UN CSW, I have changed my mind. I am now, for probably the first time in the 11 years since I've been coming to New York, glad I made it there.
Every one of the hundreds and hundreds of women who are here at the CSW is trying to build a ‘common understanding', by accurately describing the daily lived reality in their country or region.
Have we achieved the equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels? Having recently undertaken a review of women's leadership and participation in the AIDS response for UNIFEM, I have been intensely immersed in answering this question and understanding where we stand on the trajectory for the past two years.
A cruel paradox has been emerging during a number of Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) panels: while women bear the lion's share of care giving responsibilities within the HIV/AIDS pandemic, they are often unable to protect their own sexual and reproductive health and rights.
I really am honored that an international audience, interested in the global perspective of gender and women's issues, reads this blog. But I would like to set aside a few words for the brave women in my own country, the USA, who face violence on a daily basis.
Late last year the AIDS activist community breathed a collective sigh of relief when Manto Tshabalala-Msimang was shifted from her position as Minister of Health into the low-profile Minister in the Presidency responsible for overseeing the Office on the Status of Women, the Office on the Child and the Office on Disability.