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From 1 March - 12 March 2010, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meets in New York to review the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action for Equality, Development and Peace 15 years on. Jane Gabriel, and openDemocracy guest writers, some of whom reflect back to their experience in Beijing ahead of this year's CSW, report from New York on the progress on and challenges of advancing women's human rights.

See also our coverage of the Commission sessions in 2009, 2008 and 2007.


UK women: the loss of an independent collective voice

As the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women opens in New York today, women's organisations from the UK find themselves ignored at home and excluded at the UN, says Annette Lawson

Zero tolerance or zero consequence?

Laudable yet formalistic plans, committees and laws have been put in place to address violence against women, yet impunity remains rampant. Should the measure of progress be more mechanisms or less violence ?

Guns: the unending cycle of violence

The words of the women paralleled each other as they described how armed violence in the home and community, armed conflict, and the availability and misuse of guns feed each other in an unending cycle. These are not simple issues with easy solutions, but Sarah Masters says that this cannot justify apathy, silence, and inaction

Putting money where our mouths are

Lyric Thompson, in her last report from New York, writes that as we close the 54th UN Commission on the Status of Women, there’s no mystery as to what it takes to close the tremendous gap between policy and practice: money. Best-laid plans are moot if not resourced. Invest in women. As the UN motto reminds us, it's our world.

Haven't we said so already?

If the actions recommended by the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action on Equality, Development and Peace were honoured, Roberta Clarke argues that the Millennium Development Goals could be met.

Keeping hope alive in New York

Will the government representatives at the CSW remember their commitments when they are back in their home countries? After all, any gains for women and girls translate into gains and advancement for the entire population and by extension, the planet.

Women’s empowerment in Central Asia and movement building

For the first time at CSW, women from Central Asia shared their stories. I realized that this in itself is the empowerment of women. This in itself is the movement building: twelve women talking about the situation of women in Central Asia.

Iran: time to change the question

Parvin Ardalan spoke to Jane Gabriel at the UN CSW about the link between a conversation with her father and her work fighting for the rights and freedom of both men and women in Iran, and why it's time the international community changed the question: how can we help?

New York: no place for women in action

In an open letter to the United Nations Secretary General, the European Women's Lobby declares that "The 54th Session of the CSW...represents a step backwards by its failure to offer a new vision and mechanisms for implementation"

How about equality of respect?

Last week the UN CSW54 was accused by the European Women's Lobby of being a 'step backwards' for women. As it grinds on into its second week Jane Esuantsiwa Goldsmith says the women’s movement needs a new twin strategy around equality of respect and quality of experience

An uncomfortable truth: the gender turf war at UN CSW

Lyric Thompson takes issue with those who argue that men are inherently unqualified to speak as advocates for women's rights, and sees a paradoxical mirror image of the thinking that kept us out of classrooms, voting booths, political offices and boardrooms globally

Courage, controversy and chaos at the UN Commission on the Status of Women

More than two thousand women's rights activists are in New York for the UN Commission on the Status of Women to review the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action for Equality, Development and Peace. The inside story is being covered daily by openDemocracy guest writers.

The table around which we didn't sit

CSW has attracted 1000s of women to its proceedings this year, but there is a danger that we are just talking to ourselves. Two sessions on the financial crisis point to the change that is needed.

The price of peace

“Peace processes are bad men talking to bad government and other bad men.....women in civil society are doing tremendous work on the ground, but they are not heard, they are not respected, and above all they are not funded.” Mary Robinson speaking at the UNCSW....

Women: reflections on our human rights

It's seventeen years since women's rights were recognised as human rights at the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna. openDemocracy writers examine the struggle to turn these rights into a day-to-day reality for women and girls and examine the challenges that lie ahead

This is my witness

The human voice has a way of piercing through you. Emily Stokes listened to the testimony of the women of Burma.

Haiti's 'restaveks'

Less than a month after Haiti was brought to its knees by an 8.8 magnitude earthquake, another story emerged from the island that briefly arrested international attention and interrupted the torrent of post-disaster coverage...

Burma may save its tigers and not its women

Cora Weiss reports on the International Tribunal on Crimes against Women of Burma - an overwhelming day of stories told by remarkable women of all ages of inhumanity leaving the listeners wondering how the women could have survived.

Defining the new American gender agenda

There has been much debate both within Washington and without as to what the new American gender agenda will be. Clearly, we’ll have one.......

Overdue justice

The next Progress of the World's Women, UNIFEM's flagship biennial report, will be on Access to Justice. I went along to their CSW session to hear their solutions for justice systems that are not working for women.

Disillusionment, Anger and Protest.

At this Tuesday morning’s NGO consultation we women from the NGOs, attempting to participate in the 54th CSW, finally collectively erupted, en masse

Enter NGO

Much of the negotiations seem to be sewn up before the conference has even started, but NGOs seem two steps behind each development. Is the space for NGO influence shrinking?

The mother of all widows

So yesterday CSW formally opened and we NGOs, thousands of us,queue, crowd, jostle to get a seat either in the gallery of Conference Room A where the delegates are or to watch on the big screen the proceedings from Conference Room B. Although we are there by 9 am nothing gets going until after 10. Delegates are warned that colour blindness will not be accepted as an excuse if they ignore the orange light which tells them they have 30 seconds to stop speaking. Speakers for a group of countries have 10 minutes; mere single nations only 5...

Bring them into the daylight

The session on Sexual and Reproductive Health rights in Africa, held by the Amanitare Sexual Rights Network opened with the blunt observation by Dr Lesley Ann Foster, director of Masimanyane, that just as violence against women is global, so too is the failure of every government in the world to meet its obligations in international, national and regional law to protect women. For all the advances in our understanding of the problem she said, “ What we cannot claim, is that we have changed the culture of impunity.“

A retrospective: 15 years later, Beijing’s mandate yet unfinished

Fifteen years ago in Beijing, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton made an instantly iconic cry for women’s rights: “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.” On that day, those words evoked a seven minute standing ovation; they have inspired more than a decade of homage to this one
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