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CSW: the 'special event'

Jane Gabriel
23 February 2008

On Monday the 52nd session of the CSW opens in New York. Last year the theme was the ‘Elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child' and the UN launched a 10 agency programme to Stop Rape Now. I can still hear the impassioned pleas from women in Nepal and Liberia and the silence in the packed conference hall as Eve Ensler read from the Vagina Monologues.

This year the main theme for debate is ‘Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women' and the first session I'll attend is on ‘Corporate Social Responsibilities for the economic empowerment of women', but there's a ‘special event' scheduled for 1.15pm and that's what has really caught my attention - it's the launch of the UN Secretary-General's Campaign ‘UNite to End Violence against Women' and it sounds as if the UN is following up on commitments made at last year's CSW.

The big question will be how much money the UN is putting in to the campaign. Does it mean business? The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women set up in 1996 has always been pitifully under funded, until a couple of years ago it only had $1million a year and even now it only has $10 million a year to fight the pandemic of violence against women. Applications to the Trust Fund are by invitation only and even then less than 10% receive any funding. Other funds for global pandemics have billions of dollars. So what kind of money will be committed to the Secretary General's campaign given the subject of this year's CSW?

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