UN Commission on the Status of Women https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/8455/all cached version 16/11/2018 09:20:50 en How will President Trump’s administration affect women and girls across the world? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/US-trump-gender-women-global-foreign-policy-UN <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Alongside this year’s UN CSW, we asked women doing gender work across the globe how US President Donald Trump’s administration might affect their region.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>From North to South, we are witnessing a global backlash against women’s rights progress. Perhaps the most visible example of this worldwide trend is the White House’s newest resident and his administration.</p> <p>With the election of Donald J. Trump, the global balance of power appears to be shifting. Since taking office, the Trump administration has proposed two executive orders barring travel and immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa. Though the bans are now in court, they hurt attendance at this year’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61)</a>, held in New York, 13 March – 24 March. According to <a href="http://www.passblue.com/2017/03/25/was-the-us-a-bad-host-at-the-un-womens-conference/">Passblue</a>, not one country listed in either executive order (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen) sent civil-society delegations to the CSW61. </p> <p>As Passblue’s Laura Kirkpatrick points out, “[T]he role that the US ambassador to the UN,&nbsp;Nikki Haley, took at the conference – minimal and guarded – symbolized how much the US has turned away from providing strong support for women’s equal rights and moved toward restricting those opportunities.” Not only did Haley not engage in any of the 290-plus side events held at CSW61 this year, but the United States, which usually sponsors two–three of these side events, hosted only one– an event on indigenous women originally organized by Mexico and Canada. </p> <p>Alongside CSW61, we interviewed twelve women whose countries, regions, and work, stand to be affected by this new administration. As these women speak out about the possible effects of Trump’s policies – mainly the reinstatement of the most expansive Global Gag Rule yet, and the legitimizing influence of his hate speech – a complex and unstable picture is drawn, not just for these activists’ individual work, or countries, or even regions, but for women and girls around the world, and the persistent global women’s movement.</p> <p>From Mali, to Venezuela; Turkey to the Marshall Islands; Syria to the United States, local and global women’s rights activists, public health advocates, and climate change champions discussed and explained the shifting relationship between feminist movements in the US and the world; and addressed the question of who – which countries or institutions –&nbsp;might&nbsp;come to fill the vacuum left by a United States withdrawal from the global stage.&nbsp;<b>&nbsp;</b></p> <h3><b>Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, Ghana</b></h3><p><i>Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah is an African feminist from Ghana. She is also a writer, an award-winning blogger, and the curator of ‘<a href="http://adventuresfrom.com/">Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women</a>.’&nbsp; Nana is also the Communications Manager for the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.awid.org/">Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)</a>, a global feminist membership organization.</i></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Nana Seskiamah_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Nana Seskiamah_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="278" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Centre, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah.</span></span></span></p><p>As an African woman, I am concerned about the Trump administration for a number of reasons. An issue of concern at the moment is the reinstatement of the global gag rule in its <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/01/trump_s_global_gag_rule_is_even_worse_than_it_seemed.html">most extreme form</a>.&nbsp;It’s well known that the global gag rule affects women across the board. In terms of reproductive health and rights, because of the nature of the gag itself, it prevents any funding from going to any sort of services that also offer abortion care or even speaks about abortion care, so it impacts on family-planning and sex education, and this will affect women everywhere. It will mean less resources to clinics, less resources for women’s reproductive health and rights.</p> <p>But then also the travel ban.&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the things that I’m hearing from a lot of activists, activists who would have been able to come to join us [at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN-CSW)] somehow didn’t get visas this time around, even when they received UN Women invitation letters. So, I think it’s quite obvious that there’s something pernicious going on.</p> <p>One of the other big issues we are looking at is corporate power. AWID and the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.solidaritycenter.org/">Solidarity Center</a>&nbsp;last year produced a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.awid.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/ccp_fullreport_eng.pdf">report</a>&nbsp;that speaks to the negative impact that corporate power has on women’s economic justice and the way that corporations and global elites have so much more power than most of the world’s countries. At the moment there are six men, literally, who hold more wealth than 50 per cent of the world’s population. There’s also a huge issue of illicit financial flows leaving countries like my own, Ghana, and what that basically means is a loss of income for the country. It’s money that doesn’t go to social services, and to education, and to health. When those sectors are affected it's women and children, and the most marginalised and poor communities, that tend to be most impacted.</p> <p>So, that’s something that I’m also concerned about, the increase in power that transnational corporations have, even in spaces like the UN. Everybody is expecting the Trump administration to cut funding to the UN and other institutions, which means they will rely more on corporations for money, which gives those corporations an undue influence on institutions that really should be independent and funded by member states.<b>&nbsp;</b></p> <h3><b>Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, </b>Marshall Islands</h3> <p><i>Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner is a <a href="https://www.kathyjetnilkijiner.com/">Marshallese writer</a>, poet, and climate change activist. Kathy is the co-founder of the youth climate change non-profit <a href="https://www.facebook.com/jojikum/">Jo-Jikum</a>.&nbsp;</i></p><p><i><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/140923_FT_KathyJetnil-Kijiner_Family.jpg.CROP_.original-original_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/140923_FT_KathyJetnil-Kijiner_Family.jpg.CROP_.original-original_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="328" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner with her family.</span></span></span></i></p><p>The thing is that the Marshall Islands is so far away so a lot of times we don’t realize the ripples that affect our nation.&nbsp;</p> <p>But as far as climate change goes there is a bit of an existential worry, that if Trump completely derails the climate path – the path we’re on as far as making the changes necessary to save the planet – if he completely derails that, and we do end up having to move, and lose our islands, one issue that will impact women is the fact that we trace our land and lineage through our mothers, we inherit our land through our mothers. So, what would happen to the strength of women in our culture if that land is no longer there? We would no longer be the holders of that land, and we would lose a significant level of power within our own community, within our families.<b><span style="text-decoration: underline;">&nbsp;</span></b></p> <h3><b>Yakin Ertürk, Turkey</b></h3> <p><i>Yakin Ertürk is a retired professor of sociology from the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey. She currently&nbsp;supervises an 11-country research project on family law reform for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.learningpartnership.org/">Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP).</a>&nbsp;She has served as Director of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.unfoundation.org/how-to-help/donate/instraw.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/">UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women&nbsp;</a>(UN-INSTRAW) (1997–1999), then as Director of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/daw/">Division for the Advancement of Women</a>&nbsp;(DAW) (1999–2001), and as the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/SRWomen/Pages/SRWomenIndex.aspx">UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women</a>&nbsp;(2003–2009). &nbsp;</i></p><p><i><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Yakin.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Yakin.jpg" alt="" title="" width="405" height="270" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Yakin Ertürk</span></span></span></i></p><p>Trump is a newcomer to what has been building up globally towards the establishment of right-wing conservative political governance, which has become particularly prominent since 9/11. The case of Turkey, among others, may offer insights as to what can happen under the Trump administration as there are distinct parallels in the character and approach of the leadership.&nbsp;</p><p>The religiously-tinted ruling party in Turkey (AKP) and its leader – President Erdogan – came to power in 2002, pretty much taking the liberals, secularists, and progressives by surprise. We thought our secular republic was intact and religiously oriented politics had no chance of coming to power. Many Americans lived a similar shock when what started as a joke became a reality <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34694420">in the last election</a>. While the performance of AKP during their first two terms, in the area of women’s rights, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/yakin-erturk/call-to-engender-turkey%E2%80%99s-peace-process">peace initiatives</a>, as well as other human rights concerns, somewhat eased the initial tensions, since 2010, Erdogan and his party have systematically been deviating from rule of law, democracy, secular, and human rights principles; thus, polarizing the country and silencing all dissent. In this context, feminists were among the first to come <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31709887">under attack</a> as being alien to “our values”; “gender justice” as opposed to “gender equality” became promoted as an official state line; appeasing and reducing women to a motherhood status.&nbsp;</p> <p>What is happening in Turkey may not have caused much alarm globally. The US, however, is different; what happens there is immediately felt around the world. As a super power, the policies and implementations of the Trump administration will reinforce and legitimize what is already happening in Turkey and elsewhere. Given Trump’s direct attack on Islam it will also deepen the North/South, Islam/Christian divide, making women’s struggle for rights in Muslim majority countries – particularly in the MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region – more difficult.</p> <p>However, women around the world are not easily going to give up on the human rights culture, and as the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/21/politics/trump-women-march-on-washington/">Women’s March</a>&nbsp;demonstrated, the resistance may be growing and widening its reach to people who may have not been politically engaged before. I believe, the Trump phenomenon is a wakeup call, particularly for women in the global North, where violation of women’s human rights/violence against women has become increasingly perceived as a problem of the “other”, thus fragmenting the global women’s movement. The Trump administration, while tightening borders, may in fact help bring back the common platform we need to strengthen our <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nazik-awad/without-global-solidarity-women-s-movement-will-collapse">global solidarity</a> and struggle more than ever before.<b>&nbsp;</b></p> <h3><b>Dr. Maria Al Abdeh, Syria</b></h3> <p><i>Dr. Maria Al Abdeh is a self-defined Syrian fighter for liberty and democracy. She is also a feminist. Before the crisis in Syria began, Maria was a doctoral researcher in microbiology in France. Today, Maria is the Executive Director of <a href="http://www.women-now.org/about-us-2/">Women Now for Development (SFD),</a> a Syrian non-governmental organization working to empower Syrian women inside Syria and its neighboring countries.</i></p><p><i>Maria did not attend the UNCSW this year. We included her voice as one of many women blocked or dissuaded from travelling to New York.</i></p> <p><i><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Maria Al Abdeh_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Maria Al Abdeh_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dr. Maria Al Abdeh</span></span></span></i></p><p>I don’t make any distinction between women inside Syria and women outside Syria, because it’s the vision Trump has of the region and the people. We have some colleagues who are living in Turkey and we were planning for them to join an advocacy meeting during March in the USA and because of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/trumps-travel-ban">the ban</a> none of them could travel. How can we think about solidarity [with the US] when there isn’t even any respect?</p> <p>I sometimes feel that it’s humiliating for me to talk about [the travel ban] because it’s like ‘we don’t want you here’ and you are feeling like ‘I don’t want to be there either’. It’s just that you have the United Nations [headquarters in New York]. When you are going to the USA as an activist, it is because you have work to do there. So now we don’t have access. We already don’t have access to a lot of meetings about Syria and gender, and now we don’t have access to the UN in New York.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, we are completely determined to continue our work [at Women Now]. My colleagues inside Syria continue their work in spite of the bombing, the siege, the chemical attacks. So we have to continue supporting them. But sometimes you’re getting very angry that there are women inside Syria who are able to continue under all these circumstances and you cannot do your job to support them because of the travel ban, because of anti-terrorist laws that for example can stop funds from getting to a Syrian organisation. This is a big issue. When you are a Syrian organisation your funds can take months to arrive; that means cutting money from women who are inside Syria and people who are doing all the work because of the counter-terrorism <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/mideast-crisis-syria-banking-idUKL8N15M0GV">banking issue</a>. And I don’t think the terrorist organisations have the same problem as us in transferring their funds!&nbsp;</p> <p>Everything is getting more complicated for Syrian organisations, even organisations working with women.<b>&nbsp;</b></p> <h3>Françoise Girard, Global Health</h3> <p><i>Françoise is a longtime advocate and expert on women’s health, human rights, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS. She has played a key role in advocacy on reproductive health and women’s rights with UN agencies and at UN Conferences such as <a href="http://www.sxpolitics.org/frontlines/book/pdf/capitulo9_united_nations.pdf">Beijing+5</a>, General Assembly Special Sessions on HIV/AIDS and on Children, and the <a href="http://womensenews.org/2005/09/womens-groups-find-silver-lining-summit/">2005 World Summit (Millennium Development Goals).</a> Françoise currently serves on the <a href="http://www.unfpa.org/partnering-civil-society">Civil Society External Advisory Panel of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA),</a> and on the <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/01/health-and-human-rights-division-advisory-committee-members">Advisory Committee of the Health and Human Rights Division of Human Rights Watch</a>. She has been President of the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=121vjQC4MC4">International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC)</a> since February 2012.&nbsp;</i></p><p><i><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Francoise Girard IWHC_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Francoise Girard IWHC_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Françoise Girard. Credit: International Women’s Health Coalition</span></span></span></i></p><p>At the global level we see two things. One is an attack on sexual reproductive rights from the get-go with the global gag rule, and the other is an attack on multilateralism and international agreements. Together, combined, what they are trying to do is affect global commitments on women’s rights. But they’re starting with reproductive rights and that’s why I call [reproductive rights] ‘<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/francoise-girard/reproductive-rights-the-c_b_14348816.html">the Canary in the Coal Mine</a>’ because that is usually what these authoritarian types go for first. </p> <p>The global gag rule is cutting funding to organisations that provide comprehensive care abroad - which are the organisations that provide contraception, sexuality education, counselling to women, and so on. Often we see women who have been subject to sexual violence. If you were only concerned about not wanting US government funding to go to abortion, that was already done in the 1970s. What they are really going after here is the entire field of sexual health and reproductive rights, and groups that have integrity and ethics and actually want to give comprehensive care, will not agree to this. They will not agree not to speak about abortion because women are dying of unsafe abortions, and in places like Africa where the global gag rule will have the most impact, that’s still a significant cause of maternal mortality. And the global gag rule affects all the money of the organisation, it seeks to affect the money the organisation receives from other donors. If you take US funding you cannot speak about abortion, you can’t engage in debates in your own country; you cannot counsel women, you can’t refer them, even if you have money from another donor for comprehensive care.&nbsp;</p> <p>It’s really seeking to condition the entire field. It was bad already when it affected the funding that came for family planning from the US government. Now it [the global gag rule] seeks to affect all global health funding from the US government, which is a much bigger pot of money. We’ll see exactly what shape that takes when we get the final set of regulations but it’s potentially more than&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jan/24/trump-abortion-gag-rule-health-aid">9 billion dollars</a>&nbsp;of US funding, that when it hits the ground, affects all the organisations receiving that money, and all the other funding they receive. It’s really quite arrogant as an approach, to say to other donors that we’re going to try to affect your funding too … It puts organisations in difficult situations– a Catch 22.&nbsp;</p> <p>For women to have access to education, to employment, to political participation, to engagement in their community, they need to be able to control their fertility. If we can’t control our bodies and fertility and sexuality, a lot of other things won’t be possible– it’s the basis of women’s equality. To depict it as some kind of luxury thing, which is what we often hear from the right-wing, that these are concerns of ‘women in the US’– it’s not. We work side-by-side with women from all over the world and they tell you this is fundamental, it’s crucial, it’s the basis of everything.&nbsp;</p><h3>Kavita N. Ramdas,&nbsp;<b>India</b></h3><p><i>Kavita Ramdas is a Global Feminist Activist and Philanthropy Advisor, originally from India. She has served as President and CEO of the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.globalfundforwomen.org/">Global Fund for Women</a>&nbsp;(1996-2010), and then as the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.fordfoundation.org/regions/india-nepal-and-sri-lanka/">Ford Foundation</a>’s representative in New Delhi. Currently, she serves as a trustee of Princeton University, Mount Holyoke College, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and sits on the board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Global, and the African Women’s Development Fund USA.</i></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Kavita 2_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Kavita 2_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Centre, Kavita N. Ramdas.</span></span></span></p><p>I first would like to say that I consider myself a humble outside&nbsp;<i>observer&nbsp;</i>of India’s Women’s Movement. I cannot comment in a manner comparable with far better informed, engaged and on the ground, Indian women’s movement activists …</p><p>I don’t think the election of Trump will have a strong effect on the Women’s Movement in India.&nbsp; Trump is merely following on the previous administration’s efforts to woo India and gain access to its significant markets. Barack Obama began courting Modi as soon as he was elected. India offers the US a huge market for products with its huge middle class of close to 250 million people who have a new access to disposable incomes.&nbsp; Over the past few years numerous agreements have been signed to open India as a market for American goods and cultural products…I don’t think the new administration and basic US foreign policy towards India, which uses it as a balance to China, is going to shift in any significant way.</p><p>What does concern me, however, is the impact of the growing anti-Muslim rhetoric that Trump and his supporters are using.&nbsp; The growing alliance between Trump, right wing forces in Israel and the Hindu-nationalist leaders in India in what is called a ‘Global Alliance Against Terror’, can be used by the Modi government to justify its anti-minority strategies across India.&nbsp; This kind of anti-Muslim policy will disproportionally affect Muslim women in India. All women face patriarchal structures in India within the confines of their own religious structures, but as a minority religion in India, Islam has traditionally been protected under provisions of the Indian constitution that allow for distinct family codes regulating each religious community.&nbsp; I worry that now Hindu nationalists can claim to be “liberating Muslim women” as they effectively move to dismantle minority protections. You can hear echoes of the language that the United States used to justify its invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. Also worrying are this administration’s deeply misogynist and retrograde attitudes about abortion, rape and sexuality.&nbsp; India has offered women legal access to abortion since the early 70s… for many years it was never a divisive issue, but in the recent past, the dreadful bias against baby girls is being used by evangelicals and others who are really mobilizing against abortion saying, “How can you be for women’s rights and abortion when abortion is used to kill baby girls?”</p><p>Yet, despite these challenges, I believe India’s women’s movements have never been stronger because of the growing recognition that women are playing increasingly critical roles in the economy of India. While a majority of poor women work in the informal sector and remain <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-reeve/pr-profit-and-empowering-women-in-garment-industry">vulnerable to abuse</a>, India actually has strong laws on the books that protect labour and women’s rights but there is poor enforcement.&nbsp; The combination of this, along with deep patriarchal structures and beliefs and very few opportunities for women, makes it an uphill battle for equality. At the same time, more and more women are going to school and getting jobs and finding places in the service economy that is defining 21C India.</p> <h3><b>Frances Raday, US/Global</b></h3> <p><i>Frances Raday is the former Chairperson and current member of the five-person <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/WGWomen/Pages/WGWomenIndex.aspx">UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women in Law and in Practice</a>. The Group finalized its country mission to the <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16872&amp;LangID=E">United States</a> in December 2015, resulting in a “myth-shattering” report stating that women in the US are “<a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52797#.WNqHPRIrIlJ">lagging behind in human rights</a>.” Frances has also acted as legal counsel on precedent-setting human rights, including women's rights, cases in Israel’s Supreme Court. </i></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Frances Raday_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Frances Raday_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="326" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Frances Raday</span></span></span></p><p>I think that the Trump election certainly excludes for the time being the chance of highly independent, feminist women getting power anywhere [in the US government] … It is going to make the whole administration far more chauvinist. So, that’s from the top-down. From the bottom-up, we know that had only women voted, Trump would not have got in. Many women have been shocked by the kind of rhetoric and behaviour that Trump gets away with, as we have seen in the Women’s March, and that that may make more women in America aware of the need to be activist as feminists&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the things we found in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/foreign-women-assess-us-gender-equality_us_566ef77de4b0e292150e92f0">our report</a>&nbsp;[of the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women in Law and in practice] in America was a considerable lack of awareness even amongst highly educated women and women working in gender of what is going on around the world in terms of women’s rights. American women do not realise that they&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/12/18/10587126/un-womens-rights-embarrassment">lag behind</a>&nbsp;in legal rights in comparison with women elsewhere around the world. Not that they live at a worse level than women in the rest of the world; I’m not talking about their material means, I am talking about their rights, their right to <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/26/u-s-lacks-mandated-paid-parental-leave/">paid maternity leave</a> for example. We had women who deal with gender issues telling us that federal employees had paid maternity leave, and we said ‘No. They don’t.’ What they meant was they were entitled to use accumulated holiday leave and sick leave when they had a baby. That is not paid maternity leave. And these women, even though they were working in women’s rights, did not realise this.&nbsp;</p> <p>We came to the conclusion that probably one of the reasons is that America has not ratified the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/">CEDAW Convention</a>, and therefore the [US] government does not have to report every four years to CEDAW and get feedback. Even &nbsp;government officials &nbsp;dealing with gender issues don’t have to regularly analyse what American women do and do not have in terms of rights compared to international legal standards.</p> <h3><b>Marchu Girma, Refugee Women / UK</b></h3> <p><i>Marchu Girma is the Grassroots Coordinator for <a href="http://www.refugeewomen.co.uk/about-us/">Women for Refugee Women, UK.</a> The UK-based organization challenges the injustices experienced by women who cross borders to seek safety in the UK by working at the grassroots-level to&nbsp;support and empower women&nbsp;who are seeking asylum, support women to&nbsp;tell their stories, and, by publishing&nbsp;research&nbsp;and informing politicians to help create a fairer asylum process. <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Marchu Girma_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Marchu Girma_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="302" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Marchu Girma</span></span></span><br /></i></p> <p>I think Trump’s election reaffirmed what people feel they already know about the world. Anything became possible, right, in 2016. But in the UK there has been mass opposition to Trump, to Brexit, especially within the feminist movement. Because we work with women we have received so many requests from feminist organisations. </p><p>Even the Women’s March [on 21&nbsp;January 2017] – we did one <a href="https://www.womensmarchlondon.com/">in London</a> and we [Women for Refugee Women] were asked to speak at that; the refugee women we work with spoke at that. Because more and more it seems that if you’re a feminist you have to fight for the most excluded. So yes, after the Trump election there has been a hardening and movement to the right, but there’s been a lot of grassroots support.</p> <p>We just had a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ch-ramsden/no-women-s-day-without-refugee-women">National Women’s Refugee Conference</a>&nbsp;about two weeks ago [1 March 2017], and one of the things that came up is that we would really like to make International Women’s Day 2018 International Refugee Women’s Day and get all the young activists organising around that. We’re thinking about doing a mass lobby of the government, so that’s our calling really.</p><h3>Kavita N. Ramdas, Sub-Saharan Africa</h3><p><b><i><b>(</b>See bio and image above).</i></b></p><p><b><i><b>Ourania: You just returned from a trip to Africa, visiting projects and partner organizations of Planned Parenthood Global, as a member of its Global Advisory Board. From what you observed there, how might women’s work in African countries, which are more reliant on foreign U.S. aid, be more or differently affected by the Trump Administration than countries in South Asia, like India?</b></i></b></p><p>I just got back from a trip to Burkina Faso and Senegal. In Burkina Faso (50/50 Christians/Muslims) and Senegal (majority Muslim), the Trump-led anti-Muslim rhetoric is hitting hard, coupled with Trump’s overall commitment to cut aid. But the Global Gag Rule and cutting funding is just one among many challenges. There is a significant difference between this Global Gag Rule and those implemented by past governments. This will place a heavier burden on those organizations that are not willing to sign the Global Gag Rule such as Marie Stopes International and Planned Parenthood Global. The amount of pressure on those organizations will be much higher, and it won’t immediately improve as a result of the generous additional money pledged from the Dutch and Canadian governments.</p><p>For me, this also points to a larger issue – a lack of U.S. awareness about how our changes in administration have impacts far beyond our borders on the lives of poor women and girls.&nbsp; Maybe this is an issue that should be put in front of our legislators in the U.S. House and Senate.&nbsp; It is not a pretty thing for a poor nation to be so dependent on U.S. funding when every four years there could be a potential shift in policy. We need to see a long term move away from such dependency on U.S. funding. Smaller countries are disproportionally influenced by the power of the United States because they rely way too much on what the U.S. says and does and on its funding.</p><p>Finally, private philanthropic programs need to do more creative thinking about how to shift and change their traditionally slow and cautious response to crises like this. Progressive foundations need to do a much better job of recognizing the serious threats facing critical social justice and human rights organizations and movements and act boldly and decisively to channel more resources to them, including to support their efforts to build the financial future of non-profits with endowments. &nbsp;</p><p>At the UN level, many more nations and donors need to step up and invest the 1 Billion USD initially dedicated to UN Women, which currently reflects the vulnerability of the global women’s movement. It is unacceptable how little funding UN Women receives from both donor nations and the UN secretariat. That would be a great step for the new SG to take in support of women and girls across the globe.</p> <h3><b>Mirta Moragas, Paraguay</b></h3> <p><i>Mirta Moragas is a Paraguayan feminist activist and a human rights lawyer. She&nbsp;has served as the regional coordinator for the Campaign for an Inter-American Convention on Sexual and Reproductive Rights. She also belongs to “Feminist Neighbors for Sexual Justice and Reproductive Justice in Latin American and the Caribbean”. In Paraguay, she is part of the feminist group <a href="https://lasramonas.wordpress.com/2008/02/24/entrevista-a-la-ramona-mirta-moragas/">Las Ramonas</a> and the Red Contra Toda forma de Discriminación (Network against all forms of discrimination).</i></p><p><i><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Michi OEA 2_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Michi OEA 2_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mirta Moragas</span></span></span></i></p><p>The United States is one of the biggest donors to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oas.org/en/about/what_we_do.asp">O.A.S</a>&nbsp;[Organization of American States], and the United Nations, and the agencies that work on gender equality. They’ve already announced that they will cut those funds so it’s definitely going to be hard to do gender work in Paraguay. On the other hand, I think it’s an opportunity because other countries need to take the system in their own hands and not just wait for the big donors.</p> <p>It is also going to be hard because of the spread of hate speech which is very harmful because it legitimises discrimination against women, against black people, against indigenous people. It’s kind of terrifying. Our government [in Paraguay] is already conservative but I think [since the Trump election] the right-wing opposition has become more vocal.</p> <p>At the same time, this year we had the <a href="http://www.revelist.com/world/international-womens-day-countries-world/7089/in-diyarbakir-turkey-activists-gathered-with-flowers-to-promote-a-rally-for-international-womens-day/2">biggest march</a> for women’s rights in [national] history; almost 10,000 people in Asunción, which is so many for us. We have many issues around <a href="http://www.trtworld.com/life/women-across-the-globe-seek-better-rights-equality-312898">sexual violence</a>, reproductive rights, sexual discrimination. We also participated in the international women’s strike. All types of women came: peasants, indigenous women, of all ages. It was beautiful because it was also families– a big demonstration. I think it was a moment where, even though we already knew all these things, society made a sort of ‘click’ and went to demonstrate. We’ve never had such a big demonstration about women’s issues so we’re very excited and happy.</p> <h3><b>Madame Assetou Sy Traore, Mali</b></h3><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/unnamed-2 copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/unnamed-2 copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="506" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Madame Assetou Sy Traore</span></span></span></p><p><i>Assetou Sy is a native of Mali and an American citizen who has been long-involved in the politics of empowering women. After moving to the United States 30 years ago, Assetou&nbsp;founded America’s first-ever <a href="http://umaca.org/index.php/about-us/">Malian Cultural Center</a>. She is also the founder of “<a href="http://www.finallygirlsmatter.org/">Finally Girls Matter</a>,” a movement that attempts to bring international and local resources to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/end-fgm">eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)</a>.<b> </b>The campaign was created out of a personal family crisis when her daughter was faced with FGM in the US.</i></p><p>The Trump Presidency and his policies are scary and it will never advance America. His presidency is scary -- for all women. A lot of women in Africa send their kids here so they can be something one day. So these women are suffering now. Families are suffering now too.</p> <p>As a Malian American living under Trumps administration, I have a few concerns. I was and will always be a strong supporter of Hilary Clinton and the campaign she led. Her views aligned strongly with my own, the belief in educating and empowering our youth, especially girls. With this election behind us, I ask the Trump administration to focus on the same theme and listen to the diaspora community. I strongly propose the appointment of a diaspora community leader to be in the White House. Trump’s platform is to put America first and my suggestion ties into that concept. There are millions of Americans who are also part of the African Diaspora community and still deal with harmful practices such as FGM in America. This is now an American issue. Centers and campaigns like my own need the support of all people to end FGM in America but also we need support and endorsement from the White House to bring this matter to a national level.&nbsp;</p> <p>We ask the Trump administration to not cut financial support from UNFPA and other organizations fighting FGM.</p><h3>Jean Krasno, UN/US</h3><p><i>Jean Krasno is a part-time Lecturer of international law and the United Nations at Columbia University and at Yale University. She is also a tenured member of the faculty as a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the City College of New York.&nbsp;From her work as Founder and Chairwoman of the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.womansg.org/">Campaign to Elect a Woman UN Secretary-General (WomanSG),</a>&nbsp;Jean was selected by current UN Secretary-General,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/un-s-gender-problem">António Guterres</a>, to support his efforts to identify qualified women for&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourania-s-yancopoulos/is-un-really-moving-toward-gender-equality-or-is-it-trying-to-cover-up-lack-of">high-level leadership positions</a>&nbsp;in the United Nations Secretariat.</i></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Jean and Ban Ki-moon_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Jean and Ban Ki-moon_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jean Krasno and former UNSG Ban Ki-moon.</span></span></span></p><p>Luckily, [UN Secretary General] António Guterres is completely independent of Trump. And his&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/un-s-gender-problem">commitment to gender parity</a>&nbsp;[within the institution] is not influenced in any way. Because these [appointments of women to high-level leadership positions] don’t have to be confirmed; they’re his appointments. So, he’s fairly free to do this.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the broader picture, the idea of the US as the ‘shining star’ for women’s rights and human rights…We’re going to lose a lot of credibility around the world, we are already losing credibility. But that doesn’t mean that other countries can’t just move forward. And they will. They will gain more in soft power while we lose it.</p> <p>We’re gutting EPA [the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency]. He wants to reduce the State Department by over 30 per cent, and he wants to add funding to the military&nbsp;at around 50 billion dollars…He’s going to shift money from finding peaceful solutions to war. He’s going to cut funding to women’s issues. Any organisation that even hints at family planning is going to get cut. Any kind of education specifically towards women and girls, they’re all going to get cut. And saying that we’re going to&nbsp;<a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/13/white-house-seeks-to-cut-billions-in-funding-for-united-nations/">cut our funding to the UN</a>? What are the other 192 countries going to say? They’re going to be resentful and they’re not going to look to the US for leadership. We’re going to create a vacuum of trust, and other countries are going to just step in.&nbsp;</p> <p>But, also,<b>&nbsp;</b>women in the US are starting to step up and take responsibility. There are more women who now want to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/cover_story/2017/01/when_women_run_they_win_and_trump_s_election_is_inspiring_a_surge_of_new.html">run for office</a>. Women are stepping up while they figure out what it is that they are going to do, and so that pressure is building.</p> <p>To some degree Trump’s negativity towards women combined with racism and discrimination against different religions has energised women [in the US]. I mean the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fox5dc.com/news/230593192-story">march in Washington</a>; I was at that march, and the energy was just so amazing. There were supposed to be 200,000 people there and there were 1.2 million.</p> <p>And we’re looking more now towards the UN. If you care about other people and you want to address poverty and you want to address the common good; take care of the world, take care of the earth, where are we going to look? We’re going to look to the UN.</p> <p>So I’m glad that António Guterres is there to do it and he seems to be&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lyric-thompson/un-sg-guterres-is-poised-to-show-world-what-feminist-looks-like">taking it up</a>. I still think there would have been&nbsp;<a href="https://www.womansg.org/outstanding-women">wonderful women</a>&nbsp;who could have filled the role. But I do think Guterres will do a good job.&nbsp;</p><h3>Maria Herminia Graterol, Venezuela</h3><p><i>Maria Herminia Graterol is an expert in international women’s human rights law, as well as gender and development. She is the Co-Founder of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.venezuelanwomeninaction.org/">Venezuelan Women in Action,</a>&nbsp;an organization that seeks to inspire people to stand in solidarity with Venezuelan women by informing the public about the violence they have faced and continue to endure in Venezuela today.&nbsp;</i></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Maria Graterol Headshot_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Maria Graterol Headshot_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Maria Herminia Graterol</span></span></span></p><p>In terms of Trump, I have been here in the US for eight years and for the first time I am personally affected. They chose to start with the first six, but I have a feeling that at some point Venezuela will be part of that [travel] ban. I predict that at some point [President of Venezuela] Maduro and Trump are going to have some sort of … [disagreement].&nbsp;</p> <p>In my most recent visit to Venezuela, I found that many people were scavenging for food in the streets. I asked around and many believe ‘it is because of the U.S. embargo.’ So, the government has been misinforming the poor, when the situation is more complicated and nuanced than they are led to believe. Trump and Maduro are the same type of leader with different agendas. They are self-serving and follow capital, where the money is. I foresee the level of conflict escalating – and they both use spaces for ranting such as Twitter for Trump, and national TV and radio for Maduro.</p> <p><b>Q: Do you see this dynamic affecting women in Venezuela?</b>&nbsp;</p> <p>Women leaders that are political, or are in human rights organisations, already have travel restrictions from Venezuela. I do think there’s a clear gender lens in that it’s violence against women in all public spaces, by all kinds of public actors, including people that you know in your private life. And with the political space shrinking, that’s scary. And with the potential differences and debates between Trump and Maduro, when they start, knowing both of their personalities, they will start talking about spies… And who will be spies? Those women receiving funding from the US? Or that are registered here [in the US]? I think in those narratives there will be many casualties.&nbsp;</p> <p>My experience with human rights with the previous [Obama] administration is that they still didn’t recognise economic and social rights or ratify CEDAW. So, there was more dialogue and inclusion, but when it came to real state action, I didn’t see that change. Now we see regression. Now it’s really about holding space. It’s an administration that thinks it knows it all. It’s not open to dialogue and it has a very clear agenda.&nbsp;</p> <p>But that’s how administrations change. Everybody is undoing everyone else’s work and it’s a trend in global politics. It’s not necessarily that the US is the most powerful state. It’s a very visible state with a very rapid change.&nbsp;</p> <p>When it comes to women’s human rights, if we’re constantly doing and undoing, then are we really moving forward? What is success and how do we measure it? And how do we create a movement again that survives these political transitions every four years?</p><p><b>All interviews for this article were conducted by Ourania S. Yancopoulos.</b></p><div style="color: #666; font-size: 110%; margin-bottom: 30px;"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women"><img style="float: right; width: auto !important;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/5050-uncsw2017-d-140x80px_1.png" /></a><p style="background-color: #f7f7f7; padding: 10px; margin: 0;">This article is part of our <a style="color: #333; text-decoration: underline;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">coverage</a> of the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, New York, March 2017</p></div><p><i>Where there is no photo credit, the copyright belongs to the women pictured.</i></p><p><i>With special thanks to Alexia Eastwood for her transcription work.</i></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty">Trump&#039;s slap in the face of Lady Liberty</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/meredith-tax/sound-trumpet">Sound the Trumpet </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/after-london-womens-march-what-now">After the Women&#039;s March on London: what now? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/soraya-chemaly/under-trump-we-are-all-women">Under Trump, we are all women </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Understanding the rise of Trump Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy women's human rights gender justice 50.50 newsletter Ourania S. Yancopoulos with Niki Seth-Smith Tue, 28 Mar 2017 19:07:52 +0000 Ourania S. Yancopoulos with Niki Seth-Smith 109737 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 'Faith and family': shrinking common ground at the UN CSW https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/stephanie-sugars/UN-CSW-Worldwide-Organisation-Women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Worldwide Organization for Women took a hard line against all forms of comprehensive sexual education, often provided by UN bodies, highlighting ideological differences within the CSW.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/CSW Open.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/CSW Open.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Opening of Commission on Status of Women 61st Session. Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas</span></span></span></p><p>The conference room in the UN Church Center, New York, hummed with conversation. Like many of the events that had taken place over the last week and a half, women from around the world were gathered as part of the Commission on the Status of Women. But, the forum event hosted by the Worldwide Organization for Women on Tuesday was unlike almost all others: many speakers focused on condemning comprehensive sexuality education, a key policy of the UN long-advocated by the CSW.</p> <p>WOW was founded in 1977 with the motto: Faith, Family, Sovereignty. Their 14 Principles highlight traditional gender roles, the sanctity of life beginning at conception, and the “natural family.” Their stances on comprehensive sexual education, abortion, and LGBT issues tend towards the conservative, and they have not hesitated to vocally <a href="http://wowinfo.org/articles/do-you-know-what-really-happening-united-nations">resist</a> and condemn efforts the United Nations has made to address these issues. </p> <p>WOW is not alone: conservative groups such as Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) and The Heritage Foundation have acted similarly. WOW’s concerns, and indeed even their motto, are reflected in a 2001 Heritage Foundation report: “How U.N. Conventions on Women’s and Children’s Rights Undermine Family, Religion, and Sovereignty.” Both C-Fam and The Heritage Foundation were included in the US’s official delegation to the CSW, and their influence on negotiations has never been higher.</p> <p>Yet WOW has worked in concert with other NGOs and the CSW in the past to sponsor and co-author statements on <a href="http://undocs.org/E/CN.6/2012/NGO/13">rural education</a>, <a href="http://undocs.org/E/CN.6/2012/NGO/65">mental health</a>, and <a href="http://undocs.org/E/CN.6/2013/NGO/78">gender-based violence</a>. In recent years, however, WOW has not contributed to any NGO statements to the CSW, instead focusing on events promoting their views on the “natural family” and motherhood. There is considerable room for collaboration and success on issues such as prevention of sexual violence against children and domestic and care work—both key focuses for the organization this year. But addressing WOW’s ideological concerns would roll back hard-won advances in women’s rights around the world.</p> <p>Amaka Ada Akudinobi, an active leader in WOW Africa, spoke on the state of sexual violence in Nigeria, highlighting persistent issues of child marriage, abduction, and rape, and the key role of the family. This aligns with the values and aims of the CSW and UN both. The importance of family to preventing or recognizing the signs of abuse was also stressed by Cecilia Anicama, a Programme Specialist on Violence against Children, during <a href="http://www.salvationarmy.org/isjc/csw6018">last year’s CSW</a>. And Special Representative to the UN Secretary General on Violence against Children Marta Santos Pais herself&nbsp;<a href="http://srsg.violenceagainstchildren.org/story/2017-03-10_1538">placed</a> protection of children from violence at the forefront of the Human Rights Council session earlier this month.</p> <p>There continues to be room for meaningful collaboration between conservative groups like WOW and the UN on issues of sexual violence, but this is not the case when it comes to Comprehensive Sexual Education. CSE has been central to United Nations efforts since the UN Programme on HIV/AIDS, UN Population Fund, UNICEF, and World Health Organization published <a href="http://www.unesco.org/new/en/hiv-and-aids/our-priorities-in-hiv/sexuality-education/international-technical-guidance-on-sexuality-education/">the first global guidance</a> on sexuality education in 2009. Today, it is integral to UNESCO’s strategy on HIV/AIDS, and is implemented by UNFPA with the help of local governments around the world. CSE “enables young people to protect their health, well-being and dignity,” UNFPA <a href="http://www.unfpa.org/comprehensive-sexuality-education">writes</a> on their website. “And because these programmes are based on human rights principles, they advance gender equality and the rights and empowerment of young people.”</p> <p>Speakers during WOW’s forum event were far from supportive of these programs. “We are not against sex education,” said Sharon Slater, president of Family Watch International. “But this goes way beyond sex education… its an assault on our children: on their health, on their innocence.” </p> <p>During the event, Slater screened an excerpt of “The War on Children,” a video produced by Family Watch International about CSE and what they term the “sexualization of children.” It highlighted the CSE’s “obsessive focus on abortion;” discussion of gender identity, claiming it leads to “gender confusion” and amounts to “mental molestation;” and Planned Parenthood’s goal of “hooking children on sex” because it “is a multi-billion-dollar industry for Planned Parenthood.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Pence_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Pence_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Vice President Mike Pence speaks in front of the March for Life Friday, Jan. 27, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Credit: TNS/SIPA USA/PA Images</span></span></span></p><p>The FWI film contained multiple inaccurate or misleading statements. While it repeatedly condemned the inclusion of speaking with children between the ages of two and six about masturbation as an “assault on their innocence,” <a href="http://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/library/pediatric_health/pa-hhgbeh_masturbation/">multiple</a> <a href="http://nctsn.org/nctsn_assets/pdfs/caring/sexualdevelopmentandbehavior.pdf">pediatric</a> <a href="http://www.tncac.org/documents/3-child-sexual-behavior.pdf">associations</a> have <a href="https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/healthy-sexual-behaviour-children-young-people/">established</a> that it is healthy and normal for children around this age to discover and practice masturbation on their own. The film also claimed that abstinence-only or -focused education is as effective as CSE. However, research <a href="http://www.siecus.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.ViewPage&amp;PageID=1193#_edn1">has</a> <a href="http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/1487">found</a> that teens who received CSE as compared to abstinence-only education start having sex later, have less sex and fewer partners, are more likely to use protection, and are less likely to become pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted infection.</p> <p>Understanding WOW’s opposition to CSE requires recognizing one of the biggest threats they see to children: “moral grooming.” Yvonne Averett, vice president of WOW, identified “moral grooming,” as opposed to that done by sexual predators, as the most common form children are exposed to online. A slide during her presentation indirectly defined ‘moral grooming’ as exposure to “ideas that conflict with religious and family values.” It is this exposure that underlies many of the critiques WOW has of CSE, namely its inclusion of abortion, same-sex relationships, and exploration of gender identity. The education on these issues is seen as partisan and contrary to the values central to the cultural and religious beliefs of WOW and its members.</p> <p>It is on these issues that CSW and WOW, with the support of other conservative organizations and governments, have typically differed. The 61st session of the CSW has focused on women’s economic empowerment. WOW continues to champion traditional gender roles: “WOW knows that motherhood is the most important occupation and provides the most for world peace and economic global sustainability than any other occupation a woman can engage in,” said Nicholeen Peck, president of WOW. “When a mother sees her role of mother as the most significant role in her life, then she is more happy and her children are more happy.” While CSW has, for the first time, included language on sexual orientation and gender identity in the agreed conclusions, WOW’s centering of the “natural family” stands inherently opposed to what they regard as LGBT “lifestyles.” </p> <p>Reconciling these views are increasingly difficult and, for individuals on both sides, undesirable. The question remains: Is there room and reason to work together? On some issues, the answer appears to be yes. The inclusion of care and domestic work performed in the home in measures of GDP is a win for both WOW and the CSW this session, with the current draft stating that laws and policies should recognize “that work of the home, including unpaid care and domestic work, generates key human, social, and moral capital essential for sustainable development.” Yet conservative organizations are influencing language: well-established and widely-accepted references to sexual and reproductive health services are under threat this year because of their association with abortion services.</p> <p>The CSW does not need a unified front, even though it presents ‘agreed conclusions’ at the end of the meeting. Some issues will be left unaddressed far longer than their advocates would like; others will be fought against by those who see them as regressive or damaging. Norms and values shift and change as the push for fuller, more comprehensive protections and rights persists. Akudinobi, in reference to combatting female genital mutilation, said something applicable in many struggles for human rights: “How do you do that to a child? All in the name of culture? Maybe it was once our culture, for we all know that culture is not static. Culture was created by all of us, the community, and it’s time we stood up against it.”&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/culture-versus-rights-dualism-myth-or-reality">Culture versus rights dualism: a myth or a reality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">&#039;Traditional values&#039; vs human rights at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-its-time-to-question-vaticans-power-at-un">CSW: it&#039;s time to question the Vatican&#039;s power at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maxine-molyneux/of-rights-and-risks-are-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-jeopardy">Of rights and risks: are women’s human rights in jeopardy?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ruth-rosen/gender-wars-women-redefining-customs-as-crimes">Gender wars: women redefining customs as crimes </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 newsletter bodily autonomy fundamentalisms gender justice secularism women's movements Stephanie Sugars Sat, 25 Mar 2017 16:08:58 +0000 Stephanie Sugars 109679 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The new UN secretary general is poised to show the world what a feminist looks like https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lyric-thompson/un-sg-guterres-is-poised-to-show-world-what-feminist-looks-like <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>There has been real progress at this year's UN Commission on the Status of Women, and the new Secretary General has asked women around the world to "keep our feet to the fire".&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div style="color: #666;font-size:110%;;margin-bottom:30px"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women"><img style="float:right;width:auto !important" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/5050-uncsw2017-d-140x80px_1.png" /></a><p style="background-color:#f7f7f7;padding:10px;margin:0">This article is part of our <a style="color:#333;text-decoration:underline" href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">coverage</a> of the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, New York, March 2017</p></div><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/717248.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/717248.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Secretary-General holds a 'town hall meeting' for civil society associated with CSW. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten</span></span></span></p><p>As the United Nation’s 61<span style="font-size: 10.8333px;">st</span>&nbsp;session of the Commission on the Status of Women concludes, headlines about hate groups on the US delegation have threatened to overshadow some real progress on women’s rights at the United Nations: unprecedented leadership by a Secretary-General who, while not female, is poised to show the world what a feminist looks like.</p> <p>The Secretary-General took office at a time of unparalleled public and member state pressure for feminist leadership at the UN—pressure that appears, in this limited window of time, to be working. Most recently, in a speech at the opening session of the 61st CSW, Mr. Guterres invited civil society to hold the United Nations to account on these promises. “Do not let us in the UN off the hook,” he instructed. “Keep our feet on the fire. Keep pushing. Keep inspiring. Keep making a difference.”&nbsp;</p> <p>These are unusual words from a Secretary-General, made further noteworthy by his actions days later to organize, for the first time in history, <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=56376#.WM8J7_nytPZhttp://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=56376">a town hall meeting</a> with civil society advocates on women’s rights issues. With this unprecedented move, the Secretary-General made a space for women’s rights advocates to present their concerns and recommendations—in short, he provided us with our first opportunity to hold his feet to the fire.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Guterres_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Guterres_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Secretary-General António Guterres at the town hall meeting with representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten</span></span></span></p><p>Held the first Friday of CSW, the town hall featured the Secretary-General and his senior cabinet leaders—three women, a visual representation of his commitment to gender parity in his appointments—fielding questions from the floor for a full hour, moderated by the Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.</p> <p>The Secretary-General faced questions on thematic issues, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, and operational ones, such as financing for gender equality, or violence against women in the UN.system. Here’s a roundup of what we learned during that conversation and throughout the CSW:&nbsp;</p><h3><strong>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>There is a firm commitment to gender parity and women’s leadership</strong></h3> <p>This is the area that has seen the most attention from the Secretary-General, perhaps understandably given the open pressure from governments (the Group of Friends for Gender Parity is now more than 90 members strong). At his swearing-in ceremony in December 2016 Mr. Guterres pledged to establish gender parity in all appointments to the Senior Management Group and Chief Executive Board, as well as at the Under-Secretary-General (USG) and Assistant-Secretary-General (ASG) levels, including special envoys and representatives. Upon assuming office, he named three women to top UN posts (Deputy Secretary-General, Chief de Cabinet and a new post, Senior Policy Adviser—not coincidentally, these were the three women in attendance at the town hall). At the town hall Mr. Guterres announced that Senior Policy Adviser Kyung-wha Kang is working with UN Women to develop a roadmap for achieving gender parity across the UN system at all levels by 2030.&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. Guterres also announced that he would be joining the <a href="http://genderchampions.com/">International Gender Champions</a> (IGC) at the launch of its New York network and encouraged senior leaders to follow suit. IGC is a leadership network of female and male decision-makers who have committed to integrating gender parity across all organizational sectors. IGC Champions must make three commitments towards gender equality (one of which is refusing to participate in so-called ‘manels’, or all-male panels) in either executive management or programmatic work, that can be measurably achieved in one year. The Secretary-General was previously a member of IGC’s Geneva network while serving as High Commissioner for Refugees.</p> <p>When pressed by one activist as to what he would do to ensure the next Secretary-General is a woman, Mr. Guterres struck a comedic tone, indicating the best thing he could do would be to resign tomorrow. “I’ll consider it,” he joked.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><h3><strong></strong><strong>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>There are new commitments to tackling discrimination, violence and abuse in the UN system</strong></h3> <p>Progress on this is long overdue and urgently needed throughout the UN system. While headlines tend to focus on infractions by UN Peacekeeping, the Secretary-General has also committed to taking on violence and abuse by staff and others system-wide, including through a whistleblower policy. In January 2017, the Secretary-General announced the convening of a High-Level <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2106/sga1697.doc.htm">Task Force</a> to Improve United Nations Approach for Preventing, Addressing Sexual Abuse. The latest announcements shed light on the details, which are articulated in the newly-released <a href="http://undocs.org/A/71/818">report</a>, <em>Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse: a new approach</em>, which outlines a four-part strategy to improve the UN’s system-wide prevention and response approach. The proposal also includes a new ASG-level position for a system-wide victim rights’ advocate; a victims’ assistance protocol for testing in the field; organizing a high-level meeting on sexual abuse and exploitation before the end of 2017; establishing a circle of leadership, including Heads of State, and standing advisory board, including civil society and external experts; asking the Department of Public Information to establish a system whereby credible reports of sexual exploitation and abuse are released publicly on a regular basis, and resuming monthly meetings of the High-Level Steering Group on sexual abuse and exploitation, among other commitments. At the town hall, he further clarified that these efforts would apply to all forms of violence across the UN system and expressed support for an independent investigation of these crimes.&nbsp;</p><h3><strong>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>The Secretary-General will help defend ground in the closing UN space for civil society</strong></h3> <p>At the town hall the Secretary-General was asked specifically about attacks on women’s human rights defenders and the closing space for civil society at the United Nations. Mr. Guterres acknowledged the increasing backlash against women’s human rights defenders and the shrinking space for civil society groups worldwide. For his part, the invitation to the town hall was billed as the “first of many such opportunities,” during which the SG also committed to appointing an ASG to serve as a civil society liaison, as well as, in response to questions from a girl, to appoint a new, female, youth envoy. On the CSW, the Secretary-General called for the “maximum possible participation and the maximum possible impact” of the annual event.</p><h3><strong>4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>The Secretary-General provided updates on financing for gender equality</strong></h3> <p>At the CSW town hall, the Secretary-General was pressed to put the UN’s money where its mouth is regarding gender equality, including through system-wide gender budgeting, convening a high-level panel on financing for gender equality, and championing increased investments in feminist civil society organizations and full funding ($1 billion) for UN Women. While we did not hear specific commitments in this regard, the Secretary-General expressed support for gender mainstreaming across the UN and indicated he is working with his senior gender adviser to review proposals for how the UN could achieve this, suggesting some or all proposals may be on the table. The Secretary-General did point to the news—presumably to the release of the US President’s budget (which was also released last week and calls for reductions by a third to foreign spending)—as a form of expectations management for what might be possible in the current environment. At this point, it is unclear which tack he will take, but this is an area to watch in the near future.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>What’s next?</strong></h3> <p>As we round out 61<span style="font-size: 10.8333px;">st</span>&nbsp;session of the Commission on the Status of Women, two other comments the Secretary-General made in the course of the town hall merit note:&nbsp;</p> <p>1)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The United Nations can only utilize the instruments it has at its disposal to advance our common goals. This is an important reminder that we must base our proposals in reality, whether that be the declining financial support from member states or the narrowness of the mandate of the world’s top diplomat; and</p> <p>2)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; “I know many women that are not feminists, and I know some men that are." While we were certainly eager to see the world’s first female Secretary-General, there is still ample room for this one to show us what a feminist looks like.</p> <p>Indeed I think he just might.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/ninth-man">António Guterres: The Ninth Man </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/un-s-gender-problem">How will António Guterres tackle the UN’s gender problem ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/is-feminist-united-nations-possible-in-our-lifetime">Is a feminist United Nations possible in our lifetime?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/kavita-n-ramdas/building-bridge-to-future-towards-feminist-un">Building a bridge to the future: towards a feminist UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/madam-secretary-general">Madam Secretary-General?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/time-for-fifth-world-conference-on-women">Time for a Fifth World Conference on Women?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karin-attia/who-run-world-girls-not-at-un-csw">Who runs the world? Girls! Not at the UN CSW</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/opendemocracy-5050/no-borders-on-gender-justice">No borders on gender justice</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Democracy and government Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 newsletter feminism gender justice women's human rights Lyric Thompson Fri, 24 Mar 2017 19:01:54 +0000 Lyric Thompson 109674 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Without global solidarity the women’s movement will collapse https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nazik-awad/without-global-solidarity-women-s-movement-will-collapse <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Borders are closing across the world, blocking women from the Global South both from seeking refuge, having a voice and working on global gender justice.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div style="color: #666;font-size:110%;;margin-bottom:30px"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women"><img style="float:right;width:auto !important" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/5050-uncsw2017-d-140x80px_1.png" /></a><p style="background-color:#f7f7f7;padding:10px;margin:0">This article is part of our <a style="color:#333;text-decoration:underline" href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">coverage</a> of the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, New York, March 2017</p></div><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-30571275.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-30571275.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Halima Muzammil is one of many displaced women in Sudan, a country that the UN says is on the brink of genocide. Credit: PA Images/TNS.</span></span></span></p><p>In the wake of rising populism and authoritarianism in many countries where democracy and human rights used to prevail, women rights and gender justice are in danger of losing ground like never before. The xenophobic policies that aim to build walls and close borders are harmful to many, but for millions of women around the globe it could be no less than a death sentence. These policies are not closing the borders in the face of terrorists. They are killing the hopes of women who are fleeing wars, terrorism and other authoritarian regimes. Those women once dreamt of safety and security for themselves and their children. They will now be forced to endure more violence and terror.&nbsp; And while US President Donald Trump’s travel bans <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty">stamp the seal</a> on what we can expect from his policies and views toward Muslims and migrants, they also have a dangerous effect on our ability to push for global gender justice.</p> <p>As women from the Global South, we were already facing major challenges to enter the United States in any capacity; especially those from the countries now banned by Trump's executive orders. For example, women refugees from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya already wait up to three years to be vetted by the American Migration authorities. We already face problems applying for visas to attend United Nations meetings or to engage with US-based women groups, deterring many from even attempting it. </p> <p>This year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women, coming after President Trump’s travel bans, only worsens an ongoing trend. Women from the Global South have been denied access to the UNCSW for the most racist and xenophobic reasons over the years. A group of women from Sudan, one of the countries now banned, was denied the visa in 2014. They reported that the main reason was that the migration officer didn't like their accent and broken English. He said to them, "If you can't speak English well, why are you going to the United States and what are you going to do in the United Nations?" A member of the group replied, "The United Nations is a global ground and we are allowed to speak any language we can."&nbsp; One of the women said that "he denied us the visa not knowing that some of those women are witnesses of war crimes and genocide. He did not know how hard they worked to arrange this opportunity. They were trying to make the voices of their sisters heard, those who are facing mass rapes every day. Their hope was to demand justice and protection for the victims at home, and ask for international solidarity and support."&nbsp; Another member said that "the migration officer only saw those colored women with broken English as not more than potential asylum seekers or illegal migrants. He did not just deny us the visa; he silenced the voices of those women victims of war we were representing."&nbsp; </p> <p>While the world is facing the worst refugee crisis in modern history, many countries are stepping back from their commitments to basic human rights under the pressures of right-wing populism. The international community is tragically failing to protect over 60 million displaced people, of whom 70 to 80 percent are women and children. Women’s rights to security and protection are being compromised, as more countries are adopting closed border policies. The situation of women refugees in camps or in urban settlements is an extension of the horrifying circumstances they left at home. Sexual harassment, rape, human trafficking and discriminating working conditions are all risks faced by women and girl refugees while waiting for resettlement in a second country.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.womensrefugeecommission.org/populations/adolescent-girls/research-and-resources/373-refugee-girls-the-invisible-faces-of-war">Young women</a> and girls waiting for resettlement are exposed to child marriage, early pregnancy and denial of basic education.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Afghan refugees.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Afghan refugees.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Afghan refugees rally against Trump, racism and their living conditions outside the US embassy in Athens on January 21, 2017. Credit: PA Images</span></span></span></p><p>According to the <a href="http://reporting.unhcr.org/population">United Nations High Commission of Refugees</a>&nbsp;only a hundred thousand out of 21 million refugees are being resettled every year; this is less than 0.5 percent of the numbers of refugees in the world. More than half of the refugees and displaced peoples in the world are women and girls, while the <a href="http://blogs.cfr.org/women-around-the-world/2017/02/03/how-trumps-executive-order-harms-women-refugees/">United States Homeland Security</a> admitted that 72 percent of the refugees entering the United States are actually women and children. Therefore, the question remains, what is the USA and Europe afraid of? Are they afraid of vulnerable women and sick malnourished children? </p> <p>One such woman, now affected by the <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/world/donald-trump-freezes-refugee-program-orders-new-vetting-for-entry-20170128-gu0id6.html">ongoing freeze</a> on the American refugee program, is that of Aziza * from my home country, Sudan. Aziza is an activist and victim of mass rape, twice. She survived mass rape by Islamic jihadists in her home country of Sudan back in the 1990s. When the fundamentalist Islamic regime in Sudan incited war again in her region in 2011, she decided to speak out and started an organization helping displaced women. That’s when she was arrested and gang raped again. She had to flee the country carrying her psychological and physical wounds, hoping to find refuge and support. After waiting for four years she was finally referred to be resettled in the United States by the UNHCR. But President Trump's executive order came to stop the whole process, which has forced her to continue to work as a maid to feed her five children in a very hostile environment in Egypt . Her only hope was to be able to regain her life, and to be in a position where she can continue to claim justice for herself and for her people.</p> <p>The accomplishments of the women’s rights movement over the last five decades are now in danger from closed borders and rising intolerance. Gender justice cannot be achieved without the strength of <a href="https://www.globalfundforwomen.org/travel-ban/#.WM5OHZ-xXqA">women’s solidarity</a> around the world. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58c03cabe4b0a797c1d397ca">Women’s rights</a> groups all over the globe are challenged to fight; not just for the causes they support, but for their mere existence. Authoritarianism, fundamentalism, populism, and terrorism are dominating more countries every day, while women’s rights groups find their workspace shrinking locally and globally. Grassroots women’s movements in conflict and unstable countries are being suffocated under hostile working conditions. Without the solidarity and support from more established women groups in the developed countries, the women’s movement will slowly vanish, and lose all ground gained over the last decade.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/without change.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/without change.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>International Women's Day, March 8, 2017, New York City. Credit: PA Images / Erik McGregor</span></span></span></p><p>Therefore, open borders for women’s movements does not just mean access to engage in international venues and learn from other women’s experiences. It also means hope, the right to be free as equal humans and to have a voice. Hope for change and hope for justice, which can only be claimed through women’s solidarity. </p> <p>Women in solidarity are undefiable. Consequently, women activists decided to do what they know best: to resist. Dozens of women groups recently <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/opendemocracy-5050/no-borders-on-gender-justice">organized campaigns</a>, signed petitions and rallied in the Global South to demand open borders for gender justice and women’s rights. Hopefully this new wave of the women’s movement will lead the world out of hatred and xenophobia into a better future for all.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>*Aziza is not her real name.</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty">Trump&#039;s slap in the face of Lady Liberty</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/clare-church/indigenous-women-brave-storm-to-begin-talks-for-uncsw">Indigenous women brave the storm to begin talks at UN CSW</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sophie-giscard-destaing/where-is-gender-sensitive-humanitarian-response-to-protecting-women-refugees"> UN CSW: ending impunity for gender-based crimes against women refugees </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/time-for-fifth-world-conference-on-women">Time for a Fifth World Conference on Women?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-reeve/pr-profit-and-empowering-women-in-garment-industry">PR, profit and ‘empowering women’ in the garment industry</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/stephanie-sugars/queer-and-trans-issues-are-sidelined-again-at-united-nations-csw">Queer and trans issues are sidelined again at the United Nations CSW</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karin-attia/who-run-world-girls-not-at-un-csw">Who runs the world? Girls! Not at the UN CSW</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> South Sudan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 South Sudan World Forum for Democracy 2017 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Our Africa women and militarism gender justice feminism 50.50 newsletter young feminists Nazik Awad Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:07:28 +0000 Nazik Awad 109636 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Who runs the world? Girls! Not at the UN CSW https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/karin-attia/who-run-world-girls-not-at-un-csw <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>At this year's UN Commission on the Status of Women, the empowerment of girls is getting more attention than ever before. But the outcome document must demand that girls get to speak for themselves.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div style="color: #666; font-size: 110%; margin-bottom: 30px;"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women"><img style="float: right; width: auto !important;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/5050-uncsw2017-d-140x80px_1.png" alt="" /></a><p style="background-color: #f7f7f7; padding: 10px; margin: 0;">This article is part of our <a style="color: #333; text-decoration: underline;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">coverage</a> of the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, New York, March 2017</p></div><p><br /><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Mariam CSW.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Mariam CSW.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="372" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mariam, 13, speaks at Plan's, "Young Women’s Economic Empowerment in Fragile Contexts" event at UNCSW 61, March 16. </span></span></span></p><p>Over the course of the ongoing <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw61-2017">Commission on the Status of Women 61</a> (CSW), girls’ empowerment has been a major focus. This effort is significant because it hopefully indicates an end to the days of governments and civil society speaking on behalf of girls, and makes space for girls to speak up and represent themselves.&nbsp; When girls are absent on panels, the lack of inclusion is emphatically noted. “Why don’t we have young women and girls on our panel? We made a commitment to have no panel without self-representation,” questioned Ms. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, Goodwill Ambassador for Ending Child Marriage, African Union. However, despite this concerted effort, conversations in the girls’ empowerment sessions are marked by a strikingly rapid shift from how to put girls concerns and ideas at the forefront of programming, to how to include boys and men in this effort.</p> <h3><strong>Why focus on girls?</strong></h3> <p>The world is in the midst of a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/06/sunday-review/the-world-has-a-problem-too-many-young-people.html">youth bulge</a>, particularly in the poorest and most fragile states. People under 25 years old make up <a href="https://www.census.gov/population/international/data/idb/worldpop.php">43%</a> of the world’s 7.3 billion population. There are <a href="https://www.unicef.org/gender/files/Harnessing-the-Power-of-Data-for-Girls-Brochure-2016-1-1.pdf">1.1 billion</a> girls under 18. This matters because we now know that girls’ education is a <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/What-Works-in-Girls-Educationlowres.pdf">key driver</a> of reducing rates of infant mortality, maternal mortality, child marriage and incidence of HIV/AIDS, and is strongly related to women’s capacities to engage in public decision-making. Poverty-reduction, peace, environmental stability, and even inclusive democratic governance hinge far more than was previously realized on keeping girls in school and delaying marriage and pregnancy.</p> <p>The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda enshrined in <a href="http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/WPS%20SRES1325%20.pdf">UNSC Resolution 1325</a>, focuses on “the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building.” The Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) Agenda enshrined in <a href="http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_res_2250.pdf">UNSC Resolution 2250</a> recognizes “that young women and men play an important and positive role in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security.” According to UNSC Resolution 2250, ‘youth’ is defined as persons aged 18-29. The WPS agenda focuses on women, not adolescent girls.&nbsp; Much of the YPS agenda is dominated by boys and young men, not necessarily by girls. There is a failure to involve girls in these agendas. This gap is precisely why it is essential to highlight girls’ empowerment programming and best practices at CSW.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Girls_.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Girls_.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The "Pathways to Economic Justice for Adolescent Girls and Young Women" event sponsored by the Governments of Zambia, Nepal and Colombia at UNCSW 61, March 20th</span></span></span></p><h3><strong>Girls Programming</strong></h3> <p>At the heart of girls’ empowerment programming is the need to create a safe space free of harassment for investing in skills. Harassment was a theme that came up repeatedly. At an event titled, “It Starts with Safety: Adding Girls to the Global Agenda” sponsored by the <a href="http://www.icjw.org/default.aspx">International Council of Jewish Women</a>, <a href="https://www.unicef.org/">UNICEF</a> and <a href="http://www.togetherforgirls.org/">Together for Girls</a>, several members of the audience and panel came forward with their experiences of harassment and as survivors of sexual violence, showcasing the need to create spaces to listen to girls and explaining why safety is so important for girls’ empowerment. In light of much of the <a href="http://womendeliver.org/olaoluwa-abagun/">harassment and sexual violence</a> plaguing girls in Lagos, Nigeria, Olaoluwa Abagun, a panelist and Founder of the Girl Pride Circle, launched the <a href="https://guardian.ng/guardian-woman/i-am-an-unapologetic-feminist-olaoluwa-abagun/"><em>Safe Kicks Initiative: Adolescent Girls Against Sexual Violence</em></a>. This initiative is an empowerment program that involves taekwondo classes for adolescent girls. According to Abagun, “building self-confidence for girls is important to name and shame perpetrators of sexual violence. We want them to be able to speak up and this is exactly what martial arts does for them!”</p> <p>At the “Safer Cities-Creating an Enabling Environment for Girls’ Economic Empowerment” event organized by <a href="https://plan-international.org">Plan</a> International, two 13 year old girls from Egypt, Hebatallah and Mariam, participants in the <a href="https://plan-international.org/because-i-am-a-girl/creating-safer-cities"><em>Safer Cities for Girls Programme</em></a> in Cairo, expressed the importance in creating safe environments. When asked why girls don’t feel safe in their community, Hebatallah said that “lack of light in the street, a garbage problem and harassment on the streets” were big obstacles and that in fact some girls stopped going to school because of them. The <em>Safer Cities for Girls Programme</em> aims to close existing gaps between urban programming targeting either ‘youth’ or ‘women’ by focusing on adolescent girls who are frequently the most vulnerable and excluded population in a city. According to Mariam, every member in the community has their own role to play in addressing these issues. Hebatallah continued, “When we present our issues and make our recommendations, they are not only to the government. Some issues are presented to us, so we have to take ownership over them, others to the community to deal with and third for government issues. I believe harassment issue takes entire community to support us and specifically boys and men.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/UN.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/UN.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="304" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The headquarters of the United Nations, New York city, where the UNCSW takes place annually.</span></span></span></p><p>According to Liinu Diaz Rämö, a Project Manager of <a href="http://www.flickaplattformen.se/other-languages"><em>Flickaplattformen</em></a> (The Girl Child Platform), a Swedish organization, and panelist at the “Empowering Young Women to Become Leaders in Localizing SDGs” event, even though Sweden is recognized as a leader for gender equality, girls’ issues and rights are not well addressed in Sweden. The Girl Child Platform creates digital spaces for girls to talk about their challenges and issues, such as SRHR and online harassment, while also making connections between girls and policymakers. “As soon as you ask them [adolescent girls], there is so much commitment, so many ideas, and solutions. Just start asking them what do they want to do, how do they want to do it…Giving them the feeling of expertise, empowering recognition that they are the experts on these issues, will give you very engaged perspectives.”</p> <h3><strong>Avoiding Misandry</strong></h3> <p>Without fail, the question of how to engage with boys and men crept into every event, to the point of being a highlight of any concluding comments.&nbsp; Engaging boys and men in achieving gender equality has become a major preoccupation, as seen in UN Women’s flagship campaign: <a href="http://www.heforshe.org/en">HeForShe</a>, as well as The<a href="http://menengage.org"> MenEngage Alliance</a>, and <a href="http://promundoglobal.org">Promundo</a>’s ‘be a model man’ campaign. However, when there is so little policy space dedicated to girls, does the conversation really need to shift over to boys and men so quickly? Is there no space for girls’ empowerment without assuaging the anxieties of boys and men? Both Liinu Diaz Rämö and Sarah Engebretsen, Associate and Program Manager at the Population Council, stressed that engaging with men and boys is one of the first questions they receive when discussing adolescent girls research and programs at events and panels.</p><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/hfs-collage.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/hfs-collage.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="230" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A poster from the UN Women campaign He For She.</span></span></span></span></p><h3><strong>No decisions about us, without us</strong></h3> <p>Despite the efforts in highlighting girls’ empowerment programs, and even bringing girls and young women forward to discuss their experiences participating in these types of programs, CSW ultimately fell short in the basic procedure for giving voice to girls: passing the mic. Liinu Diaz Rämö emphatically pleaded, “An important note for CSW, please bring young people to the decision tables, instead of just being a youth representative.” Don’t just highlight girls, engage them.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ngocsw.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/REV-2_-19-March-9PM..pdf">current</a> draft outcome document “recognize[s] girls’ autonomy and decision-making in all aspects of their lives and also that the empowerment of and investment in women and girls, as well as their meaningful participation in all decisions that affect them, are key factors in breaking the cycle of gender inequality and discrimination, violence and poverty...” Recognition is important, but there is a marked silence on methods for doing so, such as for instance quotas. The current outcome document misses the opportunity to demand more; to demand that whenever girls’ empowerment or girls’ programming is mentioned, girls must be consulted and speak for themselves.</p> <p><a href="https://www.savethechildren.org.za/article/south-africa%E2%80%99s-girl-champion-represent-young-women-united-nations">Tshidi Likate</a>, a 19-year-old Save the Children South Africa’s Girl Champion, states, “You never know how important you are until you are recognized.” Girls will be empowered and know their role and importance at CSW once their involvement on panels, at high-level events, at meetings and at decision tables is no longer a novel concept but an expectation.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/world%27s-girls-no-voice-no-rights">The world&#039;s girls: no voice, no rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nazik-awad/without-global-solidarity-women-s-movement-will-collapse">Without global solidarity the women’s movement will collapse</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/time-for-fifth-world-conference-on-women">Time for a Fifth World Conference on Women?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/lives-of-endurance-sanitizing-crime-against-girls">Lives of endurance: sanitizing crime against girls</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty">Trump&#039;s slap in the face of Lady Liberty</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/stephanie-sugars/queer-and-trans-issues-are-sidelined-again-at-united-nations-csw">Queer and trans issues are sidelined again at the United Nations CSW</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/clare-church/indigenous-women-brave-storm-to-begin-talks-for-uncsw">Indigenous women brave the storm to begin talks at UN CSW</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/towards-feminist-united-nations-six-point-agenda-for-new-sg">Towards a feminist United Nations: a six-point agenda for the new SG</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/opendemocracy-5050/no-borders-on-gender-justice">No borders on gender justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/culture-versus-rights-dualism-myth-or-reality">Culture versus rights dualism: a myth or a reality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/best-time-to-be-born-female-worst-to-be-feminist-advocate">The &quot;best time to be born female&quot;: the worst to be a feminist advocate</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/girls-speaking-truth-to-power-at-un-global-2030-agenda">Girls speaking truth to power at the UN: the global 2030 Agenda </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women feminism 50.50 newsletter gender justice women's human rights Karin Attia Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:01:41 +0000 Karin Attia 109633 at https://www.opendemocracy.net PR, profit and ‘empowering women’ in the garment industry https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-reeve/pr-profit-and-empowering-women-in-garment-industry <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How can a global garment value chain that relies on the systemic devaluation of female labour be expected to fulfil promises of empowerment for women informal workers? It can’t. Here’s why.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div style="color: #666;font-size:110%;;margin-bottom:30px"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women"><img style="float:right;width:auto !important" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/5050-uncsw2017-d-140x80px_1.png" /></a><p style="background-color:#f7f7f7;padding:10px;margin:0">This article is part of our <a style="color:#333;text-decoration:underline" href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">coverage</a> of the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, New York, March 2017</p></div><p></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Garment2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Garment2.png" alt="" title="" width="427" height="380" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A Ruaab member completing a beading task. The cat design pictured takes an accomplished seamstress 3-4 hours to create.</span></span></span></p><p>When you walk into the <a href="http://sewadelhi.org/ruaab-sewa/">SEWA</a> (Self-Employed Women’s Association) Ruaab production centre in Sunder Nagri, Northeast Delhi, you will see between 10-15 women sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of embroidery stools. Some may have a child in their laps, while others just chat about their days as they weave coloured thread, beads and sequins onto the fabric that is stretched tightly over the stools before them. Many more women will be doing this same task from inside their homes across the Delhi region, simultaneously balancing the unpaid and invisible care work that reproduces their households. The women are members of the <a href="http://sewadelhi.org/ruaab-sewa/">Ruaab SEWA Artisans Producer Company Limited (Ruaab)</a>, a livelihoods initiative that allows women to earn a piece-rate income by stitching and embroidering designs on clothes for multinational clothing companies like Zara, Gap, Max, and Mango.</p> <p>Ruaab, an economic empowerment initiative for low-income women in Delhi, stresses the superior ethics of their production mode, which “facilitates linking the women to the mainstream market,” while offering a production model that is relatively more transparent than is the case for most other informal garment workers in India. Ruaab negotiates directly with export houses, eliminating the use of intermediaries who would normally take a cut of the women producers’ already abysmally low wages. Thus, the program provides certain protections against some of the more predatory actors in the global garment value chain. Organisational links between Ruaab and its parent organizations, <a href="http://sewadelhi.org/">SEWA Delhi</a> and <a href="http://sewabharat.org/">SEWA Bharat</a>, also provide women in the Ruaab program access to <a href="http://sewadelhi.org/programs/">other social support services and programs that SEWA offers</a>.</p> <p>However, despite opportunities offered by the program, women in Ruaab remain informal workers with very little social protection and job security. So although multinational clothing companies that are concerned about their public image can take comfort in Ruaab’s public promotion of “women’s economic empowerment,” and the <a href="http://sewadelhi.org/ruaab-sewa/#ruaabs-ethical">guarantee of a more ethical and transparent supply chain</a>, Ruaab is an attractive production choice for them precisely <em>because the women producers’ labour will be informal, home-based, and poorly compensated</em>. Clothing companies can reap the PR benefits of supporting the image of local women garment producers in Delhi, all the while maintaining the informal labour arrangements that are essential to their own accumulation of wealth. The 61<sup>st</sup> session of <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw61-2017">UN Women’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> is in process in New York this week, with <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw61-2017">a stated priority theme of women’s economic empowerment</a>. But how well will member states, speakers, NGO representatives, and other participants address the inherent dissonance in promoting women’s economic empowerment via increased participation in value chains that are built upon undervalued female labour? &nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Garment1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Garment1.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A side-event panel discussion on women’s economic empowerment at CSW 61 on March 13, 2017.</span></span></span></p><p>In this context, it is important to remember that women’s access to paid work does not in itself challenge patriarchal structures and relationships, or guarantee an expansion of women’s substantive rights and freedoms. Paid work is also not necessarily a harbinger of an individual woman’s sense of agency, or her ability to make strategic choices about her life. Authors like <a href="https://www.amherst.edu/media/view/232742/original/Kabeer%2B2005.pdf">Naila Kabeer</a> and <a href="http://www.sussex.ac.uk/profiles/92604/publications">Andrea Cornwall</a> have written extensively on the concept of “women’s empowerment” and have reinforced these points in particular. Ruaab’s strategy of “empowering” women by granting access to the global market with relatively better terms and conditions of work, is undermined by the labour and production needs of the global garment value chain itself. Even though Ruaab provides some labour protections and social services to women producers that work with them, there remains a very firm ceiling in place that limits the extent to which an individual woman garment producer can be strategically empowered. Ruaab’s efforts do not change the important role that informal labour plays in the global garment value chain, which ultimately requires the working conditions of women garment producers to remain insecure.&nbsp;</p> <h3>The Global Garment Value Chain, Gender, and the Informalisation of Labour</h3> <p>Working within the global structure of garment production that already exists, Ruaab directly negotiates orders from export houses, who then provide material and garments to Ruaab to distribute to its six centres around Delhi. From here, women involved in the company can either work on the pieces in a Ruaab SEWA centre, or take the materials and complete the stitching, beading, or embroidering tasks from their homes. Depending on how complicated the design is, the women will receive between 15-25 INR (.22-.37 USD) per item that they complete.</p> <p>The women working with Ruaab are in fact, relatively fortunate because of their involvement in the program, compared to the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/nov/25/india-clothing-workers-slave-wages">millions of other women in India who also complete piece-work for the garment industry</a>. However, it is necessary to unpack the gender dynamics of labour informalisation in order to complicate the debate on the role of paid work for women’s empowerment and the potential of the global garment value chain to serve as a vehicle of women’s emancipation from gender-based oppression.</p> <p>Women are overrepresented in informal work around the world, but particularly <a href="http://www.wikigender.org/wiki/women-and-the-informal-economy/">within the garment sector</a>. The garment and textile sectors employ approximately 45 million workers in India, <a href="https://cleanclothes.org/resources/publications/factsheets/india-factsheet-february-2015.pdf">over 70% of whom are women</a>. The number of workers in the garment industry, and the percentage of women, is likely even higher than this figure, considering the vast informal component to the workforce that is invisible in statistical estimates. In this labour-intensive industry, informal work arrangements, which are characterized by a lack of employment contracts, social protections and labour rights, have become increasingly important within the global value chain.&nbsp;</p> <p>Clothing companies based in the global north that seek to minimize costs associated with production, move their manufacturing operations to countries with more flexible labour regulations and large populations of ostensibly “unskilled” and “cheap” labour. Through the use of export houses and sub-contracting firms, millions of women complete embroidery, beading and stitching tasks for a small piece-rate income, <a href="http://www.wiego.org/sites/wiego.org/files/publications/files/Chan_Contract_Labour_Report_final_2013.pdf">within this industry</a>. </p> <p>Informal and home-based production is equally, if not more, strategically important than formal factory settings for garment production. The informal nature of home-based employment means that there is generally no oversight guaranteeing decent working conditions and fair compensation, no contracts protecting them from exploitation from intermediaries, and no long-term job security. The invisibility of informal work also means that individuals do not have a legal foundation around which to collectively organize and challenge corporations. Thus, the propagation of informal production is extremely important for multinational corporations in the global garment value chain, as this dynamic reinforces a very concrete power imbalance that works against individual women garment producers.&nbsp;</p> <p>Moreover, actors at the top end of labour-intensive global value chains have a significant interest in exploiting social divisions present within a society (such as gender, race, class, caste, age, etc.). Naturalizing social divisions also naturalizes different pay scales for different groups of workers, effectively creating different “<a href="http://urbandevelopment.yolasite.com/resources/Capital%20and%20Labou%20in%20the%20Margin%20Bernstein.pdf">classes of labour</a>”. Female labour within labour-intensive industries, for example, is more poorly compensated than male labour. Gendered assumptions about the skill level, value, personal characteristics, including an assumed indifference towards collective organization, contribute to the matrix of factors that results in low wages for women involved in garment production globally. Entire production chains have been relocated based on these gendered assumptions. As <a href="https://nacla.org/article/making-fantasies-real-producing-women-and-men-maquila-shop-floor">Leslie Salzinger</a> so aptly pointed out in her 2003 book, <em>Genders in Production,</em> it is not the women workers themselves who drive changes in global production patterns but rather <em>ideas</em> of who they are, how they will act, and the supposed inherent cheapness and docility of their labour.</p> <h3>Limitations for Empowerment and Strategic Gender Interests within the Global Marketplace</h3> <p>Many women’s economic empowerment programs, like Ruaab, assert that poverty can be alleviated, and women can be empowered, through greater participation in the “global marketplace.” But it is impossible to completely divorce this assertion from the broader structural and institutional environment in which the global garment value chain is located. Equating women’s access to paid work with empowerment is a problem, because it ignores the global context in which the labour arrangements at Ruaab are made. This false equivalency also fails to highlight which actors stand to make huge profits as a result of these informal labour relations, at the expense of the women producers themselves. The global garment value chain, as it currently operates, has a very strong interest in keeping women’s labour informal and unorganized, in order to maximize profit margins for the actors at the top of the chain. Within this framework, there is simply no room for the idea that women’s time and skills are valuable and deserving of proper compensation and protections.</p> <p>The process of empowerment and advancement of <a href="http://eige.europa.eu/rdc/thesaurus/terms/1396">strategic gender interests</a> implies an expansion of freedoms, rights, and choices, as well as the ability to act on them. The women garment producers in Sunder Nagri are invited to take part in the global market, and to be “empowered,” as long as they remain willing to accept low wages and few labour protections that are the rules of their participation in the global capitalist system. Ruaab is providing the opportunity for women to make an income, but <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/57a08bc3e5274a27b2000d3d/PathwaysWP3-website.pdf">an income and the advancement of strategic gender interests are not inherently equivalent,</a> nor should we see them as such.&nbsp;</p> <p>Further, Ruaab alone cannot deliver on promises of the women producers’ emancipation from gender based oppression, because it is impossible to isolate the Ruaab program from the gendered trends of labour informalisation that have defined the global garment value chain for the past forty years. When economic empowerment and livelihoods initiatives do not challenge the essentially exploitative and patriarchal nature of the value chain, informal labour relations continue, and the role that poorly compensated female labour plays in supporting profits for industry executives, is preserved. </p> <p>In order for the <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw61-2017">CSW</a> to be meaningful for the women garment producers in Sunder Nagri, and for women informal workers everywhere, discussions need to acknowledge a certain essential truth: women’s empowerment, and widespread expansion of substantive freedoms and agency, are not possible, whilst playing by the rules of the patriarchal capitalist system. The rules, and the system itself, need to be re-written in a way that recognizes the full humanity of <em>everyone</em> who participates.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/prajna-desai/legumes-vs-labour-rights-how-indian-women-pay-for-cost-of-dal">Legumes vs. labour rights: how Indian women pay for the cost of dal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/clare-church/indigenous-women-brave-storm-to-begin-talks-for-uncsw">Indigenous women brave the storm to begin talks at UN CSW</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/stephanie-sugars/queer-and-trans-issues-are-sidelined-again-at-united-nations-csw">Queer and trans issues are sidelined again at the United Nations CSW</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/time-for-fifth-world-conference-on-women">Time for a Fifth World Conference on Women?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty">Trump&#039;s slap in the face of Lady Liberty</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/soraya-chemaly/under-trump-we-are-all-women">Under Trump, we are all women </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/opendemocracy-5050/no-borders-on-gender-justice">No borders on gender justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/prashanthi-jayasekara/women-beedi-rollers-and-necrocapitalism-in-sri-lanka">Women beedi rollers and necrocapitalism in Sri Lanka</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/what-does-transforming-economic-power-mean">What does transforming economic power mean?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> India </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 India 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy gender justice 50.50 newsletter women's work Rebecca Reeve Tue, 21 Mar 2017 10:48:33 +0000 Rebecca Reeve 109570 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Queer and trans issues are sidelined again at the United Nations CSW https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/stephanie-sugars/queer-and-trans-issues-are-sidelined-again-at-united-nations-csw <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The language of sexual orientation and gender identity remains absent from the draft conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women, despite progress made by LBTI advocates.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div style="color: #666;font-size:110%;;margin-bottom:30px"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women"><img style="float:right;width:auto !important" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/5050-uncsw2017-d-140x80px_1.png" /></a><p style="background-color:#f7f7f7;padding:10px;margin:0">This article is part of our <a style="color:#333;text-decoration:underline" href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">coverage</a> of the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, New York, March 2017</p></div><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Hijra.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Hijra.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hijra gather in Mazar near Kolkata, India. Credit: Pacific Press / PA Images</span></span></span></p><p>In February, transgender people in Ecuador were able to vote for the first time according to their chosen gender. Also in February, two transwomen of color were killed in New Orleans within 48 hours. While tremendous strides have been made in trans, intersex and gender variant rights in recent years, from de-medicalization of standards to legal recognition of non-binary gender identities, advocates recognize considerable challenges remain ahead.</p> <p>In July 2016, UN Women welcomed the Human Rights Council’s appointment of an Independent Expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2016/6/human-rights-council-independent-expert-on-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity">calling</a> for “full support to the new mandate.” LBTI advocates hoped this would translate to these issues making their debut inclusion in the main program and in the language of the draft conclusion of this year’s session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. </p> <h3>A missed opportunity</h3> <p>This, however, was not the case. LBTI are on the fringe of the UN Commission on the Status of Women once again. The UNCSW is arguably the biggest annual gathering of women in the world, and is taking place over two weeks this year in New York. Out of more than 240 side events hosted by member states, only two have or will focus on LBTI issues, and only five out of more than 400 NGO-hosted fringe events.</p> <p>One of these side events was hosted by the Republic of Malta on the first day, Monday March 13th, entitled “Legal Reforms to Protect the Human Rights of Trans, Intersex and Gender Variant People”. During this event, Purna Sen, Policy Director for UN Women, spoke of UN Women’s commitment to addressing the violence and discrimination faced by trans, intersex and gender variant people. She said, “It is very clear that this is a priority for us [UN Women].” Sen went on to conclude that “intersex and trans and other folks who’ve really been denied visibility and the ability to be heard,” should be “particularly placed centre-stage” moving forward.</p><p>Yet this commitment has yet to be seen in the focus or language of the organization. The CSW missed a perfect opportunity to do just that this year, as the focus area of this session is the empowerment of indigenous women. Many indigenous groups around the world have <a href="http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/HIV-AIDS/Governance%20of%20HIV%20Responses/Trans%20Health%20&amp;%20Human%20Rights.pdf">traditions of gender variant identities</a>: ninauposkitzipxpe, a third gender among Canada’s Blackfoot; lhamana, the two-spirit Zuni tradition in the Southwest of the United States; the five genders of the Bugi people of Sulawesi in Indonesia; and hijra, a third gender in South Asian cultures including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Individuals of these diverse genders have often filled a central and respected role in religious, ceremonial or communal practices, but many faced, and continue to face, stigmatization following colonization. Recognition and incorporation of trans, intersex and gender variant persons into the dialogue on indigenous rights would have been not only fitting but overdue.</p> <h3>The challenge of opposing member states</h3> <p>While many agreed that trans, intersex and gender variant issues must have greater attention in the CSW and more generally, these issues remain highly contested in UN debates as many member states deny international organizations the authority to address them. The appointment of the new independent expert was challenged four times in November and December; twice in the <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/ga11879.doc.htm">plenary session</a> of the General Assembly, and once each in the UN <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/gashc4191.doc.htm">Third Committee</a> (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) and UN <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/gaab4224.doc.htm">Fifth Committee</a> (Administrative and Budgetary).</p> <p>Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and Morocco were among the 18 member states to oppose the original appointment, referring to it as “deeply divisive” and failing to “recognize cultural differences.” This is far from the first time these arguments have been lobbed in opposition to human rights measures: the push-pull between universal and culturally relative human rights regimes has been used in debates over <a href="http://scholarship.law.umn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1460&amp;context=lawineq">female circumcision or genital mutilation</a>, <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=53033">abortion</a> and <a href="https://unchronicle.un.org/article/womens-rights-human-rights">women’s rights</a> more generally. These arguments find support in the fact that none of the <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CoreInstruments.aspx">nine core</a> international human rights treaties explicitly mention sexual orientation.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Russia LGBT.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Russia LGBT.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="289" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demonstration against homophobia in Russia, Berlin, August 2013. Credit: Florian Schuh / PA Images</span></span></span></p><p>The United Nations, however, can and has addressed these and similar issues in <a href="http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/HIV-AIDS/Governance%20of%20HIV%20Responses/Trans%20Health%20&amp;%20Human%20Rights.pdf">reports</a>, <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/509136ca9.pdf">guidelines</a> and <a href="https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G14/177/32/PDF/G1417732.pdf?OpenElement">resolutions</a>. “In the jurisprudence and in general comments and in concluding observations, UN Treaty bodies have repeatedly held that sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics are prohibited grounds of discrimination under international law,” said UN Women’s Purna Sen. “The challenge is to ensure the principles are held and that they are made real in the lives of people who are denied their full humanity.”<strong> </strong></p> <h3><strong>Broadening our understanding</strong></h3> <p>The focus, says Zhan Chiam, from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, needs to be on legal gender recognition. It is this recognition that “allows a person to exist as a legal entity in society: it allows them to open a bank account, it allows them to go to school, it allows them to cross borders, it allows them to get married.” </p> <p>The ultimate aim is to protect their rights as individuals: to bodily autonomy, self-determination, to privacy, to association, to marriage. Direct protections against surgical requirements for recognition, against the denial of or forced medical treatment, and against violence, discrimination and abuse are vital to this aim. </p> <p>Helena Dalli, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties of the Republic of Malta called for future CSWs to “address the rights of trans, intersex and gender variant people more centrally in the main program.” But, as Dalli acknowledged, not even all feminists recognize the connection between women’s and trans, intersex and gender variant issues.</p> <p>Micah Grzywnowicz, from The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights, argues that the inclusion of trans, intersex and gender variant issues dovetails with the aims of the CSW and feminism more broadly. It demands that we “broaden the understanding of what gender means in general and how it all fits and how the system that we’re creating can actually serve everybody and not just the ones who fit,” said Grzywonowicz.</p> <p>For Dalli, the causes are indistinguishable, the goals the same: “Trans, intersex, and gender variant people suffer because of patriarchy and gender stereotypes much like women do. Their fight for equality and women’s fight for equality are thus by their very nature the same fight.” </p> <p>States such as Malta, Argentina, Germany and New Zealand are leading the way in protections for trans, intersex and gender variant rights, allowing for parents and individuals to choose third gender options on federal documents and IDs, and providing accessible name and gender marker change processes. Others, such as Denmark and India, are picking up the baton. As shown by the Core Group of seven Latin American countries – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay – and 41 others calling for the independent expert on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, the balance is shifting. Trans and intersex rights may prove to be the human rights fight of our era.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/classifying-bodies-denying-freedoms">Classifying bodies, denying freedoms</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/opendemocracy-5050/no-borders-on-gender-justice">No borders on gender justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/time-for-fifth-world-conference-on-women">Time for a Fifth World Conference on Women?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/culture-versus-rights-dualism-myth-or-reality">Culture versus rights dualism: a myth or a reality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/towards-feminist-united-nations-six-point-agenda-for-new-sg">Towards a feminist United Nations: a six-point agenda for the new SG</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/ninth-man">António Guterres: The Ninth Man </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/kavita-n-ramdas/building-bridge-to-future-towards-feminist-un">Building a bridge to the future: towards a feminist UN</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UN Commission on the Status of Women gender justice gender bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter sexual identities Stephanie Sugars Fri, 17 Mar 2017 13:10:51 +0000 Stephanie Sugars 109496 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Indigenous women brave the storm to begin talks at UN CSW https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/clare-church/indigenous-women-brave-storm-to-begin-talks-for-uncsw <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Despite the winter storm that shut down other events at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the event on eradicating violence against indigenous women and girls was packed.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div style="color: #666;font-size:110%;;margin-bottom:30px"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women"><img style="float:right;width:auto !important" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/5050-uncsw2017-d-140x80px_1.png" /></a><p style="background-color:#f7f7f7;padding:10px;margin:0">This article is part of our <a style="color:#333;text-decoration:underline" href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">coverage</a> of the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, New York, March 2017</p></div><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/snow NY real.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/snow NY real.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="254" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Snow storm Stella, New York, March 14, 2017. Credit: PA Images / Xinhua</span></span></span></p><p>This week, the frigid temperatures and blustery winds of winter storm Stella shut down New York City. On Tuesday, the second day for the 61st&nbsp;Commission on the Status of Women, the United Nations Headquarters <a href="https://emergency.un.org/">closed</a> its complex, while most of the planned events were postponed.</p> <p>But one Mission to the UN stayed open. </p> <p>Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the Permanent Mission of Canada.&nbsp; Its staff shrugged off the snow storm, mastered the icy subway steps, and hosted the Commission on the Status of Women’s side event “Empowerment as an instrument to eradicate all forms of violence against indigenous women and girls” in the evening, inviting all the panelists and attendees to its cold-weather-loving, New York location. </p> <p>This particular event involved a panel of four indigenous women, who spoke about the violence against their communities and presented recommendations to the Commission on the Status of Women. Canada, a country with a history of abuse against its indigenous women, gave the panelists a new venue to continue their work and make their voices heard. Even with the city-wide shut down, the room was packed with a captivated audience. </p> <p>“This weather, for us, is normal,” said Maryam Monsef, the Minister of the Status of Women for Canada. An audience member responded with a “hear, hear!” while the rest laughed in agreement. </p> <p>She continued, welcoming member states, civil society organizations, and UN entities, and speaking about the injustices felt by indigenous women in Canada. “As a woman from Afghanistan, a displaced person,” she said, “I have more opportunity in Canada than an indigenous person of the country.” </p> <p>Indigenous women, worldwide, suffer disproportionately from violence and abuse. Although the priority theme of this year’s Commission on the Status of Women is the “economic empowerment of women in the changing world of work,” the emerging issue that it is also addressing is the “empowerment of indigenous women” specifically.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/NoBanStolenLand.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/NoBanStolenLand.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="690" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A sign referring to the fact that Canada and the US belonged to the Aboriginal peoples before it was taken by settlers at a protest against Trump's 'Muslim Ban' in Toronto, 4 Feb 2017. Credit: NurPhoto / PA Images</span></span></span></p> <p>Jeanie Dendys, Minister of Tourism and Culture for the Yukon territory and of the Tahltan First Nation, said of the Commission on the Status of Women at yesterday’s panel, “This is a huge platform for us to discuss ending violence against all women.” </p> <p>Of Canada’s complicated past with indigenous peoples, she continued, “I want to be the minister who says we’ve honoured our indigenous promises.”</p><p>Dendys, and other Canadian panelists Sandra Laughren, and Francyne Joe, all commented on Canada’s promising new commitment to indigenous issues. Most notably, last year Canada removed its objector status to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. On May 10, 2016, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/canada-adopting-implementing-un-rights-declaration-1.3575272">declared</a> “We are now a full supporter of the declaration, without qualification.” </p> <p>Laughren, Senior Policy Analyst for the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs in Canada, also brought up the <a href="https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1448633299414/1448633350146">National Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Women and Girls</a>. A 2014 report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police <a href="http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/aboriginal-autochtone/mmaw-fada-eng.htm">identified</a> at least 1,181 missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Laughren said that in December, 2015, the Government of Canada launched a national inquiry to seek recommendations to address and prevent the violence against indigenous women and girls. &nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Indigenous.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Indigenous.jpg" alt="" title="" width="300" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Plains Cree artist Ruth Cuthand's 'How Much Was Forgotten'.</span></span></span></p><p>The panelists though, made it clear that Canada, and other UN member states, still have a long way to go to address the violence against the world’s indigenous women. Said Cherrah Giles, Secretary of the Department of the Community and Human Services for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, “Violence against women is a pervasive, worldwide human rights violation.” She continued, “The spectrum of violence, from birth to death, destroys our quality of life and our abilities to exercise our human rights.” </p> <p>Among the recommendations, Dendys and Giles both demanded more data and studies regarding violence against indigenous women. In the United States, for example, <a href="https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/183781.pdf">a report</a> by National Violence Against Women Survey, found that American Indians were 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault as compared to all other races. The study, however, was conducted in 2000 and has not been updated. </p> <p>Giles also asked the Commission to intensify its efforts to eliminate violence against indigenous women by adopting a resolution to this regard, and called for an international instrument to address this issue. “These may seem like small demands, but that’s what they are. They are demands,” she said, “We are demanding something to happen, because we felt like nothing has happened yet.” </p> <p>The storm-weathering audience nodded in agreement to Giles’ requests. Yesterday, the Commission for the Status of Women’s 61st&nbsp;session began again, fresh after a day of closure.&nbsp; Its meetings over the next 10 days may potentially address these panelists’ concerns in its focus on the empowerment of indigenous women. Assuming, of course, another blizzard doesn’t interrupt the session. </p> <p>For the Canadians who are unfazed by the snow however, hosting meetings in tough circumstances isn’t enough to make up for its past of indigenous abuse. The future will need to involve increased reporting, funding, and commitment to put an end to the of violence against indigenous women and girls. </p> <p>“I love Canada. I am so proud to be from this place, and my community,” said Dendys, “But we can do better.”&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/opendemocracy-5050/no-borders-on-gender-justice">No borders on gender justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/towards-feminist-united-nations-six-point-agenda-for-new-sg">Towards a feminist United Nations: a six-point agenda for the new SG</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/time-for-fifth-world-conference-on-women">Time for a Fifth World Conference on Women?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/soraya-chemaly/under-trump-we-are-all-women">Under Trump, we are all women </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty">Trump&#039;s slap in the face of Lady Liberty</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/ninth-man">António Guterres: The Ninth Man </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/un-s-gender-problem">How will António Guterres tackle the UN’s gender problem ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kavita-n-ramdas/building-bridge-to-future-towards-feminist-un">Building a bridge to the future: towards a feminist UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/is-feminist-united-nations-possible-in-our-lifetime">Is a feminist United Nations possible in our lifetime?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women women's human rights gender justice feminism 50.50 newsletter Clare Church Thu, 16 Mar 2017 13:03:06 +0000 Clare Church 109478 at https://www.opendemocracy.net No borders on gender justice https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/opendemocracy-5050/no-borders-on-gender-justice <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) takes place in New York, gender justice advocates from around the world are uniting around the following principles.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div style="color: #666;font-size:110%;;margin-bottom:30px"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women"><img style="float:right;width:auto !important" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/5050-uncsw2017-d-140x80px_1.png" /></a><p style="background-color:#f7f7f7;padding:10px;margin:0">This article is part of our <a style="color:#333;text-decoration:underline" href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">coverage</a> of the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, New York, March 2017</p></div><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/HearOurVoice.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/HearOurVoice.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>International Women's Day March, New York, 8 March 2017. Credit: PA Images / Erik McGregor</span></span></span></p><p><em><strong>Initiated by: MADRE, Just Associates (JASS), Center for Women’s Global Leadership, AWID, Urgent Action Fund, Women in Migration Network and Outright Action International.</strong></em></p><p>This year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York comes as multiple governments have succumbed to a dangerous right-wing populism and authoritarianism, unleashing resurgent anti-migrant, misogynist, racist, neocolonialist, and neoliberal policies.</p><p>In the face of this, and at a time of ongoing wars, refugee crises and attacks on human rights, women civil society and gender justice advocates from around the globe are coming together in New York to develop and share strategies of resistance, and to reassert that women’s rights are human rights. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><h3><strong>Platform of Principles</strong></h3><p>We stand together for gender justice and migrant rights. Inspired by the March 8th International Women’s Strike, we call for civil society actions during the CSW to ignite resistance to the conditions that have produced right-wing populism and given rise to authoritarian governance. These conditions include neocolonialism, neoliberalism and the wars that have been waged to uphold those systems. We stand in solidarity with women and our allies who have been blocked from coming to New York to lobby the world’s governments by anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies of the United States. We seek to highlight the voices of these missing civil society actors during the CSW and to demand their access to this and other UN spaces.</p><p>We unite around the following principles:</p><h3><strong>Freedom of Movement and an End to Border Imperialism</strong></h3><p>We recognize that the rights of refugees and migrants are endangered by racist and xenophobic border policies, and that women face particular gender-based threats. We know that migration is driven in significant part by policies that place corporate profits over the lives and wellbeing of people and the environment. We call for governments to respect the rights of all refugees, including those fleeing war, poverty, gender-based violence and climate disasters. We call for governments to remove barriers to migrants seeking safety and economic stability, for an end to criminalization of migration, and for an end to raids, arrests, deportations, detentions and other police actions against immigrant communities. We further call for governments to respect the rights of women and girls to move freely within their own countries, to go to work or school, and to socialize and organize with their communities, without hindrance from state or private actors.</p><h3><strong>Civil Society Access to the UN Commission on the Status of Women and All UN Spaces</strong></h3><p>For too long, the inter-governmental meetings at CSW have sidelined and ignored the voices of civil society, and failed to recognize the expertise and leadership of grassroots women activists. We demand that CSW become a space for civil society feminist policymaking that unites women and gender justice advocates from all parts of the globe while centering the needs of those women who have been historically marginalized and are today on the frontlines of our global crises. As the only nominally democratic institution of global governance, we demand that the UN system live up to its promise of upholding the full range of human rights for all people.&nbsp;</p><h3><strong>An End to Gender-Based Violence</strong></h3><p>We demand governments take measures to prevent and to ensure justice and reparations for all forms of gender-based violence, whether committed by private actors, police, soldiers, border agents or other state actors. We call on states to grant legal status and lives of dignity to refugees fleeing gender-based violence. We demand that governments refrain from using women as human shields when they cite women’s rights violations to justify imperial wars. We call on governments to consult with and lend support to civil society women’s organizations, particularly local, grassroots women’s groups that fight for gender justice and provide necessary services to people fleeing gender-based violence in war and disaster zones. We further call for women human rights defenders and their families to be protected and to receive justice and reparations for violence, forced disappearance or murder committed against them.</p><h3><strong>Reproductive Justice for All</strong></h3><p>We affirm reproductive justice as a cornerstone of human rights for all women, cis and trans. We assert the full range of reproductive rights as fundamental to women’s autonomy and self-determination, and we stand in defense of every mother’s right to raise her child in a safe and healthy environment. This vision includes the right to choose whether or not to have children, the freedom to determine the number and spacing of those children, and the financial and material support to ensure wellbeing. To realize this vision, we call for full protections for the rights to abortion, contraception and universal health care for all, irrespective of income, race, nationality, sexuality, gender identity, HIV/AIDS status, or other status.</p><h3><strong>LGBTIQ Rights</strong></h3><p>We recognize that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, gender non-conforming and queer-identified people are disproportionately subject to discrimination and violence. We demand the full spectrum of human rights protections for LGBTIQ people and call on governments to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. &nbsp;</p><h3><strong>Labor Rights and Full Social Benefits</strong></h3><p>The world’s wealth is based largely on women’s labor, paid and unpaid. As states have abdicated their responsibility for social and economic rights through neoliberal austerity measures, women – already the primary caretakers for everyone – are forced to absorb the unpaid work burden of defunded public services. We demand living wages and full labor protections for women working in formal and informal sectors. We call on governments to end austerity and to ensure women’s full access to all social welfare benefits necessary to live free of poverty.</p><h3><strong>Environmental Justice for All</strong></h3><p>While poor, rural and Indigenous women are made especially vulnerable to climate change by discrimination and poverty, they are more than victims: they are sources of solutions. Women leverage their roles as stewards of natural resources to devise innovative, locally-rooted responses to climate change. Yet the voices of women are routinely excluded from policymaking—despite the visionary solutions they offer. This results in climate policies that further marginalize women, undermine human rights generally and reinforce assumptions that created the climate crisis in the first place. We call for meaningful consultation with women, with Indigenous Peoples, and all others who are modeling sustainability, acting as environmental stewards, and standing up to pollution and resource exploitation. We furthermore call for consistent global enforcement of the principles of free, prior and informed consent to combat expansion of extractive industries and other environmental destruction.&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>Gender justice is central to realizing a world where all people enjoy the full range of human rights. Women and allies joining together in New York during CSW understand that our international networking, our collaborative organizing and our creative change strategies are more necessary than ever. We will gather at CSW to:</p><p>Renew strategies to reclaim international democratic spaces, address the current global political climate, and defend the full range of women’s human rights and the international norms and institutions meant to uphold them.</p><p>Protest the racist and Islamophobic policies that bar access for many to UN Headquarters. Amplify the demands of those who have been excluded, and reassert our commitment to the human rights of migrants and refugees, without discrimination.</p><p>Deepen a process of consultation and collaboration rooted in international solidarity with women who have been historically marginalized and those who are most at risk from the authoritarianism of a growing number of countries, particularly Muslim women and migrant and refugee women.</p><p><strong><em>The #NoBordersOnGenderJustice initiative have signed a letter to the Members of the UN Commission on the Status of Women expressing their concerns. You can sign it <a href="https://www.madre.org/press-publications/human-rights-report/letter-members-un-commission-status-women">here.</a>&nbsp;</em></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/culture-versus-rights-dualism-myth-or-reality">Culture versus rights dualism: a myth or a reality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/time-for-fifth-world-conference-on-women">Time for a Fifth World Conference on Women?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/missing-link-in-women%27s-human-rights">The missing link in women&#039;s human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/towards-feminist-united-nations-six-point-agenda-for-new-sg">Towards a feminist United Nations: a six-point agenda for the new SG</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty">Trump&#039;s slap in the face of Lady Liberty</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/ninth-man">António Guterres: The Ninth Man </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ruth-rosen/gender-wars-women-redefining-customs-as-crimes">Gender wars: women redefining customs as crimes </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rosalie-fransen/un-csw-women-s-reproductive-rights-or-culture-of-death"> UN CSW: debating women’s reproductive rights or a “culture of death” ? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sophie-giscard-destaing/where-is-gender-sensitive-humanitarian-response-to-protecting-women-refugees"> UN CSW: ending impunity for gender-based crimes against women refugees </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/karin-attia/how-do-we-engage-men-and-boys-as-allies-in-ending-violence-against-women">UN CSW: engaging men and boys in ending violence against women as allies not protectors</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/joanna-lockspeiser/un-csw-still-failing-to-count-all-women">UN CSW: still failing to count all women </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/margaret-owen/un-csw-cedaw-article-5-must-be-applied-now">UN CSW: the way to empower women is to use CEDAW Article 5, not the CSW</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/women%27s-rights-have-no-country">Women&#039;s rights have no country</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/meredith-tax/sound-trumpet">Sound the Trumpet </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/ninth-man">António Guterres: The Ninth Man </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/clare-church/indigenous-women-brave-storm-to-begin-talks-for-uncsw">Indigenous women brave the storm to begin talks at UN CSW</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/stephanie-sugars/queer-and-trans-issues-are-sidelined-again-at-united-nations-csw">Queer and trans issues are sidelined again at the United Nations CSW</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-reeve/pr-profit-and-empowering-women-in-garment-industry">PR, profit and ‘empowering women’ in the garment industry</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy women's movements gender justice feminism 50.50 newsletter young feminists Multiple authors Mon, 13 Mar 2017 11:13:46 +0000 Multiple authors 109403 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>When civic space is under attack, we make no dangerous accommodations. We stand up, and we fight back.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-29816735(1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-29816735(1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="315" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sisters March, New York, January 2017. USA TODAY SIPA USA/PA images</span></span></span></p> <p>On January 27, the world watched in horror as Donald Trump signed an executive order barring people from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran from entering the United States for 90 days. Although the courts may rule against them, administration officials have warned they will be <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/27/politics/donald-trump-refugees-executive-order/">“very aggressive”</a> as they expand the countries added to the ban list, making clear that this is only round one in a much broader xenophobic plan. </p> <p>Every March, when the annual <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw61-2017">UN Commission on the Status of Women</a> (CSW) meetings are held, women’s rights activists seize the chance to come to New York City, lobby global policymakers and collaborate with each other. Now, many are asking themselves how we keep the doors open for those activists from banned countries. Some are questioning if CSW should be postponed or even moved to Geneva, in solidarity with those who cannot attend. </p> <p>Far from it. Substantial civil society participation at CSW in New York this year would be an act of solidarity, creating a critical show of resistance against autocracy and the US administration’s xenophobia and misogyny. </p> <p>Right now, we should be talking about how to best leverage CSW in New York to make a stand for global gender justice in this moment of crisis. Rather than accommodating Trump’s exclusionary agenda, we should be asking ourselves how to fortify and expand our movements amidst the global rise of right-wing authoritarianism, closing borders, and shrinking civil society spaces. The US isn’t just the latest country to fall sway to reactionary populism: it’s also the most powerful. That makes the UN in New York the front lines of a battle to defend international cooperation and human rights—not just in the US but around the world. </p><p>The Trump administration would like nothing more than to rid the US of progressive, international civil society organizing. We must not let that happen. CSW is a chance for advocates to speak out about blatantly misogynist US policies like the “<a href="https://www.madre.org/press-publications/statement/global-gag-rule-reinstated-trump-endangers-millions-women-worldwide">global gag rule</a>,” to underscore the gendered dimensions of many governments’ xenophobic policies, and to expose how these policies harm the most vulnerable. CSW is the first major international conference to take place at the UN since the rise of Trump. Fighting to maintain access to this space is critical not just to defend the gains of the global women’s movement, but to hold the space open for the many human rights movements who rely on the UN in New York as a key site of advocacy with governments. From the Indigenous Peoples Forum in May to LGBTIQ advocacy week in December, the UN headquarters in New York is a critical lobbying space for activists. </p><p>These conversations and the global alliances we build at CSW are exactly what Trump wants to quash. Moving CSW to Geneva will only be a victory in Trump’s eyes. </p><p>What’s more, moving CSW to Geneva would still exclude participants, since only two of the seven countries in Trump’s ban have Swiss Embassies or Consulates that issue visas. The move would also feed US right-wing extremism and play directly into its anti-UN rhetoric. </p> <p>Trump’s executive orders have also banned all refugees from entering the US for 120 days and indefinitely banned Syrian refugees. At particular risk are those refugees who suffer from double discrimination, including women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people. Because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, they are targeted with discrimination and death threats, and are forced to flee to save their lives. </p> <p>Last year, due to the organizing efforts of <a href="https://www.outrightinternational.org/">OutRight</a> Action International and others, the crisis of refugees fleeing ISIS persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity was made visible when the UN Security Council convened the first ever Arria Formula to address LGBTIQ violations. Two LGBTIQ activists from Syria and Iraq recounted their personal stories of persecution and violence in horrific detail. Through their presence and by bringing their brave stories into the halls of power, they shifted the conversation on the global policymaking agenda. </p> <p>Trump’s ban closes off this possibility for countless activists to give their testimonies to policymakers. Historically when women have been denied access to civic spaces, we have come together and pushed back. We know that if we cede the ground we’ve gained, it will be all the more difficult to reclaim it later. &nbsp; </p> <p>Women and LGBTIQ groups in the US and worldwide have joined the call to keep these decision-making spaces open to people’s voices.&nbsp; For instance, the pan-African regional organization, African Women’s Development and Communication Network (<a href="http://femnet.co/">FEMNET</a>) weighed in when their Executive Director, <a href="http://femnet.co/2017/01/20/do-not-violate-women-african-women-warn-donald-trump/">Dinah Musindarwezo</a> stated, “It is in the US that all women of the world have converged annually in New York at the… CSW for the last 60 years. It is in New York that women of the world deliberate, strategize and collaborate to make the world safer, just and equal for women and girls in the world.” </p> <p>Bars to entry against people from marginalized communities are not new. In 2012, when the US denied visas for anyone who “engaged in prostitution” from entering the country to attend the International AIDS Conference, activists considered boycotting—but they rejected that option. Recognizing the importance of protecting civil society spaces, participants organized in throngs. From India to Bangkok, they organized side events where activists were Skyped in on jumbotron screens to ensure participation of those who had been blocked. Activists also set up an <a href="http://www.aids2012.org/visa.aspx">informational</a> webpage that advised on the visa process and on rights if questioned by a customs and border patrol officer. They set up petitions calling to change US law and kept up the pressure even after the conference was over. This is the model we should borrow, as we face the exclusionary tactics of this Administration. </p> <p>The Trump administration attack is not only targeting women from the seven banned countries. This is an attack on all who are women, who are brown, who are immigrants, who are queer, who are non-US citizens. </p> <p>One thing is clear. CSW needs to respond to this crisis. It needs to be a hub of organizing for protection of all women who are threatened by right-wing authoritarianism—especially women from the seven banned countries. Women coming into CSW have already spent months of preparation organizing bilateral meetings, side events, travel arrangements, visas and funding. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Intrepid CUNY law students in a makeshift outpost at JFK.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Intrepid CUNY law students in a makeshift outpost at JFK.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="355" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CLEAR's CUNY law students at JFK airport providing legal assistance for detainees under Trump's Muslim Ban. </span></span></span></p> <p>In the face of government-fanned hate, we must highlight the voices of women and other gender justice advocates from the seven countries on Trump’s Muslim ban. We must turn each empty seat, unoccupied by a woman who has been banned from the country, into an indictment against the US Administration’s policies. We have the means to accomplish this, for example by holding video conference events that allow them to still be heard and by using our numbers to spark mass strategic protest. We must mobilize all our assets, like support from CUNY Law School’s <a href="http://www.law.cuny.edu/academics/clinics/immigration/clear.html">CLEAR</a> (Creating Law Enforcement Accountability &amp; Responsibility), to secure legal protections for people affected by these bans. We must hold our ground against Trump’s hateful policies and act to discourage other governments from following his lead. </p> <p>Let’s send a message that our civic spaces will not be closed. Our governments’ fear will not be tolerated.&nbsp;Here are three things we can call on our local representatives and our governments to tell Trump: </p> <ol><li>Respect activists’ right to access and engage with the United Nations</li><li>Repeal the ban on refugees and travellers from the seven nations </li><li>Allow entry for valid visa holders traveling to New York for the CSW</li></ol> <p>And come to New York for CSW, 13-24 March.&nbsp; Join <a href="https://www.madre.org/">MADRE</a> and other organizations as we launch a campaign to denounce the Trump bans that threaten democratic participation and human rights. Speak out for those who would be denied access. Support mass demonstrations and organizing by women’s and human rights movements, and show solidarity with all of us who are under siege. </p><p>Now is the time to stand our ground.</p><p><strong><em>Read more articles on the UN CSW in openDemocracy 50.50's long running dialogue:</em> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">UN Commission on the Status of Women</a></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty">Trump&#039;s slap in the face of Lady Liberty</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/soraya-chemaly/under-trump-we-are-all-women">Under Trump, we are all women </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/towards-feminist-united-nations-six-point-agenda-for-new-sg">Towards a feminist United Nations: a six-point agenda for the new SG</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/culture-versus-rights-dualism-myth-or-reality">Culture versus rights dualism: a myth or a reality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/meredith-tax/sound-trumpet">Sound the Trumpet </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rosalie-fransen/un-csw-women-s-reproductive-rights-or-culture-of-death"> UN CSW: debating women’s reproductive rights or a “culture of death” ? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/women%27s-rights-have-no-country">Women&#039;s rights have no country</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/joanna-lockspeiser/un-csw-still-failing-to-count-all-women">UN CSW: still failing to count all women </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/ninth-man">António Guterres: The Ninth Man </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 United States Civil society Democracy and government Equality Understanding the rise of Trump Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy gender justice gender feminism 50.50 newsletter Yifat Susskind Lisa Davis Sat, 04 Feb 2017 10:45:33 +0000 Lisa Davis and Yifat Susskind 108586 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump's slap in the face of Lady Liberty https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Will women be turned away from the UN Commission on the Status of Women, to be held in March, in New York? The world's global institutions must fight the 'Muslim Ban', starting with the United Nations.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>&nbsp;<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-29917706(1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-29917706(1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Crowds protest Trump's Muslim travel ban across US airports. Image: Miami Herald/TNS/ABACA ABACA/PA Images</span></span></span></strong></p> <p>On November 9th&nbsp;as the dust settled and we took in the Republican victory in the US elections, I hugged my daughter and told her, “WE will be ok. WE will be safe.” I reminded her that as a child I had lived through the Iranian revolution, where we had seen our lives upended.&nbsp; I insisted that those events – travel bans, arrests, families separated, assets frozen - would not take place in America, regardless of the rhetoric against Muslims or citizens of Muslim majority countries. &nbsp;In conversations with friends and family, who were anxious, we deployed dark humor but we did not overdo it.&nbsp; Rightly so, our sympathy lay with the undocumented women, men and children, who’d be at the mercy of the new sheriff in town.&nbsp; Compared to them, we were and are the lucky ones.&nbsp; Or so I thought. </p> <p>At 4.30 pm on January 26, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order that effectively bans the citizens of seven countries from visiting the United States.&nbsp; Iranians, Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis, Somalis and Sudanese who wish to travel to the US, regardless of whether they are refugees fleeing war and terror, students bringing their brilliance and talent to US universities, tourists wishing to spend their hard earned cash in the US, or parents, lovers, siblings and children hoping to visit their US based relatives, are barred.&nbsp; As they arrived at airports in the US, chaos ensued. People were arrested, interrogated, had their social media sites checked and some were deported. &nbsp;An Iraqi interpreter for the US army was cuffed for 17 hours.&nbsp; Elderly women in wheelchairs and young children were in the mix along with doctors and scientists. The US officials and Trump supporters claimed this is done for national security, but politics of the extreme right is driving this agenda. </p> <p>The initial statement was broad enough that it also dragged Green Card holders, i.e. legal permanent residents of the US into its draconian net. Even nationals of those seven countries, with other citizenship could be barred. &nbsp;For a while the silence of the UK government and others was simply deafening. Then Prime Minister Trudeau – Captain Canada – came out strongly supporting his dual citizens. Angela Merkel followed and Boris Johnson finally stated that the vast majority of UK citizens who were nationals of these seven countries were also exempt. But as of Sunday night, the US Department of Homeland Security has stated, while Green card holders would have right of entry they could be subject to ‘case-by-case’ determination.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>The outcry against this EO has been loud, proud, spontaneous and so very humane spilling out in airports across the country. The weekend’s heroes were the lawyers and judges who came out in droves and fought heroically for seemingly small but life-changing victories. They proved that the separation of powers and rule of law that are the foundations of democracy, do work.&nbsp; Judges across the country chastised the government for lacking legal grounds for barring entry to visa holders and legal residents.&nbsp; But they are small victories, as hundreds of people remain in detention. </p> <p>These events touch many of us directly as we have childhood memories of flight from revolution, war or dictatorship to new lives in the United States and Europe.&nbsp; The memory of upheaval and the fear of uncertainty may be burrowed deep in our psyches but it is never erased. Yet on election night when the Republican victory was announced, none of us imagined that those fears could be inflamed again here in the United States, where we live as legal residents or citizens.&nbsp; I did not imagine the possibility of ever again leaving my home for a 10-day trip and not being able to return for seven years, as happened when I was an 11 year old in Tehran.&nbsp; Yet these past few days that thought has crossed my mind.&nbsp; It is so unimaginable to consider packing up my home, that I dose it with humor, wondering who would water my plants and whether my children – who luckily are US citizens – would remember to take Myrtle our turtle back to their father’s home. &nbsp;</p> <p>The very thought of banning people from the United States is an anathema to the very essence and identity of this country.&nbsp; The beauty, exceptionalism and greatness of America compared to other countries, has always been its willingness to embrace and celebrate diversity and pluralism. European countries have democracy and liberty. They also have better education, infrastructure and health care.&nbsp; But they falter in their ability to fully embrace the multiculturalism that is the new norm of our world.&nbsp; America was formed and thrived on that very idea.&nbsp; If this is destroyed, than what is great about America?</p><p>Coming from a president with a history of abuse against women, it is difficult not to see it as a punch in the face for Lady Liberty. </p> <p>When America catches the flu, the world catches pneumonia – as many of my colleagues say. So it was no surprise that this EO implicates so many others – not least the beleaguered but still relevant United Nations.&nbsp; If the visa ban is issued, than the state officials and citizens of these seven countries cannot attend UN meetings in New York.&nbsp; </p> <p>Given that the first to protest profoundly against the age of Trump were America’s women, and that the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is coming up in March, it is perhaps apt, that the first to also test and taste the ban will be women.&nbsp; That Yemenis, Iraqis and Syrians will be among the absentees is even more poignant. They are the invisible and unsung heroes of their countries. Through the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) which I spearhead, we know that these women are the few who dare to work for peace and equality, to provide relief and aid in the midst of war, to envision and work for the betterment of their societies in every way they can.&nbsp; They are perpetually at risk from violent armed movements and predatory governments. </p> <p>From Syria and Yemen to Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Sudan, women are at the literal frontlines of the struggle against Daesh and other extremist groups. They aren’t full of hot air and rabid rhetoric. They’re putting their own lives on the line to pull young men out of the clutches of these groups. Coming to the UN is their opportunity to inspire and show solidarity with each other, and share their expertise with the powerful states of the world.&nbsp; But herein lies the irony: &nbsp;in attempting to come to the UN – home of universal human rights &nbsp;–&nbsp;they will be barred by the extreme radicalism of one member state, that claims their exclusion is a means of preventing violent extremism.&nbsp; If Lewis Caroll were alive, he’d say the bananas are running the republic. &nbsp;</p> <p>We may be cynical about the UN, but now when so much that was built so carefully over years, is being destroyed so quickly, taking the UN for granted is a bad idea. Despite the shenanigans of many governments, the UN, in its very spirit and since its inception, has been about ‘we the people’, and rooted in the principles of the universality of human rights. &nbsp;The conferences where citizens get to meet, overcome prejudices, and convey their thoughts and solutions, are more necessary than ever in our collective history.&nbsp; The participation of women in matters of world peace and security – especially from countries affected by war and violence – is of particular and urgent importance.&nbsp; Even the crusty UN Security Council has acknowledged this, with not only the US, but also Russia and Theresa May’s UK issuing no less than eight resolutions calling for women’s full participation and representation in decision-making pertaining to war and peace.&nbsp; </p> <p>Yet the Trump administration’s EO will mean a unilateral and clearly arbitrary ban against women coming to the UN. It will be flouting the Security Council’s resolutions and thus against international law. &nbsp;Of course Mr. Trump’s coterie are also sharpening their knives against the entire United Nations infrastructure. And those who know the new President say his style of leadership is to create conflict among those around him. When he was a CEO it was among his own staff. Now he is president, it will be to pit one country against the other. </p> <p>António Guterres, the new UN Secretary-General – already much respected and with tremendous responsibility and expectation on his shoulders – has enough on his plate. But neither Guterres nor the UN General Assembly can stand in silence now that the EO is passed.&nbsp; It is an early warning sign of worse things to come, for the US and the world. </p> <p>Here in the US, individually and through our civic organizations, we continue to fight back. We understand that living in America – even as non-citizens –&nbsp;&nbsp;is about standing up for our own rights, while respecting those of others. It is advanced citizenship, like none other, with deep roots in the rule of law.&nbsp; But since January 20th, the rule of bad law is being seeded. We cannot let it take root and become normalized. &nbsp;And when the impact goes beyond the borders of the US, the world’s global institutions need to take a stand.&nbsp;</p><p>So, on behalf of ‘we the peoples’, it is time for the United Nations to also stand against the so-called Muslim Ban, and to do so, before it is too late.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/soraya-chemaly/under-trump-we-are-all-women">Under Trump, we are all women </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/meredith-tax/sound-trumpet">Sound the Trumpet </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/after-london-womens-march-what-now">After the Women&#039;s March on London: what now? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 United States Civil society Democracy and government Understanding the rise of Trump 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Gender and the UN UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 People on the Move patriarchy feminism 50.50 newsletter Sanam Naraghi Anderlini Mon, 30 Jan 2017 09:43:21 +0000 Sanam Naraghi Anderlini 108438 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UN CSW: debating women’s reproductive rights or a “culture of death” ? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rosalie-fransen/un-csw-women-s-reproductive-rights-or-culture-of-death <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In a cynical ploy, conservative religious groups based in the Global North now frame reproductive rights advocacy in the Global South as the neocolonialist imposition of a uniquely western value system.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="normal">After more than a year of legislative debate, on March 18 Chile’s parliament decriminalized abortion in three extreme cases: when the woman’s life is in danger, when she has been raped, or when the foetus is diagnosed as unviable. Chile’s decision, made under the progressive leadership of President Michelle Bachelet shrinks the<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/international-abortion-laws-the-six-nations-where-it-is-still-illegal-to-have-an-abortion-10229567.html"> number of nations that forbid abortion under all circumstances</a><span> </span>to five. However, anyone who works in the area of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights knows better than to assume inexorable forward progress. </p> <p class="normal">At this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the usual tension in intergovernmental negotiations on the inclusion of reproductive rights in the Commission’s consensus outcome document was intensified by a hardening of conservative positions on the family around the world. Parallel civil society discussions saw growing assertiveness and complexity in the arguments used by conservative groups advocating for restrictions on women’s reproductive rights.&nbsp; Recent events such as the spread of the Zika virus in Latin America raise the stakes in international debates on women’s right to terminate pregnancy.&nbsp; So too does the much-anticipated imminent release of Pope Francis’s<a href="http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2016/03/18/pope-francis-finalizes-much-anticipated-teaching-document-on-family-issues/"> </a><a href="http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2016/03/18/pope-francis-finalizes-much-anticipated-teaching-document-on-family-issues/">post-synod&nbsp; document</a> on family issues. </p> <p class="normal">The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See has always assumed a prominent public presence at CSW.&nbsp; This year it&nbsp; partnered with conservative family rights organizations such as the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and the Campaign Life Coalition in a series of side events at UNHQ. At these events, pro-family rhetoric sidestepped traditional appeals to right to life in favour of a different approach. Speakers echoed Pope Francis’s recent condemnation of “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/17/world/asia/after-meeting-with-pope-francis-philippine-president-criticizes-local-church-leaders.html?_r=0">ideological colonization</a> that tries to destroy the family,” and framed reproductive rights advocacy in the Global South as the neocolonialist imposition of a uniquely Western value system, one perpetuating a “culture of death.” </p><p class="normal"><img src="//opendemocracy.net/files/Holy See Panel-min.jpg" alt="" width="460 " /></p> <p class="normal"><em>A Holy See panel at the CSW. Photo: Rosalie Fransen</em></p><p class="normal">“There is not one African culture, but we have one common thread that runs through many countries: our understanding that human life is precious,” a speaker from an African pro-life nonprofit said during a Holy See-led panel event on maternal health in Africa. “Through different platforms a lot of the West suggests strongly that abortion has to be legalized to reduce maternal mortality. This is diametrically opposed to a lot of our shared values, how we see life as being sacred from the moment of conception. So one cannot help but ask: is this another form of colonization?” </p><p class="normal"><img src="//opendemocracy.net/files/Bernadito_Auza.jpg" alt="" width="460 " /></p> <p><em>Archbishop Bernadito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See at the UN. Photo: Wikimedia</em></p><p class="normal">The panel addressed a mostly Caucasian audience of about 400, amongst which were members of several prominent family rights groups. Archbishop Bernadito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, kicked off the event, lamenting incidents of discrimination against mothers and the perception of motherhood as an “antiquated concept.” He was followed by a panelist who cited World Health Organization statistics, stating only 9% of maternal deaths are a result of unsafe abortions, and advocated for a “91% solution.” </p> <p class="normal">“We need sort of a Marshall Plan for mothers, similar to how the world came together around the AIDS and Ebola pandemics,” the panelist said, as he flipped through a slideshow displaying graphic images of visibly ill and – shockingly - deceased African mothers. </p> <p class="normal">“Where is the fight from the women’s movement?” he asked, prompting loud applause from the audience. “Mothers are women too, right?” </p><p class="normal"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/CSW Pamphlets.jpg" alt="" width="460 " /></p> <p class="normal"><em>Pamphlets handed out at one of the Holy See side events. Photo: Rosalie Fransen</em></p><p class="normal">Here, family rights discourse takes a novel turn. It positions progressive approaches to reproductive rights in direct opposition to African family values and culture, tapping into age-old Global South resentment about domineering, colonizing Western values. At the same time, it blames Western development actors for the persistence of maternal mortality on the African continent, accusing them of hijacking the conversation around maternal health and obscuring locally-appropriate obstetric care solutions with an undue emphasis on abortion. </p> <p class="normal">Pro-family activity at the UN is not a new phenomenon, but it has expanded significantly in the past year. January 2015 saw the formation of the <em>Group of Friends of the Family</em>, a coalition of 18 member states who believe human rights are<a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/12348Joint%20statement-friends%20of%20the%20family.pdf"> </a><a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/12348Joint%20statement-friends%20of%20the%20family.pdf">“best promoted and protected within the family environment.”</a><span> </span>The coalition had their first major victory in July, when the UN Human Rights Council passed a<a href="http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/HRC/d_res_dec/A_HRC_29_L25.docx"> </a><a href="http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/HRC/d_res_dec/A_HRC_29_L25.docx">resolution</a> on the “Protection of the Family.” The resolution, co-sponsored by <em>Friends of the Family</em> members Russia and Saudi Arabia, reaffirms the family unit as “natural” and “fundamental” and notes that “contribution of the family in society and in the achievement of development goals continues to be largely overlooked and underemphasized.” The Sexual Rights Initiative was quick to call the document<a href="http://sexualrightsinitiative.com/2015/hrc/hrc-29-session/sri-condemns-hrc29-resolution-on-protection-of-the-family/"> </a><a href="http://sexualrightsinitiative.com/2015/hrc/hrc-29-session/sri-condemns-hrc29-resolution-on-protection-of-the-family/">“damaging and divisive,”</a> noting it denied the rights of individuals in favor of protecting the ‘traditional’ family unit. </p> <p class="normal">In their presentations, panelists at Holy See-sponsored side events frequently quoted this resolution. They also referenced the 1959<a href="http://www.unicef.org/malaysia/1959-Declaration-of-the-Rights-of-the-Child.pdf"> </a><a href="http://www.unicef.org/malaysia/1959-Declaration-of-the-Rights-of-the-Child.pdf">Declaration on the Rights of the Child</a>, specifically the passage that states children need “special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, <em>before</em> as well as after birth.” Unsurprisingly, recent developments on the legislative reproductive and sexual rights front, such as the<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lyric-thompson/groundbreaking-policy-us-support-for-sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-rights"> </a><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lyric-thompson/groundbreaking-policy-us-support-for-sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-rights">US statement of support to sexual rights</a>, and the March 8 release of<a href="http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=E/C.12/GC/22&amp;Lang=en"> </a><a href="http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=E/C.12/GC/22&amp;Lang=en">General Comment 22</a> on sexual and reproductive health to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights were unequivocally condemned, with one panelist calling the latter “a disgrace.”</p><p class="normal">Legislative arguments are not new among those advocating a conservative family rights agenda, but for conservative religious groups based in the Global North to argue that women’s reproductive rights reflect a narrative of Western ideological domination is. &nbsp;As a tactic to garner support from developing countries this is a cynical ploy, but effective in an era of renewed geopolitical polarization. This approach glosses over the issues that go <em>unaddressed </em>in the Holy See’s CSW rhetoric. Among them are the<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jan/21/pope-family-planning-contraception-family-size-developing-world"> </a><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jan/21/pope-family-planning-contraception-family-size-developing-world">diversity of African perspectives on reproductive rights</a> beyond the views of a single African panelist, the<a href="https://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html"> extensive consequences of unsafe abortions on women’s health</a> aside from death, as well as the well-established<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/saoyo-tabitha-griffith/why-are-women-in-kenya-still-dying-from-unsafe-abortions"> recognition</a> that abortion legislation needs to be paired with sufficient public education and medical capacity-building to be wholly effective in reducing maternal mortality. Also absent are discussions of women and girls impregnated via sexual violence, a group for whom restricting access to abortion<a href="http://www.reproductiverights.org/sites/crr.civicactions.net/files/documents/SR%20on%20Torture%20Report.pdf"> </a><a href="http://www.reproductiverights.org/sites/crr.civicactions.net/files/documents/SR%20on%20Torture%20Report.pdf">has been called a “form of torture”</a> by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. </p> <p class="normal">As a member of the audience stated during the Q&amp;A portion of a Holy See-led panel: “If you want to be sure not to start colonization anew, let people decide over their own bodies.” The final, adopted CSW outcome document took a noteworthy step in that direction: calling for universally accessible emergency contraception. Though one battle may be won, CSW does not resolve all issues and its theme this year - achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals – will require continued international determination to surmount harmful narratives and enable women around the world to control their reproductive choices.</p><p class="normal"><em><strong>This article is part of oD 50.50’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">series</a> covering key debates at this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women. </strong></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">&#039;Traditional values&#039; vs human rights at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-its-time-to-question-vaticans-power-at-un">CSW: it&#039;s time to question the Vatican&#039;s power at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/culture-versus-rights-dualism-myth-or-reality">Culture versus rights dualism: a myth or a reality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/csw-battle-over-womens-sexual-and-reproductive-rights">CSW: the battle over women&#039;s sexual and reproductive rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/shareen-gokal/taking-pope-to-court">Taking the Pope to court</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maxine-molyneux/of-rights-and-risks-are-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-jeopardy">Of rights and risks: are women’s human rights in jeopardy?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/women%27s-rights-have-no-country">Women&#039;s rights have no country</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/mariella-sala/forced-sterilization-and-impunity-in-peru">Forced sterilization and impunity in Peru</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ruth-rosen/gender-wars-women-redefining-customs-as-crimes">Gender wars: women redefining customs as crimes </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/susan-tolmay/csw-resisting-backlash-against-womens-human-rights">CSW: resisting the backlash against women&#039;s human rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/groundbreaking-policy-us-support-for-sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-rights">CSW: groundbreaking US support for sexual rights </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women women's human rights women's health gender justice gender fundamentalisms bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter Rosalie Fransen Thu, 31 Mar 2016 10:27:36 +0000 Rosalie Fransen 101003 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UN CSW: engaging men and boys in ending violence against women as allies not protectors https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/karin-attia/how-do-we-engage-men-and-boys-as-allies-in-ending-violence-against-women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Without a feminist lens, the expanding efforts to work with men and boys to promote gender justice are often patronizing and reinforce the idea that women need protection by men.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The call to engage men and boys as allies in building gender equality has become an increasingly popular theme, from the UN Women <a href="http://www.heforshe.org/en">HeforShe</a> campaign, to finding a central place in the recently-concluded <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw60-2016">Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> in New York (March 14 – 24). It makes sense; men are half the population so it is only logical to engage with them in the fight for gender equality and against gender based violence (GBV). However, enthusiasm for recruiting men to the women’s rights struggle masks considerable confusion about precisely <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/men_and_gender_justice_old_debate_new_perspective">how to engage them as allies</a> and on <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beulah-maud-devaney/men-against-violence-against-women-on-whose-terms">whose terms</a> are they really being engaged. </p> <p>The UN CSW <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw60-2016">emphatically asserted </a>the need to “fully engage men and boys as agents and beneficiaries of change in the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls and as allies in the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.” But there are few convincing examples of how this can be done effectively. </p> <p>At the CSW side events, the language about engaging men and boys as allies in ending violence against women and girls (VAWG) and GBV teetered between invoking men as equal, engaged partners and a more archaic, patriarchal conceptualization of male gendered responsibilities as protectors. </p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/Angry Man Panel.jpg" alt="" width="460 " /></p> <p><em>Angry Man panel at the CSW organized by the Czech Republic and the NGO Alternative to Violence: Photo: Karin Attia &nbsp;</em></p><p>In both official side events (i.e. sponsored by a UN Member State) and in civil society events, the main preoccupation seemed to be about how to create incentives to engage men and boys in this work. Ideally, men should see that gender equality is in their own interest. They too stand to benefit from liberation from gendered roles and the injustices they bring. But instead, this was dwarfed by an alternative framing that appeals to men to work for gender justice because it is your “mother, daughter, or wife.” This is a tired trope. It reduces a man’s engagement to being a ‘protector’, and then to only of those women who are family members. The invocation of women in family relationships is a conscious strategy, according to Ms. Mundale, a representative of the Gender Ministry of Zambia, speaking at a panel on “Evidence of what works in ending VAWG by engaging men and boys”.&nbsp; She stated that “Appealing to the personal such as, mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters is a good entry point for men.” Ms. Mundale explained that appealing to personal relations is a strategy to get men hooked, but there is a bigger task at hand: changing hearts and minds by challenging traditional masculine roles. </p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/ShesAPerson.jpg" alt="" width="460 " /></p> <p><em>She's a person. Photo: Stop Violence Against Women </em></p><p>Narrowing the range of male concern to immediate female family members may not however, help recruit men to a project of social change in which men will have to give up some of their power – including power within the family. Invoking male responsibilities to protect or defend not only repeats gendered role assignments but implies that men are stronger than women. This is a pretty surprising position coming from a ten-day meeting specifically dedicated to women’s empowerment. </p> <p><strong>Men and boys programming</strong></p><p>The CSW final document seems stumped for ideas on men’s contribution to gender equality beyond programs to engage men in care work. It calls on countries to “design and implement national policies and programmes that address the role and responsibility of men and boys and aim to ensure equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men in caregiving and domestic work…” </p> <p>Civil society discussions also often side-stepped the challenge of power-sharing. Programs like ‘Better Fatherhood initiatives’, that teach men and boys about family planning, and about <a href="http://promundoglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Adolescent-Boys-and-Young-Men-final-web.pdf">taking an active role in their child’s life</a>, were praised, but lacked discussion about women’s participation in their leadership or design. Discussions also failed to explain exactly <em>how</em> becoming a better father reshapes the types of masculine behaviors and social norms that fuel GBV. </p> <p>At an event organized by the <a href="http://menengage.org/">MenEngage Alliance</a> titled “It takes two to tango”, masculinity and challenging notions of male privilege and violence were discussed. A representative of the civil society organization, <a href="http://www.abaadmena.org/">ABAAD</a>, stated that it is when “men can see patriarchal roles they’ve been given and when they can rid themselves of the beliefs then it works to benefit women of their community.” However, when I asked if it is important to involve women in in these efforts to work with men, responses were noncommittal: &nbsp;“sometimes yes, sometimes no”, or “it’s the individual and what they are capable of rather than just the sex.” It is dangerous to talk about challenging masculinity and patriarchal roles without invoking a feminist lens or without having women playing a leadership role in organizing such programs – male leadership falls all too easily into patriarchal patterns.&nbsp; Additionally, the suggestion that sex is less important than individual capacities of those working on changing masculinities repeats a disingenuous claim to ‘gender neutrality’ familiar from decades of development programming.&nbsp; There is no such thing as gender neutrality when it comes to advancing gender equality; women must be the architects of this transformation.&nbsp; In an interview with the international GBV specialist Heidi Lehmann, she argued that failure to address women’s leadership in these efforts can be destructive: “the space for women is so limited, ergo efficient and helpful programs have to be informed by and guided by women. Not by men or else you’re going to see a reinforcement of oppression and patriarchy…this is about offering programming that is potentially harming to women and at best doesn’t do very much for women.” </p><p><strong>Feminsim and masculinity </strong></p><p>Attention to masculinity – and to the project of engaging men and boys – has perhaps never received as much direct attention as it did at this year’s CSW.&nbsp; And while this is needed, it bears remembering that feminism’s project of empowering women still has a long way to go – much more needs to be done to engage women and girls themselves in transformative change. But ironically, feminism itself was attacked in some panels as an obstacle to effective rethinking of masculinity.&nbsp; In a panel on the “New Paradigm of Gender Equality Post- 2015: Girls and Boys Go Together”, a civil society presenter stated: “we need to stop saying feminist and start saying humanist. We don’t want to be against the world, we are all humans.” Surprisingly, this statement was met with a round of applause, suggesting that misperceptions about feminism are widely shared. The need to keep women and girls at the center of the feminist effort was noted in a 2007 <a href="http://www.icrw.org/files/publications/Engaging-Men-and-Boys-to-Achieve-Gender-Equality-How-Can-We-Build-on-What-We-Have-Learned.pdf">ICRW report</a> on engaging men and boys, “Organizations working to promote gender equitable attitudes among men and boys must remember the importance of creating partnerships with organizations that focus on women and girls. The field must move away from viewing gender relations as a zero-sum game.” And yet nine years later, civil society panelists are still struggling with this notion. There is mention of the need to collaborate but not necessarily under female leadership - at best this appears to be a missed opportunity but at worst indicative of an uncritical civil society lets be happy trend.&nbsp; </p> <p>Negotiating delegations at the CSW have made much of the urgent need to analyze masculinities, to undermine violent masculinities, and to engage men and boys in the project of gender equality. But support for better fathering that invokes traditional male protective responsibilities brings nothing new.&nbsp; Programs to challenge violent and misogynistic masculinities that are not guided by women’s priorities, or that do not include women in their leadership will not have women’s empowerment as their ultimate objective.&nbsp; And the tiptoeing around feminism is a major red flag. Sidelining feminism in efforts to revise masculinities might end at best in making patriarchy a little more humane, but not in ending patriarchy. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beulah-maud-devaney/men-against-violence-against-women-on-whose-terms">Men campaigning against violence against women: on whose terms?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/fateful-marriage-political-violence-and-violence-against-women">The fateful marriage: political violence and violence against women </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lauren-wolfe/when-does-violation-of-womens-bodies-become-red-line"> When does the violation of women&#039;s bodies become a &quot;red line&quot;?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/preventing-violence-against-women-sluggish-cascade">Preventing violence against women: a sluggish cascade?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/gavin-thomson/can-men-be-feminists">Can men be feminists?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/michael-kimmel/from-men%27s-liberation-to-men%E2%80%99s-rights-angry-white-men-in-us">From men&#039;s liberation to men’s rights: angry white men in the US</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Continuum of Violence UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy women's movements violence against women patriarchy gender 50.50 newsletter Karin Attia Thu, 31 Mar 2016 10:25:33 +0000 Karin Attia 100995 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UN CSW: ending impunity for gender-based crimes against women refugees https://www.opendemocracy.net/sophie-giscard-destaing/where-is-gender-sensitive-humanitarian-response-to-protecting-women-refugees <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The CSW has called on UN member states to "address sexual and gender-based violence as an integral and prioritized part of every humanitarian response". Civil society groups expected more. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>On the fringes of the 60th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York between March 14 and 24, the question of refugee women and girls’ vulnerability and protection was a major concern. Yet the CSW final conclusions failed to provide strong language on the issue.<strong> </strong></p><p><strong><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/MSF162950 (High res).jpg" alt="" width="460 " /><br /></strong></p> <p><em>Nidan, stranded in Idomeni transit camp. Photo: Alex Yallop/Médecins Sans Frontières</em></p><p>Official events held by UN member states and parallel civil society meetings repeatedly stressed European states’ failure to protect and meet the needs of refugee women and girls in compliance with international law. The majority of refugees arriving in Europe are male.&nbsp;&nbsp; But this does not mean aid responses should be one-size-fits-all. “Women and girls being the minority doesn’t make their case better, it makes it worse”, said a male panelist in an event organized by the Council of Europe and Bulgaria. “Discrimination against women happens every day”. </p> <p>“Sexual violence against refugee women and girls occurs regularly and the violence doesn’t stop at the border”, explained Marcy Hersh, Senior Advocacy Officer at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC). “Women refugees feel very unsafe. They refuse to eat and drink because of the fear of using the toilets” where they risk being raped or sexually abused”. Recent reports by <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/01/female-refugees-face-physical-assault-exploitation-and-sexual-harassment-on-their-journey-through-europe/">Amnesty International</a>, the <a href="https://www.womensrefugeecommission.org/gbv/resources/1308-protection-germany-sweden">WRC</a>, the <a href="http://www.rescue.org/blog/europe-refugee-crisis-irc-policy-recommendations">International Rescue Committee</a> and the <a href="http://nobelwomensinitiative.org/2016/03/new-report-women-refugees-at-risk-in-europe/">Nobel Women’s Initiative</a> converge in showing refugee women and girls face sexual and gender-based violence at each stage of their journey and continue to face it when they reach European reception centers. Reports reveal there is near total impunity for gender-based crimes committed against refugee women. Women and girls suffer from unsafe infrastructure and accommodation, limited health and psychological services, and sexual violence committed by smugglers, security guards, policemen and local staff. </p> <p>Local authorities in Europe “have absolutely no eye for the risks women refugees face. The talk is mainly about food and warm clothes, but nobody thinks about the safety of these women”, said Renate van der Zee, in an article entitled <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/02/life-female-refugee-don-trust-160210092005932.html">‘Life as a female refugee: you don’t know who to trust’</a>. Refugee women and girls often hide, ashamed, exposing them to more violence. European states are failing to meet the minimum standards of gender-sensitive emergency response to prevent sexual violence. They have failed to establish reliable procedures to identify and support survivors of gender-based violence. It is difficult to estimate the number of cases of refugee women survivors of sexual violence in Europe, as there are hardly any reporting or justice mechanisms in place. <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/453492294.pdf">Guidelines for gender-based violence interventions in humanitarian settings</a> exist, but too often they are ignored. </p> <p>“It is common that in the first six months of a crisis response we don’t speak about women”, Hersh told me.&nbsp; When I asked the seasoned humanitarian Heidi Lehmann about the European refugee response, she asserted that “there is no real accountability, no one really verifies, and yet some aspects are simple, such as providing sex-separated latrines.” In the wait for these responses from European countries, UNHCR and UNICEF launched a <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/56d05ec76.html">“blue dots initiative</a>” to provide safe spaces, vital needs and counselling for refugee women and children along the most frequented migration routes in Europe. </p><p><img src="//opendemocracy.net/files/MSF162695 (High res).jpg" alt="" width="460 " /></p> <p><em>Trapped at Europe’s borders</em>. <em>Photo: Alex Yallop/Médecins Sans Frontières</em></p><p><em>&nbsp;</em>The European refugee crisis reveals the stark contrast between the existing international gender-sensitive protection frameworks and guidelines, such as the <a href="http://www.coe.int/en/web/istanbul-convention/text-of-the-convention">Istanbul Convention</a> and <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/">CEDAW</a>, <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/asylum/reception-conditions/index_en.htm">European reception directives</a> and the <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2014_2019/documents/femm/dv/gbv_toolkit_book_01_20_2015_/gbv_toolkit_book_01_20_2015_en.pdf">Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines for Integrating Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Action</a>, and the reality on the ground. If women do not have access to female interpreters, safe rooms and information on their rights and complaints mechanisms, the process is failing them. In addition, civil society at the CSW denounced the insufficient access to sexual and reproductive health care in emergency settings. “We tend to forget that in emergencies, life continues, babies are born, people interact” and gender-based violence occurs, said a representative from ActionAid at the CSW. As Valerie Hudson puts it, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/valerie-hudson/gender-lenses-and-refugee-assistance">“physical safety for women also involves reproductive safety”</a>. </p> <p>The <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/outcomes">CSW agreed conclusions</a> reflect the priority themes set for each year. In the context of the unprecedented levels worldwide of displacement in 2015, civil society groups expected that the CSW would make a specific call to ensure that humanitarian culture and structure responds to refugee women and girls needs. And it did, to some extent. The CSW conclusions acknowledged challenges faced by refugee women and girls and the need to protect and empower them in two paragraphs of the preamble which were added right at the end of negotiations. Moreover, in the recommendations, the text calls for the participation of women and girls at all levels of decision-making in national and international emergency response strategies and calls on UN member states to “address sexual and gender-based violence as an integral and prioritized part of every humanitarian response” (Operational paragraph sub.13). However, the issue of access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care services is neglected.&nbsp; And while there is an acknowledgement of the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, more clarity is needed on host country responsibilities to prevent and protect refugee women and girls in the post-flight asylum-seeking period within the host country context, for instance within the European context. When I asked Pierrette Pape, Policy and Campaign Director at the <a href="http://www.womenlobby.org/?lang=en">European Women’s Lobby</a>, about this, she said “member states have a due diligence responsibility to protect refugee women and girls”, but “there are issues that member states do not want to address because of geopolitical challenges, which seems to put women’s rights at the second level”. </p><p>Yakin Ertürk, who served on the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/yakin-erturk-and-jennifer-allsopp/due-diligence-for-womens-human-rights-transgressing-conventio">argued in 2014</a> that the implementation of the standard of due diligence was “very selective and incomplete”. “Due diligence obligation of states entails a holistic approach that combines ‘preventing’ along with ‘protection’ and ‘provisions of compensation’ along with ‘punishment’”, she explains. While Europeans members are investing large amounts of funding <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/dimitris-dalakoglou-antonis-alexandrides/who-cares-for-refugees">on border protection</a>, it seems they find it politically inconvenient to address the risks of sexual violence against refugees and the obstacles women and girls face in asylum processes. The CSW conclusions could have ensured a more comprehensive approach to sexual and gender-based violence for refugee women and girls. The term “addressing sexual violence” is too vague. It should get specific about measures for ‘prevention’, ‘protection’, about how exactly to ‘provide health and psychological support’ and how to prevent ‘impunity’.&nbsp;</p><p><img src="//opendemocracy.net/files/MSF162723 (High res).jpg" alt="" width="460" /></p><p> <em>Refugees stranded in Idomeni. Photo: Alex Yallop/Médecins Sans Frontières</em></p><p>UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said on the adoption of the CSW conclusions “<a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2016/3/press-release-csw60-urges-gender-responsive-implementation-of-agenda-2030">we have the best possibility to leave no one behind</a>”. &nbsp;Yet refugee women and girls and the many more who are left behind still face extreme security risks.&nbsp; The CSW should have made a decisive demand for changes in humanitarian crisis responses.&nbsp; For instance, the Europe-Turkey Refugee deal expects to relocate many refugees from Greece to Turkey. Serious investment has to be made to ensure these countries are able to prevent and respond to cases of sexual violence. The upcoming <a href="https://www.worldhumanitariansummit.org/">World Humanitarian Summit</a> in Istanbul should listen to women about the threats they face and the services they need.&nbsp; They must be involved in shaping responses. Gender-sensitive humanitarian response is not more costly than standard approaches.&nbsp; It doesn’t slow things down.&nbsp; It just involves taking women seriously. </p><p><em><strong>This article is part of oD 50.50’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">series</a> covering key debates at this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women. </strong></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valerie-hudson/gender-lenses-and-refugee-assistance">Gender lenses and refugee assistance</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lauren-wolfe/when-does-violation-of-womens-bodies-become-red-line"> When does the violation of women&#039;s bodies become a &quot;red line&quot;?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sadaf-rasheed/at-border"> The human search for a home</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-chatty/aid-crisis-for-syrian-refugees">The aid crisis for Syrian refugees</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anna-musgrave/when-nowhere-is-safe">When nowhere is safe</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Structures of Sexism women's human rights violence against women Sexual violence gendered migration gender justice bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter Sophie Giscard d'Estaing Thu, 31 Mar 2016 10:24:33 +0000 Sophie Giscard d'Estaing 100993 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UN CSW: the way to empower women is to use CEDAW Article 5, not the CSW https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-owen/un-csw-cedaw-article-5-must-be-applied-now <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The most effective international mechanism to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment is not the cumbersome UN CSW, it’s CEDAW, and it’s time to use it to make governments accountable.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>At the 60th Session of the annual <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw60-2016">UN Commission on the Status of Women</a> (CSW60) this month, 8,000 women’s NGOS, representing feminist and women’s movements around the world, had the golden opportunity to rally around this year’s priority theme: “Women’s Empowerment and its link to Sustainable Development”. </p><p>But will this year’s assembly bear fruit? Will governments do what they promised to do last Friday, the 25th March?</p><p><img src="//opendemocracy.net/files/IMG_4630.JPG" alt="" width="460" /></p><p><em>"Non-Violence" (also known as "The Knotted Gun"), sculpture by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd. Photo: Sophie Giscard d'Estaing</em></p> <p>Whilst government delegates in the UN building burnt the midnight oil arguing through 80 hours of negotiations to agree the “<a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw60-2016">final conclusions</a>”, in an atmosphere often tense with battles over language on such controversial topics such as <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/rosalie-fransen/un-csw-women-s-reproductive-rights-or-culture-of-death">reproductive and sexual health</a>, the definition of the family, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/joanna-lockspeiser/un-csw-still-failing-to-count-all-women">LGBT rights</a>, domestic and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/sophie-giscard-destaing/where-is-gender-sensitive-humanitarian-response-to-protecting-women-refugees">sexual violence</a>, and issues of culture and sovereignty, we, in our various shabbier locations across 1st avenue, networked and talked to each other, bringing the voices of the poorest, most invisible and vulnerable women and girls to our “parallel NGO events”. But who heard us?</p> <p>Our meetings, which so vividly described the realities of the often desperate needs and crucial roles of the world’s very poorest women and girls, were barely visited by the policy makers across the road in the UN building who are charged with the responsibility of implementing the Agreed Conclusions they have fought over with such intensity.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/">Sustainable Development Goals</a> (SDGs) is one of the most ambitious UN projects since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and Goal No. 5 on gender equality opens the door for women and girls to raise such issues as violence against women, and their sexual and reproductive rights. But the real challenge is to ensure that women and girls have an equal decision-making role in the 16 other goals, for clearly we women have important contributions to make towards ending poverty and hunger, ensuring health, education and decent work for all, and most of all for ending inequalities, addressing climate change and building a sustainable peace.</p> <p>The promise in the SDGs is to “<a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/women-and-the-sdgs">Leave No One Behind</a>”.&nbsp; This is a beautiful phrase, but words are not enough, and rarely have we NGOs seen the commitments made by Member States in <em>decades</em> of Agreed Conclusions implemented on the ground. </p><p><img src="//opendemocracy.net/files/IMG_4626.JPG" alt="" width="460" /></p><p><em>Sphere Within Sphere by Italian sculptor Arnaldo&nbsp;Comodoro</em>.</p><p>“Implementation!&nbsp; Implementation! Implementation!”&nbsp; Cried the indefatigable deputy CEO of UN Women, at the NGO consultation prior to the official CSW opening. Likewise, Ambassador Antonio Patriota, the Brazilian CSW Chair, stressed the vital roles of the women’s organisations in every country as the key monitors of progress in fulfilling these agreed obligations, and as the agents for filling the yawning gaps in data and identifying those categories of women and girls – such as the widows – who are so often forgotten and fall through all safety nets.</p> <p>Indeed, the scope and ambition of this <a href="http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/">2030 Agenda</a> (<a href="http://www.un.org/press/en/2015/gaab4182.doc.htm">A/RES/70/11</a>) poses huge data challenges. Existing sources of data are insufficient, and without filling this gap there can be no effective monitoring of its gender dimensions. </p> <p>&nbsp;For example, although we have much anecdotal evidence of the huge increase in the numbers of widows and wives of the missing due to armed conflict, revolutions, sectarian strife, HIV and AIDS and harmful traditional practices such as child marriage to far older men, there are no reliable statistics, or even adequate qualitative information to describe their life-styles, coping strategies, support systems, or experience of violence within the family – which is a vital precondition for evaluating any progress in improving their status.&nbsp; </p> <p>The role of men and boys in promoting gender equality is well referenced in the Agreed Conclusions, and there is a wealth of “best practice” around, the question of how to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/karin-attia/how-do-we-engage-men-and-boys-as-allies-in-ending-violence-against-women">actually harness their potential</a> for this important task that could be so transformational in changing conventional patriarchal attitudes is not spelt out.&nbsp; Patriarchal attitudes block, so often, women’s access to justice, even where new modern laws have been enacted to comply with obligations under international agreements such as the <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/">Beijing Platform for Action</a> and the CEDAW.</p> <p><a href="http://www.myrepublica.com/society/story/37037/women-rights-advocate-rana-awarded-with-women-distinction-award.html">Bandana Rana</a>, the Nepali feminist who won the Women of Distinction Award, who also spoke at the NGO consultation, prioritised the task of “changing the mind set of men and boys in the home”, and she looked forward to the day when “every home rejoices at the birth of a girl”. How to get this transformation on the road?</p> <p>As a UK barrister and lifelong human rights activist (now in my eighties), who has attended no less than nineteen annual CSW meetings, here is what I would like to see happen, and as soon as possible.</p> <p>&nbsp;I want to see as many Member States, who have ratified the <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/">CEDAW</a> (Committee of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) to band together to collectively ask the CEDAW to consider a General Recommendation (GR) on their Article 5: <em>Stereotyping and Cultural Prejudices</em>.</p> <p>Article 5 requires States Parties to “<em>take all appropriate measures to modify social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women”</em>.</p> <p>For me, the most effective international mechanism to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and make Governments accountable for their omissions to protect their women citizens from discrimination and abuse is not the cumbersome bureaucratic anti-NGO CSW, but the CEDAW. </p> <p>&nbsp;CEDAW now needs – pushed and persuaded by the best of its Member States – to enhance the importance of Article 5, and use its wording to interrogate States Parties at their 4 yearly reporting sessions, asking them what means they are using to change the attitudes of men and boys at all levels of society, from the top echelons to the village, in the informal as well as formal education structures, in the work place, in the army, in trade unions, political parties, and among religious and traditional leaders. </p> <p>CEDAW could engage the NGO community in providing them with examples of best practice that have succeeded in altering mind sets, starting in the family, so that little boys are taught to respect their mothers and their sisters, and see girls and women and equal partners in the development of their communities and society generally.</p> <p>In our struggle for the dignity, respect and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-owen/widowhood-invisible-for-how-much-longer">human rights of widows</a>, of whom there are now so many facing unacceptable discrimination, abuse, poverty and violence, often barred, whatever the constitution and law says about equality, to inherit and own land, access education, training, credit, or employment. Furthermore, these women and girls are often victims of life threatening and degrading mourning and burial rites, it is the traditional attitudes that must be changed, and it can be done if there is the political will. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-owen/hidden-lives-of-child-widows">All widows</a> must be able to live in dignity, their roles as sole heads of households supported, freed of the stigma and “inauspiciousness” so common to their status.</p> <p>CEDAW can “name and shame” those countries that are found to have done nothing to implement Article 5.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>Those that can provide the details and evaluation of their projects to alter those attitudes that block women’s empowerment will see their reputation enhanced and their successful programmes highlighted, publicised and adapted, providing that support for the CSW60 Agreed Conclusions they so badly need if the 2015-30 Agenda for the SDGs is to be achieved.</p> <p>Such a CEDAW initiative would be a powerful driver of implementation of the <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw60-2016">CSW60 Agreed Conclusions</a>, and also help empower those women’s NGOs that will be the effective evaluators of progress in the coming years. </p><p><strong><em>This article is part of oD 50.50’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">series</a> covering key debates at this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women.</em></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rosalie-fransen/un-csw-women-s-reproductive-rights-or-culture-of-death"> UN CSW: debating women’s reproductive rights or a “culture of death” ? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karin-attia/how-do-we-engage-men-and-boys-as-allies-in-ending-violence-against-women">UN CSW: engaging men and boys in ending violence against women as allies not protectors</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/margaret-owen/conflict-widows-agents-of-change-and-peacebuilding"> Conflict widows: agents of change and peacebuilding</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/margaret-owen/hidden-lives-of-child-widows">The hidden lives of child widows </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/joanna-lockspeiser/un-csw-still-failing-to-count-all-women">UN CSW: still failing to count all women </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sophie-giscard-destaing/where-is-gender-sensitive-humanitarian-response-to-protecting-women-refugees"> UN CSW: ending impunity for gender-based crimes against women refugees </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/women%27s-rights-have-no-country">Women&#039;s rights have no country</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/debating-5th-world-conference-on-women-defiance-or-defeatism">Debating a 5th World Conference on Women: defiance or defeatism ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/leila-alikarami/cedaw-and-quest-of-iranian-women-for-gender-equality">CEDAW and the quest of Iranian women for gender equality </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jane-esuantsiwa-goldsmith/cedaw-designed-to-be-used">CEDAW: designed to be used</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/child-soldiers-child-wives-wounded-for-life">Child soldiers, child wives: wounded for life</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy women and power gendered poverty gender justice feminism 50.50 newsletter Margaret Owen Thu, 31 Mar 2016 10:21:03 +0000 Margaret Owen 101027 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UN CSW: still failing to count all women https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/joanna-lockspeiser/un-csw-still-failing-to-count-all-women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>When will the CSW agree that without counting everyone, transwomen, lesbians and bisexuals included, gender equality will remain out of reach? </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>“At the first CSW, I was excited. At the next, I was hopeful. Now I’m just realistic.” </p> <p>Leigh Ann van der Merwe of the South African Feminist Collective S.H.E. &nbsp;has seen it before: a profound failure of nerve by the international community when it comes to defending the rights of Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender women. &nbsp;That this happens even at a meeting whose sole purpose is to advance women’s rights – the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women which just wrapped up its ten day deliberations in New York – is disappointing. </p> <p><strong>CSW events:</strong> </p> <p>In the sixty years since its founding, the UN Commission on the Status of Women has never once referenced sexual orientation or gender identity in outcome documents. &nbsp;This year the official theme was implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals. &nbsp;In the over 900 events scheduled, there were less than a dozen that addressed ‘diversity’ and even fewer addressed LBT issues. &nbsp;At the UNFPA event “SDG Indicators from a Gender Lens”, gender expert Alexandra Pittman lamented missing language regarding the trans population when talking about women, particularly in the context of conflict, where they are extremely vulnerable to violence. &nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>At the Legal Resource Center and <a href="http://transfeminists.org">S.H.E</a> event “Violence Against Transgender Women and the SDGs”, an audience member asked whether Leigh Ann van der Merwe and fellow speaker Bessie Deyi saw any hope of eventual inclusion of LBT issues in the CSW agreed conclusions. Van der Merwe wasn’t hopeful, and Deyi noted: “CSW events have grown from the past but the lack of language is frightening.” &nbsp;Another representative from the Legal Resource Center, which is a South African public action law firm, was more hopeful that in time, CSW will include LBT rights in its deliberations and conclusions. </p> <p>At a discussion on gender and conflict (centered on the 2015 UN Global Study on Women, Peace and <a href="http://wps.unwomen.org/~/media/files/un%20women/wps/highlights/unw-global-study-1325-2015.pdf">Security</a>) there was next to no effort to build a more inclusive definition of gender or ‘women’. &nbsp;A speaker from <a href="https://www.outrightinternational.org/">Outright Action International</a> stated, “In talks of gender inequality, it's critical to expand the language and rhetoric to expand who is affected by the violence and oppression. &nbsp;And that can’t fit into distinct categories of women and men. […] &nbsp;There is a need to collaborate and cross movements and we can link the LGBTIQ movement into [the] women’s movement. &nbsp;We need to expand language in world women’s conference.” &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;<img src="//opendemocracy.net/files/Image3.jpg" alt="" width="460" />&nbsp; </p> <p><em>Panel on Expanding Gender Equality, Unbinding the Gender Binary. Photo: WILPF.</em></p><p>At the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) event on “Expanding Gender Equality: Unbinding the Gender Binary”, activist Yee Won Chong, <a href="http://saythis-notthat.pongos.com">Founder of Say This Not That</a>, spoke on creating spaces for conversations on transgender issues in the United States. &nbsp;Though the talk was sparsely attended, the speakers were vocal about inclusion of LBT women in the conversation at women’s rights conferences such as the CSW. </p> <p><strong>Intersectionality&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</strong> </p> <p>Intersectionality is a major theme of the Sustainable Development Goals, with a stress on ‘no-one left behind’ and recognition that people face discrimination on the grounds of many aspects of their identity. &nbsp;Women’s intersectionality was addressed numerous times throughout the CSW events – for instance the need for specific responses to women’s needs as mothers, heads of families, widows, refugees, educators, members of stigmatized minorities and so on. Trans identity as a feature of discrimination, however, is neglected in these discussions of intersectionality, as is sexual orientation. Although the CSW has come a long way in recognizing that women do not fall into one category, it is far from understanding that transwomen don’t either. &nbsp; </p> <p>During the official negotiations there were a number of attempts to include references (in the final conclusions of the CSW) to the significance of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. &nbsp;Support for this came from the ‘usual suspects’: the Nordics, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada, but also and importantly, a range of Latin American nations such as Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Mexico, where domestic LGBTI movements are significant. &nbsp;However, strong domestic LGBTI movements did not always translate to determined national positions on the matter – South Africa for instance did not represent the interests of its LGBTI populations, choosing instead to fall in line with the ‘Africa Group’ a continental negotiating bloc in which giants like Nigeria worked with very small countries like Comoros to obstruct any advances in acknowledgement of the rights of sexual and gender minorities. </p> <p><strong>Sustainable Development Goals</strong> </p> <p>“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel! There are already protocols in place” van der Merwe exclaimed in one event. Goal 5 of the SDGs focuses on Gender Equality and although lobbying efforts to include sexual orientation and the range of gender identities failed, there is nothing to stop individual countries from addressing LBT rights in their national efforts to achieve the SDGs. &nbsp; </p> <p><strong>The future</strong> </p> <p>“There are more events on LBT this year than years past” van der Merwe noted – a small CSW milestone from her point of view. Perhaps more significant is the creation, in December 2015, of the new <a href="http://sd.iisd.org/news/un-agencies-address-lgbti-inclusion-undp-launches-index/">UN LGBTI Inclusion Index</a>. &nbsp;Although it has not been included specifically in the SDGs, the adoption of the index by the UN Development Program (UNDP) is a key development that can be used to highlight abuses on the bases of sexual orientation or gender identity. &nbsp;UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Mogens Lykketoft stated at the Human Rights Day event last year that without this index, achievement of the SDGs will be undermined. &nbsp;OutRight Action International, which is providing technical support for the creation of the index, explained why it is so essential to the SDGs. &nbsp;Without <a href="https://www.outrightinternational.org/blog/challenges-amassing-global-data-lgbti-people">accurate data</a> to record the abuses this vulnerable population faces, their fight remains invisible. &nbsp;</p> <p>While many LBT activists said in the past two weeks that the SDGs and agreed conclusions for CSW are a powerful force for change, without inclusion of LBT rights, any progress will be limited. &nbsp;For example, as van der Merwe described, when a nurse in a public hospital in East London, South Africa tells a transwoman to “go home and dress properly” before being allowed to receive emergency care, we know that ultimate gender equality can never be achieved if all women are not counted. &nbsp;Without counting everyone, transwomen, lesbians and bisexuals included, the work will never truly be done.</p> <p><em><strong>This article is part of oD 50.50’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">series</a> covering key debates at this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women. </strong></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/elizabeth-grant/missing-women-unequal-lives-in-canada">Missing women: unequal lives in Canada</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dee-borrego/who-was-rita-hester">Who was Rita Hester? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/juliet-jacques/remembering-our-dead-global-violence-against-trans-people">Remembering our dead: global violence against trans people</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/samir-jeraj/gender-mental-health-and-intersectionality">Gender, mental health, and intersectionality</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/alasdair-stuart/double-jeopardy-lgbti-refugees-in-britain">Double jeopardy: LGBTI refugees in Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/susana-t-fried-sonia-correa/amnesty-international-should-sex-work-be-decriminalized">Amnesty International: should sex work be decriminalized? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/celeste-r-west/trans-women-in-feminism-nothing-about-us-without-us">Trans women in feminism: nothing about us without us </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cecilia-chung/hiv-call-for-solidarity-with-transgender-community">HIV: a call for solidarity with the transgender community </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women women's movements gender justice gender feminism bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter Joanna Lockspeiser Thu, 31 Mar 2016 10:18:33 +0000 Joanna Lockspeiser 101005 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Berta’s struggle is our global struggle… https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ndana-bofu-tawamba-kate-kroeger-tatiana-cordero/berta-s-struggle-is-our-global-struggle <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Berta Cáceres’s assassination is a painful reminder of the way in which a trinity of corporate, government and military interests creates a tapestry of capitalist power structures, making for an often deadly struggle.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>"We women are an incredible force that breathes life into the world." - </em>Berta Cáceres</p><p><img src="//opendemocracy.net/files/nota-principal Berta.jpg" alt="" width="460 " /></p> <p class="Default"><em>Berta Cáceres, assassinated 3 March, 2016. Photo: Consejo Civico de Organizaciones Populares e Indigenas de Honduras – COPINH</em></p><p class="Default">On the 3rd of March, Berta Cáceres, a prominent Honduran-Lenca feminist and Indigenous rights defender was assassinated in her home by unidentified assailants. A Lenca Indigenous woman, Berta worked indefatigably to advocate for the rights of the Lenca people. Her compassion and commitment led her to cofound the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations (<a href="http://www.copinh.org/">COPINH</a>) in Honduras in 1993. For twenty-three years she led environmental and land rights campaigns against megaprojects, most recently against the controversial Agua Zarca hydroelectric project for which she <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/20/honduran-indigenous-rights-campaigner-wins-goldman-prize">won</a> the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015. Berta was also a mother of four. </p> <p>In May 2013, Urgent Action Fund-Latin America supported COPINH twice with a security and protection grant (a collective form of protection, secure communication and mobilization), and more recently with an advocacy grant to demand the end of Berta’s criminalization. With the support of UAF-LA and international pressure and solidarity, Berta was released from persecution. </p> <p>In August 2015, UAF-LA held the Regional Convening on <a href="http://www.urgentactionfund-latinamerica.org/#!i-c-m-a-encounters/cvp4">Defenders of Life against Extractivism</a> as a strategic space for&nbsp; organising, exchanging tactics, building capacity and solidarity. Berta was in attendance and <a href="http://www.fondoaccionurgente.org.co/#!territorioadefender/c13zr">stated</a> that women human rights defenders (WHRD) challenging extractivism are in essence challenging the dictatorship of big capital, coupled with a patriarchal culture that positions the female body as a contested site of struggle. Women human rights defenders become the main victims of persecution, threats, harassment and sexual harassment, as an expression of a misogynist cultural pattern. </p> <p class="Default">The assassination of such a vocal and passionate WHRD with a clear grasp of the complex issues at play in the challenge against extractivism and for Indigenous people’s rights is, tragically, not an anomaly. Berta had received countless threats against her life and was granted precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. </p> <p class="Default">According to <a href="https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/environmental-activists/how-many-more/">a study by Global Witness</a>, at least 116 environmental activists were killed in retaliation for their activism in 2014 alone. A stunning 40% of those killed were Indigenous people. Last October at the 156th regular session of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, Urgent Action Fund - Latin America joined with the <a href="http://www.justassociates.org/">Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders</a> and others to register its profound concern over the high number of women who have been attacked in Latin America over environmental conflicts. These include the assassinations of <a href="http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Union-Leader-Assassinated-in-Colombia-20140830-0024.html">Edith Santos</a>, who organized oil workers in 2014 in Colombia; the killing of the environmentalist <a href="http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/6990">Fabiola Osorio</a> in 2012 in Mexico; the death of <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/19/conservationist-murders-costa-rica-threaten-eco-friendly-reputation">Kimberley Blackwell</a>, a Canadian environmentalist working in Costa Rica in 2012; of <a href="http://www.ghrc-usa.org/Resources/UrgentActions/PolochicValleyEvictions.htm">María Margarita Chub Ché</a>, who was murdered in 2011 in Guatemala in front of her two small children; of <a href="http://www.democracynow.org/2009/12/29/anti_mining_activists_killed_in_el">Dora Alicia Recinos</a>, who was shot and killed in 2010 while pregnant for her work on an anti-mining campaign in Honduras; and of too many others. UAF - Latin America and its sister organizations in the region called on the Inter-American Commission to take immediate steps to recognize and to improve the security of women activists who defend the environment. </p> <p>The testimonies brought forward during the session documented how destructive mining projects, among other extractive industries, are threatening both environmental health and the stability and wellbeing of local communities. As communities have organized to protect natural resources and their rights to their land, they have found themselves in the line of fire. </p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/DRC_mining.jpg" alt="" width="460 " /></p> <p><em>Monitoring water pollution in the mining region of Lubumbashi, DRC. Photo: Observatoire d’études et d’appui à la responsabilité sociale et environnementale.</em></p><p>The trend of violence against environmental activists is also significant across Africa, where women environmental activists are facing a plethora of well-documented direct violations in their work, including threats of murder, kidnapping, threats to their families; forced disappearances; imprisonment; sexual violence; and defamation or spurious lawsuits. Yet women continue to be at the forefront of environmental campaigns. With UAF - Africa support, in the Niger Delta women are deeply engaged in <a href="http://feministtaskforce.org/2013/02/02/landmark-victory-in-the-niger-delta-for-rural-women/">campaigns</a> against the Shell oil company; in the Democratic Republic of Congo women environmentalists are collecting and monitoring data on water pollution caused by mining; and in <a href="http://allafrica.com/stories/201305230420.html">Tanzania</a>, women leaders in Mtwara are opposinge construction of a mega-gas pipeline that would run through their community.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p>These stories continue to resonate around the globe. In 2015, UAF <a href="http://urgentactionfund.org/2015/12/defending-land-and-community-women-on-the-frontlines-of-climate-justice/">convened</a> women who are on the frontlines of environmental work in the Philippines and Indonesia and facing great personal risk in their activism. They came together to share their struggles, their strategies and their achievements, drawing strength from one another.</p> <p>One of the women was <a href="http://urgentactionfund.org/in-our-bones/eva-susanty-hanafi-bande-eva-bande/">Eva Bande,</a> a resilient Indonesian activist who was jailed for four years for protesting against the logging of native trees from her community’s land and the establishment of palm oil plantations that resulted in the loss of livelihoods for local farmers, as well as property damage. Eva was ultimately <a href="http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/12/10/jokowi-grants-clemency-human-rights-activist.html">granted clemency by the President of Indonesia</a>, but during her imprisonment, her three small children and husband suffered in her absence. UAF provided funds to relocate them closer to her prison which was 14 hours away, and supported the successful campaign for Eva’s release. Eva and her Indonesian colleagues were joined at the convening by activists from the Philippines, including <a href="http://urgentactionfund.org/in-our-bones/wilma-tero-mangilay/">Wilma Tero Mangilay</a> who is an activist protesting illegal logging operations. As an Indigenous woman, Wilma educated herself on the rights and protections accorded to Indigenous peoples and joined a local Indigenous rights organization. She became more visible at the frontlines of protests, and like Eva, she was targeted for her activism. Two defamation cases were brought against her in a&nbsp; legal battle she could ill afford. She many days in court, and ultimately brought her own lawsuits against the mining companies, as well. Her activism paid off and she was successful in stopping their work. At the convening, women exchanged tactics and strategies and were given training in techniques of self-care to help them continue their activism in a sustainable way. </p> <p>The three Urgent Action Funds continue to support women environmental activists through our signature rapid response grants. On 17 March 2016, together with our grantees and partners, we are <a href="http://urgentactionfund-africa.or.ke/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/UAFs-CSW-WHRDs-ADVERT_001.jpg">presenting</a> this work at the 60th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Additionally, we are calling on allies of women’s movements, of environmental movements, and of peace and justice everywhere, to support the following demands:</p> <ul><li><em>We call on the Netherlands Development Finance Company to immediately withdraw its financing from the Agua Zarca project, the project that was opposed by Berta Cáceres and her community. The Netherlands, which has invested in women’s rights and in environmental initiatives for many years, should, at minimum, want no association with a venture tainted by an assassination charge. Additionally, the Agua Zarca project was initiated in violation of ILO Convention 169, without prior consultation or consent of the affected communities.</em></li><li><em><br /></em></li></ul><ul><li><em>We call for truth and justice. We join many organizations and governments in calling on the Honduras government to undertake a prompt, thorough, and fair investigation into Berta Cáceres’ murder and to hold those responsible accountable.</em></li><li><em><br /></em></li></ul><ul><li><em>We call on all member states participating in the 60th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women to take steps to affirm the right of citizens to engage in peaceful campaigns to protect the environment and to protect activists from violations of their human rights. We ask them to specifically consider the experiences of women who defend human rights and the environment, and to take concrete steps to address the additional risks they face.</em></li><li><em><br /></em></li><li>Berta was a dear friend, a grantee and partner to women’s rights organisations and activists like ourselves. She was a fierce voice for the Lenca people of Honduras, the environment, women’s rights and LBTQI rights across the globe. She once <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/03/honduras-berta-caceres-murder-enivronment-activist-human-rights">told</a> the <em>Guardian </em>newspaper,<em> “We must undertake the struggle in all parts of the world, wherever we may be, because we have no other spare or replacement planet. We have only this one.”</em> </li></ul> <p>Her violent death is a painful reminder of the powerful trinity of corporate, government and military interests, creating a tapestry of capitalist power structures that makes for a very challenging, often deadly, struggle. To quote the eloquent <a href="http://quotha.net/node/2686">statement</a> released by Berta’s mother and children, “<em>Berta’s struggle was not only for the environment, it was for system change, in opposition to capitalism, racism and patriarchy."</em> </p> <p>Berta will live on in our hearts, minds, and actions! May her soul rest in peace and power. </p><p><em>On 17 March the UAF will host a session at the UN CSW : <a href="http://urgentactionfund-africa.or.ke/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/UAFs-CSW-WHRDs-ADVERT_001.jpg">Supporting Wo</a></em><em><a href="http://urgentactionfund-africa.or.ke/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/UAFs-CSW-WHRDs-ADVERT_001.jpg">men Human Rights Defenders Working on Extractives: Experiences from the Grassroots. </a><br /></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/daysi-flores/hope-as-survival-strategy-for-defensoras-in-honduras">Hope as a survival strategy for Defensoras in Honduras</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/osprey-orielle-lake/mapping-womens-resistance-to-social-and-ecological-degradation">Mapping women&#039;s resistance to social and ecological degradation</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nathalie-marji/women-on-frontlines-of-climate-justice-defending-land-and-community">Defending land and community: women on the frontlines of climate justice </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/cop21-overarching-narratives-real-lives">COP21: overarching narratives, real lives</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ndana-bofutawamba/at-margins-of-visibility-recognising-women-human-rights-defenders">At the margins of visibility: recognising women human rights defenders </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/cop21-climate-marches-future-now">COP21: forget &#039;the future&#039;, we need a more radical present</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/melina-loubicanmassimo/awaiting-justice-%E2%80%93-indigenous-resistance-to-tar-sand-development-in-cana">Awaiting justice: Indigenous resistance in the tar sands of Canada</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/beyond-individual-stories-women-have-moved-mountains">Beyond individual stories: women have moved mountains </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ndana-bofu-tawamba/awake-to-challenge-african-women%27s-leadership-at-beijing20">Awake to the challenge: African women&#039;s leadership at Beijing+20</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ruby-johnson/pulse-of-young-feminist-organising">The global pulse of young feminists organising</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/melina-laboucan-massimo/energy-democracy-building-solar-dream-in-tar-sands-nightmare">Energy democracy: building a solar dream in a tar sands nightmare</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Nobel Women's Initiative 2017 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders Continuum of Violence 50.50 Women's Movement Building AWID Forum 2016 UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 newsletter feminism gender justice violence against women women and militarism women and power Ndana Bofu -Tawamba Tatiana Cordero Kate Kroeger Wed, 16 Mar 2016 09:27:33 +0000 Kate Kroeger, Tatiana Cordero and Ndana Bofu -Tawamba 100631 at https://www.opendemocracy.net CSW: groundbreaking US support for sexual rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lyric-thompson/groundbreaking-policy-us-support-for-sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With the 60th <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw60-2016">UN Commission on the Status of Women</a> underway in New York, the decision by the US to support sexual and reproductive health and rights - at last - presents a real opportunity to move the agenda forward. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Here’s a little-known fact: the United States now has a policy on - and can support- sexual and reproductive health and rights. </p> <p>This policy is groundbreaking for the United States, which has in the past held up progress in international policy dialogues insisting on using the modified phrasing of “sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.”</p> <p>The rhetorical difference may seem simplistic, but this phrase has undermined global efforts to recognize that sexual rights exist and affirm state obligations to recognize and uphold them. This has far-reaching consequences for the health and rights of women, girls and sexual minorities. 47,000 girls and women die each year from unsafe abortions; 23,000 of those <a href="http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/44529/1/9789241501118_eng.pdf&amp;ie=utf-8&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;gws_rd=cr&amp;ei=5avlVpqfHsavUfP7qJAI">take place</a> in the least developed countries. The most recent data available, from 2003, shows that 14% of all unsafe abortions in developing countries were among women younger than 20. For marginalized populations whose fundamental rights are not protected, such as LGBTI individuals, or those living in crisis or conflict settings, preventing pregnancy can be even more difficult, and one could imagine that these numbers would rise significantly. </p> <p>Last summer, with little warning and no fanfare, a US representative made the <a href="http://usun.state.gov/remarks/6831">announcement</a> during a meeting of the UN Women Executive Board: Drawing heavily from the Beijing Platform for Action’s 1995 outcome document, the policy reads: </p> <p><em>Sexual rights…</em><em>[</em><em>are</em><em>]</em><em> critical expression of our support for the rights and dignity of all individuals regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.</em><em>…</em><em>the United States understands the term ‘sexual rights’ to include all individuals’ ‘right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence.’ With further reference to paragraph 96 of the Beijing Platform of Action, we note that ‘equal relationships between [individuals] in matters of sexual relations and reproduction, including full respect for the integrity of the person, require mutual respect, consent and shared responsibility for sexual behavior and its consequences.’</em></p><p><em><img src="//opendemocracy.net/files/shutterstock_321596360.jpg" alt="" width="460 " /><br /></em></p> <p><em>United Nations, New York. Photo: Drop of light/Shutterstock </em></p><p>Unfortunately the United States stopped short of recognizing sexual rights as legally binding and enshrined in international human rights law, but advocates hope that even with this considerable caveat the US will have room to maneuver and show strong leadership in this area as the 60th <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw60-2016">UN Commission on the Status of Women</a> gets underway in New York. It merits mentioning that the launch of the policy came too late for the US to be able to influence the language adopted in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - which still retain the problematic formulation of “sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.” Under Goal 3, the health goal, targets include reducing global maternal mortality, ending the AIDS epidemic and ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services; the omission of rights here is a loss. Under Goal 5, the gender goal, language is so heavily caveated to avoid affirming sexual rights as to be almost laughable. Target 5.6 commits to: “Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.” </p> <p>This not only prevented critical women’s rights protections from being articulated in the framework, but also undercut progress in affirming the rights of sexual minorities, a major priority for the Obama administration’s foreign policy goals. The Obama Administration is the first to name a Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, currently Stephen Berry, although as one activist recently said, “He’s the loneliest man in government,” alluding to the fact that Mr. Berry has no staff or budget support to speak of. That said, Mr. Berry has been aggressively pursuing all possible avenues to <a href="http://time.com/4108973/vatican-meets-with-u-s-state-departments-gay-and-lesbian-envoy/">raise LGBT issues as a foreign policy priority</a> since setting foot in the office, traveling to 30 countries between April and November to meet with global leaders in politics, business, and religion. During those discussions, Berry discussed violence and discrimination, and tried to find common ground with the influential Holy See, often problematic for sexual rights at the UN and otherwise. Berry also has a direct line to the Secretary of State, which is not only important institutionally for elevating the issues his post represents, but sets a strong precedent for the future.</p> <p>Alas, while the timing of American acknowledgement of sexual rights could have been better - by decades, if not by months - this year’s meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women presents the first major moment for the United States to put this long-awaited policy to good use. Two opportunities are on the horizon: the negotiations of the annual outcome document, known as the Agreed Conclusions, and a resolution on HIV that will be tabled by Botswana, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community.</p> <p>“We expect that the CSW this year will put governments’ political will to the test,” says Shannon Kowalski of the International Women’s Health Coalition, a leading advocate at the UN for women’s health and rights. “The CSW is focused on the means of implementation for the Sustainable Development Goals. It is the first time governments have to elaborate on how they will meet the gender-related goals and targets: funding, promoting an enabling policy and legal environment, capacity building, data collection and measurement, and support for feminist organizations in the implementation of and accountability for the goals."</p> <p>To date, governments have mostly been negotiating the substance of the issues that made it into the framework, not committing dollars and cents to achieve them. The Women’s Rights Caucus, which lobbied the UN for inclusion of various women’s rights issues in the SDGs, <a href="https://iwhc.org/press-release/womens-groups-alarmed-by-financing-for-development-plans/">decried the outcomes of last year’s Financing for Development conference</a> where <a href="https://iwhc.org/2015/07/financing-discussions-on-global-development-miss-the-mark/">advocates had hoped</a> that real commitments to fund women’s rights and sustainable development would be made. As the Association for Women in Development <a href="http://www.awid.org/priority-areas/resourcing-womens-rights">has documented for a decade</a>, feminist and women’s organizations are consistently underfunded to do work that is actually essential to achievement of the very goals the international community has agreed. Without funding to achieve goals and targets stated in the SDGs, as well as funding to organizations to implement goals and hold government officials accountable, we will likely fall short of achieving these worthwhile targets and will continue to fall short of true equality for women and girls.</p> <p>The other opportunity for progress is the HIV resolution, which has come up again after a near meltdown two years ago over language that demonized sex work and undermined sexual rights. This year, critically, the resolution is timed ahead of an upcoming <a href="http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/documents/2016/A-Res-70-228">High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS</a> this June. As such, the CSW resolution represents an opportunity to test the waters for progressive language that can be echoed and built upon this summer in New York. The US has a role to play here, as it now has its sexual rights policy in hand and can be looked to as an ally on important provisions such as comprehensive sexuality education and the particular needs of women and adolescent girls living with HIV. Girls and young women account for 71 percent of new HIV infections among adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa. Each year, 380,000 girls 15-24 are infected with HIV. </p> <p>“In Sub-Saharan Africa and in Southern Africa in particular, adolescent girls are disproportionately affected by the epidemic and have been for the last 15 years, but we have failed them,” says the Dr. Katherine Fritz, a leading HIV expert at the International Center for Research on Women. Dr. Fritz is alluding to shifts in the global HIV response in recent years towards a medicalized approach to HIV prevention. “These efforts have been completely ineffective in empowering adolescent girls and young women with what they need in addition to prevention technology such as microbicides: agency and control over their sexual lives.” </p> <p>“The HIV epidemic spawned such an incredible movement of human rights and feminist activists who advocated for the social changes required to ending the epidemic. The pivot to a predominately biomedical paradigm has resulted in an abandonment of funding for these groups and initiatives. Yet need the grassroots groups now more than ever.”</p> <p>So it seems that for both of the major policy opportunities ahead at CSW - the Agreed Conclusions and the HIV resolution - there is at once a strong need for more progressive, rights based language at a time when the grassroots groups who have been pushing for it are struggling to survive. It is hoped that the US the world’s leading donor, now having a sexual rights policy in hand, will be able to move the agenda forward. </p> <p>“We are looking for the US to lead on SRHR now that they have this policy,” says Kowalski. “It’s important.” </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lydia-alpizar/csw-vital-need-to-defend-women-human-rights-defenders">CSW: the vital need to defend women human rights defenders </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/best-time-to-be-born-female-worst-to-be-feminist-advocate">The &quot;best time to be born female&quot;: the worst to be a feminist advocate</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/movements-money-and-social-change-how-to-advance-women%E2%80%99s-rights">Movements, money and social change: how to advance women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/angelika-arutyunova/womens-human-rights-watering-leaves-starving-roots">Women&#039;s human rights: Watering the leaves, starving the roots </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/madam-secretary-general">Madam Secretary-General?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-human-rights-defenders-activisms-front-line">Women human rights defenders: activism&#039;s front-line</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/susan-tolmay/csw-resisting-backlash-against-womens-human-rights">CSW: resisting the backlash against women&#039;s human rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">&#039;Traditional values&#039; vs human rights at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ruby-johnson-marisa-viana/our-bodies-as-battlegrounds">Our bodies as battlegrounds</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/sexual-violence-access-to-justice-and-human-rights">Sexual violence, access to justice, and human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/alice-welbourn-luisa-orza/welcome-to-our-house-women-living-with-hiv">Welcome to our house: women living with HIV</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cecilia-chung/hiv-call-for-solidarity-with-transgender-community">HIV: a call for solidarity with the transgender community </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/alice-welbourn/hiv-witnessing-realisation-of-raw-human-rights">HIV: witnessing the realisation of raw human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/debating-5th-world-conference-on-women-defiance-or-defeatism">Debating a 5th World Conference on Women: defiance or defeatism ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/world%27s-girls-no-voice-no-rights">The world&#039;s girls: no voice, no rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/girls-speaking-truth-to-power-at-un-global-2030-agenda">Girls speaking truth to power at the UN: the global 2030 Agenda </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/lives-of-endurance-sanitizing-crime-against-girls">Lives of endurance: sanitizing crime against girls</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/margaret-owen/csw-will-there-be-agreed-conclusion-to-csw-this-year">CSW: will there be an Agreed Conclusion to the CSW this year? 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People are poor in my country; if girls had a free education, could eat breakfast and lunch, it would help a lot.”</em> </p> <p><em>“If I was president, I would survey my people about their problems. Then I would decide what to do.”</em> </p> <p><em>“If I was president, I would end child marriages.”</em> </p> <p>These were just of a few of the aspirations of three schoolgirls who visited the UN last week for meetings around the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Their participation sought to bring forward the voices and interests of girls worldwide to decision-makers who are currently finalizing the next development agenda. </p> <p>The three girls came from Malawi, New Zealand, and South Sudan, they didn’t all want to be President… that was just a hypothetical. But each girl expressed the desire to grow up to be in a position to help her countrywomen and men, most especially girls and youth. </p> <p>And they’re not alone. While these girls’ enthusiasm to improve the lives of their compatriots may seem unlikely, <a href="http://www.icrw.org/publications/i-know-i-want-i-dream">research</a> conducted by the International Center for Research on Women showed that hundreds of girls around the world who were surveyed shared these aims. ICRW found, unequivocally, that girls want opportunities to thrive and to, in turn, help the next generation, “paying it forward” to their families, communities and nations. </p> <p>The authors of the Beijing Platform for Action, that banner women’s rights agenda that turns twenty this year, and around which the 59th CSW this week was organized, seem to have understood and acknowledged what a pivotal role girls can - and should - play in bringing about a better tomorrow, as well as how necessary it is that they get the support they need, now, from world leaders. </p> <p><a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/pdf/BDPfA%20E.pdf">The Platform for Action’s</a> 12th Critical Area is dedicated to the rights and wellbeing of the Girl Child, and, tellingly, says: </p> <p><em>The girl child of today is the woman of tomorrow. The skills, ideas and energy of the girl child are vital for full attainment of the goals of equality, development and peace.&nbsp; For the girl child to develop her full potential she needs to be nurtured in an enabling environment, where her spiritual, intellectual and material needs for survival, protection and development are met and her equal rights safeguarded. If women are to be equal partners with men, in every aspect of life and development, now is the time to recognize the human dignity and worth of the girl child and to ensure the full enjoyment of her human rights and fundamental freedoms… <br /></em></p> <p>As a global community, however, we are far from realizing that ideal we called for 20 years ago - that which will enable girls to be the leaders and change agents we know they can be. </p> <p>While we’ve made some progress when it comes to girls’ rights and opportunities, myriad challenges still plague their everyday lives. Female genital mutilation (FGM) impacts 125 million girls globally, and child, early and forced marriage ends childhood for 15 million girls a year. Adolescent girls 15-19 are one of the demographics for which HIV prevalence has actually increased in the last 20 years - accounting for two-thirds of new infections. </p> <p>At a technical symposium on girls in crisis settings ICRW held in the lead up to CSW, a panel of experts pointed to doubling rates of child marriage among Syrian refugees, abductions by terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS and the new number one killer of girls age 15-19 globally, suicide, as paramount among the challenges the girl child of 2015 still has to endure. And what we know about the lives of very young adolescent girls is still murky, with researchers pointing to the ethical conundrum of, for instance, obtaining “consent” to talk about rape from a girl as young as ten. </p> <p>Given this grim reality that too many girls face worldwide, it’s therefore hard to believe it is the so-called “<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lyric-thompson/best-time-to-be-born-female-worst-to-be-feminist-advocate">best time to be born female</a>.” </p> <p>Like so many foundational documents, it is eerie how well the Beijing Platform for Action catalogued so many of the rights issues that continue to be top of mind today: marriage, education, violence, labor and health, among others. The <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/~/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2015/sg%20report_synthesis-en_web.pdf">UN Women 20-year review</a> of Beijing, released at the CSW, paints a picture not altogether changed for today’s girl child, citing forced marriage, early pregnancy, violence, child labor, exploitation and abuse and poor health outcomes as challenges that endure today. </p> <p>At a CSW side event last week, “Adolescent Girls: The Promise of Beijing,” the African Union’s Goodwill Ambassador for Child Marriage, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, opened with these chilling words: “Why are we sanitizing a crime and calling it marriage? 39,000 girls are married as children, which means 39,000 men are stealing their innocence. We must use quotation marks around ’marriage’ when we talk of this crime.” </p> <p>With all the horror stories and statistics, the bright spot at the CSW was the testimonies of girls themselves, who had traveled across the world to share stories and recommendations with UN leaders. It was their testimonials of overcoming enormous odds to make real and lasting change in their communities that gave life to the promise of Beijing. It can sound trite, or at least exaggerated, to repeat “girls are change agents” amongst the stony corridors of Capitol Hill and the United Nations---men in suits can be skeptical at best. But <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/03/12/392174520/meet-the-15-year-old-from-rural-guatemala-who-addressed-the-u-n?utm_source=nar.al&amp;utm_medium=urlshortener&amp;utm_campaign=FB">Emelin</a>, a 15-year old girl from an indigenous Maya Mam community of Guatemala, spoke powerfully of her own efforts that prove just that. </p> <p>Emelin got together with a small group of girls and petitioned the Mayor for safe spaces in their community where girls could go to discuss their rights and challenges, and devise recommendations for programs that would promote their education, safety, health and opportunity. Miraculously, he agreed. </p> <p>How?</p><p> “It was easy,” she said. “He had a daughter who was our age. We simply asked him why he didn’t care about her needs too.” </p> <p>We know exactly what we need to do to ensure girls the world over can be as successful as Emelin at taking stock of the world around them and making it change for the better. The <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/~/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2015/sg%20report_synthesis-en_web.pdf">UN Women 20-year review</a> of Beijing tells us: </p> <p>“Improving girls’ wellbeing requires a comprehensive approach, including gender-responsive legislation and policies in all areas such as health, including sexual and reproductive health, nutrition, educational and economic outcomes across different stages through early childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, and by addressing issues of fundamental safety and integrity of person, including prevention and protection from violence, harmful practices and discrimination.” </p> <p>As we did twenty years ago, we know what we need to do. 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The conference was an epic global process that delivered an agreed ‘roadmap’ to gender equality. The <a href="http://beijing20.unwomen.org/en/about">Beijing Platform for Action</a> (BPfA) was adopted by government delegates from 189 states, and remains a reference point for governments and for women’s movements alike today. The gathering was a kaleidoscope of magical visions and the single galvanizing force of its time. It was a watershed moment that brought together the concerns, sufferings, hopes, aspirations, and demands of women from different divides in such a comprehensive manner. It was unforgettable to the extent that today, after 20 years, if you randomly pick a person on the street, in a remote part of any African country and ask them what they know about women’s rights, whatever the tone of voice; angry or excited, they are likely to mention “Beijing”. They might not even know where Beijing is, whether it’s an obedient or rebellious woman, an ideology or dream, but they have heard about it, it represents either women’s liberation or transgression. </p> <p class="Default">Dare I say that since the conference, the world has changed in important ways for women’s rights. The BPfA has been instrumental in initiating many key activities related to women and decision-making. Changes have been uneven at best, mirroring the complex path that social transformation requires and the call to action for a more holistic approach. Taking an opportunity to quickly steep us into the operating environment today, we are all agreed that the world is struggling with various manifestations of fundamentalisms that have a direct impact on women’s rights and autonomy. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/tooni-akanni/confronting-ebola-in-liberia-gendered-realities-0">Ebola</a> continues its path in West Africa and has killed over 9000 people to date, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/tooni-akanni/confronting-ebola-in-liberia-gendered-realities-0">many of whom were women</a>.&nbsp; Climate change is threatening livelihoods, including in the African region where many women still earn a living and feed their families through subsistence farming.&nbsp; So how do we ensure that the gains of Beijing are sustained as we confront these new and persistent challenges for African women? </p> <p class="Default"><strong>Women’s leadership makes the difference <br /></strong></p> <p>The operating environment for gender equality has certainly shifted for the positive, albeit in variable degrees. Feminist activism and coalitions of the willing have resulted in more than <a href="http://asiapacific.unwomen.org/~/media/field%20office%20eseasia/docs/publications/2014/7/due%20diligence%20standards%20final.ashx">125 countries</a> enacting legislations criminalizing violence against women, more than <a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/05/05/americans-value-moms-policies-don-t">178 countries</a> with laws requiring paid maternity leave, and more than <a href="http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1314/ElectoralQuotas">40 countries</a> with electoral quotas for women. Numerous action plans and policies to advance gender equality have been developed and are at different stages of implementation. </p> <p>Reverting to BPfA specifically, Africa has made tremendous strides in developing progressive frameworks to advance the rights of women on the continent. Since 2000, Africa has seen the fastest growth in women’s representation in parliament in the world. Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Mozambique, Uganda and Tanzania all rank in the top twenty countries for percentage of women in parliament. There are a number of countries with women who have dared to run for presidential elections; Kenya, Egypt, Uganda and Tanzania to name but a few. </p> <p>Not even the most optimistic delegate at the Beijing conference would have said that by this decade, the continent would have in office three formidable women presidents. The election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the first woman president in Africa was the license African women needed, and we can see the effect: more women have followed suit and have occupied high-level positions on the continent. From Rwanda, Africa’s most successful story where women account for over 50 percent of the legislature, to Senegal where past elections have seen an increase in women’s representation into parliament; in South Africa also progress has been made with women rising to key positions, and for the first time, a women, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is the Chairperson of the <a href="http://www.au.int/en/commission">African Union Commission</a>. Behind each of these individual women are of course large numbers of women who have mobilized for inclusion in African politics and decision-making processes.&nbsp; </p> <p>Notable improvements have also been celebrated in some North African countries that have been traditionally associated with low rates of women’s participation in politics. In 2013, the <a href="http://www.ipu.org/press-e/pressrelease20130305.htm">Inter Parliamentary Union</a> revealed that with 31.6% women MPs, Algeria is now the first and only North African country to have more than 30% women holding parliamentary seats. The Algerian case is a great and inspiring example of the evolving trends in African women’s political participation. </p> <p>The surge of African women leaders has also contributed to the promotion, protection, and advancement of women's rights. Women in the region are becoming more active, in pressing for legislative and constitutional changes through participating in political reform movements, processes and defying government oppression. For instance, it took a Kenyan woman politician, Njoki Ndungu, to ensure the enactment of a <a href="http://www.kenyalaw.org:8181/exist/kenyalex/actview.xql?actid=CAP.%2062A">Sexual Offences Law</a>. In Rwanda, the high numbers of women in their parliament facilitated the passing of gender sensitive laws, such as stricter punishments for those committing violence against women. </p> <p><strong>We haven’t got there yet <br /></strong></p> <p>In spite of the progress that has been made more needs to be done to get women in equal or more numbers at decision making tables. There was increased democratization on the continent between the mid-80s and 2009, and today <a href="http://www.economist.com/node/21551494">over half the nations of Africa</a> have become democracies, yet <a href="http://www.edo-nation.net/salami1.htm">only 7 African countries</a> have met the 30% international minimum target of women in parliaments. Eleven countries have <a href="http://www.ipu.org/pdf/publications/WIP2013-e.pdf">less than 10% women</a> in their parliaments. This lack of appropriate representation of women points to failure to invest in girls and women, which in turn limits women’s contribution to development and undermines Africa’s ability to reduce poverty, which invariably impact on women and children the most. </p> <p>The presence of women in politics has normalized women’s status as political actors, but has not eliminated uneven and unimpressive legislation for women’s rights and gender equality. The socio-political, economic, legal and environmental position and condition of women and girls is still far from satisfactory, raising broader questions regarding the context and parameters under which sustainable gender equality is, and ought to be, pursued. There needs to be more systematic integration, empowerment and participation of women in all spheres of society.&nbsp; There also needs to be far greater financial investment in implementation of policies and plans. </p> <p>Though in many African countries women constitute over <a href="http://www.nepad.org/nepad/news/2831/dr-dlamini-zuma-sworn-auc-chairperson">50 per cent of the population</a>; and contribute <a href="http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/i2050e/i2050e.pdf">60-80 per cent of the agricultural labour force</a> they still hold only <a href="http://www.uneca.org/media-centre/stories/elections-become-more-regular-africa-so-has-intolerance-diversity#.VPfkS7PF_2Y">one-fifth of parliamentary seats and ministerial positions</a>. And today, only two out of 54 African countries are being led by women. This imbalanced proportion needs to be rectified. </p> <p><strong>Understanding the challenge <br /></strong></p> <p>Why are women still under-represented as heads of African states?. The reality is that African women are still marginalized from the political sphere as a result of discriminatory laws, practices, attitudes and gender stereotypes, patriarchal societal structure, low levels of education, and the disproportionate effect of poverty. </p> <p>If we are going to sustain the gains of Beijing then we have to stay awake. Increasing women’s role in political leadership is possibly the most urgent task for the African feminist agenda. If women are not determining the future of Africa then the future will continue to handicap women. Real progress in development, democratic governance, natural resources governance, security and climate change can only occur where women’s rights are fully recognized, protected and actively implemented; this can only occur with women’s full socio-political participation. </p> <p>Women's equal participation in decision making is not only a demand for simple justice or democracy but is a smart condition for the inclusive economic growth we are being told is taking shape in Africa. Systematic integration of women augments the democratic basis, the efficacy and quality of the activities of governments. <a href="http://www.oecd.org/social/gender-development/47561694.pdf">Women are proven catalysts for economic growth</a> and an emerging force for leadership. From Oxfam International, Reserve Bank of Botswana, the International Monetary Fund, the African Union to Liberia, women are assuming superior leadership positions in organizations with internationally significant mandates. An investment in the development of a critical mass of women leaders and the communities they lead, would result in a global spread of peace and prosperity.&nbsp; </p> <p>It is vital for us to reflect on the <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015">20-year review of the BPfA</a> because this process&nbsp; gives us the opportunity to regenerate, reaffirm and strengthen political commitment, and charge up political will while mobilizing old and new actors to advocate for the investments required to realize gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment. Nonetheless the review has to be grounded, realistic and contextualized, because there is the risk of achieving a statistical success and moral failure. </p> <p>Strategically there could not be a better time for these kinds of discussion. Numerous factors are aligned to support the need for increased political impact and influence of women, including an African context in which women are advancing to senior leadership positions; a shift in some institutions including the United Nations and African Union about the importance of equality for women and girls; growing influence of young and rural women as innovators and leaders in their local, national, regional and international spaces. Africa also has an impressive and growing number of women with emerging financial strength. </p> <p>African women have traditionally been part of the political process at the grassroots level where their political support has been a major determinant of local elections. However, this influence has not often translated into political power for women at the national level. It is important that we continuously support women leaders in acquiring fundraising and campaigning skills.. We also need to raise awareness and increase organised pressure for&nbsp; gender quotas as an instrument to increase political representation of women. There is also a need to shift the emphasis from a quantitative to the qualitative participation of women in politics and decision-making. Occupying a seat in parliament is already a great achievement, but there is now the need to also enhance women’s effectiveness in political positions and strengthen their impact in decision-making processes. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/pan-africanism-beyond-survival-to-renaissance">Pan-Africanism: beyond survival to renaissance?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/julienne-lusenge-jennifer-allsopp/we-want-peace-we%E2%80%99re-tired-of-war">&quot;We want peace. 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Frantz Fanon and the Arab uprisings</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/where-we-must-stand-african-women-in-age-of-war">Where we must stand: African women in an age of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/a%C3%AEssa-ngatansou-doumara/16-days-from-demystification-to-denunciation">16 Days: from demystification to denunciation</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/a%C3%AEssa-ngatansou-doumara/cameroon-subtle-violence-in-education">Cameroon: a subtle violence in education</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyduine-ruronona/burundi-at-50-towards-governance-of-peace">Burundi at 50: towards a governance of peace</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/hala-al-karib/rebuilding-somalia">Rebuilding Somalia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/siham-rayale/narrating-peace-somaliland-women%E2%80%99s-experiences">Narrating peace: Somaliland women’s experiences</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/hoda-elsadda/narrating-arab-spring-from-within">Narrating the Arab spring from within</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/fear-and-fury-women-and-post-revolutionary-violence">Fear and fury: women and post-revolutionary violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/fatou-sow/secularism-at-risk-in-subsaharan-secular-states-challenges-for-senegal-and-mali">Secularism at risk in Sub-Saharan secular states: the challenges for Senegal and Mali</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jessica-horn/lessons-of-hummingbird">Lessons of the hummingbird</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/mawusse-domefaa-atimasso/togo-country-of-strangers">Togo: a country of strangers?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jessica-horn/tales-of-lionesses-third-african-feminist-forum">Tales of the lionesses: the third African Feminist Forum</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/challenging-militarized-masculinities">Challenging militarized masculinities</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zainab-magdy/egypt-reality-too-dark-in-which-to-glimpse-hope">Egypt: a reality too dark in which to glimpse hope? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karima-bennoune-mbarka-brahmi/opposing-political-islam-mohamed-brahmis-widow-speaks-out">Opposing political Islam in Tunisia: Mohamed Brahmi&#039;s widow speaks out</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lindsey-hilsum/desolation-and-despair-in-libya-murder-of-salwa-bugaighis">Desolation and despair in Libya: the murder of Salwa Bugaighis </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/fatou-gu%C3%A8ye/senegal-land-belongs-to-those-who-work-it">Senegal: the land belongs to those who work it </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/karima-bennoune/algeria-twenty-years-on-words-do-not-die">Algeria twenty years on: words do not die</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ndeye-marie-thiam/women-of-senegal-agents-of-peace">Women of Senegal: agents of peace </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Democracy and government Equality 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women's human rights women and power gender justice gender feminism 50.50 newsletter women's work Ndana Bofu -Tawamba Thu, 12 Mar 2015 08:45:33 +0000 Ndana Bofu -Tawamba 91211 at https://www.opendemocracy.net CSW: the vital need to defend women human rights defenders https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lydia-alpizar/csw-vital-need-to-defend-women-human-rights-defenders <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We deserve that you put aside your ideological, political and religious differences and fully recognize and affirm the human rights of women and girls and gender justice. Nothing less. <em>Lydia Alpizar speaking at the UN CSW<br /></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <em>AWID Executive Director's <a href="http://www.awid.org/News-Analysis/Announcements2/AWID-Executive-Director-s-Speech-at-the-Opening-Session-of-the-59th-Session-of-the-Commission-on-the-Status-of-Women">speech</a> at the opening session of the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status Of Women</em><p class="text-left">Thank you Madam Chairperson and distinguished UN and government leaders. I would like to focus my speech on five key messages, which have been shaped by hundreds of women from around the world: </p> <p>Firstly, let’s celebrate! Today, I celebrate the women - lesbian, black, indigenous, urban and rural women living in conditions of poverty, workers, disabled, trans &amp; intersex people, leaders from different generations - the relentless and tireless work of women and girls, organized in all our diversity, in different groups and movements, who are transforming our world. </p> <p>The achievements of the last 20 years have been significant, and the transformation of some of the challenging conditions women and girls face is noteworthy.&nbsp; The level of awareness, recognition and visibility that several women’s rights issues currently have in society is clearly an important achievement and represents a major opportunity to be tapped. Such transformations were advanced by the Beijing Agenda, and by the commitment of some governments to its implementation. </p> <p>We must also commemorate the lives of thousands of feminists and women’s rights defenders who are no longer with us &nbsp;- either because they have died over the past 20 years, or because they were killed or disappeared.&nbsp; And we honour all the women human rights defenders who do their work under dangerous conditions, from the corners of Congo to the mountains of Mexico, and those whose lands and livelihood are under threat due to climate change in the Pacific and elsewhere. </p> <p>Second, today we must acknowledge that progress achieved has been very limited. The overwhelming lack of political commitment and financial resources, plain old sexism and misogyny, along with increasing religious fundamentalisms have affected the quality of the agreements produced by governments within the UN and at other levels. All these have impeded the fulfilment of key commitments made by governments and other actors in Beijing. </p> <p>Third,<strong>&nbsp;</strong>current challenges to gender justice and women’s human rights around the world demand urgent and bold actions by governments, the UN, the private sector and civil society. &nbsp;Key challenges include deepening inequalities and the ongoing structural discrimination that exploits women in the economy, climate change, increasing power of religious fundamentalisms across regions and religions and the violence they exercise over women and communities, the threats posed by other non-state actors such as growing criminal networks and the increasing power by transnational corporations over lands and territories, deepening conflicts and militarisation, and widespread gender-based violence in both conflict and non-conflict situations.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Fourth,<strong> </strong>over the years, we have observed a worrying trend of criminalisation of social dissent, repression and shrinking democratic space in many countries. This trend is also affecting the UN and hampers meaningful participation by civil society. &nbsp;</p> <p>In order to be more effective, the Commission on the Status of Women, the key body for norm setting in this field within the UN, needs to build a more inclusive process through which civil society makes meaningful contributions. The process of negotiations on the Political Declaration that the CSW will adopt today – in which civil society was largely excluded - represents a step backward. twenty years after Beijing we cannot afford to go back. </p> <p>Fifth,<strong> </strong>the text of the Political Declaration is weak and does not go far enough towards the transformative change that is needed for gender equality. We, women of the world in all our diversity, deserve much better than this. We deserve that you put aside your ideological, political and religious differences and fully recognize and affirm the human rights of women and girls and gender justice. Nothing less.&nbsp; We need full reaffirmation of the Beijing Platform of Action, but also a strong commitment to ensure the following:</p><ul><li><em>Allocation of the financial resources needed to implement all agreements on gender equality, gender justice and women’s human rights. This includes meaningful resources to support the really crucial work done by feminist and women’s rights organizations at all levels. The resources are clearly there, it is a matter of reallocating them and making gender equality and women’s rights a real priority.</em></li></ul><p><em>The centrality of human rights, including all women’s rights, in the achievement of gender equality, sustainable development and peace. No cherry picking of rights should be allowed in any country.</em></p><p><em>Sexual rights and reproductive rights and health should not be used as trade-offs among governments in negotiations. Women and girls die as a result of this. This needs to stop.</em></p><p><em>Culture, religion and tradition, as Vienna and Beijing clearly stated, cannot be used as the basis from which to violate, discriminate, and justify delay on issues related to the rights of women and girls around the world.</em></p><p><em>Appropriate mechanisms for state accountability for commitments made.</em></p><p><em>Negotiations on Sustainable Development Goals, post-2015 and financing for development should make gender equality and women’s human rights central to all agreements, in addition to having a gender goal.</em></p><p><em>A vital prerequisite for the continuity of the achievements and the future progress of our work is the integrated protection and prevention of violence against women human rights defenders in all our diversity. It is a shame that all language on defenders was removed from the Political Declaration.</em></p> <p>This is the moment; there are important opportunities before us. This is the moment when we must have all resources needed - the political commitment and the action - to achieve real transformations. </p> <p>Let’s move forward. La lucha continua! </p> <p><em>We received over 300 messages in the lead up to CSW59 in response to our request for thoughts on Beijing+20, which helped to shape this speech. We compiled the messages that poured in from across the planet and shared them with the CSW Bureau. <strong><a href="http://www.awid.org/eng/Library/Compilation-of-Inputs-from-Women-s-Rights-Advocates-on-the-Occasion-of-the-59th-Commission-on-the-Status-of-Women" target="_self">See the compilation here.</a></strong>&nbsp;</em> </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/movements-money-and-social-change-how-to-advance-women%E2%80%99s-rights">Movements, money and social change: how to advance women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/best-time-to-be-born-female-worst-to-be-feminist-advocate">The &quot;best time to be born female&quot;: the worst to be a feminist advocate</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/debating-5th-world-conference-on-women-defiance-or-defeatism">Debating a 5th World Conference on Women: defiance or defeatism ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/angelika-arutyunova/womens-human-rights-watering-leaves-starving-roots">Women&#039;s human rights: Watering the leaves, starving the roots </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-human-rights-defenders-activisms-front-line">Women human rights defenders: activism&#039;s front-line</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ruby-johnson-marisa-viana/our-bodies-as-battlegrounds">Our bodies as battlegrounds</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nelly-bassily/shackles-different-from-my-own-building-intergenerational-women%27s-movement">Shackles different from my own: building an intergenerational women&#039;s movement</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yifat-susskind/salaam-and-paz-word-for-peace-is-women">Salaam and Paz: the word for Peace is Women</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/sexual-violence-access-to-justice-and-human-rights">Sexual violence, access to justice, and human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/node/18252">Women&#039;s rights and democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/world%27s-girls-no-voice-no-rights">The world&#039;s girls: no voice, no rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lydia-alpizar/csw-vital-need-to-defend-women-human-rights-defenders">CSW: the vital need to defend women human rights defenders </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-weather-vane-fault-lines-and-prospects-for-womens-human-rights">CSW weather vane: fault lines and prospects for women&#039;s human rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-its-time-to-question-vaticans-power-at-un">CSW: it&#039;s time to question the Vatican&#039;s power at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">&#039;Traditional values&#039; vs human rights at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/missing-link-in-women%27s-human-rights">The missing link in women&#039;s human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/culture-versus-rights-dualism-myth-or-reality">Culture versus rights dualism: a myth or a reality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk-and-jennifer-allsopp/due-diligence-for-womens-human-rights-transgressing-conventio">Due diligence for women&#039;s human rights: transgressing conventional lines </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maxine-molyneux/of-rights-and-risks-are-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-jeopardy">Of rights and risks: are women’s human rights in jeopardy?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Democracy and government Equality Nobel Women's Initiative 2015 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders Continuum of Violence 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women's human rights women's health women and power women and militarism violence against women Sexual violence gender justice feminism bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter women's work young feminists Lydia Alpizar Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:45:33 +0000 Lydia Alpizar 91191 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The "best time to be born female": the worst to be a feminist advocate https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lyric-thompson/best-time-to-be-born-female-worst-to-be-feminist-advocate <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Twenty years after the <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/">Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action</a> - a pivotal moment in the women’s human rights movement - governments are arguably less able to serve as torch-bearers than celebrities, philanthropists and popular icons.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are more participants than ever before - nearly 9000 - at this year's <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015">UN Commission on the Status of Women</a>.&nbsp; It’s a big year for CSW, in theory. It's the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, and a global progress review against the goals set out in that pivotal outcome document, the <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/">Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.</a> </p> <p>There has already been much said about the disappointing dearth of real debate on this important anniversary - this year’s CSW Declaration a far cry from Beijing’s, having been “<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lyric-thompson/world%27s-girls-no-voice-no-rights">pre-negotiated” before the thousands of feminist activists arrived in New York</a> to begin advocacy on said outcomes. </p> <p>Ostensibly, this was to protect space to draft truly progressive language that, it was thought, would not be possible in the hustle of CSW. But the bland document the community has inherited leaves much room for improvement. Indeed, as Zohra Moosa describes in yesterday's <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/zohra-moosa/movements-money-and-social-change-how-to-advance-women%E2%80%99s-rights">article</a> on openDemocracy 50.50, it <a href="http://iwhc.org/resource/womens-statement-20th-anniversary-fourth-world-conference-women/">has been decried</a> as such by nearly 1,000 organizations around the world.</p> <p>Anne Marie Goetz and Joanne Sandler <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/women%27s-rights-have-no-country">wrote recently</a> of the many reasons we have no Fifth World Conference on Women this anniversary, many of them the same motivations, theoretically, for the pre-negotiated political declaration this year at the CSW. It is striking that 20 years after such a pivotal moment in the women’s rights movement, governments are arguably less able to serve as torch-bearers than celebrities, philanthropists and popular icons.</p> <p>Take actress <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-xqeTvD3as">Emma Watson’s “He for She</a>” speech at the UN, which sparked more of a debate online and in the media than last week’s <a href="http://menengage.org/events/international-conference-masculinities-new-york/">major conference on men and masculinities</a>. Yesterday actress America Ferrara, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and philanthropist Melinda Gates launched their own review of progress since Beijing, known as the <a href="https://www.clintonfoundation.org/our-work/no-ceilings-full-participation-project">No Ceilings</a> project, which some might argue had more substance than the CSW political declaration.</p> <p>According to the progress report produced by the Clinton-Gates collaboration, “There has never been a better time to be born female.” This claim rests on the all but elimination of the gender gap in primary education, the decline in maternal mortality of 42% in the last twenty years, and more states are adopting equal rights provisions and eliminating discriminatory laws than ever before.</p> <p>“Progress is possible,” was a similarly upbeat and frequent refrain of the star-studded presentation that featured current and former heads of state, CEOs and remarks by Malala via skype from her classroom, yet it seemed to be largely undercut by the peppering of statistics that contradicted that sentiment:</p> <ul><li>- One in three women suffers violence in her lifetime;</li><li>- Women’s workforce participation has actually decreased from a high of 57&nbsp; percent to a currently-stagnated rate of 55 percent; </li><li>- The notion of equal pay still a dream;</li><li>- Only 5 percent of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women;</li><li>- Just eight percent of peace negotiators are women, and half of peace agreements fail in the first five years;&nbsp; </li><li>- Child marriage remains one of the most significant barriers to girls’ participation in the social, economic and political spheres.</li></ul> <p>These numbers and figures make it clear there is more work to be done - as the #NotThere yet hashtag reminded participants. Yet there were a few things missing from the discussion, perhaps not altogether surprising for a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/08/melinda-gates-contraception_n_4065396.html">philanthropist who has taken flack from the right for taking a leadership role on family planning</a> and a former Secretary who is a <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/time-is-running-out-for-hillary-clinton-she-must-declare-her-candidacy-quickly-before-the-email-brouhaha-builds-up-steam-10093383.html">presumed candidate for the highest political office in the land</a>.&nbsp; </p> <p>With all the talk of maternal mortality and child marriage, there was no mention of the millions of lives at risk due to unsafe abortion. </p> <p>Sexual and reproductive health and rights received a mention, but there was no mention of sexuality and gender identity, which is a considerable omission in the era of the criminalization of homosexuality, corrective rape of lesbians, and similar discriminatory policies and practices endured on account of gender around the world today.</p> <p>These issues do merit a mention in the companion policy agenda, “<a href="http://ncplan.clintonfoundation.org/">The Full Participation Plan,</a>” that was launched on the Clinton Foundation website only. It’s a bit hard to locate, hosted on a separate platform altogether than remainder of the noceilings.org resources, but there, amongst the five guiding principles and ten policy priorities, one finds a few things of interest. Firstly, a clear call for universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights - something the US Government never formally embraced, even under Clinton’s leadership, and is therefore all the more poignant here. The modifier “safe abortion where legal,” is a disappointment, but the universal SRHR banner is nonetheless a strong statement. Other policy priorities include ending child marriage, FGM, and gender-based violence; promoting women’s leadership in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and empowering women in environmental stewardship and climate change response. These can be interpreted as Clinton’s personal agenda, released in time to influence the post-2015 negotiations this summer</p> <p>Shuffling back across Manhattan to the UN from the considerably more glamorous Times Square report launch a strange thought presented itself: On the East side, a pre-negotiated political declaration is the anniversary present received by thousands of feminist activists who have come to advocate for policy change on their issues. On the West, an expansive progress review that has no official political outcome. It may be the best time to be born female, but it’s the worst to be a feminist advocate: one’s chance to spur progress is more rhetorical than political, delivered through the hundreds of side events organized by governments, civil society and celebrities, very much on the sidelines of the policy-making process. </p> <p>Arriving back on 1st Avenue, I picked up my official UN grounds pass, only to realize it was the end of the official work day, with officials closing up shop. </p> <p>I left, badge in hand, wondering if I would have any reason to go inside the UN complex at all this year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/movements-money-and-social-change-how-to-advance-women%E2%80%99s-rights">Movements, money and social change: how to advance women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/women%27s-rights-have-no-country">Women&#039;s rights have no country</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/missing-link-in-women%27s-human-rights">The missing link in women&#039;s human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ruby-johnson-marisa-viana/our-bodies-as-battlegrounds">Our bodies as battlegrounds</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nelly-bassily/shackles-different-from-my-own-building-intergenerational-women%27s-movement">Shackles different from my own: building an intergenerational women&#039;s movement</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/debating-5th-world-conference-on-women-defiance-or-defeatism">Debating a 5th World Conference on Women: defiance or defeatism ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/angelika-arutyunova/womens-human-rights-watering-leaves-starving-roots">Women&#039;s human rights: Watering the leaves, starving the roots </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-human-rights-defenders-activisms-front-line">Women human rights defenders: activism&#039;s front-line</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/triple-whammy-towards-eclipse-of-women%E2%80%99s-rights">The triple whammy: towards the eclipse of women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zainab-magdy/egypt-reality-too-dark-in-which-to-glimpse-hope">Egypt: a reality too dark in which to glimpse hope? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/karima-bennoune-deniz-kandiyoti/your-fatwa-does-not-apply-here">Your fatwa does not apply here</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women's human rights women's health women and power violence against women Sexual violence gender justice gender feminism everyday feminism 50.50 newsletter young feminists Lyric Thompson Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:07:27 +0000 Lyric Thompson 91187 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Movements, money and social change: how to advance women’s rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/zohra-moosa/movements-money-and-social-change-how-to-advance-women%E2%80%99s-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>At the UN <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015">CSW</a> underway in New York, a <a href="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1IOSUTW_waxmw6BBwYRVETXS1XCq602WZ9f9q2H2KUfg/viewform">statement</a> signed by almost 1000 women’s rights organizations calls out the lack of ambition for the scale of the issues at stake, and for real resources and accountability.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>It’s deadline year for the <a href="http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/">Millennium Development Goals</a> and the twentieth anniversary of the <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/">Beijing Platform for Action</a>. What does the landscape look like for feminist activists, groups and movements in this pivotal year? Contradictory. For example, looking at the UN <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015">Commission on the Status of Women</a> that is now underway New York and is this year tasked with reviewing progress on the Platform: on the one hand, we have an unprecedented civil society presence, with 8600 individuals from 1100 organizations registered to attend and <a href="http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=eb520eecfe82a5bf0d814ea1f&amp;id=aa09fe94d4&amp;e=b09b8e4ca6">a record 450 parallel events</a> officially registered as part of the NGO CSW Forum. On the other, the <a href="http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=E/CN.6/2015/L.1">political declaration</a> for this year’s CSW, which is usually the final statement of the conference and represents the work of public debate over the course of two weeks, was negotiated and agreed by governments, without providing opportunity for transparent civil society engagement or input, <a href="http://womenalliance.org/csw-59-ngos-object-to-a-political-declaration-being-adopted-on-the-very-first-day-of-the-session">before the CSW even began</a>. </p> <p>At the end of last week, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/mar/09/un-declaration-step-backwards-for-womens-rights-csw">activists mobilized quickly</a> to voice their concern at the weakness of the declaration even as the final negotiations on the text were happening behind closed doors in readiness for it being tabled at the CSW’s opening session. A <a href="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1IOSUTW_waxmw6BBwYRVETXS1XCq602WZ9f9q2H2KUfg/viewform">statement</a> signed by almost 1000 women’s rights organizations calls out the lack of ambition for the scale of the issues at stake. One of the key criticisms is the declaration’s failure to recognize ‘the critical and unequivocal role women’s organizations, feminist organizations and women human rights defenders have played in pushing for gender equality, the human rights and empowerment of women and girls.’ Relatedly, the statement stresses the need for governments to commit to creating ‘an enabling environment and resources to allow women’s organizations, feminist organizations and women human rights defenders to be able to do their work free from violence.’ </p> <p>It is these twin gaps in policy making that if un-addressed will continue to undermine the full realization of gender equality and the human rights of all women, girls and trans* people: recognition of the role of women’s rights groups and movements in creating and sustaining social change, and recognition of their need for adequate and appropriate resources to achieve these results. </p> <p><strong>Movements matter</strong></p> <p>Women, girls and trans* people working together have repeatedly demonstrated that advances in their rights have been achieved because feminist groups and social movements have pushed for them themselves. From the creation of the Platform for Action, through the Women, Peace and Security agenda, to the many <a href="http://www.womankind.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2013/03/LeadersForChange-FINAL.pdf">legal and social norm changes</a> that have been achieved around the world, and right back again to the creation of UN Women itself: feminist groups and movements have been <em>the</em> critical driving force behind these achievements. These gains repeatedly demonstrate: relationships of power change as the result of groups of disempowered people coming together to understand and reflect on their conditions (consciousness-raising), and then organizing themselves and others to demand change that better serves their interests based on their particular contexts (mobilization, collective action). </p> <p>The <a href="http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&amp;aid=8675829&amp;fileId=S0003055412000226">largest relevant statistical review</a> ever conducted shows this empirically: data from 70 countries over the course of four decades found that the presence of autonomous feminist movements was the single most important factor in advancing action to tackle violence against women – more important than a country’s wealth or the number of women in government. </p> <p><a href="http://www.zedbooks.co.uk/node/20324">Research</a> from the now nine-year old Pathways of Empowerment programme, a consortium of feminist researchers from institutes around the world, similarly found that shifts in relationships of power among individuals and communities and in wider society are not the product of outsiders bestowing ‘empowerment’ nor of isolated individuals working independently to make it so. In <a href="http://www.wider.unu.edu/publications/working-papers/2014/en_GB/wp2014-104/_files/92389111459620281/default/wp2014-104.pdf">Pathways language</a>, there is a clear process of ‘feminist constituency building’ that is essential, and this work by women’s rights organizations is both necessary and critical: ‘Women’s organizing inspired by feminist principles of equality and justice is vital to achieving positive social change.’ Jessica Horn’s recent and important work examining <a href="http://www.eldis.org/vfile/upload/4/document/1401/FULL%20REPORT.pdf">gender and social movements</a> for the Institute of Development Studies offers a wealth of further evidence illustrating the point. </p> <p><strong>Movements need money <br /></strong></p> <p>Given the evidence, it is no wonder that the Association for Women’s Rights in Development has for many years now been focused on where to find the resources to sustain these movements. In its latest publication <a href="http://www.awid.org/content/download/216519/2321479/file/20140819-WTL-complete.pdf">Watering the Leaves, Starving the Roots</a>, the organization once again examines in detail the state of financing for women’s rights organizing. It finds that while ‘women and girls’ are higher on political agendas, the collective action of women and girls is not; as a result, resources are flowing to individuals rather than movements, and women’s rights activism and organizing remains grossly underfunded given not just the state of the problem, but the impact they can and are having in ‘solving’ the problem. </p> <p>This neglect of the role of women’s rights groups, organizations and movements’ roles in advancing gender equality and the rights of women, girls and trans* people, and the subsequent underfunding of their work, is a common phenomenon. In the discussions on financing for development that form part of the post-2015 framework planning, for example, there has been a welcome and&nbsp; significant emphasis on financing for gender equality and women’s rights, including <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2014/9/john-hendra-speech-on-financing-for-gender-equality">specific international and UN-coordinated meetings</a> on this exact topic. </p> <p>This emphasis, however, has tended to analyse what issues to finance, and rather less on who to finance. Given the need to ensure sufficient resources are made available for the gender equality and women’s rights agendas within the post-2015 framework, and the fact that the audience of these conversations is mostly governmental, this is perhaps not entirely surprising. It is however disappointing when no mention is made of women’s rights organizations and movements at all. The post-2015 framework will simply not be able to achieve its aims on gender equality and women’s rights, noble and lofty as they are, if the women’s rights groups, organizations and movements that fuel social change on women’s rights are not sufficiently equipped to continue to carry on their work.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Women’s funds - good funders for women’s movements</strong></p> <p>Where there is funding for women’s rights groups, organizations and movements, it is generally not adequate – the demand for resources vastly outstrips the supply. In addition, it is on the whole also not appropriate – it is not accessible to smaller, grassroots groups for example, or it is structured in ways that limit rather than expand possibilities. </p> <p>Women’s funds offer a way forward in this respect. There are almost forty such funds around the world, not including the many women’s funds that operate just within the United States alone. These funds have, especially since the Beijing Platform for Action was established twenty years ago, become extremely expert at funding women’s movements around the world for a number of reasons, outlined in Mama Cash’s recent briefing <a href="http://www.mamacash.org/content/uploads/2015/02/Mama-Cash-Why-Womens-Funds_Feb-2015_FINAL.pdf">Investing well in the right places: why fund women’s funds</a>. These include the fact that women’s funds fund smartly: they prioritise flexible, core and multi-year funding that allows smaller, grassroots groups and movements to determine their own priorities, adapt and respond to unexpected opportunities and cover essential operating costs such as safe spaces to meet and salaries for staff to carry on their work in relative security. They are also from, of and for the social movements they support, and as a result are well-connected to and have an expert understanding of the needs and opportunities of women, girls and trans* people working for human rights in their contexts. </p> <p>Policy makers seeking to advance women’s rights and gender equality should recognize and resource the leading catalyst in securing such social change: women’s rights groups, organizations and movements. Because many of these operate at a grassroots level, take on controversial issues, or do not have the administrative or financial infrastructure to reach what funding is available, policy makers should seek to collaborate with and fund the women’s funds that are uniquely and best placed to sustain them. </p> <p>(<em>* To respect their preference, Mama Cash uses the name “trans*,” with an asterisk, denoting a placeholder for the "entire range of possible gender identities that fall under the broad definition of trans". Mama Cash explicitly supports trans*activism that is guided by feminist perspectives because of its commitment to support work that transforms unequal gender power relations, and an acknowledgement that women’s rights movements are questioning the limits of a binary definition of gender and exploring ways to include trans* perspectives.</em>)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/transformative-strategy-true-value-of-investing-in-women%E2%80%99s-rights">A transformative strategy: the true value of investing in women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/angelika-arutyunova/womens-human-rights-watering-leaves-starving-roots">Women&#039;s human rights: Watering the leaves, starving the roots </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/world%27s-girls-no-voice-no-rights">The world&#039;s girls: no voice, no rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-weather-vane-fault-lines-and-prospects-for-womens-human-rights">CSW weather vane: fault lines and prospects for women&#039;s human rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/missing-link-in-women%27s-human-rights">The missing link in women&#039;s human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/debating-5th-world-conference-on-women-defiance-or-defeatism">Debating a 5th World Conference on Women: defiance or defeatism ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/women%27s-rights-have-no-country">Women&#039;s rights have no country</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/andrea-cornwall/reclaiming-feminist-visions-of-empowerment">Reclaiming feminist visions of empowerment</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/from-war-on-terror-to-austerity-lost-decade-for-women-and-human-rights">From the war on terror to austerity: a lost decade for women and human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-human-rights-defenders-activisms-front-line">Women human rights defenders: activism&#039;s front-line</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/csw-2009/womens-rights-in-economic-crisis">Women&#039;s rights in an economic crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/alice-welbourn/gender-politics-of-funding-women-human-rights-defenders">The gender politics of funding women human rights defenders</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/preventing-violence-against-women-sluggish-cascade">Preventing violence against women: a sluggish cascade?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ruby-johnson-marisa-viana/our-bodies-as-battlegrounds">Our bodies as battlegrounds</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yifat-susskind/salaam-and-paz-word-for-peace-is-women">Salaam and Paz: the word for Peace is Women</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/margaret-owen/csw-gulf-between-un-and-civil-society-0">CSW: the gulf between the UN and civil society</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maxine-molyneux/of-rights-and-risks-are-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-jeopardy">Of rights and risks: are women’s human rights in jeopardy?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-its-time-to-question-vaticans-power-at-un">CSW: it&#039;s time to question the Vatican&#039;s power at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">&#039;Traditional values&#039; vs human rights at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/triple-whammy-towards-eclipse-of-women%E2%80%99s-rights">The triple whammy: towards the eclipse of women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kate-donald/csw-arguments-for-reducing-intense-time-burden-of-womens-unpaid-care-work">CSW: Arguments for reducing the intense time burden of women&#039;s unpaid care work</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/susan-tolmay/csw-resisting-backlash-against-womens-human-rights">CSW: resisting the backlash against women&#039;s human rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/content/politics-outside-politics-how-women-redefine-democracy">Politics outside politics: how women redefine democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-defining-economic-citizenship">Women defining economic citizenship </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Democracy and government Equality 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women's human rights violence against women gender justice gender feminism everyday feminism bodily autonomy women's work zohra moosa Funding for human rights - related articles Tue, 10 Mar 2015 10:27:33 +0000 zohra moosa 91159 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Reclaiming feminist visions of empowerment https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/andrea-cornwall/reclaiming-feminist-visions-of-empowerment <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Glib and glossy visions of women’s empowerment, designed to avoid actual power structures, are being avidly promoted by corporations and the development industry alike. A new <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Engaging-Empowerment-Intellectual-Experiential-Journey/dp/8188965782">book</a> by Srilatha Batliwala reminds us of what lies at the heart of feminist empowerment work.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-small'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_small/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/engagingWithEmpowermentBookCover.jpg" alt="Engaging with Empowerment by Srilatha Batliwala - book cover" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-small imagecache imagecache-article_small" style="" width="160" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Last month's 58th <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/co/csw/csw58-2014">Commission on the Status of Women</a> in New York ended with less on the floor than some had feared. Intense negotiations in the final days kept in the agreed conclusions financing for women’s organizations, affirmation of key aspects of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Conference_on_Population_and_Development">Cairo</a> and <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/">Beijing</a>, and a recognition that there is still very far to go in the struggle to realize women’s human rights. Among the gains that are being celebrated is a commitment to a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment and to mainstreaming gender across the other Sustainable Development Goals. </p> <p>But what does a commitment like this actually mean these days? The language of “women’s empowerment” has become ever more ubiquitous. Corporations are scrambling over themselves to profess their desire to empower women. Consumers of development marketing are treated rebranded versions of the old talk about women’s role in development – and new and absurd parodies like the recent <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2zymuD83aM">advertising campaign</a> by Oxfam that takes the metaphor of women “lifting” their communities and turns it into levitating beneficiaries. </p> <p>In the midst of all this, it is easy enough to sigh, shrug and say, “there goes another one of those development buzzwords…”. But there’s more to empowerment than the glib and glossy merchandise purveyed by the development industry might have us believe. Srilatha Batliwala’s <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Engaging-Empowerment-Intellectual-Experiential-Journey/dp/8188965782">Engaging with Empowerment – An Intellectual and Experiential Journey</a>&nbsp;</em>tells stories about how change happens in women’s lives that reclaim and reaffirm an approach to empowerment that looks and acts very differently. And it is a reminder that these ways of thinking about and doing feminist empowerment work are far from buried in the past: they are just obscured from view, like the hidden pathways that are changing women’s lives that may be missed by those who travel on development’s motorways. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-xsmall'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xsmall/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/Batliwala.JPG" alt="Woman smiling" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xsmall imagecache imagecache-article_xsmall" style="" width="140" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Srilatha Batliwala</span></span></span>A compendium of Batliwala’s writings on women’s empowerment, feminist movements and feminist leadership, traversing activism and theory, <em>Engaging with Empowerment</em> compels us to revisit and revalue “empowerment”. Exploring the trajectories of her own engagement with the politics of transformation, Batliwala gives us fresh insight into the sparks that can ignite processes of change. At the core of this work is a definition of empowerment that emphasises the power, politics and, above all, <em>purpose</em> of empowerment: </p> <p>“<em>Empowerment is not a goal</em>,” writes Batliwala, “<em>but a foundational process that enables marginalised women to construct their own political agendas and form movements and struggles for achieving fundamental and lasting transformation in gender and social power structures</em>.” </p> <p>I can think of no better definition of empowerment. We are taken straight to the heart of the matter and glimpse how this kind of empowerment might contribute to achieving a more just and equal world. Words like <em>foundational</em>, <em>fundamental</em>, <em>lasting</em> are coupled with others, such as <em>political agendas</em>, <em>movements</em>, <em>struggles</em>, <em>transformation</em>. These are words that mean business, not the words that might be found in one of development’s business cases. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/Batliwala-indianwomenprotestnukes.jpg" alt="Women lying along a train track" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women of Kudankulam, on the coast of Tamilnadu State, protesting the construction of a nuclear power plant </span></span></span>The ideas that underpin this understanding of empowerment are the stuff of the empirical chapters of the book. They take us into worlds of struggle in which we see, time and again, that transformations in consciousness coupled with collective action constitute a mode of challenging and changing gender and power relations that is a far cry from today’s diluted discourses of empowerment-lite. At the core of this work is movement-building. Batliwala’s reflections on organizing women and building movements come from deep experience, and from an acute insight into the politics of constructing counter-hegemonic institutions. They include an uncompromising analysis of the changes that must come from within feminist activism itself, exposing some of the barriers to transformation that exist as much within feminist-led organisations as outside them. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/Batliwala-JamaatWomensMeeting3.jpg" alt="20 or so women sitting in a room" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>STEPS Women’s Jamaat, Tamilnadu state in south India. Photo: www.stepswomenjamaat.org</span></span></span></p><p>For all of us who have experienced the angst Batliwala writes about when reflecting on the lack of good role models of feminist leadership, as well as those of us who have been fortunate to learn from leaders who are truly democratic and enabling, the analysis hits home. Her emphasis is, as always, on power: on the use of power to close and to open space, on authoritarianism and the unwillingness to surrender power, and on what it takes to create a genuinely different style of leadership that resonates more closely with feminist values and aspirations. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/Batliwala-Koodankulam-people.jpg" alt="Women in a demonstration" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" width="400" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women of Kudankulam protesting the construction of a nuclear power plant </span></span></span></p><p>Locating movement-building within a larger terrain of shifting fashions in the development industry brings Batliwala to an engagement with the discourse of rights. It is one to which she brings her characteristic acuity of vision and sharpness of insight. “The simplistic recipes” that donors and governments have come up with, she reflects, are “so that they don’t have to deal with the fact that [empowerment and human rights] is — and has always been — about fundamental shifts in power, privilege, and the control of resources and agenda-setting”. In Chapter 11 of the book, ‘When Rights Go Wrong’, Batliwala takes us to the most painful contradictions of the rights discourse, particularly the exclusion of the poorest “rights-bearers” in the conceptualisation of universal human rights. </p><p>Batilwala is unsparing in her critique of the sacred cows of gender and development. She writes of how mainstream development’s magic bullets represent feminist ideas divested of the complex transformative strategies within which they were originally embedded and ‘reduced to formulas, rituals and mantras’. The net result of this, she charges, has been that the … mechanical and depoliticised implementation of these strategies… have, in many contexts, merely shifted greater responsibility and burden for economic survival and political change onto women themselves, or ended up as a numbers game. </p> <p>In shifting her focus from empowerment to other processes critical to gender equality, she gives us something new: a more profound focus on developing the structures as well as the agency to build a solid foundation for transforming gender and power relations. </p> <p>Moving adeptly between ideas and immersion in the lived realities of women’s struggles, <em>Engaging with Empowerment </em>has many moments when it takes us to places that are resonant with frustrations many of us working in the field of gender and development have experienced, but also to moments of inspiration. The book ends with a piece of advice from Sundaramma, a women’s collective leader from rural Karnataka, that ought to be heeded by everyone who enters the field of development seeking to bring about changes in other people’s lives: </p> <blockquote><p>Work with us, not for us; don’t tell us what to do to change our lives but share your knowledge and skills so we can figure out how to do it; you cannot do much for us economically, but help us eradicate the poverty of our ideas and dreams — show us new ways of understanding the world. Help us be heard by those who don’t listen to us. And when we find the path we wish to tread, first, walk in front of us; then, when we are stronger, walk beside us; and finally, when we are truly strong, walk behind us, so that if we should stumble and fall, you will be there to help us get up and walk again.</p></blockquote> <p><em>&nbsp;</em></p><p>Srilatha Batliwala's book<em> 'Engaging with Empowerment - An Intellectual and Experiential Journey</em>', is available from <a href="http://www.swb.co.in/">Scholars without Borders </a><em></em></p><p><em><strong>Read <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/pathways-of-womens-empowerment">more articles</a> on Pathways of Women's Empowerment on <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050">50.50 </a></strong><br /></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/beyond-individual-stories-women-have-moved-mountains">Beyond individual stories: women have moved mountains </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/what-does-transforming-economic-power-mean">What does transforming economic power mean?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-defining-economic-citizenship">Women defining economic citizenship </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/transformative-strategy-true-value-of-investing-in-women%E2%80%99s-rights">A transformative strategy: the true value of investing in women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/content/politics-outside-politics-how-women-redefine-democracy">Politics outside politics: how women redefine democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/post-2015-development-agenda-whats-at-stake-for-worlds-women">The post 2015 development agenda: what&#039;s at stake for the world&#039;s women? 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Will the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, and the frantic efforts of women's rights advocates at the CSW in New York this week, get unpaid care work on to the post-2015 agenda ? </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>At the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-weather-vane-fault-lines-and-prospects-for-womens-human-rights">Commission on the Status of Women this year</a>, the sense of urgency in the air is palpable. With plans for the global development agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals in the last phase of discussion, there is a strong feeling that 2014 could be a real opportunity to change the paradigm. The new ‘sustainable development goals’ (SDGs) will, for better or worse, suck up the majority of the development attention, effort and resources over the next 15 years. Any issues left out of the goals will be automatic non-priorities for governments and large international donors. Women’s rights advocates are particularly exercised about this, because they witnessed first-hand the impact of the MDGs’ lack of ambition on gender. </p> <p><a href="http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/gender.shtml">MDG3</a> was the gender equality goal, and it was laughably narrow, focused only on achieving parity in education, ignoring the myriad other economic, social and political barriers to women’s real equality. Women’s groups said all along that the target was manifestly insufficient; recently it seems that States have accepted this reality, perhaps spurred by the increasing evidence that gender inequality holds back economic growth and development in general. The support for a broader, more meaningful gender equality goal in the SDGs is strong and widespread. Now, there is a frantic effort from women’s rights advocates to define and construct this goal and its accompanying targets in the most ambitious and effective way possible, recognizing and tackling the multiple and structural determinants of gender inequality. Meaningfully empowering women will necessitate focusing energy and attention on diverse areas such as access to land, violence against women, sexual and reproductive rights and political participation. </p> <p>The events I participated I during the first week of CSW were focused on an additional key determinant of gender inequality: <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/kate-donald/unpaid-care-missing-women%E2%80%99s-rights-issue">unpaid care work</a>. These meetings involved and gathered an unlikely array of actors, from the <a href="http://www.trust.org/item/20140313093730-dsykb/">World Bank</a> to grassroots groups to feminist academics, all in support of the notion that heavy and intense burdens of unpaid care work prevent women from realizing their rights and lifting themselves and their families out of poverty. There were nods of recognition from around the packed rooms when Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona, the UN <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/SRExtremePovertyIndex.aspx">Special Rapporteur</a> on extreme poverty and human rights, described the gendered distribution of unpaid care work as a major barrier to women’s rights, economic empowerment, and poverty reduction in general. Representatives from trade unions in North America, from anti-poverty organizations in Europe, and alliances of caregivers in Africa, all stood up to share their experiences and underline the urgency of valuing, supporting and redistributing women’s unpaid care work. </p> <p>Now, although it barely appeared possible in September 2012 when I gathered with a group of other researchers and advocates at a workshop on unpaid care organized by <a href="http://www.actionaid.org/publications/making-care-visible">ActionAid</a>, there seems to be a decent chance that unpaid care work will be included in the SDGs in some way. How have we got to this point? Hard work and lobbying from a number of quarters is necessary in any such process – all inspired and boosted by realities witnessed and experienced on the ground. Dedicated champions within some UN agencies, government ministries, and development agencies; strong and persistent advocacy from some major NGOs; <a href="http://interactions.eldis.org/unpaid-care-work">researchers</a> consolidating the evidence base; a prominent <a href="http://www.empowerwomen.org/~/documents/2013/10/10/20/51/report-of-the-special-rapporteur-on-extreme-poverty-and-human-rights">report</a> from the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty presented to the UN General Assembly last year: these have all played their part. However, it remains to be seen whether States are really listening. At CSW, while the activists and advocates from around the world flood the corridors and the dingy meeting rooms in the UN complex, State representatives in suits and ties convene behind other doors in grander rooms to take the real decisions. We can only harangue and lobby, and hope they hear us. </p> <p>As always, geopolitics plays its part. The biggest obstacle to getting care on the agenda could in fact be the representatives of the least developed countries, some of whom see this as a familiar Western interference in their ‘culture’ (although of course, women’s overwhelming responsibility for unpaid care work is one of the few phenomena common across all cultures). Misconceptions abound that the end goal sought is wages for housework, or the State somehow forcing men to provide care. It may be that, in the terms of this specific effort, it may be strategic to place the emphasis on supporting and recognizing the value of unpaid care work, rather than ‘redistributing’ half of it to men (although ultimately this is also a necessary goal). The urgency now, especially for the poorest women in the world, is for the State to step up and provide decent <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVW858gQHoE">services and infrastructure</a> that provide, support and reduce the intense time burden of their care work. Water pumps, electricity, affordable pre-school childcare – these would all make a profound difference to the daily lives and opportunities of these women, giving them more time for income-earning, education, political participation and leisure. The SDGs could play a vital role in prioritizing such efforts. </p> <p>The CSW Agreed Conclusions, issued at the end of this week, will be a crucial barometer of whether unpaid care will make it into the sustainable development goals ?&nbsp; The <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/~/media/Headquarters/Attachments/Sections/CSW/58/CSW58-AC_Draft_presented_by_the_CSW_Bureau_4_February_2014%20pdf.pdf">zero draft</a> issued before the session was promising, with multiple references to unpaid care work - but much could change (the spectre of two years ago, when no conclusions could be agreed at all, still hangs over the conference). The lobbying continues, and the negotiations behind closed doors. There are real issues – women’s rights, livelihoods, wellbeing – at stake here. Another 15-year wait would be a severe setback. </p><p><em>See also</em> <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-weather-vane-fault-lines-and-prospects-for-womens-human-rights">CSW weather vane: fault lines and prospects for women's human rights </a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kate-donald/unpaid-care-missing-women%E2%80%99s-rights-issue">Unpaid care: the missing women’s rights issue </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">&#039;Traditional values&#039; vs human rights at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kate-donald/vicious-circle-of-poverty-and-injustice">The vicious circle of poverty and injustice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/kate-donald/feminisation-of-poverty-and-myth-of-welfare-queen">The feminisation of poverty and the myth of the &#039;welfare queen&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maxine-molyneux/of-rights-and-risks-are-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-jeopardy">Of rights and risks: are women’s human rights in jeopardy?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-defining-economic-citizenship">Women defining economic citizenship </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/making-women-work-for-development-again">Making women work for development - again</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/transformative-strategy-true-value-of-investing-in-women%E2%80%99s-rights">A transformative strategy: the true value of investing in women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/linda-burnham/1-feminism">1% Feminism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/from-war-on-terror-to-austerity-lost-decade-for-women-and-human-rights">From the war on terror to austerity: a lost decade for women and human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/beyond-individual-stories-women-have-moved-mountains">Beyond individual stories: women have moved mountains </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Equality 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women Governing poverty: risking rights? 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter women's movements women's human rights women and power patriarchy gender justice feminism women's work young feminists Kate Donald Mon, 17 Mar 2014 16:18:33 +0000 Kate Donald 80399 at https://www.opendemocracy.net CSW weather vane: fault lines and prospects for women's human rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-weather-vane-fault-lines-and-prospects-for-womens-human-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As battles over women’s human rights rage on around the world, governments have gathered in New York this week to set some definitive agreements at the UN’s annual Commission on the Status of Women </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>It’s the last year of the <a href="http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/">Millennium Development Goals</a> (MDGs), the agreement made by the international community on advancing human rights and development globally. Created in 2000, they promised no less than halving extreme poverty and achieving universal primary education – all by 2015.</p> <p>Most significantly for women, they created a separate stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment (MDG3). A memorable and critical first that should not be underestimated: it helped make the vital case that women’s rights is a substantive development and human rights issue. Through this, it provided political will, demonstrated and allowed others to demonstrate leadership about women’s rights, and also galvanized concrete funding for the rights of women and girls.</p> <p>But the overall impact of the MDGs on the lives of the world’s girls and women has been <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2013/7/the-gender-dimension-of-the-millennium-development-goals-report-2013/">patchy at best</a>, and has been a telling disappointment too : the most off-track MDGs are those where gender equality is a cornerstone, namely <a href="http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/gender.shtml">MDG3</a> itself, as well as <a href="http://www.who.int/topics/millennium_development_goals/maternal_health/en/">MDG5</a> on maternal mortality. For example, UN Women estimates that at the pace of the last 15 years, it will take 40 more years to achieve gender parity in parliaments, while progress on reducing the maternal mortality ratio has actually stalled.</p> <p>The results of the <a href="http://www.who.int/topics/millennium_development_goals/about/en/">MDGs</a> to date thus provide some important lessons about what a global compact needs to include to deliver for women’s rights. Specifically, they helped to demonstrate why a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment is so important, but on its own insufficient to achieving the change we want to see. Such a goal has to be robust and UN Women has <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2013/7/post-2015-long-paper">outlined</a> what this can mean. Most obviously, it must <a href="http://www.worldwewant2015.org/file/283242/download/307072">include</a> all the relevant variables no matter how controversial or ‘hard to measure’, and cannot exclude basic issues such as violence against women and girls. But it also needs to be supported by substantively transformative targets within other goals that also affect and are affected by prevailing gender inequalities, i.e. gender needs to be mainstreamed. As the UK’s Gender and Development Network explains, this is known as a ‘<a href="http://www.gadnetwork.org.uk/gadn-post-2015-report/">twin-track approach</a>’. </p> <p>On March 10th, the annual UN&nbsp; <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw58-2014">Commission on the Status of Women</a> (CSW) begins. It is a chance for the international community to assess its progress on women’s rights, and set the course for deepening advancements going forward. And this year’s <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw58-2014/preparations/expert-group-meeting">theme</a> is ‘Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls’. Not a moment too soon.</p> <p>Over the last few years, the CSW has become an increasingly important normative and discursive space. What is discussed and agreed at CSW, while always used by women’s rights advocates to try and advance their case in their local contexts, has of late also been catching the eye of major conservative forces, including the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-its-time-to-question-vaticans-power-at-un">Vatican</a>. These forces have responded to the vibrant and successful efforts of civil society to use CSW to advance women’s rights by increasing their attention and resources towards influencing its outcomes to <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">stall and even roll</a> back on previous gains. Two years ago, they were so successful at dividing and undermining consensus that the CSW closed without any agreed conclusions. Last year, states fought hard to ensure a progressive outcome for the theme of violence against women and girls, and were to a degree <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-on-balance-did-we-win">successful</a>. </p> <p>This year’s CSW, as with the last two, therefore serves as a kind of weather vane for where we currently stand on women’s rights, where the major fault lines lie, and what our prospects are for the future.</p> <p>Agreements set at CSW feed into the discussions of other major annual international convenings and negotiations affecting women, girls and also trans* people, such as the upcoming <a href="http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/commission/sessions/2014/index.shtml">Commission on Population and Development</a> next month. And as we are continually reminded, the battles over women’s, girls’ and trans* people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are very much alive; with just two months under its belt, 2014 witnessed Spanish MPs vote to introduce a new <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/liz-cooper/liberty-train-because-i-decide">anti-choice abortion law</a>; the President of Uganda sign a <a href="http://www.mamacash.org/news/ugandas-anti-pornography-and-anti-homosexuality-act-signed-into-law/">bill</a> criminalizing homosexuality and one against ‘pornography’ that polices what women wear in public; and MEPs of the European Union vote to <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20140221IPR36644/html/Punish-the-client-not-the-prostitute">criminalize the purchasing of sex</a>, <a href="http://www.sexworkeurope.org/news/general-news/560-ngos-and-91-researchers-demand-members-european-parliament-reject-ms-honeyball">against</a> the advice of sex worker rights activists.</p> <p>Importantly, the theme for this year’s CSW will inform discussion about what a post-2015 international agenda for human rights and development should look like and include. While the conversation on the <a href="http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/beyond2015-overview.shtml">post-2015 agenda</a> began some time ago, this year’s ‘agreed outcomes’ from CSW will demonstrate what member states would like to see included in the final version of the post-2015 agenda, on women’s rights. Specifically, women’s rights advocates will be looking to see whether CSW affirms the need for a ‘twin-track approach’: a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s rights and empowerment, and substantive transformational gender targets within the other goals in the framework. According to Womankind Worldwide, anything less would be <a href="http://www.womankind.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Womens-rights-and-Post-2015-Womankind-FIDA-LIWOMAC-WILDAF1.pdf">going backwards</a>.</p> <p>Of special interest to many, including those of us at Mama Cash, is how ambitions for women’s rights will be resourced within any future frameworks. What the international community feels are the priorities are of course important, but how governments will ensure these priorities do not become empty promises is vital. As AWID’s <a href="http://www.womankind.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Womens-rights-and-Post-2015-Womankind-FIDA-LIWOMAC-WILDAF1.pdf">evaluation</a> of the Dutch MDG3 fund for women’s rights has shown us, new and dedicated funding that reaches those carrying out the work is what <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/angelika-arutyunova/womens-human-rights-watering-leaves-starving-roots">makes the difference</a>. For the post-2015 agenda to be successful and truly transformative then, funding will need to be made available for and accessible to the women’s, girls’ and trans* <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/poonam-joshi/constitutional-rights-sexual-rights-and-morality-in-india">rights groups</a> that do the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/28/foreign-domestic-workers-asia-exploitation">groundbreaking work</a> that leads to the sustainable advancement of their human rights.</p> <p>But the reality is that this political organizing by women’s rights groups and movements is currently being executed against a <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/heather-mcrobie/from-war-on-terror-to-austerity-lost-decade-for-women-and-human-rights">vicious backlash</a> against women’s rights, around the world. From the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/disquiet-and-despair-gender-sub-texts-of-arab-spring">retrogressive developments</a> across countries in the north of Africa and the Middle East following the revolutions in 2013, to <a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/01/21/indonesia-rights-rollback-religious-minorities-women">discriminatory laws</a> being introduced in a number of countries including Indonesia, to the entrenchment of <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/heather-mcrobie/handmaids-tale-of-coalition-britain">women’s subordination</a> as a result of the financial crisis and <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-and-domestic-violence-mapping-damage">gender-biased macroeconomic government policies</a>, such as is occurring in the UK, the future could appear to be quite bleak.</p> <p>With this in mind, many women’s rights group have been organizing towards this moment for some time, and have set <a href="http://www.awid.org/eng/News-Analysis/Friday-Files/Sustainable-Development-Goals-Where-do-Gender-Equality-and-Women-s-Rights-Stand">high ambitions</a> for persuading governments to even move beyond the limited goal-target-indicator approach of the MDGs if possible. And as the <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/about-us/media/press-releases/largest-global-study-violence-against-women-finds-feminist-m">evidence</a> has shown us, these groups are <em>the</em> <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/srilatha-batliwala/beyond-individual-stories-women-have-moved-mountains">critical factor</a> in whether real change occurs. </p> <p>So, will countries get to that place of progressive consensus during CSW, reaching for a world in which all women, girls and trans* people can enjoy their full human rights? Women’s and girls’ rights groups will be present in the hundreds to fight for it. As the post-2015 agenda is set to transform the world’s approach to development for the next generation, it is inspiring to see women’s rights activists face the CSW with such energy and commitment – to convince the world’s governments that women deserve no less than their full human rights.</p><p><em><strong>Read 5050's <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/womens-movement-building/un-commission-on-status-of-women">coverage</a> of previous CSW gatherings </strong><br /></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">&#039;Traditional values&#039; vs human rights at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maxine-molyneux/of-rights-and-risks-are-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-jeopardy">Of rights and risks: are women’s human rights in jeopardy?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/csw-battle-over-womens-sexual-and-reproductive-rights">CSW: the battle over women&#039;s sexual and reproductive rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/when-austerity-sounds-like-backlash-gender-and-economic-crisis">When austerity sounds like backlash: gender and the economic crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/fear-and-fury-women-and-post-revolutionary-violence">Fear and fury: women and post-revolutionary violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/disquiet-and-despair-gender-sub-texts-of-arab-spring">Disquiet and despair: the gender sub-texts of the &#039;Arab spring&#039; </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/from-war-on-terror-to-austerity-lost-decade-for-women-and-human-rights">From the war on terror to austerity: a lost decade for women and human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/angelika-arutyunova/womens-human-rights-watering-leaves-starving-roots">Women&#039;s human rights: Watering the leaves, starving the roots </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/beyond-individual-stories-women-have-moved-mountains">Beyond individual stories: women have moved mountains </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/transformative-strategy-true-value-of-investing-in-women%E2%80%99s-rights">A transformative strategy: the true value of investing in women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/poonam-joshi/constitutional-rights-sexual-rights-and-morality-in-india">Constitutional rights, sexual rights, and &quot;morality&quot; in India</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/liz-cooper/liberty-train-because-i-decide">The Liberty Train: &quot;Because I Decide&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-and-domestic-violence-mapping-damage">Austerity and domestic violence: mapping the damage</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/visible-players-power-and-risks-for-young-feminists">Visible players: the power and the risks for young feminists</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ruth-rosen/why-relentless-assault-on-abortion-in-united-states">Why the relentless assault on abortion in the United States?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ruth-rosen/contraception-new-american-soap-opera">Contraception: the new American soap opera</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/serta%C3%A7-sehliko%C4%9Flu/vaginal-obsessions-in-turkey-islamic-perspective">Vaginal obsessions in Turkey: an Islamic perspective </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/csw-will-global-womens-rights-movement-prevail">CSW : will the global women&#039;s rights movement prevail? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/blog/jane_gabriel/csw_womens_empowerment_or_just_smart_economics">CSW: women&#039;s empowerment or just smart economics?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/susan-tolmay/csw-resisting-backlash-against-womens-human-rights">CSW: resisting the backlash against women&#039;s human rights </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Democracy and government Equality 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter feminism gender gender justice patriarchy women and militarism women and power women's human rights women's movements women's work young feminists zohra moosa Fri, 07 Mar 2014 08:33:43 +0000 zohra moosa 80018 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A war against women: The CSW declaration and the Muslim Brotherhood riposte https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/hoda-elsadda/war-against-women-csw-declaration-and-muslim-brotherhood-riposte <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The statement issued by the Muslim Brotherhood in response to the UN Commission on the Status of Women <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw57/CSW57_agreed_conclusions_advance_unedited_version_18_March_2013.pdf">draft Agreed Conclusions</a> on violence against women, is nothing short of an assault on their most basic rights as citizens and human beings, says Hoda Elsadda ,</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at UN headquarters (4-15 March) which ended with an <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw57/CSW57_agreed_conclusions_advance_unedited_version_18_March_2013.pdf">Agreed Conclusions</a> was particularly eventful, with a group of countries, including Egypt, attempting to <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/susan-tolmay/csw-resisting-backlash-against-womens-human-rights">roll back</a> some hard-won rights. </p> <p>On March 14th 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt issued a <a href="http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=30731">statement</a> condemning the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) draft declaration to end violence against women. </p> <p>The declared rationale of the condemnation was that the CSW document consists of “articles that contradict established principles of Islam, undermine Islamic ethics and destroy the family… [and] would lead to complete disintegration of society, and would certainly be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries.” Admittedly, “saving Muslim women” has been a battle cry since colonial times, and more recently during the military operations&nbsp; in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has been manipulated to justify invasions. Conversely, the cultural specificity argument of “our women are different”&nbsp; as well as “we must protect our values” has also been the battle cry of authoritarian Muslim regimes to justify human rights violations and the suppression of rights. The rhetoric is painfully familiar and the aim continues to be the same: using scare tactics to silence your opponents and divert attention from the real issues at stake. </p> <p>So what are the issues at stake here? I argue that it is a fight over women’s rights and dignity in particular, and the rights and dignity of all citizens in general. </p> <p>The Muslim Brotherhood statement consists of 10 objections to the CSW declaration. Commentators have already noted that some of the points are irrelevant as they consist of very narrow interpretations or misinterpretations of the CSW document. Other points, such as the one regarding equal inheritance rights, can only be seriously discussed with detailed reference to complex juridical interpretations. I will focus on five selected points on the <a href="http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=30731">list of objections</a>, which I believe encapsulate the principal issues at stake right now, and which the MB declaration is all about. </p> <p>“-Giving wives full rights to file legal complaints against husbands accusing them of rape or sexual harassment, obliging competent authorities to deal husbands punishments similar to those prescribed for raping or sexually harassing a stranger. </p> <p>- Replacing guardianship with partnership, and full sharing of roles within the family between men and women such as: spending, child care and home chores. </p> <p>- Full equality in marriage legislation such as: allowing Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, and abolition of polygamy, dowry, men taking charge of family spending, etc. </p> <p>- Removing the authority of divorce from husbands and placing it in the hands of judges, and sharing all property after divorce. </p> <p>- Cancelling the need for a husband’s consent in matters like: travel, work, or use of contraception.” </p> <p>The key word uniting all the points above is <em>control</em>, and the principal objections revolve around the notion of “<a href="http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=30731">replacing guardianship with partnership</a>”: the MB idea of Muslim specificity is that men should have absolute control over women. The basic assumption is that women are legal minors (like children) and are incapable of taking responsibility for their lives and future. The logic of the statement does not recognize women’s agency and undermines the very idea of female citizenship. Women must be controlled by their husbands who always know what is best for them and their families. And while male children grow up and at some&nbsp; point come of age and can assume responsibility for their lives, women are locked into a permanently infantile state. I cannot help recall here the following insight, that: “<a href="http://www.redletterpress.org/feminism101.html">Feminism is the radical notion that women are people</a>.” </p> <p>But, as far as the MB is concerned, if women attain the most basic rights over their lives and their bodies, all hell will break loose. The Muslim family will disintegrate if women are able to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce_(Islamic)">divorce their husbands</a> (by going to court!) and if husbands are not allowed to divorce their wives on a whim (without going to court!), which is the case in most Muslim countries. </p> <p>All hell will break loose if women become their husbands’ partners and not their chattel. All hell will break loose if women travel or go to work without their husband’s permission - bearing in mind that almost 30% of Egyptian households&nbsp; are female-headed, with women as the primary breadwinners.&nbsp; All hell will break loose if men are asked to share in family chores. And all hell will break loose if wives can take their abusive husbands to court for domestic violence. And if we ask: why should men get away with abusing their wives? The answer can only be: because they are <em>men</em> stupid! </p> <p>Do the Muslim Brotherhood views on gender relations represent the beliefs and practices of all Muslims in Muslim majority countries?&nbsp; This is a tricky question. The MB has from its very inception been a political group, and after the 25th of January revolution in Egypt, has come to power with the election of a President from its ranks, with the Freedom and Justice Party gaining the majority of seats in parliamentary elections, and with the appointment of a pro-MB government headed by Hisham Qandil.&nbsp; They definitely represent a section of society that is conservative and espouses their views.&nbsp; Do they, however, represent the majority of people in Egypt?&nbsp; Those who subscribe&nbsp; to this view, namely, that the MB represents the majority in Egypt, limit the democratic process to elections and formal practices of politics rather than focusing on substantive democratic rights , and they choose&nbsp; to disregard the irregularities and fraud that have marred and continue to mar the formal political process in Egypt. They&nbsp; also choose to ignore the mass street protests that triggered the regime change in Egypt in the first place, and which now continue against the new dictatorship of the MB, chanting “Down with the rule of the Murshid” , or down with religious rule. The MB are not the voice of Egypt and definitely do not represent the main aspirations of the mass revolts, which they joined belatedly, demanding freedom, dignity and social justice.&nbsp; </p> <p>However, the battle is not over. The continued unrest on the streets of Egypt is a battle against the metamorphosis of the Mubarak regime into an authoritarian religious garb. Women continue to be at the forefront of the battle for freedom and rights. Women activists and groups are raising their voices inside their countries, and also trying to make their voices heard by the international community. At the CSW, the Arab Caucus published a <a href="http://www.wluml.org/media/un-call-arab-caucus-57th-commission-status-women">strong statement</a> to expose the role of some of the leaders of Arab countries in trying to block the statement that condemns violence against women. </p> <p>But the CSW declaration and the wording of the riposte is not the main reason&nbsp; why I find the MB statement offensive and deplorable. </p> <p>I deplore the manipulation of religion &nbsp;and the just principles of Islam, to justify human rights violations and oppression. </p> <p>I deplore Muslim politicians who distort and tarnish the image of a great universal message. </p> <p>I deplore the persistent abuse of a rights agenda for political gain. </p> <p>I deplore the continued exploitation of women’s bodies as political battlefields. </p> <p>I deplore the unethical political practices that are gradually chipping away at our dream, an Egyptian dream, for a better world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mariz-tadros/egypt-islamization-of-state-policy">Egypt: the Islamization of state policy </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/hoda-elsadda/narrating-arab-spring-from-within">Narrating the Arab spring from within</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zainab-magdy/egyptian-women-performing-in-margin-revolting-in-centre">Egyptian women: performing in the margin, revolting in the centre</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nadia-taher/we-are-not-women-we-are-egyptians-spaces-of-protest-and-representation">&quot;We are not women, we are Egyptians&quot;: spaces of protest and representation</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/susan-tolmay/csw-resisting-backlash-against-womens-human-rights">CSW: resisting the backlash against women&#039;s human rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-on-balance-did-we-win">CSW on balance: did we win?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">&#039;Traditional values&#039; vs human rights at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/culture-versus-rights-dualism-myth-or-reality">Culture versus rights dualism: a myth or a reality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mariz-tadros/mutilating-bodies-muslim-brotherhood%E2%80%99s-gift-to-egyptian-women">Mutilating bodies: the Muslim Brotherhood’s gift to Egyptian women</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zoe-holman/state-complicity-in-sexual-abuse-of-women-in-cairo">State complicity in the sexual abuse of women in Cairo</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/leila-zaki-chakravarti/performing-masculinity-football-ultras-in-post-revolutionary-egypt">Performing masculinity: the football ultras in post-revolutionary Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/annette-lawson/csw-un-is-nothing-without-being-global">CSW: The UN is nothing without being global</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/haideh-moghissi/troubling-parallels-hopeful-differences-iran-women-and-arab-spring">Troubling parallels, hopeful differences: Iran, women, and the &#039;Arab spring&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maxine-molyneux/of-rights-and-risks-are-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-jeopardy">Of rights and risks: are women’s human rights in jeopardy?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-its-time-to-question-vaticans-power-at-un">CSW: it&#039;s time to question the Vatican&#039;s power at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heidi-basch-harod/shame-and-honour-re-appropriated-women-finding-their-voices">Shame and honour re-appropriated: women finding their voices</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/visible-players-power-and-risks-for-young-feminists">Visible players: the power and the risks for young feminists</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zainab-magdy/egyptian-storytelling-vessel-for-power">Egyptian storytelling: a vessel for power </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mariz-tadros/perilous-slide-towards-islamist-dictatorship-in-egypt">The perilous slide: towards an Islamist dictatorship in Egypt?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sara-abbas/revolution-is-female-uprising-of-women-in-arab-world">Revolution is female: the uprising of women in the Arab world</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mariz-tadros/tearing-egypt-apart">Tearing Egypt apart </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/fear-and-fury-women-and-post-revolutionary-violence">Fear and fury: women and post-revolutionary violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/disquiet-and-despair-gender-sub-texts-of-arab-spring">Disquiet and despair: the gender sub-texts of the &#039;Arab spring&#039; </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/promise-and-peril-women-and-%E2%80%98arab-spring%E2%80%99">Promise and peril: women and the ‘Arab spring’</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-human-rights-defenders-activisms-front-line">Women human rights defenders: activism&#039;s front-line</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Egypt Democracy and government Equality UN Commission on the Status of Women Women, culture and law 50.50 Gender Politics Religion Women and the Arab Spring Arab Region: The Dignity of Women 50.50 Editor's Pick Pathways of Women's Empowerment women's movements women's human rights women and power patriarchy fundamentalisms feminism 50.50 newsletter Hoda Elsadda Wed, 03 Apr 2013 11:39:39 +0000 Hoda Elsadda 71870 at https://www.opendemocracy.net CSW: resisting the backlash against women's human rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/susan-tolmay/csw-resisting-backlash-against-womens-human-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women's rights activists spent two hard weeks at the <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/index.html">Commission on the Status of Women</a> pushing back against fundamentalist opposition and the attempt to roll back women's human rights. Susan Tolmay reports on the battles which resulted in the advancement of women's rights in this year's Agreed Conclusions. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>UN officials and activists <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/mar/16/activists-welcome-un-agreeement-womens-rights">celebrated the news</a> that the CSW57 ended with <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/agreedconclusions.html">Agreed Conclusions</a>. The majority of states accepted the overall text and commended it as ‘fair and balanced’. However, on both ends of the political spectrum, states expressed some disappointment with the text. Some states regretted that more progress was not made, and others such as Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Iran, Qatar, the Vatican (Holy See), Nicaragua, Honduras and Sudan, expressed reservations with parts of the text - especially any explicit references to sexual and reproductive rights. </p> <p>At a time when we should be advancing rights that were hard fought for and <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/">agreed</a> to almost two decades ago, and implementing programmes to expedite women’s access to and realisation of these rights, including those laid out in a range of <a href="http://www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/%28symbol%29/a.conf.157.23.en">international agreements</a>, women’s rights activists spent two tough weeks pushing back against fundamentalist opposition attempting to roll back women’s human rights. </p> <p><strong>Fundamentalist opposition</strong> </p> <p>This year’s <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw57/CSW57_agreed_conclusions_advance_unedited_version_18_March_2013.pdf">Agreed Conclusions</a> were the result of flexibility and compromise, necessary to avert a similar situation to last year’s <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/56sess.htm">CSW 56</a> that <a href="http://www.wluml.org/action/international-statement-feminist-and-womens-organisations-very-limited-and-concerning-resul-1">failed to adopt agreed conclusions</a> when positions became polarised as a result of strong fundamentalist opposition by a small group of conservative countries. </p> <p>These groups were in full force, and stronger, this year. “Unholy alliances” were formed by states including <a href="http://www.awid.org/News-Analysis/CSW-Special-Focus3/News/Unholy-Alliance">Iran, Russia, Syria, Egypt, some States in the African group and the Vatican</a>, who united in taking positions against women’s sexual and reproductive rights, and against the rights of those who are violated because of their sexual orientation and gender identities. These states obstructed the negotiations, and lobbied hard to water down language that was <a href="http://www.un.org/popin/icpd2.htm">agreed</a> to decades ago. </p> <p>Midway into the second week of negotiations at the CSW, Egypt’s ruling&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Mar-13/209987-egypts-brotherhood-blasts-un-womens-document.ashx?utm_source=dlvr.it&amp;utm_medium=twitter">Muslim Brotherhood</a>, <a href="http://www.awid.org/News-Analysis/CSW-Special-Focus3/News/Egypt-s-Brotherhood-blasts-UN-women-s-document">lambasted the proposed CSW outcome document</a>, saying that the document, which calls for an end to violence against violence against women and girls, will “<a href="http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=30731">lead to complete disintegration of society… eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies</a>”. </p> <p>In the <a href="http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=30731">10 point statement</a> the Muslim Brotherhood objected to granting women sexual freedom, sexual and reproductive rights, equal rights for ‘homosexuals’, respect and protection for ‘prostitutes’, equal rights for children born out of wedlock, the equal rights of women, in marriage, inheritance, sharing family roles and the right of women to lay charges of rape against their husbands. The Arab caucus at the CSW - women’s and human rights groups from Egypt, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Tunisia -&nbsp; <a href="http://www.awid.org/News-Analysis/CSW-Special-Focus3/News/Arab-women-alarmed-at-government-opposition-to-strong-UN-statement-on-combatting-violence">expressed concern and opposition</a> to the statement, and urged governments “to clearly denounce all practices which perpetuate violence against women and girls, including those which are justified on the basis of tradition, culture and religion, and work on eliminating them.” </p> <p>Feminist and women’s organisations issued a statement raising concerns about “<a href="http://cwgl.rutgers.edu/program-areas/gender-based-violence/csw57/statement-on-outcome-document">the very alarming trends in the negotiations of outcome document of the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women</a>”, calling on governments to say “NO to any re-opening of negotiations on the already established <a href="http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/48/a48r104.htm">international agreements</a>…commend those states that are upholding women’s rights in totality ... and reject any attempt to invoke traditional values or morals to infringe upon <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/en/udhr/pages/language.aspx?langid=eng">human rights</a> guaranteed by international law”. </p> <p>One major success for women human rights defenders (WHRDs) at this year’s CSW was the inclusion, for the first time ever, of language in the <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw57/CSW57_agreed_conclusions_advance_unedited_version_18_March_2013.pdf">Agreed Conclusions</a> that specifically requires states to “Support and protect those who are committed to eliminating violence against women, including women human rights defenders in this regard, who face particular risks of violence.” The tireless work, both before and during the CSW, by members of the <a href="http://www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.org/about.php">Women Human Rights Defender International Coalition</a> (WHRD IC) and allies who advocated with member States to include strong language in the Agreed Conclusions paid off, but did not come without resistance. Several states, including Iran, China, Cuba, Syria, Nigeria and Cameroon, failed to acknowledge that violence against women human rights defenders is directly linked to their gender, and the work they do to protect women’s rights. Mexico, Colombia, Turkey and the EU led the argument for the recognition, defence, and inclusion of women human rights defenders in the Agreed Conclusions, and only won after compromising significant parts of the text in last minute negotiations. Whilst their success was welcomed by WHRD IC, the organisation called for stronger commitments to ensure women human rights defenders are able to carry out their work in defence of human rights without fear of reprisals, coercion or intimidation. </p> <p><strong>Sexual rights, reproductive rights and health</strong> </p> <p>Activists worked to ensure that <a href="http://www.un.org/popin/icpd2.htm">gains</a> from <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/">previous agreements</a> on sexual and reproductive rights were not rolled back, and fought hard for the explicit reaffirmation of accessible and affordable health care services, including sexual and reproductive health services such as emergency contraception and safe abortion for survivors of violence. They also urged governments, for the first time, to procure and supply female condoms. The <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/louise-binder/criminal-law-hiv-and-violence-against-women">link</a> between HIV and violence against women is a recurring theme throughout the Agreed Conclusions, with governments committing to strengthen and coordinate programmes and services addressing this <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/alice-welbourn/positive-women-human-rights-defenders">intersection</a>, as well as recognizing the need to focus services on the diverse experiences of women and girls. </p> <p>Governments made specific commitments to ensure the safety of girls in public and private spaces, as well as a commitment to end early and forced marriage. They also committed to preventing, investigating, and punishing acts of violence committed by people in positions of authority, such as teachers, religious leaders, political leaders and law enforcement officials. Other important gains include reaffirming comprehensive evidence-based sexuality education as a means tackle social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, promote gender equality, and eliminate prejudice. </p> <p>The Agreed Conclusions reaffirm that states should “strongly condemn all forms of violence against women and girls and to refrain from invoking any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination as set out in the <a href="http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/48/a48r104.htm">Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women</a>.” The retention of “religious” in the first paragraph and the inclusion of “religious leaders” were hard fought for by progressive States. </p> <p><strong>Further obstacles <br /></strong></p> <p>The fortnight of negotiations at the CSW make it very clear that conservative States are not ready to accept and advance rights related to sexual orientation and gender identities. There was continual reinforcement of traditional normative relationships in the language of the final outcome document, and<strong> </strong>complete refusal to acknowledge the existence of groups that do not conform to traditional gender identities and roles, or within a traditional patriarchal construct. While there is growing consensus and support for the inclusion of&nbsp; explicit language relating to specific groups that face particular forms of violence, including lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LBTI) women, no agreement could be reached on this language because conservative States consistently blocked any language that highlighted the violence women and girls experience in the diversity of relationships they engage in. References to intersectionality as a basic concept for understanding how the multiple forms of discrimination women and girls face are inextricably linked to factors such as race, ethnicity, religion, health ability, status, age, class and caste, were also absent from the final outcome document. </p> <p>States also failed to reach consensus on the role of families in combating violence against women and girls when conservative governments and the Vatican refused to recognize that diverse forms of families even exist.<strong> </strong>However<strong> </strong>the regressive statement that the “traditional family” must be protected, was met with heavy criticism from several progressive governments and did result in the deletion of the proposed paragraph. There was also strong opposition to language suggesting that rape includes forced behaviour by a woman’s husband or intimate partner. Although some states strived to retain <em>intimate partner violence</em>, a term that more adequately captures the range of relationships and spaces where violence and abuse take place, in the end it was left out of the Agreed Conclusions. </p> <p><strong>What does this mean for women’s human rights as we move towards 2015? <br /></strong></p> <p>Over 190 country delegations and 6000 representatives from civil society attended this year’s CSW in New York. Shareen Gokal of <a href="http://www.awid.org/">AWID</a>, believes that this year’s CSW helped strengthen the women’s rights movement because it provided an opportunity for women’s rights organisations and activists to share experiences multi-generationally, across boundaries, countries, sectors and issues.&nbsp; It provided an opportunity for rich exchanges and learning between experienced activists and those newer to the CSW process. The diversity of the space created at the CSW enabled advocates who traversed the political spectrum to work with ally States to advance negotiations, to deal with strong opposition, to monitor the types of arguments and tactics being used, and where possible, to counter and challenge these with rights-based perspectives. </p> <p>While feminists and women’s rights advocates agree that they did not get all the language they had hoped for, they welcome the <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw57/CSW57_agreed_conclusions_advance_unedited_version_18_March_2013.pdf">CSW57 Agreed Conclusions</a> as an achievement in the face of the very strong fundamentalist backlash. This bodes well as women’s rights advocates now work to <a href="http://www.awid.org/News-Analysis/Friday-Files/The-Post-2015-Development-Agenda-What-it-Means-and-How-to-Get-Involved">influence</a> the <a href="http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/about/mdg.shtml">Post 2015 Development Agenda</a> and <a href="http://www.awid.org/News-Analysis/Friday-Files/The-UN-Post-2015-Development-Agenda-A-Critical-Analysis">ensure</a> that violence against women and girls is a priority for the achievement of sustainable development, peace and security, human rights, economic growth and social cohesion. </p> <p><em>A fuller version of this <a href="http://www.awid.org/News-Analysis/Friday-Files/A-Step-Forward-Amid-Strong-Opposition-to-Women-s-Human-Rights-at-this-Year-s-57th-Commission-on-the-Status-of-Women">article</a> was first published by AWID in <a href="http://www.awid.org/News-Analysis/AWID-s-Friday-Files">Friday Files</a>, In the coming weeks AWID will be publishing more pieces exploring the key dynamics and issues at stake in promoting women's human rights. </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-on-balance-did-we-win">CSW on balance: did we win?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-its-time-to-question-vaticans-power-at-un">CSW: it&#039;s time to question the Vatican&#039;s power at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/annette-lawson/csw-un-is-nothing-without-being-global">CSW: The UN is nothing without being global</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">&#039;Traditional values&#039; vs human rights at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-human-rights-defenders-activisms-front-line">Women human rights defenders: activism&#039;s front-line</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maxine-molyneux/of-rights-and-risks-are-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-jeopardy">Of rights and risks: are women’s human rights in jeopardy?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/margaret-owen/csw-gulf-between-un-and-civil-society-0">CSW: the gulf between the UN and civil society</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/charlotte-watts/csw-from-global-to-local-extraordinary-opportunity">CSW: from the global to the local - an extraordinary opportunity </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/csw-battle-over-womens-sexual-and-reproductive-rights">CSW: the battle over women&#039;s sexual and reproductive rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/transformative-strategy-true-value-of-investing-in-women%E2%80%99s-rights">A transformative strategy: the true value of investing in women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/beyond-war-of-words-will-un-agree-to-act-to-end-violence-against-women">Beyond a war of words: will the UN agree to act to end violence against women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/beyond-individual-stories-women-have-moved-mountains">Beyond individual stories: women have moved mountains </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/culture-versus-rights-dualism-myth-or-reality">Culture versus rights dualism: a myth or a reality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/post-2015-development-agenda-whats-at-stake-for-worlds-women">The post 2015 development agenda: what&#039;s at stake for the world&#039;s women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ruth-rosen/what-will-it-take-to-end-violence-against-women">What will it take to end violence against women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/fear-and-fury-women-and-post-revolutionary-violence">Fear and fury: women and post-revolutionary violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-and-domestic-violence-mapping-damage">Austerity and domestic violence: mapping the damage</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/naila-kabeer/grief-and-rage-in-india-making-violence-against-women-history">Grief and rage in India: making violence against women history? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Culture Equality UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter women's human rights violence against women patriarchy gender justice Susan Tolmay Wed, 03 Apr 2013 11:33:06 +0000 Susan Tolmay 71814 at https://www.opendemocracy.net CSW on balance: did we win? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-on-balance-did-we-win <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>There is much to celebrate from this year’s CSW, but the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/csw-will-global-womens-rights-movement-prevail">failure</a> to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls to be included as a priority in the post 2015 framework, is a clear sign that our work is far from over, says Zohra Moosa </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>As the dust settles on the 57th UN Commission on the Status of Women and the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-owen/csw-will-there-be-agreed-conclusion-to-csw-this-year">relief</a> at having reached <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw57/CSW57_agreed_conclusions_advance_unedited_version_18_March_2013.pdf">Agreed Conclusions</a> this year begins to subside, it is time to consider what the international community has actually achieved.</p> <p>The starting position was a mixed one. The <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw57/CSW57_Draft_AC_proposal_presented_by_CSW_Bureau_8_February_2013.pdf">zero draft document</a> produced by UN Women to open the discussions was widely perceived by women’s rights activists, organizations and movements as a strong one. It recognized: </p> <ul><li><em>that achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women is essential to tackling the root causes of violence against women and girls;</em></li><li><em>the need to provide a wide range of accessible multisectoral services and responses for all forms of violence against women and girls, including services for sexual and reproductive health;</em></li><li><em>the links between prevention and response services, and the need for governments to take comprehensive, holistic and accountable approaches therefore;</em></li><li><em>the need to tackle violence and harassment of women and girls in public spaces and urban areas, as well as responding to domestic and intimate partner violence, which remain the most prevalent forms; and</em></li><li><em>that the elimination of violence against women and girls needs to be reflected as a priority in the post-2015 development framework, with clear targets and indicators to realize gender equality.</em></li></ul> <p>Against this however was a challenging <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/csw-will-global-womens-rights-movement-prevail">political backdrop.</a> Not only did last year’s CSW not result in any agreed conclusions, Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development which followed in June, also proved a <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/jun/22/gro-harlem-brundtland-rio20-gender-equality">disappointment to many</a> women’s rights activists when it concluded without any reference to reproductive rights in the final agreement. This suggested that rather than offering opportunities to advance on our women’s rights concepts and commitments, these global negotiations were forcing us to <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">defend</a> previously agreed basic rights. </p> <p>As member states are currently poised to negotiate on the <a href="http://post2015.org/">post-2015 framework</a> and how gender equality and women’s empowerment will be included, this year’s CSW was to a degree also acting as a weather vane on what <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/post-2015-development-agenda-whats-at-stake-for-worlds-women">might be possible</a> in the coming months. </p> <p>The fact that conclusions were reached this year is therefore a welcome signal. But we do need to assess at what price. While from the above list much was retained, <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/csw-will-global-womens-rights-movement-prevail">lost</a> was any reference to ‘intimate partner violence’ and the call for violence against women and girls to be included as a priority in the post-2015 framework. </p> <p>The former is perhaps of more significance as it would have acknowledged ‘that not all women are in relationships formally recognised by the state’, as my ActionAid colleague Rowan Harvey <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/mar/20/un-conference-women-rights-won">explains</a> in her analysis for the Guardian. In fact, one of the most painful sacrifices made to reach agreement was the removal of any reference to violence women and girls face due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. </p> <p>On the other hand, there were some very positive gains. For example the zero draft was strengthened in two key ways. First, a new paragraph on the role of small arms and light weapons in aggravating violence against women and girls was added. Second, as the <a href="http://cwgl.rutgers.edu/program-areas/gender-based-violence/csw57">Center for Women’s Global Leadership</a> notes, ‘for the first time in a negotiated document, there is acknowledgement of the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-human-rights-defenders-activisms-front-line">risks faced by women human rights defenders</a> and states’ obligation to support and protect them.’&nbsp; </p> <p>In addition, deeply problematic language such as the proposed get-out clause affirming states’ sovereign right to implement CSW recommendations according to their own national priorities and laws, was resisted. </p> <p>The work it took to achieve this result by both civil society and member states should not be underestimated. The next big negotiated moment is the UN <a href="http://www.beyond2015.org/bali-meetings-march-2013">High Level Panel on Post-2015</a> which meets in Bali next week. This will be followed next month by the <a href="http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N13/233/05/PDF/N1323305.pdf?OpenElement">46th session</a> of the Conference on Population and Development (CPD), which tracks implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. We can be sure that this conversation is not over.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-its-time-to-question-vaticans-power-at-un">CSW: it&#039;s time to question the Vatican&#039;s power at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/charlotte-watts/csw-from-global-to-local-extraordinary-opportunity">CSW: from the global to the local - an extraordinary opportunity </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/csw-battle-over-womens-sexual-and-reproductive-rights">CSW: the battle over women&#039;s sexual and reproductive rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/post-2015-development-agenda-whats-at-stake-for-worlds-women">The post 2015 development agenda: what&#039;s at stake for the world&#039;s women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/beyond-war-of-words-will-un-agree-to-act-to-end-violence-against-women">Beyond a war of words: will the UN agree to act to end violence against women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/parinita-bhattacharjee/sex-work-violence-and-hiv-experience-from-rural-karnataka">Sex work, violence and HIV: experience from rural Karnataka</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">&#039;Traditional values&#039; vs human rights at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/culture-versus-rights-dualism-myth-or-reality">Culture versus rights dualism: a myth or a reality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/annette-lawson/csw-un-is-nothing-without-being-global">CSW: The UN is nothing without being global</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/transformative-strategy-true-value-of-investing-in-women%E2%80%99s-rights">A transformative strategy: the true value of investing in women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/beyond-individual-stories-women-have-moved-mountains">Beyond individual stories: women have moved mountains </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/margaret-owen/csw-will-there-be-agreed-conclusion-to-csw-this-year">CSW: will there be an Agreed Conclusion to the CSW this year? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-human-rights-defenders-activisms-front-line">Women human rights defenders: activism&#039;s front-line</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/alice-welbourn/women-and-post-2015-agenda-are-you-on-board-ark">Women and the post-2015 agenda: are you on board the ark?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ruth-rosen/what-will-it-take-to-end-violence-against-women">What will it take to end violence against women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/fear-and-fury-women-and-post-revolutionary-violence">Fear and fury: women and post-revolutionary violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/naila-kabeer/grief-and-rage-in-india-making-violence-against-women-history">Grief and rage in India: making violence against women history? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Democracy and government Equality UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women's human rights women and power violence against women gender feminism bodily autonomy zohra moosa Thu, 21 Mar 2013 10:59:39 +0000 zohra moosa 71712 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women and the post-2015 agenda: are you on board the ark? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/alice-welbourn/women-and-post-2015-agenda-are-you-on-board-ark <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With the roller-coaster of the CSW just finished and the resignation of UNWomen Director Michelle Bachelet, the next year promises stormy seas ahead for setting the future agenda for women’s rights. Alice Welbourn sets out some priorities for civil society in relation to HIV, gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive rights.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The 57th Commission on the Status of Women came to a nail-biting end at around 8pm East Coast time on Friday evening. Whilst negotiations during the two weeks of meetings had been long, hard and <a href="http://cwgl.rutgers.edu/program-areas/gender-based-violence/csw57/statement-on-outcome-document" target="_blank">fraught</a>, the Outcome Document is remarkably well received by women’s rights <a href="http://www.iwhc.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=3862&amp;Itemid=599" target="_blank">activists</a> around the world. There are still huge gaps, including securing gay rights, sex education for adolescents, access to contraception to abortion, to recognising marital rape, to recognition of violence against sex <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/parinita-bhattacharjee/sex-work-violence-and-hiv-experience-from-rural-karnataka">workers</a> and against women who use <a href="http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/featurestories/2012/december/20121211womenoutloud/">drugs</a>. There is also still need to firm up some of the <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/women-un/24930199.html" target="_blank">language</a> of other areas, but on the whole far more was achieved than feared. Violence against women in <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/aziza-ahmed-mindy-roseman-jennifer-gatsi-mallet/are-hospitals-safe-for-women-living-with-hiv">healthcare</a> settings, such as forced or coerced abortions or sterilisations and forced use of contraceptives by women with HIV and other vulnerable women, was recognised, as were the links between <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nell-osborne/violence-gender-and-hiv-in-uk">violence</a> against women and HIV. And provision of post-exposure prophylaxis after rape was accepted for the first time. Those involved in the negotiations deserve hearty congratulations for all their determination. There was also the unexpected announcement by UNWomen Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, at the end of her closing speech, of her <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/2013/03/closing-statement-michelle-bachelet-csw57/" target="_blank">resignation</a>. Never a dull moment. </p><p>I was in New York too for four nights over last weekend, with colleagues. Our main focus there wasn’t the <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/57sess.htm" target="_blank">current</a> CSW at all, however, but the post-2015 agenda, which is designed to take over once the <a href="http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview.html" target="_blank">MDGs</a> run out.&nbsp; The post-2015 development agenda is the key theme for next year's UN Commission on the Status of Women, and the post-2015 agenda <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/post-2015-development-agenda-whats-at-stake-for-worlds-women">process</a> is steaming away as we speak – yet few have even heard of it, let alone clambered on board. So we were meeting to find out more about it and begin to strategise our involvement in the debate. The <a href="http://www.awid.org/Library/MDG-Goals-Panned-for-Isolating-Women-s-Rights">MDGs</a> have been good in some aspects, but extremely poor for women’s rights in not recognising violence against women, or women’s sexual and reproductive rights (SRHR). </p> <p>The <a href="http://www.athenanetwork.org">ATHENA</a> Network, <a href="http://www.gestos.org/principal/">Gestos</a>, <a href="http://www.iwhc.org">IWHC</a> and the <a href="http://www.salamandertrust.net">Salamander</a> Trust convened the 2-day think tank of 45 civil society women’s rights activists, to learn from and share with one another our knowledge of the post-2015 process to date and to brainstorm around how best we could engage with it, specifically with reference to building bridges across different movements working on women’s sexual and reproductive rights, HIV and overcoming gender-based violence (GBV). We quickly established that we <em>all</em> felt vague about the process so far. Yet much has already happened and it is not a moment too soon to become engaged. </p> <p>We very quickly established that key websites have already been set up which we should all visit. The first is <a href="http://www.worldwewant2015.org">worldwewant2015.org</a>&nbsp; where the eleven themes being considered in this process are listed together with summaries for each of the thematic consultations; The themes are : inequalities, governance, health, environmental sustainability, population dynamics, water, growth and employment, conflict and fragility, food security and nutrition, education, energy. An events calendar lists consultations for each of these (they will all be finished by the end of this month). There are also plans for national consultations, which are said to be happening in 100 countries. However, one set of colleagues involved in GBV work in one African country has heard nothing of this in theirs. So this process isn’t reaching them yet. </p> <p>Another key website is <a href="http://www.myworld2015.org">myworld2015.org</a> where anyone is invited to vote for their own top 6 of the 11 themes. To me the idea of trying to vote for my top 6 themes out of the list above is akin to a lifeboat version of Noah’s ark. How can you vote between issues when they are <em>all</em> critical to the well-being of our planet? But this is the left-brain thinking-dominated world that we live in, ruled by logic and lists, rather than <a href="http://drdansiegel.com/books/mindsight/">balanced</a> with right-brain wisdom, creativity and an acceptance of the reality of complex adaptive <a href="http://www.cgdev.org/content/multimedia/detail/1426397/">systems</a>,&nbsp; neuro-biologists and physicists recognize that vertical systems and linear models of change are not appropriate means of planning the world around us. Their research shows that we should be acknowledging, working with and embracing complexity, rather than trying to simplify everything down to top-down linear messages and mind-sets. But I guess such thinking hasn’t yet reached the UN or our governments. </p> <p>The third top website is <a href="http://www.post2015hlp.org">post2015hlp.org</a> which names the 27 High Level Panellists who are shaping our futures, their terms of reference and describes the overall process. </p> <p>The areas we are watching most include health, inequalities and governance. So far, we have a mixed reaction to the consultations. The health consultation <a href="http://www.worldwewant2015.org/file/311537/download/338636">draft</a> report makes no mention of HIV in relation to GBV or to governance issues, and whilst there was civil society involvement in the consultation, this statement does not bode well. Meanwhile, the HIV-specific consultation which took place in <a href="http://icssupport.org">Amsterdam</a> in January in advance of this health consultation totally omitted any reference to target indicators regarding women’s rights. This presumably because most people still assume that HIV peri-natal transmission programmes do all that is needed for women with regards to HIV, thereby failing to recognise that most peri-natal transmission programmes are actually far more to do with women’s <em>wrongs</em> than with our <a href="http://www.rhm-elsevier.com/article/S0968-8080(12)39638-9/fulltext"><em>rights</em></a><em>.</em> The inequalities <a href="http://www.worldwewant2015.org/file/299198/download/324584">consultation</a> in Copenhagen recognised gender inequalities, including our lack of sexual and reproductive rights, the prevalence of GBV and the challenges of stigma and discrimination faced by people with HIV. Rumour does have it that a goal specifically around gender equality, post-2015 will be forthcoming. The governance consultation <a href="http://www.worldwewant2015.org/governance">report</a> from South Africa is yet to be published. </p> <p>Over four days our think tank worked together to define 5 strategic priority themes for the post-2015 agenda. We consider them all to be of equal priority<em> </em>and mutually reinforcing:<em> <br /></em></p> <p>High level commitment to <em>multi-sectoral</em><strong> </strong>approaches that address the diversity of women and girls and our rights. Everyone talks about it, everyone agrees it, yet because there is no evidence base for it, no-one funds it. Instead, services and mindsets remain vertically siloed. In practical terms, this means that poor rural women have to trudge from one centre to another, for blood tests, for contraceptive services, for HIV medication, often with their husband beside them for legal permissions. In policy terms, most countries have no GBV or even a gender equality strategy. If we are lucky there is a bit of gender equality in the HIV <a href="http://www.athenanetwork.org/gendering-national-strategic-plans.html">National</a> Strategic Plans. But there is rarely mention of HIV in any gender equality strategies that do exist because people just aren’t making the links and several states at the CSW were just refusing to acknowledge the existence of Intimate Partner Violence, despite the evidence of its close reciprocal links with HIV. </p> <p>Build the <em>diversity</em> of the movement and ensure the representation of those most affected by the issues. Our think tank was intended to bring together women from many diverse backgrounds but we did not have nearly as much geographic diversity as we had hoped. None from Eastern Europe or Asia-Pacific could join us. We just had to invite those we knew would be in New York anyway. Exorbitant US prices and the very weak pound mean that budgetary considerations are paramount. I was lucky to be there at all, even as co-host. Lack of women’s representation is also highlighted by the farce of the recent <a href="http://www.avac.org/ht/display/ReleaseDetails/i/49160/pid/212">VOICE</a> trial results, published at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections last week. This trial, which tried to encourage women to take medication regularly to stop them getting HIV, failed because it reckoned without the need to consult with and engage women to involve them properly.&nbsp; “Biomedical tools do not work in a vacuum but rather in the complex realities of women’s and girls’ lives.” says AVAC Director, Mitchell <a href="http://www.avac.org/ht/display/ReleaseDetails/i/49160/pid/212">Warren</a>. How much funding has been spent on that trial? How<em> </em>many years have we been telling policy makers that they need to involve us? </p> <p><em>Accountability</em> and <em>implementation</em><strong>&nbsp; </strong>As explained above<strong>,</strong> the Amsterdam HIV meeting had no mention of women’s rights in its targets and these were also missing from the MDGs. It is essential that we have donors and policy makers held to account over women’s rights. Their goals, targets and indicators should all include these. Maternal health targets are not enough. As we have argued <a href="http://www.rhm-elsevier.com/article/S0968-8080%2812%2939638-9/fulltext">elsewhere</a>, these services often undermine women’s rights. And there is rather more to our lives than having babies. </p> <p>&nbsp;<em>Linking </em><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/charlotte-watts/csw-from-global-to-local-extraordinary-opportunity"><em>global</em></a><em> policies to local realities and back again</em>. The word “<a href="http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/glocal">glocal</a>” is a helpful addition to my vocabulary. Yet this entire post-2015 process is tipped against the very voices we should be listening to most: communities across the world with no access to electronic communications whatsoever. A global eruption of e-surveys and webinars are over-taking face-to-face contact. Moreover, the whole coordination of this process to date has reflected increasingly <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-owen/csw-gulf-between-un-and-civil-society-0">limited</a> involvement of civil society. Increasing numbers of colleagues, such as Anandi <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fskfLDUX1Hc">Yuvraj</a>, who used to coordinate the Asia-Pacific chapter of the International Community of Women living with HIV, are just dropping off the internet as they have to close down their offices and work, due to lack of funding. </p> <p><em>Resource</em> mobilisation for our collective agenda. Adding to my earlier <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/alice-welbourn/gender-politics-of-funding-women-human-rights-defenders">piece</a> on openDemocracy.5050, there are increasing reports from colleagues around the world that funding for men’s organisations is soaring and their staff numbers are multiplying, whilst women’s rights organisations are really struggling for funds and closing. Men’s organisations have to wake up to this reality and do something proactively to support women’s rights organisations to remain funded and supported. The seeds of resentment are already taking root and unless this imbalance is quickly addressed, many more grassroots and small-scale women’s rights organizations will fold. Related to this were discussions about the “Starbucks syndrome” of large international NGOs which are household names parachuting in, with a lot of funding, celebrity hype and marketing power,&nbsp; “pinching” local grassroots women’s organizations’ ideas and staff and rebranding them as their own. “I should start to charge them for all the staff I have trained for them over the years” declared one African delegate. </p> <p>This opens up a bigger question, around the nature of women’s organizing in our fundamentally patriarchal world. As Srilatha Batliwala describes in her two articles, <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/srilatha-batliwala/beyond-individual-stories-women-have-moved-mountains">Beyond individual stories: women have moved mountains</a>&nbsp; and <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/srilatha-batliwala/transformative-strategy-true-value-of-investing-in-women%E2%80%99s-rights">A transformative strategy: the true value of investing in women's rights , </a>one of the key findings from AWID’s research highlights the need for programmes to go to scale, in order to achieve a critical mass with regard to change. More of this in another piece.&nbsp; </p> <p>Meanwhile, hold on to your lifejackets: with UN Women on auto-pilot, now that Dr "Noah" Bachelet is returning to shore, there will be stormy weather ahead.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Democracy and government Equality UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 AIDS, Gender and Human Rights 50.50 Editor's Pick Pathways of Women's Empowerment women's movements women's health 50.50 newsletter Alice Welbourn Mon, 18 Mar 2013 11:17:52 +0000 Alice Welbourn 71648 at https://www.opendemocracy.net CSW : will the global women's rights movement prevail? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/csw-will-global-womens-rights-movement-prevail <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“Violence against women and girls is not in anyone's culture, tradition or religion. This is about power, inequality, a lack of political will and courage to work towards a better world,"&nbsp;says Shareen Gokal. Will those with the political will to end violence against women and girls prevail in the final hours of the CSW?&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>As the crowd rejoiced in Saint Peter's Square over the election of a new pope, the Vatican was at work resisting women's rights at the United Nations. The discussions over the <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/">Commission of the Status of Women</a> agreement were entering their final phase, among fears that delegates wouldn't be able to agree on a final communiqué, like last year, or that its content would water down women's rights and severely compromise already agreed upon commitments. What is making it so difficult to agree on a progressive text seeking to eliminate violence against women and girls? </p> <p>“It's 2013, really, not one century ago,” Cynthia Rothschild, a consultant for <a href="http://www.coc.nl/engels">COC Netherlands</a>, told me as she collapsed into an armchair at the UN café, at the end of a very long day and two very long weeks spent advocating for recognition of violence related to sexual orientation and gender identity. “I think there's terror over women's sexuality, that the idea of women's sexual freedom is completely terrifying to many governments.” </p> <p>What has been taking place at CSW is all about erasure. A cross-regional group of 17 countries, led by the Vatican, followed by Iran and Russia, has been trying to erase language designed to fight violence against women across the world. The mention of women's sexual and reproductive rights: Erase. Femicide, the killing of a woman because she is a woman: Delete. “Intimate partner violence”, a phrase that would protect women better than “domestic violence”, because it covers a broader range of relationships: Delete. Violence against women human rights defenders: No. Violence against women based on their sexual orientation or gender identity: Delete. It doesn't exist. Or, as Cynthia puts it “Some States have such an investment in not recognising that this violence exists because they don't want to recognise the lives of this group of people.” Behind each excluded phrase, forms of violence are being voluntarily ignored and perpetrated: one of the reasons why Iran wants to delete any reference to “early and forced marriage” is because the legal age to marry there is 13. Conservative entities have also been contesting the issue of' cultural or religious rights – claiming that national sovereignty could prevail over international law. </p> <p>Is CSW a forum for discussing women's rights only? "Geopolitical agendas are the undercurrent to everything. You think you're talking only about women's rights, but countries have all sorts of agendas at play simultaneously, like military agreements about airspace, who’s vying for a seat on the Security Council, or humanitarian aid,” says Cynthia. During this year's CSW negotiations geopolitical relations have been consolidated or reconfigured. Blocks of countries which traditionally worked together have been broken. Last year the European block split as Poland, Malta and Hungary took regressive stances. By the end of the second week this year, the CSW NGO Chair announced that Sudan and Egypt had stepped out of the African group, and might join another group (the block of Arab countries), which Sudanese NGOs denied, saying they were committed to remain a part of the African group. And <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolivarian_Alliance_for_the_Americas">ALBA</a> countries such as Cuba and Ecuador have remained strangely quiet when it has come to opposing propositions from Russia, a close ally of their group. While some countries, like Australia, Holland and Zimbabwe have successfully integrated civil society representatives who sometimes lead the negotiations (as is the case for Turkey), when more often than not, hushed negotiations are held behind closed doors and between member States. Once again, women's rights are a bargaining chip within a wider geopolitical discussion. </p> <p>Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood published <a href="http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=30731">a statement</a> warning that the CSW outcome document “if ratified, would lead to complete disintegration of society...” by, for example, granting women sexual freedom and reproductive rights and “granting equal rights to homosexuals.”&nbsp; It presented the movement for women's rights as a decadent Western preoccupation leading to immorality. Neither the Vatican nor the Muslim Brotherhood (nor the United States) have ratified <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/">CEDAW</a>, the international bill of rights for women. Their fundamentalisms meet over the same agenda. Following the Muslim Brotherhood statement, a coalition of Arab human rights groups – from Egypt, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Tunisia – <a href="http://eipr.org/en/pressrelease/2013/03/14/1655?utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter">called on countries at CSW</a> to stop using religion, culture and tradition to justify abuse of women. </p> <p>“A lot of States are using religion to maintain control and flex their political power," said Shareen Gokal, of <a href="http://www.awid.org/">AWID</a>, before adding: “The body is the site of control, if you lose control over women's sexuality and reproduction, then you lose control of society. That's why you see the political struggles being played out on women's bodies - in Egypt, people came together to ask for a more equal society, not for this.” Among women's rights campaigners, there's a growing sense that the actions of certain countries or entities at CSW such as Russia, Qatar and the Holy See are blocking the aspirations of the many - and also a sense that the Vatican's complete lack of legitimacy as a State needs to be denounced.&nbsp; </p> <p>Today is the final day for negotiations and the debates have become incredibly tense over women's reproductive rights. But there is also a paragraph on national sovereignty which, if not challenged successfully, could undermine the whole text. Some delegates are becoming particularly frustrated by Iran, the Vatican and Russia blocking the discussion. There is a belief that Russia is simply trying to flex its political muscle in the international sphere to show that it is a force to be reckoned with. </p> <p>What would the failure of the negotiations to reach an Agreement mean? It wouldn't necessarily indicate that UN Women has failed, say some. One UN insider told me that she believes that the greatest mistake of UN Women is to have made the outcome of CSW a measure of its own success – and to have announced, <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/mar/05/michelle-bachelet-language-un-women">as Michelle Bachelet did</a> at the opening press conference of CSW, a desire to seek compromise. A failure would, however, tell the world's women that we cannot take anything for granted and that some governments, under the umbrella of the UN, are ready to take us backwards when it comes to women's rights. </p> <p>Coming up with an agreement which waters down women’s rights would open the door to future efforts to curtail women’s freedom that has been hard fought for over the decades. However, there is also an acute awareness that if there is an outcome document and the Agreed Conclusions contain progressive language, for words to be turned into action, the agreement needs to be accompanied by a global program of implementation and action, similar to the <a href="http://www.unaids.org/en/">HIV/ AIDS program</a>, where every member State agrees on a common strategy and budget. “The elimination of violence against women has been seen as one of the missing points from the 2015 development goals. It is the biggest impediment to development and an embarrassment to mankind,” one UN insider told me.&nbsp; </p> <p>“Violence against women and girls is not in anyone's culture, tradition or religion. This is about power, inequality, a lack of political will and courage to work towards a better world,"&nbsp;says Shareen Gokal, as she waits for the final outcome, hoping that political games, and agendas that have united unlikely bedfellow like the Holy See, Iran and Qatar won't prevail over the women's rights movement. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-its-time-to-question-vaticans-power-at-un">CSW: it&#039;s time to question the Vatican&#039;s power at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/margaret-owen/csw-gulf-between-un-and-civil-society-0">CSW: the gulf between the UN and civil society</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-institutions_government/girls_rights_4386.jsp">Do women and girls have human rights?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/margaret-owen/csw-will-there-be-agreed-conclusion-to-csw-this-year">CSW: will there be an Agreed Conclusion to the CSW this year? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/post-2015-development-agenda-whats-at-stake-for-worlds-women">The post 2015 development agenda: what&#039;s at stake for the world&#039;s women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/valeria-costa-kostritsky/csw-gender-and-unsustainable-development">CSW: gender and unsustainable development </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/annette-lawson/csw-un-is-nothing-without-being-global">CSW: The UN is nothing without being global</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/beyond-war-of-words-will-un-agree-to-act-to-end-violence-against-women">Beyond a war of words: will the UN agree to act to end violence against women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maxine-molyneux/of-rights-and-risks-are-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-jeopardy">Of rights and risks: are women’s human rights in jeopardy?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/culture-versus-rights-dualism-myth-or-reality">Culture versus rights dualism: a myth or a reality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/fear-and-fury-women-and-post-revolutionary-violence">Fear and fury: women and post-revolutionary violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/naila-kabeer/grief-and-rage-in-india-making-violence-against-women-history">Grief and rage in India: making violence against women history? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/charlotte-watts/csw-from-global-to-local-extraordinary-opportunity">CSW: from the global to the local - an extraordinary opportunity </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/csw-battle-over-womens-sexual-and-reproductive-rights">CSW: the battle over women&#039;s sexual and reproductive rights </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Democracy and government Equality UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women's human rights women's health women and power violence against women gender fundamentalisms feminism Valeria Costa-Kostritsky Fri, 15 Mar 2013 17:01:47 +0000 Valeria Costa-Kostritsky 71609 at https://www.opendemocracy.net CSW: it's time to question the Vatican's power at the UN https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/zohra-moosa/csw-its-time-to-question-vaticans-power-at-un <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the final days of the UN Commission on the Status of Women summit on eliminating violence against women and girls, the Vatican, in alliance with Iran, Syria and Russia, is working to roll-back agreement on women’s rights. No other religious institution or special interest group has this level of influence in UN negotiations.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>While Roman Catholic cardinals have been meeting in Rome to choose a new pope, at the 57th annual UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York, delegates from around the world are in the final days of a meeting to agree a new commitment on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls. The Vatican has been extremely active at the summit, proposing more amendments to the text of the outcome document in the first round of negotiations than any other country or regional group.&nbsp;</p> <p>Rather than aligning with more moderate Catholic countries or their European neighbours, the Vatican is collaborating with a 16 strong cross-regional group of countries, including Iran, Russia and Syria, in order to push through amendments to key language. Their efforts are aimed at changing wording in the text to roll-back past agreements and prevent advances on key issues such as supporting women and girls who face violence in relationships other than marriage, women’s right to control their sexual and reproductive health and access to abortion for survivors of rape.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Vatican is not an official member of the UN, but has special observer status, which enables it to directly intervene in negotiations and propose changes to the text at each stage. In addition, it has hosted side events and has actively lobbied governments from countries with significant Catholic populations across Africa, Latin America and Asia to increase pressure on them to back down from voicing progressive positions. The meeting is due to end on Friday 15th March, but it is not clear if there will be an agreement among all countries by then.&nbsp;</p> <p>Rowan Harvey, ActionAid’s women’s rights adviser who attended the UN meeting, said: “It is time for the UN to look again at whether the Vatican should be permitted to wield this much power in international negotiations on women’s rights. No other religious institution or special interest group has this level of influence in UN negotiations.&nbsp;</p> <p>“One in three women in the world will suffer some kind of violence in their lifetime and it is vital that we listen to their voices in these debates. Coming after high profile incidents like the Delhi rape and the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan for standing up for the right of girls to go to school, it is more essential than ever that the world comes together to send out a message that violence against women has to stop. As the world watches to see if Pope Francis will usher in an era of change, a<strong> </strong>welcome first sign would be a more progressive stance on the rights of half the world’s population to be free from violence.”</p> <p>Delegates and activists from around the world have travelled to the summit to share expertise on how to prevent violence against women and girls, support those affected and promote gender equality. ActionAid, which works to support women to claim their rights in over 40 countries, is there working with a spectrum of faith-based organisations, all of whom believe their faith supports work against violence against women and girls. Despite their direct experience of the issues involved, none of the women’s rights and international development organisations attending the UN meeting has the power and privileged status enjoyed by the Vatican and their representatives. </p> <p>&nbsp;ActionAid is calling for a strong outcome document from the UN Commission on the Status of Women meeting that advances women’s human rights and gender equality and commits to eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls. As the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals, due to expire in 2015, is also currently being discussed, ActionAid is urging delegates to include in the outcome document a call for a clear target on eliminating violence against women and girls within a stand alone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the post-2015 development framework.</p> <p><em>Press Release from the ActionAid team&nbsp; &nbsp; <br /></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/margaret-owen/csw-gulf-between-un-and-civil-society-0">CSW: the gulf between the UN and civil society</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/annette-lawson/csw-un-is-nothing-without-being-global">CSW: The UN is nothing without being global</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/beyond-war-of-words-will-un-agree-to-act-to-end-violence-against-women">Beyond a war of words: will the UN agree to act to end violence against women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maxine-molyneux/of-rights-and-risks-are-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-jeopardy">Of rights and risks: are women’s human rights in jeopardy?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">&#039;Traditional values&#039; vs human rights at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rochelle-terman/who-should-care-about-stoning">Who should care about stoning?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/csw-battle-over-womens-sexual-and-reproductive-rights">CSW: the battle over women&#039;s sexual and reproductive rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/massouda-jalal/csw-voices-from-afghanistan">CSW: Voices from Afghanistan </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/massouda-jalal/afghanistan-blind-pursuit-of-peace-and-reconciliation">Afghanistan: the blind pursuit of peace and reconciliation</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/charlotte-watts/csw-from-global-to-local-extraordinary-opportunity">CSW: from the global to the local - an extraordinary opportunity </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/margaret-owen/csw-will-there-be-agreed-conclusion-to-csw-this-year">CSW: will there be an Agreed Conclusion to the CSW this year? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/parinita-bhattacharjee/sex-work-violence-and-hiv-experience-from-rural-karnataka">Sex work, violence and HIV: experience from rural Karnataka</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valeria-costa-kostritsky/post-2015-development-agenda-whats-at-stake-for-worlds-women">The post 2015 development agenda: what&#039;s at stake for the world&#039;s women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/valeria-costa-kostritsky/csw-gender-and-unsustainable-development">CSW: gender and unsustainable development </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Democracy and government Equality From our archive: the Catholic Church UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women's human rights women's health violence against women gender fundamentalisms bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter zohra moosa Thu, 14 Mar 2013 17:20:32 +0000 zohra moosa 71580 at https://www.opendemocracy.net CSW: The UN is nothing without being global https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/annette-lawson/csw-un-is-nothing-without-being-global <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Agendas driven by political alignments, issues of sovereignty, the secular versus the non-secular, and donor versus recipient countries, continue to inform the debate at the CSW. Ten years ago, no agreement was reached on how to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls. What are the prospects for agreement this time ?&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In the closing days of the CSW, the temperature is hot in the conference and negotiation rooms as governments seeks to ravel and unravel the wording of what should become the Agreed Conclusions - that is, the outcome of the two weeks of this extremely serious Commission. </p> <p>This meeting seeks to make sense of the pandemic of violence against women and girls that has swept the world.&nbsp; It is a War on Women that has to stop. No-one denies the appalling figures which show the abuse of women and girls to be extraordinarily common, most of it happening behind closed doors in what should be the safe spaces of families.&nbsp; No-one thinks rape, whether in the home, street, field or in war, is just fine and dandy.&nbsp; No-one thinks grooming boy members of gangs to seduce girls and then hand them on to older men for their sexual pleasures, caring nothing for the girls, while both are threatened with other kinds of violence and other dangers if they do not oblige, is just part of life 's rich tapestry. No-one believes women can be beaten, their eyes put out, acid thrown on them because they have upset some man or men, including their spouses. </p> <p>Nor do most people think inflicting sex with a brother in law as punishment for the death of her husband is a tolerable custom to 'cleanse' a widow of her sin; but surely she is a witch if her husband has died? And there is less clarity on the age at which a girl maybe forced to marry.&nbsp; Is she still a child when she has her first menses at 9?&nbsp; If she is a woman she should be married and produce sons and the occasional daughter for her husband.&nbsp; Who says she should be free to finish school (if she has ever begun), and make her own choices when she is grown up?&nbsp; Has she been 'cut'?&nbsp; If not, she will not be desirable to men in any event.&nbsp; We, this argument might continue, know best what is suitable for us, our culture and our religion.&nbsp; Universal, inalienable rights only go so far.&nbsp; Not across our borders. </p> <p>The first draft of the all important document was produced by <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/">UN Women</a>.&nbsp; Known as the zero document, this year's was generally judged as not too bad. UN Women is leading the work effectively with much that is exactly what women want,. They were canny and wrote something that might actually get agreement. NGOs read it carefully and saw the gaps and silences which if filled, would do more than hold the line and move us forward because the world has changed since <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/fwcwn.html">Beijing in 1995</a>.&nbsp; We need finally, as the Norwegian representative said powerfully in her statement to the Commission, to deal with the issue of women's need for reproductive rights, for which we have been fighting for many years.&nbsp; Almost all the governments of EU countries, together with many from each of the major UN regions, also saw where strengthening the language would do more to ensure access for both women and girls to their human rights, prevent violence against women and girls (this year's CSW theme) and lead to effective services for victims, perhaps even reparation for those subjected to assaults by state actors. But some were quick to see language they did not support and wished to work against. </p> <p>As we know, political alignments are forged, or have already been made, beforehand. Like-minded governments and like-minded NGOs from left and right, non-secular versus secular, those whose focus is on development and the need for aid, and those from the donor countries such as the USA whose aid cannot be used to even give advice about termination of pregnancies, form groups which do not always hold - and change as the debate over the Agreed Conclusion progresses.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Some of these alliances clearly have much in common but when you have a cross regional group that includes Russia, Iran, Iraq, the Holy See and Bangladesh (17 countries in all) it is hard to see what bands them together.&nbsp; And the word is that this particular group may not be holding. And why have next door neighbours in Africa taken opposing positions on the issue, say, of sovereignty? </p> <p>This issue of sovereignty is new here. Some governments want it to be clear that they will not have the UN telling them what they must do.&nbsp; They will only do what they wish to do. Such a position is a nonsense in a document such as this. The UN is nothing without being global.&nbsp; Human rights lie at the base of all its Conventions and while the <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/">Beijing Platform for Action and its Declaration and later additions in follow-up meetings</a> are not treaties, they have been signed up to by most governments in the UN and all members of the Commission on the Status of Women.&nbsp; Just to have a set of paragraphs that are based on existing conventions which are international treaties and then to say, yes, we know we have signed all of these instruments but now we are going to take our own line, mocks the&nbsp; process and undermines the outcome. </p> <p>It might be a deal-breaker. </p> <p>A deal-breaker? Yes.&nbsp; Last year, when the issue was rural women.&nbsp; Huge numbers of women globally work the land providing subsistence for their families, their communities - and food for us too.&nbsp; They are extremely poor, lack basic needs and often have no land rights. As rural women, they suffer few freedoms, even of movement, and have less access to education and information. Yet governments failed to reach consensus.&nbsp; So there was no agreed outcome at last year's UN CSW.&nbsp; The EU was right to refuse a final agreement that would have set women back, but no one wants this to happen here again this time. In part it is because the last time when violence against women and girls was discussed at the CSW, in 2003, there also was no agreement - yet it is rare for there to be no outcome at CSW.&nbsp; </p> <p>The UK and other states have been working well ahead of the meeting in meetings around the world seeking to build alliances and consensus on ways forward. 6000 NGOs had registered for the meeting, and more than 100 are from the UK. We have been working since July 2012 to build an alliance of UK based civil society organisations, and are providing the liaison with the Government here at the meeting as well as in preparation for and we hope following it. We are privileged to meet every day and learn from one another.&nbsp; On Linked-in, Dutch colleagues and ourselves who know what goes on here, have been explaining and bringing in women who don't know about this meeting.&nbsp; The Dutch also have a phenomenal web site, <a href="http://www.nieuwsbank.nl/inp/2013/03/08/I012.htm">WO=MEN in New York</a>, which publishes the documents ahead of the game as well as explaining and commenting on them. We are hearing that the Philippines, El Salvador (both members of the Executive of CSW) as well as Pakistan, are encouraging good outcomes. Australia is a powerful voice too. </p> <p>Right now, governments and NGOs alike are struggling to find language acceptable to all that enhances our rights; sets out actions to be taken that will prevent the whole range of violence, and protects women and girls, offering them choices and supporting victims. We want the trade in our bodies through prostitution and trafficking to cease - many of us seeking the so-called Swedish model that criminalizes the buying of sex and decriminalises those involved in prostitution. </p> <p>Men and women with disabilities are here and making their voices heard. For the first time at the CSW, violence against women and girls with disabilities is being discussed and good language is being inserted. The <a href="http://www.judithtrust.org.uk/">Judith Trust</a>, put on a side event that was very well attended where 'Jane's story' showed how abuse of a women with learning disabilities and mental health problems suffered abuse on buses in London which amounted to hate crime, gender-based violence and racism - all three.&nbsp; We need these issues to be mainstreamed and UN Women has proposed a meeting of CEDAW, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and perhaps the Convention on the Rights of the Child.&nbsp; Progress. </p> <p>The bottom line is -&nbsp; and we have heard much about this throughout the CSW meeting - men and boys must change.&nbsp; This whole appalling mess rests on inequality - gender inequality.&nbsp; Just because someone is female she becomes a 'legitimate target'.&nbsp; Young men have been here this year, speaking out for their own self-reflective need to change and governments, including the UK, have some great programmes to make change happen. The Netherlands is supporting young women and men, boys and girls, to get together to discuss the issues and find their own solutions. They are part of&nbsp; 'We Can Young' and are using social media to communicate and reach out to each other. </p> <p>We have only a few hours left to reach a good outcome to these negotiations and there is language we need, yet to be agreed - 'intimate partners' or 'intimate relationships' recognising all of us of every age and stage of life who love another human being but are not married to them; 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity'; and 'human rights defenders'.&nbsp; </p> <p>This CSW session has been different - there is a buzz and expectation that our Governments cannot, must not let women and girls across the globe down. New language and language resting on previous strong covenants, is not yet written into Agreed Conclusions, a document that could help change the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Democracy and government Equality UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women's human rights women and power violence against women gender feminism 50.50 newsletter Annette Lawson Wed, 13 Mar 2013 16:56:56 +0000 Annette Lawson 71549 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Sex work, violence and HIV: experience from rural Karnataka https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/parinita-bhattacharjee/sex-work-violence-and-hiv-experience-from-rural-karnataka <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the final days of the CSW meeting in New York, arguments over the language to be used in the Outcome Document are continuing, with some States refusing to acknowledge the existence of intimate partner violence in spite of widespread scientific evidence and testimony from victims of violence.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>As the <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/57sess.htm">CSW</a> continues to debate how to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls, and as Michel <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ambassador-eric-goosby-md/gender-based-violence_b_2827793.html">Sidibe</a> and Eric Goosby call for its end, I reflect on my own experiences of these issues. Working with women in sex work for the last 10 years in rural South India has taught me that it is not HIV that is a priority in their lives but issues like violence, stigma and discrimination and uncertainties related to their children’s future. Whilst it was HIV projects which gave me an opportunity to work with the sex workers, the women would always ask me what can be done about the violence they face in their lives. The sex workers that I work with in rural South India are mostly traditional sex workers, dedicated to sex work through a tradition of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devadasi"><em>devadasi</em></a><em>. </em>These women begin sex work at a very early age (15 years), are mostly illiterate, belong to the low (schedule) caste and most have a family member who has been or is in sex work. HIV prevalence among sex workers in Northern Karnataka is high at 34.3%. Devadasis are not allowed to marry but 60% of them have an intimate partner who is either the first client or a paid client who, with repeated visits, becomes a lover or an <a href="http://strive.lshtm.ac.uk/resources/understanding-risk-hivsti-transmission-and-acquisition-within-non-paying-partnerships">intimate partner</a>. These relationships are very important for them and there is a high degree of emotional dependence involved. &nbsp;Condom use is low in these relationships (40%) and <a href="http://strive.lshtm.ac.uk/resources/understanding-risk-hivsti-transmission-and-acquisition-within-non-paying-partnerships">reported violence</a> is present in 1 out of 4 relationships.</p> <p>We organised a participatory workshop with sex workers to understand the extent of violence in these intimate relationships, including causes of violence. According to the sex workers, negotiating for using condoms, demanding money from intimate partners or expecting them to take care of the women’s children, and suspicion over soliciting clients were the main causes of violence in their relationships with intimate partners. Violence was often severe and included throwing acid at the sex worker, burning her with cigarette butts, hitting her severely, and so on. Sex workers also shared that violence often took the form of intimate partners demanding to have sex with the daughter or sister of the sex worker. Insecurities, suspicion and jealousies constitute one set of causes of violence in intimate partner relationships of the sex workers. The women shared that intimate partners were suspicious and jealous of other men in their lives. According to the participants, these jealousies and insecurities drove their intimate partners to violence. </p> <p><em>“I had gone for training for 3-4 days, he asked me where I had gone, and whom I met and what did I do there. He was not satisfied with my answer so he asked me to prove my love towards him by putting my hand in the boiling oil. He said if my hand does not burn, then only it will mean I truly love him.”</em> - 33-year-old female sex worker </p> <p>&nbsp;<em>“I had a major operation sometime back. Doctors had advised abstinence from sex for six months. But he did not pay any attention to doctor’s advice and had sex with me after 3 months. As a result I had infection and had to undergo another operation. He just wants to show off his power over me.”</em> - 35-year-old female sex worker </p> <p>Sex workers also stated that intimate partners showed their dominance and power over them through violence, using it ‘to win’ or to put the woman down.&nbsp; </p> <p>The women shared that they feared the consequences of violence more than the violence itself and they were also fearful of its consequences on their children. They reported that most conflicts ended negatively, creating tension in the relationship. This in turn often led to partners deserting the women, over-consumption of alcohol (by both parties), the women resorting to physical violence towards themselves or towards their lovers, and attempts to kill themselves or to murder their&nbsp; lover. Emotional violence was also listed as one of the consequences of conflicts. </p> <p>Gender-based violence in India is common and stems from the low social status of women and girls, undermining their safety and well-being. A <a href="http://strive.lshtm.ac.uk/resources/what-works-prevent-partner-violence-evidence-overview">WHO multi-country study</a> of domestic violence and women’s health found that partner violence is the most common form of violence. Data from the <a href="http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/frind3/15chapter15.pdf">National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-3</a> indicates the extent of gender-based domestic violence in India – 35% ever married women aged 15-49 years experienced spousal physical or sexual violence while in Karnataka it is 20%. The <a href="http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/10/476/">situation of sex workers in Northern Karnataka</a>, India makes them vulnerable to violence from clients (56%), intimate partners (23%), police (7%), and “rowdies” (7%). However, most of the interventions to address violence against sex workers are targeted to clients and the police. Addressing intimate partner violence is a challenging programmatic gap. The sex workers’&nbsp; <a href="http://strive.lshtm.ac.uk/resources/understanding-risk-hivsti-transmission-and-acquisition-within-non-paying-partnerships">intimate partner relationships are complex</a> with 98% of the women reporting economic and non-economic support from their main intimate partners, including emotional support, social status, and protection from other men. There are&nbsp; significant <a href="http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/10/476/">linkages</a> between women who reported violence, low condom usage, and reduced likelihood of accessing HIV services. Our&nbsp; <a href="http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/11/755">findings</a> indicate the possibility of addressing the broader structural factors of violence as part of HIV prevention programs.</p> <p>The dominant notions of <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1122116/">femininity</a> in most societies cast women in subordinate, dependent, passive positions and virginity, chastity, motherhood, moral superiority and obedience are ascribed as key virtues of the ideal woman. In sharp contrast, the dominant notions of <a href="http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/12297246/reload=0;jsessionid=ljElnMPuTj3JnLaxVxzz.4">masculinity</a> characterize men as independent, dominant, invulnerable aggressors and providers with strength, virility and courage as their key virtues. Both notions are found operating in and defining sex workers and their intimate relationships. Though the intimate partners start as clients of the sex workers, their expectations of each other quickly change as the relationship changes from a commercial one to a non-commercial relationship, based on intimacy. The intimate partners begin to expect loyalty and fidelity from their sex worker lovers, since dominant notions of femininity emphasize uncompromising loyalty and fidelity from women partners. The power imbalance that exists between sex workers and their intimate partners, where the latter holds more power than the former, manifests in terms of low decision-making powers and control with sex workers, resulting in low condom use and tolerance of violence. </p> <p>In the last ten years of interventions with sex workers by &nbsp;<a href="http://www.khpt.org/">Karnataka Health Promotion Trust </a>&nbsp;(KHPT) supported by the <a href="http://docs.gatesfoundation.org/avahan/documents/avahan_factsheet.pdf">&nbsp;Gates Foundation</a>, we have been able to support the sex workers and their collectives to feel empowered to address and undertake collective action against violence perpetrated by clients and police. This has resulted in <a href="http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/10/476/">significant reduction</a> in proportions of sex workers reporting violence by those perpetrators. However it has taken 10 years of support for the sex workers to recognise that intimate partner violence is unacceptable behaviour towards them, and to seek support to design interventions addressing this issue. With the <a href="http://strive.lshtm.ac.uk/members/london-school-hygiene-tropical-medicine">STRIVE consortium</a>, KHPT is now partnering with the districts’ sex workers collective, to address violence in their intimate relationships. We will be using strategies like <a href="http://www.steppingstonesfeedback.org/">Stepping Stones</a> to enhance critical thinking, communication and relationship skills, individual/couple counselling to improve communication, respect and intimacy in these relationships, including increasing individual and collective efficacy and action to reduce intimate partner violence and risk of HIV or (other) Sexually Transmitted Infections. </p> <p>Meanwhile, back in New York, we hear from colleagues that several states will not even acknowledge the existence of intimate partner violence and are resisting this language in the Outcome Document. Given the widespread scientific evidence for intimate partner violence around the world, and echoed in our research, we concur with the views of sex workers that the first priority to address is the violence in their lives, and from that many other good things will flow. We hope and trust that the deliberations at the CSW in New York will conclude likewise.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> India </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 India UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 AIDS, Gender and Human Rights 50.50 Editor's Pick women's health violence against women women's work Parinita Bhattacharjee Wed, 13 Mar 2013 09:59:06 +0000 Parinita Bhattacharjee 71524 at https://www.opendemocracy.net CSW: will there be an Agreed Conclusion to the CSW this year? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-owen/csw-will-there-be-agreed-conclusion-to-csw-this-year <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As the CSW enters its final week, the political agendas of different countries are reflected in the deep divisions over how to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls. Furious arguments are going on over the use of language: 'harmful practices' or 'traditional harmful practises', 'girl' or 'child'?&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Only a few of the thousands of NGO women who have managed to raise the funds to get here in New York can afford to stay for the second week when the negotiations on the text of the draft agreed conclusions are at their most intense, with governments' negotiators burning the midnight oil.</p><p> Women from many countries are paying their own costs to be here, often crowded into small rented studios, sharing beds, or camping on sofas, even sleeping on the floor. They are putting up with a very unwelcome and bureaucratic system, with crowded cramped facilities. Even the lovely UN cafeteria overlooking the East River is barred to then unless they are the lucky owners of that precious Secondary Pass that will gain them entrance to the UN building. Thousands of women have never been able to get a foothold inside. We are all saying that the space for Civil Society is shrinking, in spite of constant references go it in every speech, UN report or resolution in recent years.</p><p>As the CSW goes into the second week today, maybe it is too late anyway for women's civil society organisations to make their input. It was last week that we NGOs had the chance to influence our official delegations. And that depended on whether the latter were at all accessible. Fortunately, we in the UK, many of us devastated in 2010 by the abolition of our 40 year old institutional mechanism, the UK WNC, have managed, over the last two years to create a new "hub" for more than eighty UK women's NGOs. &nbsp;This UK NGO Liaison CSW57 group played a major role in parallel and side events on both sides of the road last week. It met with our UK Mission, our Minister, Lynne Featherstone and the FCO and DFID negotiators almost every evening, and received up-to-the-minute information &nbsp;on what was going on between the Delegations, on the challenges and minefields, on the cultural and political conflicts, on fragmenting, dividing and creation of the various "blocks" of countries seeking new alliances on the controversial passages of the text of the Agreement, to do with, in the main, sex and sexuality and reproductive rights.</p><p>Late on Friday night, UN Member States finished the first reading of the draft Agreement. The CSW Chair, Mrs. Marjan Kamira of Liberia, in order to accelerate the process of getting an agreed text, asked States to let her know in writing what issues they compromise on, so she can put together the next draft. This was expected by Sunday afternoon, the 10th March.</p><p>States are now regrouping in problematic combinations - for <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/mar/05/michelle-bachelet-language-un-women">women's reproductive rights</a> - to show their strength and muscle. &nbsp;For example, a few days ago a new cross-regional group was formed, all Islamic countries, who will now be quite a force to measure up to in the negotiations this week.&nbsp; They are: Algeria, Bahrain, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Syria, UAR, Malaysia, Kuwait, Libya, Indonesia and Bangladesh. </p><p>Three of these countries are from the Commonwealth, and it is sad and bewildering that a country like Bangladesh that led, for years in the South Asia region, on family planning services and programmes, that targeted hard-to-reach women, should have now wandered to the other side. The side that wishes to put the clock back, and restrict women's rights to have control over their own bodies; that will not protect women from violence within the home. Given its good track record on health services for women, we are all hoping that it can be wooed back to its original position on gender equality and women's empowerment. &nbsp;These new regroupings reflect the disturbing rise of extreme fundamentalism. A trend apparent in all religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism.</p><p>It is the nuances of language that are key to the difficulties in the negotiations to get the acceptable text on this year's theme <em>Prevention and Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls.</em></p><p>Here are some examples. A battle is ongoing on the use of the word "girl". Some countries want to omit "girl" from the <em>Violence Against Women and Girls</em>' altogether. That is, they want VAW and not VAWG. &nbsp;Instead they clamour for " child" as a substitute in the draft Agreement. Such language is causing near apoplexy among many pro-<a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/declar.htm">Beijing 95</a>&nbsp; language countries, and among the NGOs, for countries differ hugely as to at what age a female ceases to be a "child". &nbsp;A nine year old girl who has reached her first menses is considered to be old enough for marriage. So the language on forced marriages becomes ambiguous. We must keep in the word "girl".&nbsp; All last week we heard horrendous tales of kidnapped, abducted, raped, girls as young as twelve, being trafficked, held captive, forced to have sex with many men every day. Child marriage is on the increase, it is not really declining. One of the causes is the increase in widowhood among young mothers, especially in context of armed conflict, who are denied rights to inheritance, homeless, begging, displaced and unable to house, feed, educate their daughters who then give them away to marriage, or are tricked by traffickers.&nbsp; In Afghanistan it is known that young widows are selling their daughters for as little as&nbsp; ten&nbsp; dollars. We cannot allow these practices to continue.</p><p>Another highly contentious language issue concerns prostitution. "Women involved in prostitution" , rather than sex workers. Feminists argue passionately over whether all prostitution is forced, but we have to fight hard to tackle the quite terrible global industry of trafficking for sex , not forgetting that women and girls are also trafficked for exploited slave labour, in domestic service, in agriculture, and for the organ trade.</p><p>There is also a conflict over the words "harmful traditional practices". Some countries prefer "harmful practices" and deletion of the word "traditional". And so it goes on. With the Vatican wanting only to "recall" the Beijing PFA, rather than "reaffirm" it. And with its strange assortment of allies, as referred to in my earlier piece, playing mayhem over the language on sexual health and reproductive services and programmes, sex education.</p><p>A nightmare for the negotiators this week. The UK and most of the Europe block, apart from Malta - and maybe Poland and Hungary - abstaining or joining another group, are insistent on keeping to the Beijing language. Any roll back and they prefer that there to be no Agreed Conclusion, no Outcome Document. This would be a betrayal of all the women and girls in the world suffering such torture and abuse, and deaths.</p><p>As for the international language, in translation there can be some comical understandings. A colleague was speaking of " gender mainstreaming" at a conference in Cambodia. She could not fathom why everyone was laughing. Translated they took it to mean " men and women going swimming together in the river".</p><p>I am keeping my fingers crossed for this week and hoping that the world's women and girls get the Outcome from this CSW they deserve.</p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Democracy and government Equality Ideas UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Editor's Pick Margaret Owen Mon, 11 Mar 2013 10:56:59 +0000 Margaret Owen 71456 at https://www.opendemocracy.net