[New York, 15 March 2015] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) was very active during the first week of the 59th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59). This yearly meeting of UN governments to discuss women’s rights was dedicated to the celebration of the 20 years of the Beijing Platform for Action. You will find here a summary of the activities of the EWL during this CSW59.
Women’s organisations disappointed by the UN governments’ weak commitment
On the first day of CSW59, UN governments adopted a political declaration in which they reiterate their commitment to realise women’s rights and empowerment. Women’s organisations from all over the planet are disappointed by the lack of ambition of the declaration, by the watering down of the language and the reluctance to recognise the critical role of women’s NGOs and activists in the common struggle towards equality between women and men. Read the official press release here, and a reaction of women’s organisations.
A successful side-event for the EWL
EWL side event was dedicated to "Women’s rights at the crossroads of sexual and economic exploitation: Beijing+20 and prostitution". The goal of the side event was to bring together different perspectives: from different continents, but also sharing experience from both policy actions and grassroots activism. With this side event, we wanted to use all the potential of the Beijing Platform for Action to end violence against women and prostitution.
Indeed, the Beijing Platform for Action demands, as one of the strategic objectives on violence against women, to “eliminate trafficking in women and assist victims of violence due to prostitution and trafficking”. Europe sees political developments towards the abolition of the system of prostitution, as a way to protect women and girls, change mentalities towards equality, and end the impunity of traffickers and exploiters. The side event allowed to learn from these developments, and at the same time to learn from the reality of prostitution in other continents, and in relation to other areas of violence or discrimination for women and girls (armed conflicts, economy, climate change, health, etc.).
Speakers were: Isabelle Simonis, Minister for Women’s Rights of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels, Belgium; Gavin Shuker, MP, Chair of the All Party Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade, UK; Zita Gurmai, President of PES Women, Hungary.
Perspectives from different continents were given by: Asia / Climate change and Economy - Jean Enriquez, Executive Director, CATW-Asia Pacific; Africa / Armed Conflicts and Violence against women - Esohe Aghatise, Consultant Trafficking Programmes Manager, Equality Now; Europe / Health - Beatriz Sagrado, Medicos del Mundo (Doctors of the World), Spain.
A successful event, attended by a packed room, with parliamentarians from Italy or Belgium, NGOs from Africa, Europe and Asia, students and activists ready to make a change for women and girls through the liberation from prostitution and the sex industry.
Women’s economic independence, women in politics, women’s rights, violence against women and HIV/Aids: EWL invited as speaker in several events
EWL President Viviane Teitelbaum spoke at the event of the network of women parliamentarians of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophony. The event aimed at discussing synergies between parliamentarians and civil society towards realising equality between women and men (flyer and concept note).
EWL Secretary General Joanna Maycock moderated the panel of inspiring speakers from Nordic countries and UN Women, during the event organised by Sweden and the Swedish Women’s Lobby on "New action on women’s rights", a follow-up of the Nordic Forum and its demands (flyer).
Joanna Maycock also participated to the event of the European Commission on "Women’s economic independence: a question of right and a pre-requisite for social and economic progress" with EU Ministers and EC officials(flyer and concept note).
EWL Policy Officer and Project Coordinator Pierrette Pape was invited to contribute to the panel of experts during the event of the Swedish Women’s Lobby on "Criminalise sex purchase - a method to combat HIV/Aids?", together with activists, health professionals, survivors and NGO representatives from South Africa, the USA, India and Uganda.
Pierrette Pape was also a speaker at the side-event of EWL French coordination CLEF, in partnership with the Euro-Mediterranean Women’s Foundation, on the Istanbul Convention. She presented EWL actions and lobbying kits, and discussed how to strengthen women’s organisations from the Mediterranean region to see their governments ratify the Council of Europe Convention. More info in French here.
In terms of side events, the EWL was also a co-sponsor of the event of CAP International "Free from violence! 20 years after Beijing, protecting human rights of women and ending violence: the growing threat of prostitution and trafficking in women", which launched the call of parliamentarians for the abolition of prostitution, signed by more than 200 parliamentarians from all over the world.
Networking and strengthening of partnerships
During CSW59, the EWL was active in meeting new partners, developing contacts with NGOs and demonstrating its important role as the largest umbrella organisation for women’s rights in Europe. The first action of the EWL and its members was to attend the march for women’s right, on 8 March, with thousands of other activists and feminists from all over the planet. You can find here a press article about this massive mobilization.
Pierrette Pape is a member of the core group of the caucus for Europe and North America, an entity which gathers all NGO representatives from this region during CSW and interested in sharing intelligence on the UN processes and the CSW negotiations. The caucus met twice and had discussions about its terms of reference, as a way to set up a transparent functioning for the future.
Moreover, the EWL and its members were invited to several meetings and receptions organised by national delegations, including the reception of the EU delegation to the UN, where they met with some ministers and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights Stavros Lambrinidis.
Johanna Pakkanen, from the Finnish coordination of the EWL, presented EWL oral statement to the plenary of CSW, where she called on UN member states to invest in women’s rights and organisations.
EWL President and members attended a strategic meeting with Teresa de la Vega, who is currently President of the Women for Africa Foundation, about joint action to push for more commitment to realise women’s rights in Europe.
The EWL and its members also took part to the EU-NGO briefing, where the EU delegation to the UN explained how the negotiations processes went in the adoption of the political declaration, and presented the challenges related to the current discussion on new working methods for CSW.
Finally, EWL members were super active in organizing events, participating to all activities of the CSW59 and networking. Congratulations for this mobilization, which showed the strengthen of the women’s movement in Europe!
#beijing20 #fromwords2action #CSW59
More photos on the Twitter account of the EWL: @EuropeanWomen