(Brussels, 14 March 2013)
From 4 to 15 March 2013, Member States from all over the world are gathering in the United Nations building of New York to discuss the conclusions of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). 2013 conclusions are on the elimination and prevention of violence against women and girls. Representatives of thousands of NGOs are also in New York to work towards the best conclusions possible, through advocacy actions, side events and networking activities. The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is part of this important momentum, as good conclusions are more than ever needed at international level. Here is a summary of EWL’s activities during the second week of CSW.
Monday 11 March
EWL Policy Officer Pierrette Pape spoke during the general discussion of the CSW. Together with two other NGOs, the EWL got the opportunity to take the floor and make its voice heard in front of national delegates. EWL statement stressed on the urgency of strong agreed conclusions in the current worrying context for achieving the UN goal of equality between women and men, with growing attacks on women’s rights, including their sexual and reproductive rights, pervasive violation of women’s human rights and reduction of funds to address the phenomena in some countries. “The economic downturn should provide the momentum for concrete action, as we cannot afford not to end violence against women, both in terms of financial sustainability but also in terms of global democracy, peace and security for all human beings”. The EWL called on the European Union to provide strong leadership in paving the way towards the realisation of women’s rights and gender equality. Click here to download the statement and here to watch the web stream of the discussion (EWL statement at 3:16).
A new draft of the conclusions has been produced during the week end and is the basis for negotiations between Member States. The EWL co-chaired the second meeting of the Europe and North America NGO Caucus, where NGOs updated their first position and strengthened their common position and solidarity. The document comprises 15 points, as new issues have been added on and some have been reinforced. The Europe and North America NGO Caucus reiterates its opposition to the paragraphs which condition the realisation of commitments to the sovereignty of Member States and their various cultural and religious backgrounds. It supports the new proposed framing ‘women and girls in prostitution’, as well as the paragraph on the need to support and protect women’s human rights defenders, but would like to see a clearer reference to the diversity of families. It calls on Member States to work in partnership with women’s organisations, and states its strong support to a post-2015 development agenda which includes gender equality as a stand-alone goal as well as a mainstreamed issue in all the agenda. Click here to download the second position of the Europe and North America NGO Caucus of 11 March 2013.
Tuesday 12 March
Together with Bette Levy, from Soroptimist International, EWL Policy Officer Pierrette Pape presented the outcomes of the second meeting of the Europe and North America, NGO Caucus at the daily NGO Briefing. Chairs of the other regional caucuses presented some of the issues that concern them most: militarism, indigenous rights and femicide in Latin America; peace and security and small arm proliferation in Africa. As negotiations between delegations are supposed to start again on Wednesday, the New York Times issued an editorial warning on the backlash about women’s reproductive and sexual rights, led by some specific countries. Click here to read the NYT editorial. UN Women informed the NGOs about the other contentious issues, which are comprehensive sexuality education, the diversity of families, intersectionality, gender identity and sexual orientation, the reference to ‘traditional’ harmful practices…
Panel 4 of the CSW aimed at evaluating progress in the implementation of the agreed conclusions of CSW53 on “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS”. The EWL had the opportunity to take the floor during the panel discussion relating to sharing and balancing work-life responsibilities. EWL’s contribution was about the impact of the austerity policies on women’s lives and on the goal of shared and balanced life-work responsibilities for both women and men. The EWL alerted on the dramatic impact of the cuts in public services and benefits for women, comprising their economic independence and pushing them back to ‘traditional’ gender roles as care responsibilities are being re-privatised. In the European Union, in 2010, 28% of inactive and part-time working women were not able to work full time due to care responsibilities. The crisis has also slowed down the efforts to establish paternity leave and other measures to encourage men to share care responsibilities, as for example, in some European countries, the paternity leave benefit has been suspended in 2012. Therefore, the EWL called on delegates and panelists to integrate this analysis in the policies aiming at reaching out an equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men. You can watch the web stream of the panel here (EWL comment at 2:42).
Wednesday 13 March
The EWL and several of its members participated in the briefing organized by the EU delegation, where they highlighted the points they would like the EU to support and put forward in the negotiations.
As negotiations start again this very day between national delegations, several NGOs delivered a statement to call on Member States to oppose any reopening of negotiations on the already established international agreements on women’s rights. The EWL has also endorsed the statement, as we are very worried about the backlash on women’s rights and on UN language. This statement comes some days after an article in the Guardian, where Helen Clark, head of UN development programme, alerted on the strategies of several countries to remove references to sexual rights. Annette Lawson, member of the EWL UK coordination, wrote an article summarising the main issues at stake at this CSW. As the 57th session of the CSW is almost at its ends, the EWL and women’s NGOs from all over the world hope that this year will bring strong commitments on achieving equality between women and men and ending violence against women.