What was achieved at CSW 61?

CSW61_ClosingSession_Mar2017__RB_0460_675x450 (002)(Closing of the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.                   Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown)

UN Women sees the Agreed Conclusion as a Roadmap to women’s full and equal participation in the economy Press Release

The Commission on the Status of Women 61st session ended on Friday afternoon March 24th with Agreed Conclusion – a consensus document on ‘Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work.’ This in itself is an achievement.  The document is not yet published and was presented on Friday as an informal paper in English only. The negotiation of this document is an arduous work (the Australian delegated noted it was 107 hours of discussion) and its accomplishment is the result of long hours of discussion and negotiation, into the early hours of the morning each day of the second week.  A good overview of the situation can be had by listening to the UN TV  Webcast of the closing session.  It is about one and a half hours.  By listening to the webcast you will see how issues that affect  women and girls is highly political and fraught with all sorts of qualifications captured in the phrases such as according to ‘national laws’; ‘social norms’ does not enjoy global consensus   …. and the terms ‘sexuality’ is not acknowledged in national law or jurisdiction by a large number of member states nor in International law; express reservations on all principles that are not in accordance with the spirit of Islamic law. Another expression was that anything in the text of the agreed conclusion not in line with national laws is null and void and not applicable.  The Australian delegate noted that the discussion and link between SRHR and economic empowerment was profitable in coming to a process of understanding.  The Holy See interpreted the concept of ‘gender’ as being grounded in a person’s male or female biological sex, not in social constructions

The EU was largely disappointed with the outcome which it saw as an interpretation of the outcome rather than an negotiated outcome. Three issues were noted – limiting of the  space of CSO’s and NGO’s; the link between women’s economic empowerment and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) could be stronger by better references to the human rights component essential to gender equality; and emphasis on national policy space limited ambition and some language reflects the stereotypical role of women and girls and does not contribute to their empowerment and independence.  Despite this the EU will continue to work more to build consensus.

Here is the link to the US explanation of Position on Agreed Conclusions at the 2017 UN Commission on the Status of Women.

The person who chaired the negotiations is Ms. Fatma Al Zahraa Hassan (Egypt), Vice-Chair (African States Group)   In her address she mentioned the main pillars towards women’s economic empowerment – education, legal measures, socio-economic measures, giving voice to women, achieving financial independence.  The document is 20 pages long and will be published in all 6 languages of the United Nations.  Seven pages use the following words to introduce paragraphs: reaffirms (6 times), reiterates, (2) recognizes, (16) emphasizes, acknowledges, (3) takes note, strongly condemns, expresses it concern, (5) reiterates its concern, recalls, (2) welcomes, and urges.

Reaffirms – the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for action will make a crucial contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to women’s economic empowerment; commitments to gender equality and the empowernment of all  women and girls made at relevant UN summits and conferences; that the promotion and protection of, and respect for, the human rights and fundamental freedom of all women and girls,  including the right to development , which are universal, indivisible, interdependent and iterated, are crucial for women’s economic empowerment…; that the realization of the right to education, as well as to access to quality and inclusive education, contributes to the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; the importance of significant increased investment to close resource gaps for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and and girls.

Strongly condemens – violence against women and girls in all its forms in public and private spaces, including harassment in the world of work, including sexual harassment, and sexual and gender based violence, domestic violence, trafficking in persons and femicide, among others, as well as harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation, and recognizes these are major impediments to the achievement of women’s economic empowerment, social and economic development…

Expresses it’s concern – about the continuing significant gender gaps on labour force participation and leadership, wages, income, pension and social protection and access to economic and productive resources; structural barriers  including discriminatory laws and policies, gender stereotypes and negative social norms, unequal working conditions as well as about the growing high incidence of informal and non-standard forms of employment in many regions; occupational segregation; that the feminization of poverty persists; over the persistently low wages earned by women workers;

Reiterates it’s concern – over the challenge climate change poses to the achievement of sustainable development and that women and girls are often disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change.

The document is divided into the following sections:

  • Strengthening normative and legal frameworks
  • Strengthening education, training and skill development
  • Implementing economic and social policies for women’s economic empowerment
  • Addressing the growing informality of work and mobility of women workers
  • Managing technological and digital change for women’s economic empowerment
  • Strengthening women’s collective voice, leadership and decision making
  • Strengthening private sector role in women’s economic empowerment

The text was revised a number of time in the lead up to the opening of CSW 61 and during the formal negotiations of the two weeks.  In the initial text presented by the CSW61 Bureau there was a strong call for implementation of national floors of social protection – here is the reference:    (m) Establish universal social protection floors, in line with ILO Social Protection Floors recommendation, 2012 (No. 202), as part of national social protection systems to ensure access to social protection for all, including workers outside the formal economy, and progressively achieve higher levels of protection in line with ILO social security standards; (Based on E/CN.6/2017/3, para 49 (o))”  but this reference to ILO R 202 has not remained in the final version.

There are a number of references to social protection systems, social protection and pensions, social protection policies and in one instance including floors and ‘extending social protection and wages that allow for an adequate standard of living’… ‘without reductions in labour and social protections.’

w. Optimize fiscal expenditure for gender-responsive social protection and care infrastructure, such as equitable, quality, accessible and affordable early childhood education, child care, elder care, heath care, care and social services for persons with disabilities and persons living with HIV and AIDS, which meet the needs of both caregivers and those in need of care, hearing in mind that social protection policies play a critical role in reducing poverty and inequality, supporting inclusive growth and gender equality;

x.  Work towards establishing or strengthening inclusive and gender-responsive social protection systems, including floors, to ensure full access to social protection for all without discrimination of any kind, and take measures to progressively achieve higher levels of protections including facilitating the transition form informal to formal work;

Argentina speaking on behalf of Latin American countries did reference social protection as important to women’s economic empowerment.

See UN Meeting Coverage and Press Releases

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Youth leaders address the opening meeting of the 61st Session of the                        Commission on the Status of Women

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On The Brink of CSW61!

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The Commission on the Status of Women 61st Session will open officially on Monday morning March 13th at  10.00 am in the UN General Assembly Hall. The NGO’s will start with Consultation Day on Sunday March 12 from 9.00 a.m. to 3.30 in the afternoon.  Already participants are beginning to arrive delegates from the various member states and groups of women from all over the world.  8,600 people have pre-registered to attend – a record number.  Yesterday afternoon the Chair of the Commission H.E. Mr. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota (Brazil), gave a final briefing to NGO outlining what is planned.  Of particular interest to me was information on the current status of the outcome document.  The first reading is completed.  Ms. Fatma Al Zahraa Hassan (Egypt), is the chair for the negotiations.  This first reading was based on the compilation text of February 28   We are awaiting a new version based on the first reading.

This years’ CSW  is breaking new ground addressing the issue of women’s unpaid care work.  It was noted that there is a lot of similar language and common ground  in a document that went from 6 pages to over 70 pages.

During the briefing I made two observations: one in relation to social protection and the second about girls.  There are over 31 references to social protection systems but only two times is there reference to  social protection floors.  We need implementation of social protection floors as a tool towards women’s economic empowerment as social protection systems are tied to employment.  I asked that this be noted in the ongoing negotiations.  Secondly, there are multiple references to girls but always tagged to women … ‘girls and women’ or ‘women and girls’ but there is no stand alone paragraph on empowering girls through education as the surest way of empowering the women of the future.

There are many references to ending trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation .. noting that women and girls are particularly vulnerable to trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced marriage, forced labour, services and other forms of exploitation, and recognizing the link between migration and trafficking in persons.

 

 

Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 61st Session – March 13 – 24, 2017

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Spanish link

The annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 61st Session begins on March 13th and concludes Friday March 24th.  The theme this year is ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.’  There is a small of library of information on the UN Women Website Preparations  i)  Regional CSW61 Preparatory and Consultative Meetings ii) Multi-Stakeholder Forum and iii) Expert Group Meeting

Perspectives of NGO can gleaned from 220 statements on the Official Documents page.  I would like to draw your attention to Statement No 13 in all official languages of the UN – French, Spanish, English, Arabic, Russian and Chinese.  This is the statement submitted by ‘Good Shepherd.’  Does it reflect your view and experiences?

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French Link

When I wrote this statement I had just listened to  Ms. Dambisa Moya ,  a global economist speak at the Second Committee of the General Assembly.  Dambisa suggested six ‘headwinds’ that indicate a growing disadvantage for women and girls seeking economic empowerment.  The results of the ‘headwinds’ are i) a jobless underclass; ii) continuing population growth and underinvestment in quality  education; iii) reinforcement of pre-existing obstacles to girls and women including; lack of women’s access to land rights, girls’ disproportionate time in carrying  water, and increasing feminization of agriculture;  the green economy/green growth has not led to more equitable land and resource distribution; iv) income inequality; v) the impact of austerity measures further impoverishes women and girls;  and vi) economic policies that actually widen inequalities and impact most negatively on those ‘left behind’ posing a threat to the future of the planet.

Are the girls and women  that you work impacted by one or more of these headwinds?   Where do human rights and dignity, gender justice, economic justice and climate justice fit in?

Women’s economic empowerment must pay attention to the plight of girls, who are the agents of change for the future.  We are calling for improved nutrition, health and education for all girls.  If not today’s generation of girls will continue to populate the jobless underclass, work in the informal sector, receive low wages, be landless and be vulnerable to exploitation and gender-based violence.

The accompaniment of girls an women who are furthest behind is the hallmark of our Good Shepherd Ministries.  See Maisha Documentary film based on our project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Recall the #16Days16Stories project of the 16 Days to End Violence Against Women.  Read I Have A Voice – Trafficked women in their own words  These are ongoing projects addressing the headwinds on a daily basis.

What can you do:  It is not too late to take the link to the statment and send it to your national delegation who are attending CSW 61.  There are very specific asks at the end.  i) Fully resource and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;  ii) Urgently invest in girls’ economic empowerment;   iii) Challenge and dismantle the power structure that subjugate girls and women – an example of this is the new law in Ireland decriminalizing women in prostitution but persecuting the buyer of sex.  A long struggle but worth the effort.  When I came to the UN in 2008 Ireland had not yet ratified the Palermo Protocol (2010) and now the Nordic Model is being implemented. (2017);  iv) Implement National Floors of Social Protection (ILO Recommendation 202)                                                               csw61-banner-en

English Link

A Lenten Resource – A journey, everyday actions, global effect.

I am happy to share with you a very interesting resource created by the Justice Promoters Team of the Sisters of the Presentation, Dubuque, Iowa.  It is entitled ‘A Living Lent that Changes the World.’      It presents a schedule for Learning, Acting, Praying, Sharing, Planning, Giving and Advocating each week of the Advent season taking a justice issue from the Sustainable Development Goals – Starting with Goal 8.

‘A Living Lent that Changes the World.”

Advocacy Campaign #TaxJustice for Women’s Rights

The Campaign #TaxJustice for Women’s Rights has just launched a 15 page CAMPAIGN TOOLKIT  #TaxJustice for Women’s Rights – Global Days of Action – 8-24 March 2017.  ¿QUÉ ESTÁ EN JUEGO? en español

I am going to highlight some points of entry as I can hear you say “I don’t have time to read 15 pages.”  “I  don’t know anything about tax.”  “What is #TaxJustice?”

Page 8      7 Reasons Why We Need #TaxJustice for Women’s Rights   Print out the sheet for reference.   #TaxJustice is when taxes are fairly raised and fairly spent.

  • Tax is the key building blocks of society
  • Tax is the most sustainable source of Government revenue
  • Tax avoidance and tax breaks to big business costs developing countries
  1. #TaxJustice helps girls get a better education
  2. #TaxJustice reduces women’s and girls’ unpaid care burden.
  3. #TaxJustice helps women get life saving health services.
  4. #TaxJustice reduces violence against women and girls.
  5. When multinational corporations and the very rich don’t pay their fair share of tax, it hurts women most.
  6. #TaxJustice helps access to clean water that keeps women safer and builds their economic power.
  7. #TaxJustice provides social protection for women.

Focus this topic in a community meeting, a justice prayer, a Lenten reflection, a capacity building session with girls and women.  Use the  Powerpoint – Getting the Conversation Started.  How does #TaxJustice for Women’s Rights link with our Position Papers?

If you use social media there are many suggestion as to what to write – for

  • Facebook: go to page 12 of the toolkit … pictures that you can use are already prepared In English, French and Spanish  Alternatively like me on Facebook and share my Facebook posting with your friends.
  • Twitter see pages 9, 10, 11 and 12   Pages 11 and 12 are prepared tweets  My twitter handle is @winifreddoherty @gsijp  retweet the messages.

If you are a little more adventurous get engaged in a national campaign – Write a letter – the template is prepared.

Lastly there are key dates to be aware of:

  • March 2 Oxfam International will launch a report on women’s economic empowernment
  • March 8th International Women’s Day
  • March 13 -24 is the Commission on the Status of Women – Theme:  “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.’
  • March 15 ActionAid International will release a new report on macroeconomics and violence against women
  • March 16 #TaxJustice for Women’s Rights forum in NY
  • March 22 World Water Day – Ensure the Human Right to Water.

Your GSIJP Team in New York will be fully engaged in CSW 61.  We are delighted to welcome Sr. Jane Joan Kimathi from Kenya to join us.

 

 

Advocacy March 8th to 24th

The Global Alliance for Tax Justice is a growing movement of civil society organisations and activists, including trade unions, united in campaigning for greater transparency, democratic oversight and redistribution of wealth in national and global tax systems.

The Global Alliance for Tax Justice comprise the five regional networks of Africa, Latin America, Asia-Australia, North America and Europe, which collectively represent hundreds of organisations.  The website is in ENGLISH and SPANISH

This campaign is launching on March 8th – International Women’s Day and ending on March 24th when the Commission on the Status of Women ends its 61st session with an outcome document on ‘Women’s Economic Empowerment in the changing world of work.’  See ENGLISH and SPANISH    A copy of the  ‘draft agreed conclusion’ (English only) has been published. This will form the basis for negotiations among member states during the Commission.  While there is mention of the establishment of universal social protection floors (page 4 (m)  to ensure access to social protection for all there is no reference as to how these floors could be financed.

#TaxJustice is a call to our governments to stop the global scandal of corporate tax dodging, end illicit financial flows, and transform inequitable fiscal policies in order to fund and fulfill women’s rights.  An excellent overview of the issue WHAT’S AT STAKE?  ¿QUÉ ESTÁ EN JUEGO? is on one page ENGLISH and SPANISH   Print out and bring these points to discussion groups.

“There is an  urgent need to raise domestic revenue for the gender-sensitive public services, social protections, and infrastructure essential to women’s equal human development and equality. Emphasize that progressive tax policies are required to advance women’s rights and economic equality.”

“Hay una urgente necesidad de recaudar un ingreso doméstico para los servicios públicos que comprenda un enfoque de género, así como protección social e infraestructura esencial al desarrollo humano igualitario de las mujeres y a la igualdad. Enfatizar que se necesitan políticas fiscales progresivas para potenciar los derechos de las mujeres y la igualdad económica.”

ORGANIZING TEAM

The #TaxJustice for Women’s Rights Global Days of Action campaign is an initiative of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, GATJ Tax & Gender and Global Action Working groups, and committed partners including Public Services International, the International Trade Union Confederation, Association for Women’s Rights in Development, Center for Economic and Social Rights, ActionAid, Christian Aid, Oxfam and Tax Justice Network.

Suggestions towards Good Shepherd Action:  

a) During the days of 8-24 March, post on your Facebook and/or Twitter account what you are learning about #TaxJustice for Women’s Rights.

b) Alternatively, read what is posted on my Facebook page or the GSIJP Facebook page. LIKE and SHARE with your friends.  Ask questions for clarification – answer questions – make suggestions.

c) Many suggestions are available on the website

d) Use the following hashtags: #IWD2017 / #taxjustice / #womensrights / #UNCSW17

Looking forward to seeing you on Facebook and Twitter.

Sugerencias para la acción de Buen Pastor:

a) Durante los días del 8 al 24 de marzo, publica en tu cuenta de Facebook y / o Twitter lo que estás aprendiendo sobre #TaxJustice (Justicia Fiscal) por los Derechos de la Mujer.

b) Alternativamente, lee lo que se publica en mi página de Facebook o en la página de Facebook de la OIJPBP. Haz clic en “ME GUSTA” y COMPARTE con tus amigos. Haz preguntas para aclaración – responde a preguntas – haz sugerencias.

c) Muchas sugerencias están disponibles en el sitio web.

d) Utilice las siguientes etiquetas hashtag: #IWD2017 / #taxjustice / #womensrights / #UNCSW17

Espero verles en Facebook y Twitter.

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Reflecting on week one of the Commission for Social Development

Friday, February 3 was the last day of week one of the Commission for Social Development. Overall, it was an interesting week which commenced on Monday afternoon with the opening of the Civil Society Forum.  This forum continued on Tuesday morning with panel presentations followed with the continuation of Monday’s discussion in the afternoon.  Both these session are webcast.  Civil Society Forum – January 31st and Part 2 Afternoon session  civil-society-forum

The formal opening of the Commission took place on Wednesday February 1st  – all sessions are webcast – Opening Session (Meeting 2)  There were three statements presented – one from the President of the General Assembly (PGA) H.E. Peter Thompson (Fiji), the President of the Economic and Social Council H.E. Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe) and a statement on behalf of the Secretary General Antonio Guterres.  Points noted from these statement are the following:  The Commission is taking place at a time of global contradictions.  While significant progress has been made in eradication extreme poverty, conflicts are reversing gains in social well-being and the gap between the rich and poor was growing (Sec General) The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the “masterplan for people planet and prosperity,” and is “firmly within our reach.” (PGA).  “Today’s generation can be the one that eradicates poverty and turns the tide on inequality, exclusion and environmental degradation…” (President of ECOSOC)   ANA HELENA CHACÓN ECHEVERRÍA, Vice-President of Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, said that despite all achievements, many countries had been left behind and growing global inequities challenged the universality of human rights. Poverty was a system and people living in poverty continued to be deprived, above all, of the capacity to claim their inalienable rights.  Human dignity must be at the centre of any sustainable development process.  Further the vice-president said  respecting, promoting, and protecting rights required Governments to take positive action, which in turn, demanded national compliance with international obligations, particularly the 2030 Agenda.

In the afternoon at Meeting 3  the Vice-President of Costa Rica was a member of the panel during the interactive discussion on “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all.”  She stressed the need to design public policies to meet the needs of people facing constant hunger, exclusion and poverty.   No development can be sustained if millions of people are left behind.  Poverty is a flagrant violation of human rights.  Social policy must  end the income gap and move towards peace, justice and inclusion.  Costa Rica is poised to eliminate extreme poverty in less than 10 years.  Costa Rica has developed social maps to track impoverished areas and understand the prevailing socioeconomic conditions. This coupled with a poverty index was used to measure poverty beyond income poverty and to take into account shortages in education, health care, water and housing.

Nigeria, both Government and civil society perspective were presented and Brazil noted that their nation had been removed from the FAO Hunger Map.  The new challenge for Brazil is to sustain the gains.Through Bolsa Familia cash transfer programme 13.6 million low-income people received stipends on condition that they kept their children in school and followed a vaccination schedule. This year a National Strategy for Social and Productive inclusion was launched by the Government to build professional skills and generate income.  The Happy Child Programme was launched in 2016 that gives regular assistance, including home visit to 530,000 children in 2017 and 1.5 million in 2018

Good Shepherd continue to promote implementation of social protection floors as a good strategy for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all. There is growing interest in and concrete action towards implementation.
See http://bit.ly/2kttxSM which ‘showcases 16 experiences from 12 countries which have achieved universal or near-universal social protection coverage in the areas of health care, child allowances, maternity benefits, disability benefits and old-age pensions. Good Shepherd are in 5 of the Countries Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, South Africa, Thailand.

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February 2nd  Meeting 4 and Meeting 5  and  February 3rd Meeting 6  and Meeting 7. These meeting focused on “Promoting Integrated Policies for Poverty Eradication: Youth Development in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (meeting 4) Meeting Coverage and “Leaving no one behind: poverty and disability” Meeting 6. Meeting Coverage

Side events are taking place throughout the Commission focusing on a myriad of topics related to the theme.

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Side events where I have been a panelist:

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If you wish to see your country statement to the commission for Social Development Papersmart UN Meetings