Call of UN Secretary General addressing Violence Against Women

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is calling for measures to address a “horrifying global surge in domestic violence” directed towards women and girls, linked to lockdowns imposed by governments responding to the COVID-19 pandemic: 

Peace is not just the absence of war. Many women under lockdown for #COVID19 face violence where they should be safest: in their own homes.

Today I appeal for peace in homes around the world.

I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic.

YouTube

Observance of International Women’s Day at the United Nations

This morning, Friday March 6, an event marking the observance of International Women’s Day at the United Nations HQ, New York was held. Women rallied under the banner “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights. The Event was moderated by Sade Baderinwa, WABC News. The programme for the events …

The webcast of the event can be seen here. Do listen to Secretary General’s address to those present. “Gender inequality is the overwhelming injustice of our age and the biggest human rights challenge we face…” Read more It was a joy for me to hear Alexandria Villaseñor, a 14 year old climate activist speak from inside the United Nations. She sat for 65 Fridays outside the UN. She is the Gretta Thunberg of New York! Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate speaks about the reality. Who is your star?

Colleagues waiting for the event to commence

UN Women launched a book entitled ‘Gender equality: Women’s rights in review 25 years after Beijing.’ It marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, as well as the first time that progress on the implementation of the Platform is reviewed in light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Publication in full

On 4 March, UNICEF launched A New Era for Girls: Taking stock of 25 years of progress, a joint report with Plan International and UN Women that reviews progress, and lack of, for girls since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The report supports the goals of Generation Equality, a multi-partner platform and campaign led by UN Women, Governments of France and Mexico and civil society that aims to accelerate progress for girls’ and women’s empowerment.

While girls’ lives are better today than they were 25 years ago, progress remains uneven, particularly across regions. The report notes that the number of out-of-school girls has dropped by 79 million in the last two decades. Yet, violence against women and girls is still common. An astonishing 1 in every 20 girls aged 15-19 – around 13 million – has experienced rape in their lifetimes, one of the most violent forms of sexual abuse women and girls can suffer.

The report also points to concerning negative trends for girls in nutrition and health, concerns about poor mental health, and that girls remain at high risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Additional findings include:

  • The adolescent birth rate has declined from 60 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 to 44 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19.
  • The proportion of young women who were married as children has declined globally from 1 in 4 to approximately 1 in 5.
  • The prevalence of overweight among girls aged 5-19 has nearly doubled from 9 per cent to 17 per cent.
  • Globally, 970,000 adolescent girls aged 10-19 years are living with HIV today compared to 740,000 in 1995, a 31 per cent increase.
Read the report

In the context of the 25-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, the EDVAW Platform is launching a publication to present its contribution to the implementation of the BPA and to providing unified responses to the challenges to women’s rights to a life free from violence and discrimination.

There are seven UN and regional independent women’s human rights expert mechanisms mandated to address discrimination and gender based violence against women and girls. All of these mechanisms are entrusted with monitoring and supporting the implementation of States’ commitments under the global and regional women’s human rights frameworks, including the Beijing Platform of Action, the 2030 Agenda, and UN and regional instruments on women’s rights.

The expert mechanisms support and complement each other in these efforts for implementation through a dynamic and complex relationship, under the Platform of independent expert mechanisms on discrimination and violence against women – EDVAW Platform.

Click here to read the publication.

Another publication launched today by UNDP is ‘Tackling Social Norms: A game changer for gender inequalities’ questioning pervasive bias and prejudice against women held by both men and women worldwide. The results indicate that almost 90% of men/women globally are biased against women. Read more HERE with links in French and Spanish

All of these publications are directly and explicitly related to our position papers and ministries. Explore them with the position papers in one hand and your strategic plan in the other. Happy International Women’s Day!

CSW64 to address procedural issues on Monday March 9 – otherwise ALL events cancelled.

Update to CSW64 Advisory

Dear representatives registered for CSW64,

In light of the current concerns regarding coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at an informal meeting held this morning, 2 March, Member States decided that the sixty-fourth session of the Commission will convene on 9 March, at 10.00 a.m., for a procedural meeting that will include opening statements followed by the adoption of the draft Political Declaration and action on any other draft resolutions. The session will then suspend until further notification.  

The meeting reiterated the Secretary-General’s strong recommendation that capital-based delegations and other stakeholders refrain from travelling to UN Headquarters. No general debate will take place and all side events planned by Member States and the UN system in conjunction with CSW64 will be cancelled.  

Best regards,
UN Women

2 March 2020

It is with a heavy heart that we have to share this regretful news with you.

Following the announcement by the UN Secretary-General on the coronavirus threat sent on Friday, 28 February, and the 64th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) briefing held on 2 March, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, New York (NGO CSW/NY) Executive Committee has decided to cancel all NGO CSW64 Forum events due to the current threat posed by the coronavirus as per recommendations by the UN Secretary-General, UN Women and the World Health Organization (WHO).

NGO CSW64 Forum events that must be cancelled include: the Consultation Day, Reception, Conversation Circles Space, Artisan Fair, Rally, advocacy trainings, caucuses and all 550 Parallel Events scheduled through our office.

Reimbursements will be given for all events. Please be advised that as it may take up to 4-6 weeks to process everyone’s reimbursement, we ask for your patience in the process. Further instructions will be sent separately to those who have purchased event tickets or venue spaces.

The only refunds we will not be able to honor will be for any ads purchased. Handbooks are in the process of being printed and will be mailed out to those who purchased an ad. Your ad will be available on the NGO CSW/NY website and will be highlighted through our social media channels.

A formal letter by the NGO CSW/NY stating the reason for cancellation to be helpful with hotel and/or airline reimbursements is attached.

We were heartened by the power of women to mobilize at the critical moment! Within 48 hours, we had over 50,000 individuals raising their voices regarding the CSW64. No CSW without NGO CSW and no NGO CSW without women of the world!

The following tweets give some flavour of the discussion on March 2nd

Lent 2020 /Cuaresma 2020

Know, Love and Serve with the SDG’s is a Lenten resource prepared by the Claretian Development Network. Focus Goals for the Planet reflect on SDG 6, 12, 13, 14 and 15. Conversion needs to be holistic – ecological, social, and spiritual. Text is currently available in English and Spanish. Coming soon in French. This year the focus at the United Nations is on “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development “.

As Lent begins our representative to Economic Commission in Africa (ECA) -Donatus Lili – has been attending the sixth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-6), which was held from 25 to 27 February 2020, at the Elephant Hills Resort in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. As a member of the Major Groups and other stakeholders the following statement has been shared with a focus on People, Prosperity, Planet, Peace and Partnership.

This Lenten Reflection Guide, offers reflections, questions, prayers, and actions based on each week’s scripture readings in light of the theme of ecological conversion. Use this guide individually or in
small groups to reflect upon your life patterns, to pray more deeply, and to renew your spirit to face the realities of our world.

Commission for Social Development February 10 – 19, 2020

The annual Commission for Social Development will take place from February 10 – 19, 2020 in New York. This is the 58th session and marks 25 years since the Social Summit for Social Development, held in Copenhagen in 1995. The outcome of the Social Summit was contained in a document entitled ‘The Copenhagen Declaration and Platform for Action’ In brief it contained 3 Pillars – (i) Poverty Eradication, (ii) Full Employment and Decent Work, (iii) Social Inclusion, 10 Commitments, and put PEOPLE at the center of development. The Priority theme this year is Affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness.

The Secretary General has prepared a report on the theme – English, French, Spanish, Arabic It is 19 pages. There are some interesting point of information. Recent trends show that housing has become the single largest household expenditure and has become less affordable (paragraph 7) and the younger generation (20 – 34 years old) are facing increasing difficulties in becoming homeowners. Homelessness is a global problem in developing and developed countries. There is an interesting section on Drivers of Homelessness as a structural issue; (Paragraphs 16 – 24) The reports notes that domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children under personal and family circumstances. Is domestic violence, divorce, separation, and abandonment a personal and family circumstance or a structural issues? Two global issues today causing homelessness are climate change and conflict.

Strategies to address homelessness are two fold: – provide affordable housing (paragraphs 33 – 48) and social protection (paragraphs 49 – 53). The Commission for Social Development focuses on specific social groups and thus there are suggested policies to address challenges faced by these specific groups – family, persons with disabilities, youth, older persons, and indigenous peoples. The reports concludes with some recommendations paragraph 72 (a) to (h)

Opportunities to engage with the Commission for Social Development are through written statements, oral statements and in Side Events. The Good Shepherd written statement to the Commission has just been published on the Commissions’s Website. (French; Spanish.) Some structural issues, raised in the SG’s report are elaborated in the statement – commodification of housing and the financialization of housing projects promoted by financial institutions in the name of public-private partnerships. These are antithetical to the provision of affordable housing.

This graphic from OXFAM illustrates the structural and systemic issues confronting us – growing inequality, commodification even of people, financialization of public good and services

“When confronted by such realities, we are decidedly on the side of people and planet, particularly those who live the experience of multi-dimensional poverty, lack access to social protection and social services, and are excluded from financial services, yet show resilience in the face of homelessness and marginalization. Our ministries are undertaken in the context of upholding and addressing the human rights of girls, women and children in the absence of policy and/or public goods and services to ensure their most basic needs and inclusion. Through innovative learning and new approaches, global advocacy on social protection floors, capacity building, education and empowerment, Good Shepherd ministries on the ground seek to implement services and programmes including financial inclusion, and empowerment in the context of family and local community. ” The statement was supported by the following organizations.

In writing the statement we referenced the work of Good Shepherd Microfinance, Australia. The Financial Action Plan report of June 2019 noted that safe and secure housing is a key factor influencing positive social outcomes. Sharing two life experiences – one from Honduras and one from India – illustrate what financial resilience looks like, and feels like. (Bottom of page 2 and top of page 3). Addressing multidimensional poverty and social inclusion is not about people aspiring for a place in the global financial markets or seeking ‘handouts’, but women and families seeking sufficiency, well-being and security in the face of global processes that exploit through advertising, marketing, the undercutting of wages, the continuance of the gender pay gap and lack of recognition of women’s unpaid care work. Affordable housing and social protections systems for all in collaboration with local initiatives can only strengthen human dignity and human well-being to create as outlined in Commitment 1 of the World Summit for Social Development, “an economic, political, social, cultural and legal environment that will enable people to achieve social development.”

Read more about the Commission for Social Development . Join the social media campaign from now until February 19 – retweet, share, like and comment on the content concerning homelessness. Facebook and Twitter #csocd58 #endhomelessness #SDG’s #LeaveNoOnebehind #Solidarity #TogetherStronger

Inviting you to participate in a UN Consultation with Civil Society / Invitándote a participar en una consulta de la ONU con la sociedad civil – January 13 – 24, 2020

This is a global on line discussion on the role of the United Nations in protecting and promoting civil society space. The discussion will start on January 13th, 2020 and continue until January 24th, 2020. The target audience for this consultation are civil society actors at international, regional, national and local levels working on issues related to development, peace and security, human rights and humanitarian action. You can preview of the questions below, and remember you need to create a profile to begin. See

Q1. Partnership/participation:

  1. What are entry points for you to engage with the UN? What are the challenges you face in engaging with the UN (e.g. unclear about entry points/contacts, opaque and complex procedures, etc.)? Have you ever contested decisions that restricted your participation in the UN?
  2. How do you receive information about UN processes? Have you experienced any difficulties in accessing information about the UN’s policies and processes? What measures do you suggest to improve access to information and quality of information?
  3. With a view to “leaving no one behind”, what can the UN do to reach out to diverse civil society actors or groups (e.g. women, youth, persons with disabilities, ethnic and religious minorities, indigenous peoples, LGBT individuals) in your country/region/area of work? Can you provide good examples of the UN reaching out to specific groups?
  4. Do you have any comments about civil society participation in intergovernmental forums (e.g. Security Council, ECOSOC, Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, various commissions etc.)? Do specific groups (e.g. women, youth, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, LGBT groups etc.) face greater obstacles than others in accessing UN inter-governmental fora? How could the UN support efforts towards more diversity?

Q2. Protection of civil society actors:

  1. What role do you expect the UN to play in situations when civil society actors are at risk (e.g. of intimidation, threats and attacks off-line and on-line)? Can you provide examples of the UN taking such measures?
  2. How could the UN strengthen its protection role, including in cases of intimidation and/or reprisals against people who cooperate or seek to cooperate with the UN?

Q3. Promotion of and advocacy for civic space:

  1. What role should the UN and its senior leadership play vis-a-vis State authorities in terms of ensuring safe civil society participation in national policy discussions and decision-making processes? How can the UN support diverse participation in these processes (e.g. of women, youth, persons with disabilities, ethnic and religious minorities, indigenous peoples, LGBT individuals)?
  2. What role should the UN play to ensure people have a say in their country (e.g. regarding national laws and policies on protests, access to information, freedoms of expression and association)?
  3. How could the UN strengthen its political support to civil society (e.g. through more positive narratives on civil society, meetings during high-level visits, regular consultations etc.)?

2020 – Happy New Year! Happy Birthday UN at 75!

This year, the United Nations will commemorate and reflect on the organization’s first 75 years of existence by inviting YOU to join the largest-ever global conversation at Have your Say / Ayez voter mot à dire/ Da tu opinión/ and in Arabic.

If you want to catch a glimpse of the issues that the United Nations is addressing in the social and economic field consider subscribing to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Newsletter VOICE There are a number of interesting articles in this edition to start the year. January will see the launch of two important reports (i) World Economic Situation and Prospects on January 16 and (ii) World Social Report on January 21. The international forum on Migration Statistics will be in Egypt from January 19 – 21. Read more at VOICE

Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 64th Session March 9 – 20, 2020.

The March 2020 Commission on the Status of Women in New York, will mark the 25th anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995. The Commission will review and appraise the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action over the past 25 years. It will further address current challenges experienced by women worldwide and link the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action with the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. A very interesting paper that situates the Commission is Democratic backsliding and backlash against women’s rights: Understanding the current challenges for feminist politics The paper is written by Conny Roggeband, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Andrea Krizsan. Center for Policy Studies, Central European University, Hungary and presented at the UN Women Expert Group Meeting in preparation for CSW. While the examples are from Western Europe I am sure that parallels can be found in your own particular region. Hard won gains for women over the 25 years are under attach from many areas such as political participation, labor market, care or violence against women. There is also an interesting perspective on the influence of Churches and some attempt to highlight differences between terms. Is the women’s movement the same or different to feminism? What is ‘gender ideology’? What role does ‘gender ideology’ play in the backlash against women’s rights?

An article in the New York Times dated December 4th reads ‘Across the Globe, a “Serious Backlash Against Women’s Rights” The rise of authoritarianism has catalyzed a rollback of gender violence protections and support systems. The article cited the reaction of Spain’s far right Vox party to the commemoration of the International day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women demanding the repeal of a law protecting women from violence claiming it is unfair to men. Other examples are highlighted from Turkey, Russia, Hungary and China.

The 16 days Campaign is highlighting the extent to which gender based violence continues. A headline ‘Many Europeans consider rape acceptable’ is shocking to read in an European Union report on perceptions of gender based violence

Link to report and map

On December 5 there were reports of an Indian woman who had been raped in March, on her way to court for a hearing of her rape case when she was set upon by 5 men, beaten and set on fire. She is now experiencing 90% burns over her body. The news today, December 7th has just reported that this young woman has died. Such is the backlash to her reporting the crime of rape.

December 6, of the 16 days was dedicated to feticide awareness. The 16 days Campaign is focusing on the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre when 14 women were shot in Canada in 1989. Women’s Aid (Ireland) released updated figures on femicide in Ireland in November 2019. “5 women have died violently so far in 2019. 4 women were killed in their own home.” See Irish Times December 7, 2019.

16 Days Campaign to Eliminate Violence Against Women

Good Shepherd in the Philippines are experiencing the backlash that comes from political engagement on behalf of vulnerable and marginalized people with Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. Sr. Elenita Belardo has dedicated her life to upholding the human rights of the rural poor. No doubt that girls, women and children are among these rural poor.

Sr. Elenita Belardo, National Coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. COURTESY OF RMP Read more

The subject matter for the Commission on the Status of Women will focus on these issues among others as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action provided a holistic approach to the issues experienced by girls and women. The GSIJP Office at the United Nations will be focusing on the trafficking of women and girls into prostitution. This too is a contentious issue. While UN Women recently declared ‘neutrality’ on the issue, read more Good Shepherd stance is far from neutral. Our position states that prostitution is violence against women.

The GSIJP Office has prepared a written statement to the Commission which has not been published yet. We have also engaged with other groups to support issues that are relevant and pertinent to our position papers. Among the groups are Working Group on Girls focusing on the Girl Child; Maryknoll on Women and Climate Change; and with Act Alliance in a statement entitled ‘Faith in Beijing+25, a collective of faith actors pushing back against the push back.’

The Feminist and Women’s Action group have collated the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Platform into 6 cross cutting themes (i)  Environmental conservation, protection and rehabilitation (ii)  Freedom from violence, stigma and stereotypes (iii)  Poverty eradication, social protection and social services (iv) Inclusive development, share prosperity and decent work (v)  Peaceful and inclusive societies (vi)  Participation, accountability and gender-responsive institutions. There will be a series of on-line dialogues on the various themes in the run up to CSW 64 and during the commission. The GSIJP Office is engaging with the third and fourth themes: Poverty eradication, social protection and social services together with Inclusive development, share prosperity and decent work. These issues take account of may of the issues in our position paper on Economic Justice

The New York Times Articles ends with this “The rollback of women’s protections doesn’t impact just women but goes hand-in-hand with an overarching decline in human rights. Or, as the U.N. Human Rights Council put it: “The corrosion of women’s human rights is a litmus test for the human rights standards of the whole society.”

What is Generation Equality?

If you have been following social media over the few week you may have seen graphics and references to Generation Equality.

Generation Equality is the name of a process that will strive to give new impetus and a final push towards full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This was a ground-breaking vision and framework for Gender Equality, that came from the 4th World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. It is quoted many times in our postion papers. The subtitle for Generation Equality is ‘Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future.’ Generation Equality Forum will be a global public conversation demanding urgent action and accountability for gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women. Generation Equality will celebrate the power of women’s rights activism, feminist solidarity and youth leadership to achieve transformative change. It is a global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-chaired by France and Mexico, with the leadership and partnership of civil society. The Forum will kick-off in Mexico City, Mexico, on 7-8 May 2020 and culminate in Paris, France, on 7-10 July 2020. A website for Generation Equality Forum is coming soon!

Here are two Powerpoints that will help explain the the process – Civil Society Deck and UN Women’s Gender Equality Deck They are easy to follow and may help you to understand the process. It is partly within the United Nations with the Commission on the Status of Women and partly outside the United Nations with the meetings in Mexico and Paris

The Commission on the Status of Women, 64th Session (CSW64) will take place from March 9 – 20, 2020 in New York at the United Nations Headquarters. The CSW will review how the 12 Critical areas have been implemented. These findings will flow into the Forum in Mexico and Paris, culminating in a High Level Event on the opening of the General Assembly, 75th Session in September 2020.

Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

Already two of the United Nations Regional Commissions have had their meetings, one in the Economic Commission for Europe, Geneva, October 29th and 30th which was preceded by a Civil Society Day on Monday October 28th. Mirjam Beike, our representative in Geneva attended the three days. The UN ECE website has posted an article covering the meetings on the 29th and 30th.

Donatus Lili attended the UN Regional meeting for Africa, October 28 – 31st, 2019 which was hosted in the African Union Center in Addis Ababa. Donatus was a panelist at a side event on ‘Faith Based engagement in Africa.’ Here is a press release “Governments must deliver on the promises made to women in Beijing 25 years ago

Donatus Lili on left hand side of picture in white
Donatus sharing on Faith Based Engagement in Africa. She focused on Poverty Eradication, Social Protection and Social Services.

Gertrude Mongella , from Tanzania, a leading advocate for women’s empowerment and rights was Secretary General of the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing 1995. Gertrude attended the session in Addis Ababa where Donatus had the privilege of meeting her and having her photograph. Donatus’s participation in the conference was made possible by FEMNET – The African Women’s Development and Communication Network.

Donatus Lili with Gertrude Mongella

The global conversation on girls and women is centered around 6 themes which seek to bring together the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Platform. It is hoped that this will stimulate new intersectional thinking on how all issues are interrelated and connected one to another. The 6 cross cutting themes are: (i) Inclusive development, shared prosperity and decent work; (ii) Poverty Eradication, social protection and social services; (iii) Freedom from violence, stigma and stereotypes; (iv) Participation, accountability and gender-responsive institutions; (v) Peaceful and inclusive societies and (vi) Environmental conservation, protection and rehabilitation. Discussion on these themes has started at the regional level and will be part of the CSW 64 discussion. It is hoped to generate an Action Coalitions on some agreed topics which will be decided in Mexico and celebrated in Paris. You can get a overview of how the discussion went in this document It is divided into the 6 themes and covers the 12 critical areas from the African perspective.

A moment of voting!

The planned regional conference in Latin America and the Caribbean had to be cancelled due to political unrest in Chile. It has been rescheduled for the end of January 2020. Erika Sanchez had done an amount of preparation towards attending and 6 sisters and mission partners were registered. Unfortunately, Erika will not be able to attend in January due to other commitments. The conference for UN ESCWA in Beirut has been re-located to Amman, Jordan, again, because of political tensions in the region. It will take place on November 28th. See the Agenda On the same weekend, November 27 – 29 the regional conference for Asia Pacific will take place in Bangkok. See Website for information.

2020 is a year of anniversaries for the United Nations. The Beijing Conference is only one of them celebrating 25 years. The United Nations is celebrating its 75th birthday amid a lot of tension including some fractures of multilaterialism. On November 20, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is celebrating 30 years. Only a few weeks ago the historic Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security celebrated 20 years. It was first adopted on October 2020. The Resolution addressed the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women; recognized the under-valued and under-utilized contributions women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution, and peace-building. It also stressed the importance of women’s equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security.

2020, is also the 75th anniversary of the Commission for Social Development  and the 25th anniversary of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development. 2020 is a crucial year for the accelerated realization of inclusive societies and reducing inequalities everywhere for people of all ages. UN Women celebrates its 10th anniversary and the Sustainable Development Goals are 5 years into being realized. All the various agenda overlap and yet inching our way towards realization continues to be a felt struggle especially for girls and women on all levels. Gender Equality, Women’s Human Rights, Women’s participation remain unrealized. The catch phrase of UNICEF for the 30 years anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is ‘For Every Child Every Right’. If this happened maybe we would be on the way to say ‘For Every Girl Every Right’ and that ‘For Every Woman Every Right’ would be a reality.