Activists welcome hard-fought UN agreement on women’s rights

The Guardian has this report on the successful conclusion of CSW 57  Check out the whole article

Here is a snippet with links:  “But the agreement was hard fought and civil society groups expressed “deep concern” over attempts by some conservative member states and groups to derail the process and undermine previous agreements.”

Another Perspective on CSW 57

An objective piece on NGO participation or lack of it in CSW 57.  Read More   Good Shepherd as an NGO had two passes – and while they permit one to enter the corridors of the UN they do not gain access to the negotiating room.  NGO access is had by being a member of a national delegation.   I did have a meeting with a member of the Irish Mission who was negotiating on behalf of women human right defenders.  This is retained in the document.  Well done!   Throughout the two weeks I sent on two separate occasions e-mails containing language with regard to Human Trafficking and Prostitution to 15 member states of the Commission.  In the final document you will note that the paragraphs on Human Trafficking are strong  but all reference to prostitution  has disappeared … thus permitting prostitution to continue and not naming it for what it is sexual exploitation and violence towards women and girls.  Yes there is agreement around the violence of Human Trafficking but no agreement around Prostitution.

A quote from  the link above and I quote it because I have heard these stories too…

“The women delegates of, for example, Afghanistan, Egypt and Iran may declare unchallenged, in the UN building, that their governments respect women’s status and progress, is being made. But we, in our restricted place across the road, listen in grief and pity to accounts of rape, sexual slavery, be headings of women activists and human rights defenders; of women imprisoned for fleeing forced marriage, of widow abuse, and of honour killings disguised as suicide. And of young women activists stripped and sexually assaulted in Tahir Square, Cairo. Of what is really happening to the women of Libya and Syria. Rape may be a weapon of war, but women’s bodies are being targeted in many countries, post conflict, and during revolution, and where there is no war. …  As member States pontificate, many mouthing platitudes, women and girls are dying, or if not dead, destroyed.”


Good Shepherd Team at CSW 75

2013-03-03 07.46.34I was present with Ferew from Ethiopia in the UN corridors from 3.00 p.m until after 9.00 p.m. and witnessed the adoption of the outcome document.  It is truly a historic moment for women’s rights.  In a blog post during the long wait I asked some questions as to why it is difficult to get agreement.  But eventually agreement was reached.  Yes, there is a strong outcome document but could it have said more?   Read here about the final session of CSW 57 on Friday evening March 15th   The blogger, Joni van de Sand  is a friend from Holland whom I met 2 years ago  If you follow her blog entries you will get a good overview of CSW 57.

The photograph – Good Shepherd Team at CSW 57:   Ferew Lemma from Ethiopia.  Hung-Hsin Liu from Taiwan who left NY at the end of the first week. Winifred Doherty and Wanching Chen, Taiwan who left NY on the morning of the Friday the 15th and was not present for the historic ending of CSW 57.  The team was supported by Maureen McGowan of Handcrafting Justice, Victoria Ashley of Good Shepherd Volunteers, Kimberly Moloche an Intern from St John’s College and Helga Sourek (Germany) who returned home after the first week.

CSW 57 adopted a 17 page blue print to combat violence against women

Michelle Bachelet, UN Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of UN Women  in her closing statement to CSW 57 said  “It has been an intensive past two weeks. We have witnessed one of the highest levels of participation from Member States, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, and colleagues from the United Nations.”  Read more

Background on the more controversial areas are outline in this article from the Washington Post

Toward the end of her statement Michelle Bachelet made a surprise announcement.  She said it would be her last CSW as she was returning to her country Chile for personal reasons.  The Calgary Hearld has more on that story  

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon issued a statement  and I quote

“Violence against women is a heinous human rights violation, global menace, a public health threat and a moral outrage.  No matter where she lives, no matter what her culture, no matter what her society, every woman and girl is entitled to live free of fear.  She has the universal human right to be free from all forms of violence so as to fulfill her full potential and dreams for the future.

States have a corresponding responsibility to turn that right into reality.  The Secretary-General hopes that all the partners who came together at this historic session and others around the world will now translate this agreement into concrete action to prevent and end violence against women and girls.  The United Nations system is fully committed to leading this global effort.”