Ruchira Gupta – Keynote address delivered at the Apollo Theater on March 8th

Ruchira 3

Youtube of Ruchira’s  keynote address:

If you would prefer to read Click here

Four dreams of the women: First – Education for their children; Second – A job in the office – meaning fixed hours 9.00 – 5.00 and social security; Thirdly – A room of their own and Fourthly –  Justice meaning protection and accountability.

“We cannot create a culture of masculinity in which men get away with sexual exploitation if they pay for it.  ….If we normalize the exploitation of some women just because they are poor, or low-caste, or women of colour – we will normalize the exploitation of all.” Ruchira Gulpa

Congratulations Ruchira!


Political Declaration of March 9th at CSW59 a disappointment!

The political declaration adopted on March 9th at the Commission on the Status of Women is a disappointment at this historic time of recalling the great achievements of the Beijing Conference and reviewing progress 20 years later.  To access the 3 page declaration Click here 

The declaration was negotiated prior to the beginning of the Commission.  It is disappointing to see that there are no recommendations for going forward.  What should have been the highest point of the commission is in fact the lowest point.  The declaration is a ‘bland reaffirmation of existing commitments that fails to match the level of ambition in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and in fact threatens a major step backward.’

The Women’s Major Group had worked on their version of a declaration and I attach it here in three languages.  We, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd – New York/Global, Ethiopia, Colombia and Latin America and Caribbean endorsed the statement.

We joined with hundreds of groups demanding …

  • Unequivocal commitments towards fully realizing gender equality, the human right and empowerment of women and girls.
  • Accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
  • Universal ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women
  • Recognition the critical and unequivocal role women’s organizations, feminist organizations and women human rights defenders have played in pushing for gender equality, the human rights and empowerment of women and girls.
  • An enabling environment and resources
  • Recognition and commitment to address the emerging challenges that are setting back the forward movement towards equality
  • Accountability for governments – addressing the structural causes of gender inequality, ensuring an enabling economic environment for woman’s rights and gender equality
  • Affirming the strong linkages between Beijing, Post 2015 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Reaffirmation of the links between the human rights of women and girls and development.

Anything less that the above would be political failure, at a time when significantly more effort is needed to achieve the goals of fully realizing gender equality, the human rights and empowerment of all women and girls everywhere.

Full Statement  English  French  Spanish


Monday – Update March 9 at CSW59 – Beijing20

The official opening of CSW 59 took place on Monday at the United Nations. The proceedings are all webcast beginning with Opening Session  The Chair of the Commission this year is from Thailand – Her Excellency Kanda Vajrabhaya. The statement of the Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon was strong in favor of gender equality. I quote  “As women thrive, so will we all. If girls are held back, the whole world feels the pain.

Women continue to suffer disproportionately from the economic crisis, from the impacts of climate change, from the displacement caused by conflict, persecution and so much else.

Extremist groups continue to viciously and systematically attack girls and women. The international community needs to translate its outrage into aid, services, support and justice.

Attacking a woman or girl means attacking a possible peacekeeper, police officer, professional or prime minister. My UNiTE to end violence against women campaign will continue to work to end all forms of violence against women and girls, including attacks in the home.

Women bear the burden. Women pay the price. But women are not just victims; they are agents of progress and change.

Empowered women and girls are the best drivers of growth, the best hope for reconciliation, and the best buffer against radicalization of youth and the repetition of cycles of violence.”  Read the full statement here  You will notice that there is reference to extremists groups calling on the international community to translate its outrage into aid, services support and justice.  Have you joined our global campaign challenging Member States to negotiate the liberation of girls and women at the hand of ISIS  Sign here

This link provides an excellent record of all that has been happening at the Commission from the UN perspective.

Links to all NGO statements to the Commission are found in the UN Journal daily. This is the link to our statement.

A parallel event that I attended was  ‘Doula Designs’ hosted by an interesting group of women including Nancy Fritche Egan.  Read moreDoula Designs

Doula means ‘Birthing’ – birthing the alternative future as individual, institutions and systems.  An interesting challenge for me!  The UN is a mature organization.  It provides a cover for all of us to gather, talk and share. But the UN is a patriarchal organization.   How shepherd out the patriarchy and be hospice workers for the new?   In the small group in which I worked  my colleague and I both came up with a creative hash tag in relation to the Secretary General’s statement to the Commission when he declined to name the 5 member states who have no women members in parliament and 8 member states who have no women in the cabinet.                                                             Hashtag  #SGprotectsboys.

NancyFrom this session I met with Maureen McGowan who was setting up her table for the Artisans Fair a tradition at NGOCSW where women have an opportunity to sell their produce.  Nancy too is there to lend a hand!

Handcrafting Justice Maureen 3 Handcrafting Justice Maureen







Nancy and I worked in preparation for ‘Good Shepherd’ parallel session scheduled for Tuesday March 10 at 10.30 a.m.  Nancy is the facilitator.

There were two more events to attend before the day ended – Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation

Prostitution and sexual exploitation: A violation of human rights of women and girls.  There were three panels: Prostitution and its exploitation violate human rights of women and girls: country cases

Prostitution and Human rights Law: time for respect of international obligations.

Responsibility to protect: best practices of States of Legislators

This panel was organized by Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution CAP International (See Website) and moderated by Sarah Benson CEO of Ruhama, Ireland and Chairperson of CAP International.

Sarah CSW 59

It was impressive to hear Grégoire Théry of CAP and Gavin Shuker MP, Chair of the All Party Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade, UK address the issue of prostitution. CAP have a campaign ‘Call of Parliamentarians for the Abolition of Prostitution.’   This requires advocacy at the local and national level.

The last event for me was attendance at the NGOCSW reception where Ruchira Gupta of Apne Aap was honored.

Ruchira 4 Ruchira 5


NGOCSW Reception