The Commission on the Status of Women commenced on Monday March 12. It was preceded by the NGOCSW Consultation Day on Sunday March 11. The team from the GSIJP office attended together with two of the Good Shepherd Volunteers, Amore and Samatha and Nancy Fritche Egan (known to many of you) and her friends Eileen Reed, Diane Jordan, and Lucia Alcantara.
It is impossible to be abreast of all the activities that CSW provides but one thing is sure we were constantly concerned about girls and women who live in rural areas and face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination throughout their lifecycle – the list is endless – poverty, food insecurity, violence, trafficking, sexual abuse, race discrimination, and violations of human rights. We were advocating for the right to own, inherits, bequeath, manage and profit from land and productive assets; access to physical, mental, and reproductive health care and services, quality education, provision of credit facilities, financial inclusion and social protection floors, zero tolerance of abusive labour practices, human trafficking, prostitution, child early and forced marriage, rape, sexual harassment, and female genital mutilation. We seemed to be alternating between issues and groups that are discriminated against, widows, older women, indigenous women, girls, migrant women, low paid women, girls and women with disabilities, and mountain women and girls. Concern was expressed about the lack of safe drinking water, water supplies, and scarcity and lack of adequate sanitation facilitates, hygiene facilities including menstrual hygiene management. Other global issues like climate change, and armed conflict were also addressed. The situation of women human rights defenders was made ever more poignant by the assignation of Marielle Franco, a Brazilian activist, on March 14th in Rio De Janeiro.
The response from the 193 member states comes in the form of ‘Agreed Conclusion.’ They are being negotiated during this second week preparing the way towards commitments to girls and women living in rural areas to uphold all human rights, and implement economic and social policies for the empowerment of all girls and women, while strengthening girls’ and women’s collective voice, leadership and participation in decision making at all level.
The Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women this year is H.E. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason from Ireland. We wish her success as she chairs the negotiations for the best possible outcome for girls and women. The opening of the Commission and all formal meeting were Webcast and can be accessed HERE
The UN Secretary General had a townhall meeting with women gathered for CSW 62 and you can also follow how the #METOO campaign was brought forward. The various panels addressed the various issues contained in the priority and review theme
- Priority theme:
Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls;
- Review theme:
Participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women (agreed conclusions of the forty-seventh session);
Engagement of Good Shepherd at the Commission was on a few levels responding to various invitations to engage and contribute. Monique Tarabeh , communication in Rome submitted artwork for the NGOCSW handbook, GSIF office prepared an advertisement encouraging people to view MAHILA The GSIJP Office prepared a statement to the Commission available in the 6 languages of the UN Statement to CSW 62 and Mirjam Beike, NGO Representative to Geneva, currently in New York, drafted and presented an oral statement to the Commission on the girl child supported by 26 religious and faith based organizations. Click on Mirjam to see the video.
Good Shepherd co-sponsored two side events one on human trafficking in collaboration with the Mission of the Holy See to the UN – read the summary HERE “The common narrative of rural women lured into big cities by the false promises of traffickers and forced into sex slavery was described at the keynote speech of the conference by survivor Mely Lenario from the Philippines.” – A Good Shepherd Service in Cebu. – Following Mely presentation there was standing ovation. Webcast of the event
The second event was on water and was entitled ‘Wisdom, rural women and water, Unmuting women’s voices for integrated Water Policy’. This event was prepared by the Mining Working Group and Cecilie live-streamed it on Facebook Link to morning briefing webcasts that I participated in Morning Briefing March 20 and Morning Briefing March 22
Sarah Benson from Ruhama (Ireland) and Coalition against Prostitution (CAP International) had a number of event which featured survivors of human trafficking as well as NGO’s and Members of Government. The Mission of Ireland Webcast led in ‘Presenting challenges and considering solutions to combat sex trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls (CSW62 Side Event)’ The Irish Ambassador to the UN Geraldine Byrne Nason paid tribute to the work of Sarah Benson. Well done Sarah! Grégoire Théry CAP International chaired the event.
Activities are multiple and complex engaging not just at the political level but also socially and in supportive roles with other NGO’s particularly the NGOCSW Committee. For me this year I was very engaged in and committed to preparing for and following the an outcome document. Mirjam represented us at the NGOCSW Reception on March 13th where she was photographed with Nancy Fritche Egan. This event overlapped with the Coalitions Against Trafficking in Women’s reception which I attended, The ARISE Foundations sponsored a reception on March 11th for religious engaged in anti-trafficking work.
Another side event entitled “#MeToo Say Survivors: Human Rights, Gender and Trafficking in Human Beings’ was held on 15 Mar 2018. It was organized by OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, UN Women, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) together with Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) and Equality Now. Link to Webcast. Some extraordinary survivors of prostitution and human trafficking shared their stories. Mira Sorinvo, UNODC Goodwill Ambassador was also a panelist. ‘#Metoo movement must represent trafficked and prostituted persons.’
On Saturday March 17th there was a strategy meeting with the Women’s Major Group in preparation for the High Level Political Forum which will take place in July. Mirjam attended this also. There was an opportunity to remember human rights defenders and all activists who engage on behalf of girls and women. In the moment of reflection it was my privilege to remember our own Good Shepherd Auguchita, who gave her life too! I did write her name and place it with the others.