Yesterday March 14th the UN Journal indicated two things a) that the CSW informal conclusion were convened from 10.00 – 1.00 and 3.00 – 6.00 p.m. and b) that the Commission on the Status of Women would hold its 19th meeting in order to conclude its work for the 56th session.
Today, March 15th, I went for the meeting. CSW 56 ended with NO agreed conclusion! In the final remarks the Chair of the Bureau – H.E. Ms Marjon V. Kamara (Liberia) expressed her disappointment and said that she would prepare a Chair’s Summary to reflect agreements reached. Ms Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director, Under Secretary General for the United nations, was also present and expressed her disappointment despite the many good discussion, initiatives, participation and involvement by both member states and NGO’s. Michelle Bachelet noted that there were 2,015 NGO representatives from 429 organizations present and that there were 300 parallel events outside the UN discussing, sharing and networking for the empowerment of rural women. Member states had 70 parallel events some in collaboration with NGO, sharing best practices and strategizing for the future. So one wonders how in the context of so much activity promoting the empowerment of Rural Women, a state of ‘impasse’ is reached when it comes to negotiating the agreed conclusions? In my experience of the conditions in which rural girls and women live from Ethiopia, to Egypt, to Kenya, to Madagascar, and from Sabah, East Malaysia to India and Thailand why can the member states together not put forward agreed conclusion to uphold the human rights of girls and women and to provide basic services of water and sanitation, education and health? Why do member states not want to invest girls and women to develop agriculture ensuring national food security and food sovereignty? Why did member states not work on having agreed conclusions implement ting the social protection floor initiative globally, guaranteeing human rights and basic services coupled with a cash transfer to every rural girl and woman? Wouldn’t that be progress? Such provision would certainly limit the supply side of girls and women fleeing poverty and finding themselves trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation.
No agreed conclusions for CSW 56! Regrettable said the spokespersons for the CARICOM Member States to the UN , Iran, Denmark for the EU, Zimbabwe for the African States, USA, Peru, Pakistan, Norway, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iceland, Switzerland, Mexico , Russian Federation, Canada, Russia, Turkey, Japan and Australia. (Cuba, Iran, Japan, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Zimbabwe and the USA are members of the Commission). All member states that spoke paid tribute to the Chair of the negotiations H.E. Carlos Garcia from El Salvador and other Bureau members. But why were there no agreed conclusions? NGO’s were permitted to be present during the first reading of the compilation text on March 2 but after that negotiations were in ‘closed’ sessions. A negotiating text was shared with NGO’s on March 8th. You can read this text at http://www.ngocsw.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/2-March-CSW-Compilation-Document.pdf CSW was adjourned on March 9th to give time to complete the negotiation.
As NGO’s are not permitted to observe the intergovernmental negotiating process one must infer and read between the lines. For certain the ‘impasse’ was not reached due to inability to implement globally, the social protection floor initiative! Words such as ‘intransigence’, ‘inflexible mind sets’, seeking to ‘dilute international agreements’, ‘opposition from one delegation’, ‘several delegations tried to bring their own views and opinions to bear’, – these are the rationales we heard from member states that spoke. It seems that the ongoing struggle towards the empowerment of women suffered a defeat today with no agreed conclusions from the Commission on the Status of Women. Why is so threatening to have a girl or woman take control her own life? This is seen clearly when it comes to a girl or women, having a real education on the true meaning of sexuality and access health care. Why is it that the words ‘gender equality’ evokes such primal fear as to stop negotiations? But these same underlying ‘fears’ permit the degradation of girls and women subjecting them to human trafficking for sexual exploitation and labour, is abusive of them for prostitution, mutilating their bodies through female genital mutilation and cutting, forbidding them to have an education, condemning them to death for sexual transgressions, sexualizes them for profit while condemning them to lives of poverty and violence in remote rural areas without access to basic human rights and services. What can be done to bring sanity to the process? Regrets that ‘working methods take an undisciplined trend’ and regrets about the ‘inefficient use of time’ are not very helpful or empowering of rural women! ‘Moral hazards’! ‘Moral evaluations’ are evoked to prevent women being empowered! The CSW needs ‘rational decisions’ for all women!