Faith Actors at the Generation Equality Forum

Good Shepherd were pleased to joined with 30 global and regional faith actors to create a joint communique that shows our collective commitment to achieving gender equality. You can read the full communique here As you read you can listen to the reading by various representatives. The communique is entitled ‘People of Faith are Allies to Generation Equality.’ The Action Coalitions are a new impetus to address pre-existing and structural issues and know how forms of repression are interrelated and rcognise gender injustice as an intersectional issue. We are called to work in partnership for the protection and promotion of human dignity and to achieve gender justice. Good Shepherds are no strangers to this agenda addressing – Gender Based Violence and Economic Justice and Rights – two of the 6 Action Coalitions. The communique contains ten points for UN partnership with faith-based actors ranging from recognizing the unique role of religious actors, co-developing gender just policies, partnering with us to promote feminist theologies that promote equality, and increasing funding and resources to enable strategic partnerships at all levels with religious actors.

On Monday June 28th, prior to the commencement of Generation Equality Forum, A group of faith actors hosted an event entitled ‘Looking Back to Look Forward: The Role of Religious Actors in Gender Equality since the Beijing Declaration’.  The panelist included a feminist theologan Dr. Nontando Hadebe from South Africa, International Coordinator a for gender justice organization Side by Side. The event was the occasion of the launch of a report entitled “Religious Actors: Ally or Threat for achieving Gender Equality.’

Access the Report which reveals how religious actors have advanced and hindered gender equality since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995. The report provides a critical and contextualized understanding of how religion and gender politics are intertwined in all countries, high and low-income alike. The report addresses how patriarchal gender norms continue to be packaged in the language of religion because it legitimizes them. Anti-rights actors are mobilizing religious language to block or even reverse progress on gender equality. Religious language can make patriarchal practices appear divinely ordained and unchangeable. Read more

Each presenter was superb in her articulation of different perspectives. Dr. Nontando Hadebe, a feminist catholic theologian from South Africa, the last panelist, spoke of her excitment at what she was hearing from Zainah Ahwar. Gender, religion and feminist theology need to generate an alternative narrative and change the ways women appropriate patriarchical religion. Patriarchy is powerful and uses its power to normalize and naturalize gender inequality. Women in turn internalize it and see it as God’s word and how things are suppose to be. Do listen to the inspiring insights of Zainah on the need to re-claim and reframe the narrative of religion and rights and uphold equality and justice. To do this is essential. It requires capacity building with knowledge, and religious literacy which critiques gender equality and rights showing how inequality and discriminatory laws and norms are socially constructed and not divine law. So, desconstruction and resonstruction are required according to the lived realities of the 21st century.

Our position papers referency patriarchy in 3 of the papers – the girl child, trafficking and prostitution. The phrase is usually couched within other phrases – systemic injustice, structural gender inequality, targeted gender violence, and dominant systems of patriarchal power. Do we consider the church to be a patriarchal system exercising power over girls and women? We even have a recommendation “Include awareness in educational programs of the cross-sectional issues that influence prostitution: migration realities, gender discrimination, unrestrained consumerism,
militarism, economic and patriarchal systems, and feminization of poverty.” Do we have the knowledge and capacity to carry out this recommendation? Another few sentences “the root causes of prostitution are tied to poverty, patriarchy, male privilege, extreme wealth, racist attitudes, militarization, ecological degradation, inadequate family support, and the demand by men for women to be available for sexual purchase. The rapid global expansion of human trafficking as a criminal industry has increased the demand for girls and women to be objects of prostitution. Likewise, lack of people-centered and rights-based migration policies increase the incidence of human trafficking and prostitution.” Without doubt we are addressing the consequences of gender inequality but are we doing this from a position of knowledge and conviction based on an updated theology of feminism that is fit for the 21st century? The term ‘human rights’ is referenced 19 times and the term ‘gender’ 17 times in the position papers? Gender is qualified with such words as inequality, violence, sensitive, discrimination, equality, outcomes, exploitation, inclusion, analysis and justice – yes gender justice!

An event I attended on the last day of Generation Equality Forum entitled ‘Advancing Gender Equality by countering the Extremist Manifesto’ was very informative. The politics of ‘anti-gender’ are rooted in extreme positions adopted by the various world religions and others who promote fear around gender and tout feminist ideologies. They are actors who are rooted in patriarchy, masculinity, and are homophobic. They put forward strategies aimed at reclaiming the gender gains that have been achieved throughout history. They seek to influence political strategy and policymakers with the ultimate goals of obstructing, criminalizing, illegalizing or limiting gender rights, sexual rights and the human rights of citizens. They are part of a larger movement that brings together groups opposed to feminism, LGBTQI rights, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and compreshensive sex education. The panelsists came from Afrcia, Europe and Latin America. It was noted that these are not merely local groups but international movements, well connected and with funding.

A very telling report that was referred to is “The Tip of the Iceberg” with a sub-title Religious Extremist Funders against Human Rights for Sexuality and Reproductive Health in Europe 2009 – 2018. It provides narratives and reports of the origin of funding. More. All of this brings me back to where I started – the necessity for us to have strong theological underpining for a 21 century world where girls and women’s rights are upheld to the benefit of the whole of humanity and the planet. This is urgent in our work with girls and indeed part of the transformative journey we are all on.

Reviewing CSW 65 Virtual Platform and Engagment

The annual Commission on the Status of Women 65th session started with the NGO Forum on Sunday March 14th – setting the scene. Last year because of the outbreak of COVID 19 the session was cancelled but this year all took place virtually.  Planning took place throughout the year.   The most exciting part of this was the development of a virtual platform by the NGOCSW Committee members in New York.  This platform was enabled by ‘Pathable Virtual Event Platform.”   The platform permits for multiple live zoom connection to be happening simultaneously and a feature of it is the Virtual Tradeshow Booth.  The Good Shepherd International Justice Peace Office, my colleague Alexis Schutz and I, explored the possibilities of having a Virtual Booth and then invited GSIF, MDO – Asia Pacific, Latin America and the NGO Regional Designates to a planning meeting at the end of January to discuss possibilities.  The members of the planning committee undertook responsibility for their regions.   A very rich comprehensive program was designed and multiple issued were addressed from North to South and East to West. Many were livestreamed on Facebook and others on YouTube.  Many recordings have been uploaded to https://winifredd.wordpress.com and can be viewed on blog postings of March 14, 16, 23 and 27. Issues addressed were varied and included the following – Understanding the Impacts of COVID 19 on Vulnerable Australian Women; Women’s Economic Empowerment, Ending Violence against Girls and Women, including 4 session on Obstetrics Fistula, Migration issues from Latin America and Europe.  My favorite was the 5-hour girls’ program from Asia Pacific – hosted by girls, moderated by girls, concerning girls’ issues and participation at all levels.  How insightful and informed these girls are –truly leaders for the future coming from all countries of Asia Pacific.  At the conclusion of my night vigil in New York at 6.30 am on Saturday morning (began at 1.30 am) I closed my intervention with “now dismiss your servant in peace as my eyes have seen ….”  This was followed at 11.00 am with a session from Madagascar again focusing on girls and with a recording of girls giving their viewpoints and opinions.

The Contemplative Sisters of the Good Shepherd – New York/Toronto and Ecuador prepared the Women’s Sanctuary Space for Monday March 15th with specially pre-recorded prayer reflections. 

I hosted a “Let’s Talk Series” for one hour each day covering various topics from Social Protection Floors, CSW Agreed Conclusion, Ending Violence Against Women, Generation Equality Forum, Migration, Sustainable Development Goals, St Patrick’s Day.  Alexis hosted Let’s Talk Girls with Patricia and Maddie who are Good Shepherd Volunteers in the New York/Toronto Province.

Live on FaceBook
Alexis Schutz – Good Shepherd International Justice Peace Office – Working for Girls Around the World
Mattie Thompson – Good Shepherd Volunteer, Collier Services, New Jersey
Patricia Kelly – Good Shepherd Volunteer at the National Advocacy Center in Washington DC – Live on Facebook

An entry point for Good Shepherd, Europe was on the topic of Migration when my guests were Ivanna Youtchak, Coordinator of the Euro Project, and Gabriele Spina from Catania Italy, and Director of Migration in Il Nodo, Catania and Acireale.  What great work around ‘integration’ of migrants into local communities and fascinating insight into how programs adjusted and provided for the needs of migrants all during these pandemic times. A video ‘Whatever it Takes’ was specially prepared by Good Shepherd, Italy for this occasion.

It can ve viewed via Dropbox Please note – it may be stressful to watch.

Sr Mirjam Bekie, our NGO Representative in Geneva contributed a repeat session on Obsteric Fistuala, creating awareness of the problem and sharing on advocacy work in colaitions in Geneva. She also presented in the RENATE Sessions on Human Trafficking.

Live on Facebook

The issue of Human Trafficking with its multiple stakeholders and strategies was very well covered on the platform.   APT/AMRI engaged in 2 sessions facilitated by Noreen O’Shea, Ireland, available on their YouTube Channel. RENATE – the European network of religious committed to work together against human trafficking and exploitation – of which Sr. Marie Helene Halligon (France) is a staunch member, facilitated 9 X 2-hour sessions over the two weeks.  All Session can be viewed on their YouTube Channel

On Friday 26th the final meeting of the Commission was postponed until 5.00 p.m. and some wonder if there will be any agreed conclusion!  Yes, just after 6.00 p.m the Commission resumed and there are Agreed Conclusion! Agreed Conclusions are one barometer indicating support for women’s human rights. While very welcome, they do not reflect an adequate response to the urgent call of the UN Secretary General on the opening day of CSW 65, to realize women’s rights fully, ensure equal representation, advance women’s economic inclusion, asking for funding, policies and political will to end all gender-based violence and give space to girls and young women to transition into future leadership. What could the member states be the negotiating about you might ask? 

The terms gender, gender identity, women in all their diversity, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence, sexual identity, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and human rights defenders give rise to various interpretation – ranging from a human rights perspective to religious, cultural, and moral principles and objections. Concept on motherhood, maternity, paternity, family, role of family in society, gender as defined as male or female, marriage only between a man and a women are pitted against human right to self expression and ability to make choices are amoung the contentious issues. Other political issues surface – e.g invoking national sovernighty, whereby national laws, and religious laws are to be respected and upheld. Considerations that the agreed conclusion attempt to address a broad ranges of issues which were not the subject matter of the theme eg. climate change, women’s health, human trafficking, and unilateral financial trade agreement was also raised. There was reference to the Security Council Resolution 1325 being deleated from the document amid concerns about the impacts of conflict on girls and women and that there were attempt to unpick long standing commitments. See Global Sisters Report

But women and the women’s movement are undaunted and now have the opportunity to forge ahead towards the launching of the ‘Generation Equality Forum’ which will start in Mexico on Monday March 29th for three day.  The action now is towards full equality, and full peace, in prosperity for all, challenging all to stand as citizens, in a shared solidarity for the future we want. To end, NGO CSW65 passed the torch to Generation Equality at a ‘Joyful Disruption Rally’ with girls and women from around the world determined to realize a new future despite the paralysis in the agreed conclusion negotiations. Read the Advanced Unedited Verson of the Agreed Conclusion

Good Shepherd Asia Pacific Website have access to all their events during NGOCSW 65 Virtual Plaform HERE They also provide links for Latin America on their Facebook Page and RIMOA are on the GSIF YouTube Channel. This is a wonderful testimony to the many and varied ministries of the Congregation.

YouTube

In total live programs were facilitated on the platform for 66 hours over the two weeks. 114 identified Good Shepherd Sisters and partners were registered on the NGOCSW65 Virtual Booth and made a total of 1,696 visits to the platform. RENATE had 8 identified representatives who made a total of 150 visits. APT had 7 identified representatives who make a total of 86 visitis. There were 320 visitors to the booth of whom 114 are identified as partners, 85 unidentified and 121 familiar NGO Colleagues and other unknow NGOs. The number of visits ranged from 1 visit to 264 visits. 99 guests were one time visitors only, 30 guests vistied a second time, and 22 guests made a third visit. Administrators tended to have higher numbers of visits 92, 90, 87, 70, 60, 63, 46, 45, 42, 41, 38, 34, 33, 31, 28, 26, 22, although a few within this range were visitors to the virtual booth.

Thank you NGOCSW 65 Virtual Platform!
Thank you all who participated in CSW65!

CSW65 Continues

This all virtual CSW 65 experience is challenging – the inability to meet in person, exchange ideas, meet official delegates, and chat informally with women traditionally gatherered in NY is a certainly different. No exchanging of hugs and embraces, no coffee appointment, no walking and talking, moving from one venue to another, and no personal interaction is certainly a great loss and yet women as always are making the best of the virtual world with over 25,000 registered and participating on the NGOCSW 65 Virtual Platform which I think is a great success thanks to the dedication of the NGOCSW Committee on the Status of Women and all who work behind the scenes to make it a reality. The only signs that CSW 65 is taking place are captured in the banners on the railing outside the UN. Asking which one comes first is asking the wrong question because transformation demands that they are all realized simultaneouly!

The Secretary General of the United Nations held a Town Hall with women and girls on March 16th. A few quotes from his address ‘But we should not talk of getting “back to normal”. It has become clearer than ever that what was considered normal was often discriminatory, unjust and unsustainable.’ … ‘Around the world, we advocated with Member States to ensure that women entrepreneurs are targeted in stimulus packages; that women working in the informal economy can access social protection; that recovery packages include greater investment in the care economy.’ You can read the full text HERE

US Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the Commission on the Status of Women 65 on behalf of the USA saying that  “the status of women is the status of democracy,” mentioning Eleanor Roosevelt’s who shaped the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. “When women face obstacles to obtaining quality healthcare; when women face food insecurity, when women are more likely to live in poverty, and therefore disproportionately impacted by climate change, more vulnerable to gender-based violence, and therefore disproportionately impacted by conflict, well it’s harder for women to fully participate in decision-making, which of course in turn makes it that much harder for democracies to thrive.”  Olivia Dalton, a spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN noted that the Vice President Harris is the first Biden administration White House official to address the U.N.; she is the highest-ranking U.S. government official to ever address CSW; and she’s the first female U.S. vice president to ever address the U.N.

During the first week there were 4 ministerial roundatbables and 4 interactive dialougues. Background notes, biographies of speakers and the recordinding can be accessed HERE. The General Discussion resumed on Friday 19th and continues in the second week. Member States address the Commission Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here A list of speakers can be accessed at the top on the page on UN Women’s CSW 65 Page

While the formal program continues virtually within the United Nations the NGO community are hosting multiple parallel events on the NGOCSW 65 Virtual Forum Platform Good Shepherd around the world are presenting a very comprehensive program of the various activities from east to west and north to south. The program schedule can reviewed and many of the events have been recorded either on Facebook or Youtube. I was so happy to have the Contemplative Sisters engaged in designing the Women’s Sanctuary Space on Monday March 15th. It has been recorded on Facebook The videos ‘Glow Within Us All’ and ‘The Call to Belong.’

Some of the Asia Pacific Presentation

Presentation from Africa – Anglola

Fundación Internacional del Buen Pastor América LatinaCongregación de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Buen Pastor – Región América Latina. Bolivia-Chile,…

Recording on Facebook
Live on Facebook
Live on Facebook
Live on Facebook

Concluding reflections on CSW 63

Last week at the April Meeting of NGOCSW Jourdan Williams and myself presented a brief overview of the CSW63 Agreed Conclusion. The Agreed Conclusions are in the 6 Languages of the United Nations. See

Link to PowerPoint Presentation

Shannon Mahedy a GSV (Good Shepherd Volunteer) attended the two week of CSW 63. She wrote a reflection paper on here experiences.

Inclusive Social Protection for Women and Girls: Best Practices and Equity

Winifred focused on social protection and the girl child. “Sister Winifred Doherty, Member of Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd spoke of male privilege, saying we are a long way from the realisation of the rights of the girl child. Females of all ages face vulnerabilities no matter where they live, from birth to 18, they are particularly vulnerable to human rights violations. Doherty spoke of the low value of the girl child and the many harmful practices such as FGM and forced marriage, and how women and girls are affected disproportionately by many global challenges such as climate change, conflict and migration. She spoke of cultural/sociological/traditional norms; with patriarchy as a root cause.” quote from the article. Read the full paper here

Moderating a panel with Member States – Bangladesh and Denmark on behalf of NGOCSW, NGO Committee for Migration, and the Peace Foundation. The event was entitled ‘Gender Violence: Prevention, Protection and Social Inclusion. Ms Kalliopi Mingeirou, Chief of Policy, Ending Violence Against Women, UN Women was a panelist also. Opening remarks were made by the Honorable Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education, Bangladesh Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury MP and the keynote by Dr Abul Hossain

Impressions from the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 63)

Illustrating the theme of CSW 63 in pictures – focusing on social protection,
public services and infrastructure. Alexis Schutz from the GSIJP Office in the picture

The official opening of the Commission was proceeded by the NGOCSW Consultation Day on Sunday March 10. The GSIJP Office was joined by two Good Shepherd Volunteers – Sarabella Muise and Shannon Mahedy. ‘Social Protection mitigates economic and social distress’

The opening of the Commission was webcast and can be found in the Archives Secretary General indicated that this is the Commission on the Status of Women. But it could equally go by another name: the Commission on the Status of Power. How apt! Because he said this is the crux of the issue! Gender equality is fundamentally a question of power. The statement of the President of the General Assembly is in Spanish. The Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Ms. Hilary Gbedemah said ‘Women are disadvantaged in social protection systems, experiencing lower coverage rates and substantially lower benefit levels. The Committee recognises that social protection policies are an important tool for reducing . poverty and gender inequality. Gender gaps in accessing social protection vary per region and country, as they are largely dependent on the characteristics of the labour market and the structure of the social security system.’ See the full text If you wish to see who is who with regard to Women’s and Girls Leadership at the United Nations review the panel line up. Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women also made a Statement. If you prefer to read an account rather than watch the webcast go to UN Meeting Coverage

While there is optimism and hope for a good outcome many sharing and stories tell of backlash against gender equality. ” As push back against women’s rights around the world threaten to reverse hard-won gains, conviction and political courage must drive forward progress and build on achievements, high-level speakers pledged at the opening session of the sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women.” … “United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that when women are excluded, everyone pays, also warning that the world today is witnessing a deep, pervasive and relentless push back on women’s rights.  “We will push back against the push back,” he pledged, adding that the United Nations is also making progress in achieving gender parity.” All quotes from the UN Meeting Coverage link above

The GSIJP team starting the second day – taking photographs on the way!
Social Protection Advocates meet up! ” Establish human rights-based, gender-sensitive Social Protection Floors at the national level as a first step in the creation of Universal Social Protection, in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda, and ‘to reach those furthest behind first.’ Good Shepherd Statement to CSW 63 One of the official document to the Commission
Good friends and colleagues at CSW 63 doing their part in advocacy so as Enact a just, integrated and sustainable model of development, inclusive of gender, environmental, and economic justice, that puts the interests of disempowered, marginalized and impoverished girls, women and their communities at the centre of policy concerns, ahead of the corporate agenda, and upholds the protection of their human rights.
On the way to moderate this High Level Side Event “Gender Violence: Prevention, Protection and Social Inclusion”

On Day 12 ‘Orange the World Campaign’ Good Shepherd Sisters in the Philippines are featured in the Global Sisters Report

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“Wearing orange on the 25th of every month is a practice followed by a number of sisters and staff of the Religious of the Good Shepherd, Province of the Philippines-Japan. But on Nov. 25, Good Shepherd-run institutions and centers in the Philippines were especially ablaze in orange to commemorate the start of the 18-day anti-violence against women campaign in keeping with the United Nations’ “Orange Day” campaign to raise awareness and prevent violence against women and girls.’  Read the full story at Global Sisters Report    Congratulation to all and well done!

 

Another 16 days Campaign To end Violence Against Women and Girls is about to begin!

Yes, another 16 days campaign is about to commence and it is impressive to see ‘Good Shepherd’ globally engaged in the ‘Orange the World Campaign’.  Actions, programs, and advocacy towards ending all gender based violence particularly domestic violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking is not merely a 16 days campaign for Good Shepherd but 365 days, year in year out.

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English A press release from UN Women is available in multiple languages.  It is entitled ‘As global mobilization soar, UN Women brings survivors of violence and advocates to center stage on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls.

Spanish  Comunicado de Prensa: En este momento en que cada vez hay más movilizaciones en todo el mundo, ONU Mujeres centra la atención en las sobrevivientes de la violencia y las personas activistas en el Día Internacional para la Eliminación de la Violencia contra la Mujer

French Communiqué de presse : Pour la Journée internationale pour l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes et des filles, la mobilisation s’amplifie partout dans le monde. À cette occasion, ONU Femmes place les survivantes de la violence et leurs défenseurs au devant de la scène

Arabic

The Center for Women’s Global Leadership is focusing this year on Violence in the World of Work.  See more HERE

See resources from New York City 16 days Campaign  and Activism Events

International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women and Girls

The International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women will be celebrated at the United Nations on Monday November 19th ahead of the the start of the 16 days campaign to end violence against women on November 25th which is a Sunday.

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The theme adopted for he 16 days is Orange the World: #HearMeToo     Under the theme Orange the World: #HearMeToo, the UNiTE partners are encouraged to host events with local, national, regional and global women’s movements, survivor advocates and women human rights defenders and create opportunities for dialogue between activists, policy-makers and the public. As in previous years, the colour orange will be a key theme unifying all activities, with buildings and landmarks lit and decorated in orange to bring global attention to the initiative.

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JuliaJulia Quick writes Good Shepherd Services in Malaysia have planned 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based violence focusing on girl-child.   Below is the write up by Ms Chin Poh Choo, Director of Good Shepherd Services, Malaysia.

*Good Shepherd Services, Malaysia Goes Orange*  They have been ‘Orange’ for a number of years.  This photo recalls 2016

Malaysia

This year, 2018 Good Shepherd’s 16 Days of Activism will shine a light on the Girl-Child.
A 16 Days Reflection Booklet containing courageous stories from girl-child survivors and reflection on perspectives of  sexual gender-based violence in the context of indigenous communities in Sabah, will be launched to kick-off the campaign on 25 November 2018 in Tambunan.  The printed booklet will be in Bahasa Malaysia while the English version will be available online.

A #HearMeToo 6km run along the scenic rice fields in Tambunan which is expected to draw a field of  about 400 runners from the district will follow after the official launch.

Tambunan is the site of GSS’ community-based program on the protection and safety of the Girl-Child which involves 18 villages over a span of three years.  Through the project we have managed to  engage  with state government agencies and key stakeholders in communities to dialogue on native customary practices and laws on the issue of SGBV.  It is hoped that at by the end of the third year, communities will be mobilized and
empowered to spearhead the advocacy for positive changes to the customary laws and practices that can provide a more comprehensive protection for the girl-child in indigenous communities.

Daily events  throughout the 16 days will be conducted across the various Good Shepherd  ministries, educations institutions and communities in Sabah and in Ipoh.

 

SutisaFrom Nong Khai, Thailand – Sutisa Utalun writes “I and all the Good Shepherd Team have just finished our third meeting with Government partners regarding the upcoming event on ending violence against women and children.  The event will be held on November 30th and we expect up to 5,000 participants in the event.  Sutisa posted some pictures on her Facebook on November 8th

Sutisa 4‘Thank you to the governor of Nong Khai, the great mind and the Deputy Governor of  Nong Khai,  who sees the importance of the collaboration of our brothers in all sectors, engaging  in joint resistance and opposition to all kinds of violence, including the slave trade in the form of human trafficking in this new era.   The event will take place at the cultural courtyard of the royal culture of the royal sirindhorn of the royal family of Thailand  from 13:00 pm -16:00 pm.”  Sutisa hopes to meet all the brothers and sisters. See you soon!

Orange the World

 

 

 

Human Rights, Sustainable Development and Climate Policies: Connecting The Dots. A Toolbox published by Franciscan International.

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Here are the links to a toolbox for Human Rights 2018 published in three languages:  A Toolbox

 

FI Spanish

Aquí están los enlaces a una caja de herramientas publicada en tres idiomas:   Caja de Herramientas

FI French
Voici les liens vers une boîte à outils publiée en trois langues:  Boîte à Outils
What dots would Good Shepherd be connecting?  Human Rights, Gender Equality, and Poverty Eradication in the context of Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals!
¿Qué puntos estaría conectando el Buen Pastor? Derechos humanos, igualdad de género y erradicación de la pobreza en el contexto del desarrollo sostenible y los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible!
Quels points le Bon Pasteur se connecterait-il? Droits de la personne, égalité des genres et éradication de la pauvreté dans le contexte du développement durable et des objectifs de développement durable!

Reflecting on the outcome document of CSW 62

CSW 62 W 3The Commission on the Status of Women –  annually the most well attended event of the UN Calendar – with women for all walks of life coming to the United Nations, New York to advocate basically for the human rights of women and girls. I find a certain tension in the agreed conclusion between the need to address ‘all’ women and girl including those living in rural areas  Paras 2, 3, 14, 25, 26, 32, 41, 42, (c) (l) (aa) (jj) and (ww)  when in fact this year was specifically dedicated to ‘Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women girls.’  Maybe this is reflective of the dynamic tension, enthusiasm, and controversy concerning gender equality that is evoked from start to finish of the Commission.  Is there a fear that some women and girls – ‘those furthest behind’ – might gain at the expense of the whole?  This is impossible as the pre-ambular paragraphs only reference previously agreed, international law and frameworks from CEDAW to Beijing to the Sustainable Development Goals and the agreed conclusion are what they are ‘agreed conclusion’ and not legally binding.

Read the CSW62 Agreed Conclusion – Advanced Unedited Version

While the focus was specifically on ‘rural women and girls,’ yet prior to the commencement of the Commission the was a sense of unease about the meaning of the  phrase ‘rural women and girls.’   A suggestion was made many times that the phrase ‘women and girls living in rural areas’ would be much more acceptable – focusing on the intersection of women and girls and the very specific geographic location where they are living.   While much advocacy was done to have the terminology changed,  the bureaucratic institution of the United Nations approves the concepts used and ‘women and girls living  in rural areas was not one of them’! Likewise girls living in rural areas, while appreciating their visibility in the document,  would like to see their human rights issues addressed specifically and separately  from women focusing on the intersectionality of discrimination against girls and a specific geographic area, the ‘rural’.   Another bureaucratic hurdle for another time.

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Interesting in reviewing the document there are a few times when the phrase ‘women and girls living in rural and remote areas’ – Paras 36, 37 and (aaa) – has been incorporated into the  document – so maybe we as advocates have some new agreed language – referencing these agreed conclusion going forward.  An NGO group advocated to have reference to ‘mountain’ women in the agreed conclusion so I wonder how they feel with ‘remote areas’?  Does that include them?

I found some reflections and comments on the agreed conclusion.  UN Women had this headline –  UN Commission on the Status of Women delivers a blueprint to ensure the rights and development of rural women and girls.   ‘Food security and nutrition, land water, food, work and a life free of violence and without poverty as main issues to tackle.’

Soroptomist International had a reflection contrasting disappointment and rejoicing. One Group sorely disappointed were Widows for Peace through Democracy who were advocating for the inclusion of widows in the agreed conclusion knowing first hand the multiple and intersecting discriminations widows in rural areas experience.

Femnet – the African Women’s Development and communication network commented that CSW62  ‘It is rejuvenating, reenergizing and exciting to have such a progressive outcome document out of CSW…’   If you read on you will see their summary of  gains and losses.   One loss  is that labour rights for women was not shifted to the global level.

Vigil CSW 62We have a comprehensive, complex and eclectic agreed conclusions but where does one begin to implement and  evaluate?  Who is implementing what, where and how?  Apart from the preamblur paragraphs and the closing paragraphs there are three main section:

  • (i) the normative, legal and policy framework
  • (ii) implement economic and social policies for the empowerment of all rural women and girls.  But this begs the question which economic and social policies do we specifically need for women and girls.  Maybe the answers are in OP’s  (m) to (iii) What of environmental policies – the effects of climate change, climate induced migration  etc?
  • (iii) Strengthen collective voice, leadership and decision making.   During the first week of CSW 62 we were confronted with the murder of Mariella Franco.  The issue of the inclusion of Human Rights Defenders in the agreed conclusion was contentions up to the end mentioned in Para 42 and OP (rrr).

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 1.39.44 PMAre the two weeks of  CSW merely a time of playing around with words, engaging in political rhetoric,  maintaining national sovereignty and entrenched cultural and religious positions, while being blind, deaf, and unmoved to action  by the daily suffering caused by  poverty,  hunger, and violence that women and girls living in rural areas experience.   The continual lack of food, threats to food security,  no social protection, no land rights, scarcity of water, lack of provision of health care, education and decent work coupled with natural disasters and climate induced migration are features of the feminization of poverty.  A concluding paragraph in Rev 1 of the agreed conclusion read ‘ The Commission call upon Governments to heed the urgent United Nations humanitarian appeal to assist counties facing drought, starvation and famine with emergency aid and urgent funding, and underlines that, if no immediate response is received, an estimated 20 million people, most of whom are women and children, risk losing their lives.’  This paragraph was not in the final document!  READ more …

My answer to the the question I posed above is that such debate at the global level is not only necessary but vital to inching forward gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women living in rural areas.  Action is taken by the very same women who come to CSW year after year.  In the case of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd see our documentary out of India  Mahila – A Women’s Movement Rising

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