Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 58) – reviewing week 1

The Commission on the Status of Women opened on Monday March 10th and has been busy both with the number of events  and following the negotiations of draft outcome document.  You can review the Commission’s formal work via the UN Webcast  Video Recordings and access the various papers at the PaperSmart portal  Here  Check out what your country said by clicking on the name of your country.  What do do this of what was presented?  Why not share in the comment box below.

This year we have been following closely the issues of human trafficking and prostitution within the context of the Millennium Development Goals noting that the root causes of such exploitative behaviors are the persistence of gender inequality, poverty, patriarchy, and male entitlement.   I have been following the outcome document with the European and North American Caucus and focusing on side events that examine these issues.

Because of the work undertaken by the European Women’s Lobby and the presence of Sarah Bension CEO, Ruhama, Ireland, I have been more closely linked to this caucus this year.  You can read some details from the EWL posting of March 11 and March 14.

Sarah Benson attending NGOCSW Briefing click here to see photographs.  The orientation was facilitated by two past chairs of NGOCSW Leslie Wright on the left  and Bani Dugal on the right.

On Monday afternoon March 10 there were a series of conversation circles.  Sarah was engage in one on Trafficking and Migration Click here

Another circle engaged in intergenerational dialogue.  The Working Group on Girls were excited to be involved in circle leadership Click here to enjoy the photos

On Tuesday afternoon March 11 the European Women’s Lobby sponsored a side event which Sarah Benson moderated Click here for photographs.   A description of the event taken from the European Women’s Lobby website.  “In the current context of globalization and neo-liberalism, the issue of prostitution is at the core of the inequalities between women and men: the system of prostitution makes the most of male domination, economic and social vulnerability, and discrimination against minorities. The organizers therefore want to address this issue, from the perspective of the most vulnerable women and girls, in different continents, to feed into the discussion on the post-2015 development agenda. The side event will be a unique opportunity to hear from women’s organizations from minority or migrant women’s groups in Europe, North America and Asia, about their reality when it comes to prostitution.”   See the flyer  Click here

The NGOCSW Reception was held on Tuesday evening March 11.  The honoree of the evening was Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls of Fiji  Read More  Maureen McGowan of Handcrafting Justice was present and Nancy Fritsche-Eagan who recently went on pilgrimage to Angers were present.  The Chair of NGOCSW is Soon-Young Yoon in Korean dress and my good friend Beth Adamson.  

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On February 26, 2014 prior to CSW 58 commencing Maureen McGowan hosted an orientation session for Good Shepherd Volunteers from Handcrafting Justice.  Some other participants from the UN NGO community also attended More photographs here and if you wish to follow the material presented Powerpoint in pdf format

March 8th – Happy International Women’s Day!

The United Nations commemorated International Women’s Day today Friday at the UN Headquarters in New York. The theme for the celebration “Equality for Women is Progress for All.”  The full event was webcast.  Access here!

Words from UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon “we also know equality for women is progress for all.  Countries with higher levels of gender equality have higher economic growth. Companies with more women on their Boards have higher returns. Peace agreements that include women are more successful. Parliaments with more women take up a wider range of issues – including health, education, anti-discrimination, and child support. Gender equality and women’s empowerment have been a top priority for me from day one. And I am committed to making sure that the UN walks the talk.”

Follow Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Here                                            ” Together we must make sure that:

  • SHE is Safe and Secure from gender-based violence.
  • SHE has Human rights that are respected, including reproductive rights.
  • SHE is Empowered economically and in every way through Education, Equal opportunity, participation and leadership.
  • This is the SHE imperative to which I call on you to commit.

Let us all cross the line and stand on the right side of history. Today and every day, UN Women will stand strong for women’s rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality. Equality for women is progress for all.”

UN Women also launched  ‘He For She’ campaign  – a new equality branding campaign, in which men all over the world are being encouraged to speak out against the inequalities faced by women and girls. Check it out! –  See the website  Are we reaching out to men and boys asking them to speak out against the inequalities faced by woman and girls on a daily basis.  

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On Monday March 10, 2014 the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women opens. The Priority Theme this year is ” Challenges and achievements in  the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.”  Read our Good Shepherd Statement to the Commission published in the 6 languages of the United Nations Statement here!

Conclude your reading with this reflection shared by Shirley in Ireland.  International Womens Day Reflection 2014

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Webcast – discussion on the High Level Panel Report

Watch the discussion on the High Level Report which took place this morning at the UN

Listen to Tawakkol Karman by moving to 1.04  and then continue and hear Marta Benavides from El Salvador, on behalf of the Feminist Task Force and GCAP.  Some pictures from the event.

P1080014 P1080022 P1080023 (1)  Tawakkol Karman

IPS – HIGH-LEVEL PANEL ON POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA | Inter Press Service

IPS – HIGH-LEVEL PANEL ON POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA | Inter Press Service.

This high level panel comprises 11 women together with one co-chair President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and the Special Advisor of the Secretary-General  Amina J. Mohammed (ex-officio) on Post-2015 Development Planning.  The panel comprises a range of expertise.   I am happy to see  3 women who will follow  the human rights of girls and women with single-minded purpose.   Queen Rania of Jordan, an advocate and a humanitarian, Queen Rania serves as an Eminent Advocate for UNICEF and Honorary Chairperson for the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI).   The issues of girls will be well represented.  Ms Graça Machel (South Africa)   is a current member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights.   She is also a UN independent expert on the impact of armed conflict on children, international advocate for women’s and children’s rights, former freedom fighter and Education and Culture Minister of Mozambique.  Ms Tawakel Karman is a young Yemini journalist, human rights activist and politician who was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for her role in promoting the “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work” during the 2011 Yemeni uprising.   As I review the list I note that 8 members almost one third of the panel come with economics plus World Bank and the International Monetary Fund experience.  3 members bring expertise on international development, 2 members have experience in the MDG’s,  2 have experience in foreign ministries, 1 from the private sector, 1 Environment, 1 Health and Welfare , 1 Urban rehabilitation and 1 from the Center of American Progress.   One hopes that a progressive new agenda to bring about a just, human rights based, equitable and sustainable  society, free from  poverty,  will be able to emerge from within a group that is predominately experienced in economics.

Lent Program – 40 days with the least

Here is a very creative, well research and informative way of connecting our Lent prayer with global issues. It offers a way and a time of revivifying our sensitivity to the pain of human beings. English  http://www.40ultimos.org/intro.php?idioma=1    French   http://www.40ultimos.org/intro.php?idioma=2     Spanish http://www.40ultimos.org/intro.php?idioma=3  Portuguese     http://www.40ultimos.org/intro.php?idioma=4

UN DESA – The Social Impact of the Economic Crisis-Panel Discussion October 18, 2011

The panel provided a global overview of the Social Impact of the Economic Crisis based on the recently published Report on the World Social Situation 2011. This was presented by Mr Anis Chowdhury, Senior Economic Affairs Officer DESA . The three commentators included Mr Henk-Jan Brinkman, Chief, Policy, Planning and Application Brance Peacebuilding Support Office. Steve Miller, former senior ILO official and Secretary of the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Employment Network (YEN) and myself.

Text as delivered by Winifred Doherty

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this panel for the launch of ‘The Global Social Crisis  – Report on the World Social Situation 2011’  It is an honor to be present with you, representing the NGO Committee for Social Development and my own  organization ‘The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd’.  My organization implements direct social services with vulnerable populations in 72 countries of the world.   I will comment on the report, from a social work perspective and from the experiences of people living in poverty, those vulnerable to falling into poverty, the reality of women and girls, and experiences of unemployed youth. In all, I will draw on The Values Statement and Advocacy Points developed by the NGO Committee for Social Development.

I am pleased that the report acknowledges the experiences of vulnerable groups and especially  that the gender dimension is specifically  referenced  in regard to the social consequences of the experience of poverty,  for example – increased rates of domestic violence, women staying longer in abusive relationships, and a reduction in the number of services provided by shelters despite rising demand.   The focus on Labor migration leading to family break up – with reported increases in the incidence of child abandonment, abuse and trafficking – is a most important issue relevant to gender, Human Rights and social protection.   The report further recognizes the need to address power and patriarchal structures with regard to property rights and land tenure for women.   Citations in the report accurately reflect the experience of my organization in working with women and girls who are trafficked, forced to migrate and oppressed by abject poverty.  The report notes that ‘economic downturns also widen the gaps between boys and girls, supporting the oft-made claim that intra household resources allocations favor boys over girls when resources are scares.’[i]     ‘Efforts to improve property rights and land tenure should target women, who produce a large share of the food in most poor countries.[ii] Thus the report does a fine job of placing us in the reality and context of  our current global social crisis 2011 and should be very useful.

On the limiting side, while the report states accurately that economic policies considered in isolation from their social consequences can have dire consequences, the report does not adequately challenge the prevailing systems and structures that have brought about this global social crisis.  New paradigms based on human rights, social justice, people participation, equitable distribution of resources and sustainable living patterns must be developed and it is disappointing not to see them highlighted. .

Addressing the root causes of poverty calls for a fundamental shift from the dominant development model with its trickle down approach and a resultant growing inequality gap.  This shift must be addressed by a basic reform of the international financial architecture. As a part of this reform attention should be paid to the regulation of corporate globalization which is profit-driven rather than people-centered. NGO’s and civil society in many countries have been engaged in the struggle against the corporate globalization which impoverishes people. [iii]

Addressing the root causes of poverty also calls for a fundamental shift in attitude related to security and the military. Ruling by power, dominance and the imposition of so-called security-related control of citizens through costly militarization often accompanied by war crimes such as genocide, rape, along with the destruction of infrastructure, agricultural lands and homes, contributes to impoverishment and the disintegration of societies. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon decried the extent of investment in the military in an address to youth in December 2010:[iv]

Every year, the world spends $1.4 trillion dollars on weapons. With a fraction of that we could cut poverty, fund schools, provide health care, and protect the environment. One year of global military spending could pay the UN’s budget for 732 years.[v]

The report does underscore the dynamic and multidimensional nature of poverty and the critical importance of social protection for reducing vulnerability. The NGO community applauds this. Countries that have social protection systems can better mitigate the negative impacts of shocks and prevent people from falling deeper into poverty. Social protection measures can also help regenerate economic activities and livelihoods.[vi] The report urges that social investment be given priority and that the global social crisis offers an opportunity to rethink the role of social policy and social investment.  This cannot be undertaken in a disjointed way.  The interconnectedness of the environment, social and economic dimensions of development must be recognized and acted on.  Social investment must be at the center.  The NGO community sees hope in the prioritizing of the social protection floor initiative and is presently engaged in a signatory campaign to promote implementation of the social protection floor initiative at national level.   The implementation of the Social Protection Floor would ensure achievement of the MDG’s Goals and pioneer the way for post 2015 and the elimination of all poverty.  The Social Protection Floor is a beginning, a first step towards human rights based, equitable, Universalist approach providing access to health care, education, clean water and sanitation, food, housing and other essential services together with social transfers in cash or kind, guaranteeing income security.    A Social Protection floor would guarantee these rights.  The final adoption of the ‘Draft Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty’ would surely support the implementation of the Social Protection Floor Initiative.  The NGO community strongly supports the Financial Transaction Tax  (FFT) for development  as an efficient means of assisting countries to achieve the MGD’s and, at the same time, implement essential elements of the Social Protection Floor Initiative.

Food insecurity must be addressed. The report notes that the ‘emergence of the global food supply chain has weakened the commitments to national or local food security.’[vii] Other factors, natural catastrophes, climate change, land grabbing, bio-fuel production etc based on the goals of large profit driven corporation and agri-business has created this situation.  Both an immediate and a long term response to food insecurity is required.  Investment in small-scale farmers, many of whom are women, can help address the present crisis and contribute to long-term plans to assure food security. Investment in irrigation, technology transfer, transportation infrastructure, storage facilities, etc. is required.

The NGO committee affirms the principle of participation so central to Copenhagen.  The human person must be at the center of the development agenda.  Every human person is entitled to participate in, contribute to and benefit from economic, social, cultural and political development.  Too often those most affected by social policy are excluded from the discussion.

I believe this report is missing a chapter. For full and effective analysis I would propose  a chapter entitled ‘The voices of people living in poverty, Views, Analysis of the Situation and  Proposal for change’   Structural systemic change can only come about when everybody has a voice at the table – not only the statistician, theorist, financial institutions, corporate executives and academics.  We the NGO Committee no longer accept that persons living in poverty be called ‘the poor’.  They are richly endowed human beings who have much to contribute to society and should be referred to as ‘people living in poverty.’ We therefore call for the full participation of those living in conditions of poverty in all social analysis in order to have the fullest and most insightful report possible.

In conclusion, I think that one of the largest obstacles to the alleviation of the Global Social Crisis is the lack of political will to invest in people.   The reports notes that ‘Policy adjustment to support social spending’[viii] is essential in the short term and expresses concern about the effects of ‘austerity programmes’[ix] on people living in poverty and services to them.   A new mindset is essential to create a different future.  A rights based approach ensuring human wellbeing, social equity, decent work, participation, shared economy and environment sustainability can no longer be treated in a disjointed fashion.  The interconnectedness of people, the environment and the economy has been clearly demonstrated.  Let us call forth the political will to act from a new mindset.

Thank you.


[i] The Global Social Crisis – Report on the World Social Situation 2011  page 53

[ii] Ibid page 74

[iii] Enhancing the role of NGO’s and civil Society in Poverty Alleviation: Challenges and Opportunities – a paper prepared for the High Level Expert Group Meeting on Poverty Eradication  Catherine Ferguson, PhD Coordinator, UNANIMA International Chair, NGO Committee for social Development

[iv] Idid

[v] Secretary –General’s remarks to Security Council ‘informal informal’ Youth Session, New York, 21 December 2010

[vi] The Global Social Crisis – Report on the World Social Situation 2011  page 9

[vii] Ibid p 73

[viii] Idib page 90

[ix] Idid page 100

To read the report go to http://social.un.org/index/ReportontheWorldSocialSituation/2011.aspx

UNICEF Executive Director Mr. Anthony Lake visists in Tigray, Ethiopia.

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In Ethiopia, UNICEF Executive Director sees equity strategy accelerating development

TIGRAY, Ethiopia, 1 April 2011 – UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake has been in northern Ethiopia this week, witnessing first-hand the progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals through an equity-based strategy that reaches out to the poorest and most vulnerable communities.
You can read the full article by clicking on the title above.  In the article it states that an estimated 2.8 million Ethiopian children do not attend primary school.  I wonder how many of these children are girls?  I would like if Mr. Lake had  mentioned what ratio of the children attending school were girls?  Has the community an awareness of a girl’s right to attend school?   ‘Teberh wants to be a teacher when she grows up and Goitom wants to be a pilot…’ I am happy to read that Teberh, a girl is one of the facilitators in the child to child strategy but the replies to the questions about what they want to do in the future indicates gender stereotyping exists.  There are many positives to recommend these sorts of programs – community based, needs based, and flexible.   I would have liked to read a little more about the education of girls.