Second week of CSW 63 started this morning with attendance at the NGOCSW Morning Briefing. Side events commenced at 8.15 a.m and parallel events at 8.30 a.m. I am attending two parallel event this afternoon – one sponsored by the Women’s Major Group and the second an event on Human Trafficking organized by Mercy International.
Asa Regner is the Assistant Secretary-General, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women. Asa is from Sweden and was appointed to this role in March 2018. Read more Andrew Gilmore is Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, heading OHCHR’s office in New York. He outlined the distinction between ‘pushback’ against women’s rights and ‘backlash’. Pushback is resistance to the human rights agenda whereas backlash is a reaction to the same agenda. We hear with increasing frequency these words both in discussion and examples in people’s lives. Reprisals are a growing phenomenon. Persons and groups are prevented from co-operating with the United Nations, and in some cases there are reprisals and punishments for having cooperated with the United Nations. Women Human Rights Defenders are particularly vulnerable to reprisals, on line harassment, sexual assault, and targeting of family members. Haydee Castillo was on the panel too sharing on the situation in Nicaragua.
Secretary General held a townhall meeting with women gather for CSW 63 yesterday March 12. “To promote human rights for all, as gender equality is a central instrument for human rights. To ensure development for all, as gender equality is a fundamental tool for development.” Read more
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
Our statement to the Commission on the Status of Women makes the following recommendations. These are our advocacy points
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.
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.’
Express strong political will to reject austerity measures in favour of the implementation of social protection systems financed through progressive taxation, addressing Illicit flows, and the reallocation of military expenditures.
Ensure better access to health care, quality education, skills training, and public services for girls and women.
Enable inclusive, non-tokenistic participation for girls and women at all levels of decision-making including policy design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.
Participation at the Commission was in the following ways – submission of a written statement, (also available in French and Spanish) attendance at panel discussions, delivery of an oral statement, sponsoring a side event, moderating a panel, attending the Civil Society Forum and contributing to the Civil Society Declaration. The keynote speaker for the forum was Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. View the webcast! Start at marker 34.05 The issues being addressed are inequality, fiscal policy, wage policy and social protection which may be intimidating, boring, and uninteresting; issues to be addressed elsewhere. You may experience resistance to a discussion on fiscal policy but the reality is that the policies we care most about – the rights of girls and women, and human rights more broadly are fundamentally determined by how economic policies are evolving worldwide. Throughout the world today we are seeing the triumph of neo-liberal policy prescriptions – taxes are being cut in many countries and governments are under great pressure. Governments are less relevant, less interested and less able to respond to the sorts of agenda that are before this group. Privatization is the only option – governments cannot do it. Deregulation becomes important because we need a more conducive environment for business. This becomes problematic if the starting point is how to protect and promote the rights of girls and women or how to protect the least well off or those close to it – which is a much higher number. Policies of austerity are often anti-girls and anti-woman. He cited examples from Ghana – an African success story determined by neo-liberal policies but 1/4 of all girls are married before their 18th birthday and there are direct connections between child, early and forced marriage and poverty; and the UK where he identified that single mothers were under the greatest pressure – with a moralistic response coming from a male-dominated government and punitive policies designed to force young mothers out to work and make it difficult to get the benefits they are entitled to. We need to bring alive and create awareness that fiscal policy and austerity measures have social consequences for everyone but in particular for girls and women.
Our recommendations to the Commission are as follows: Implement national social protection floors, in line with ILO Recommendation 202 and SDG 1.3, while scaling up existing social protection policies towards universal social protection. Realize SDG 8 by protecting and promoting human and labor rights, decent work, and living wages so that people can work and live in dignity and prosperity. Achieve SDG 10 by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, and by creating inclusive fiscal, wage and social protection policies that create resilience and economic opportunity among vulnerable communities. Implement progressive tax systems and end impunity for tax abuse to mobilize resources for social protection floors and other public services. Invest in financially inclusive loan programs, microfinance loans, and small business cooperatives that empower socially excluded people to reclaim their dignity and become active participants in their financial decisions. These recommendations are at the heart of our position paper for Economic Justice “The disparity between the accumulation of extreme wealth and the inescapability of extreme poverty offends the dignity of human beings, is an affront to the common good, and tends toward disastrous cyclical misery. Extreme amassment of wealth and refusal to share resources and material goods are both cause and effect of social and spiritual ills.”