‘From Objectification to Dignity – Positive Media Representations of Women and Girls’

This side event during CSW 58 was a collaboration between the Mission of Ireland to the United Nations and a number of faith based NGO’s including Good Shepherd. It took place on March 18th, 2014 in Conference Room C in the United Nations.   Andrew Tarantowitz, an intern with the Justice Peace office attended the event and wrote the following report.

  • H.E. Tim Mawe – Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations.
  • Leif Coorlim – Executive Editor at CNN International and Editorial Director of CNN The Freedom Project
  • Pauline Moreau – Ireland, Department of Justice, Gender Equality Representative
  • Youth Activists – Students from the Academy of the Holy Angels in Demarest, New Jersey, who created Project Stay Gold

There are pervasive societal issues that need to be addressed before we can change how women are perceived.  Society holds women to a standard of attractiveness, with less focus on more important qualities such as intelligence.  Women are portrayed in advertisements as body parts.  This is partially the fault of the advertising industry and also society as a whole.  Advertisements attempt to entice you and to change your perception on a product, but the root of this enticement is in how society views that product.  Women are therefore objectified as a result of the way society views them, in selling products that are related and unrelated to women and girls.

Men are also expected to keep to a certain standard.  There are advertisements that display how to be manly.  This affects men and women, as attributes are assigned to women and are shown to be negative to the male image.  This demonizes women and ensures that they stay objectified.

A great way to fight this perception is to contact MISS Representation.  It is a non-profit that aims to curb the growth of harmful advertising.  They are active on social media as well with #notbuyingit.  They were instrumental in changing the focus of the godaddy.com ads that portrayed women in an unnecessary, sexual light, just to sell their product which has nothing to do with women.  The outcry at this harmful portrayal was effective in making change, proof that our voices can be heard.

There is also an inherent problem in the media where in an effort to increase the amount of stories on the air, the integrity of some stories is sacrificed.  Focus is sometimes given instead to the quantity of stories, not their quality.  This prioritization can make it difficult to focus on important stories that are related to women’s rights or on human trafficking.  The fact that the many people still do not know about the human trafficking and prostitution that occurs during large sporting events such as the Super Bowl is an example of the media’s lack of focus.  If the media can begin to shift its focus to telling stories with more depth, such as with impact journalistic initiatives like The Freedom Project at CNN, then there can be a change in the perception of women.  This will make the problem of trafficking harder to hide.

The genesis of The Freedom Project was a story that Leif Coorlim and fellow CNN journalists were chasing in Cambodia.  They went undercover to a Karaoke bar that had a selection of prostitutes in the back of the building.  There were girls with different colors representing whether they were Cambodian or Vietnamese.  The CNN crew chose the girl that they believed to be the youngest.  They brought her up to a room and interviewed her.  What they found was that she was 14 years old and had been trafficked.

The next step was to contact the Human Trafficking division of the police in Cambodia.  This led to a plan of a raid on a Friday.  When CNN showed up to this raid, the police told them that it was cancelled as the girl had paperwork that identified her as 19 years old.  The frustration over this injustice spawned The Freedom Project.  Eventually, it was discovered that the head of the Human Trafficking Division was involved in the trafficking and a light was shown on the corruption of the government.

Project Stay Gold is an initiative started by students and now facilitated by both students and teachers from New Jersey that want to stop human trafficking and the sex trade here at home.  They are active on social media and have the bonus of being peer educators to youth in America.  This can really affect students and begin the process of educating the new generation on the problems that face the world.  This will create young activists who can make it their mission to change the world.

IMG_2255 IMG_2256 IMG_2257 IMG_2258 IMG_2259 IMG_2260 IMG_2261 IMG_2262 IMG_2263 IMG_2265 IMG_2266 IMG_2267

 

Victory for the women and girls of the world!

CSW 58 A

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Victory for the women & girls of the world.                                                                                                                           #CSW58 #agreedconclusions reached!                                                                                          pic.twitter.com/t5WaO9wkqN

CSW 58 B

 
CSW 58 D
 
United Nations CSW ‏@UN_CSW  18h  #Civilsociety                          delegates cheer for the adoption of the                     #CSW58 #agreedconclusions 
 
CSW 58 E
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
UN Women @UN_Women    Our ED @phumzileunwomen with the Working Group on Girls at the Teen Orientation to . @UN_CSW   8:50 PM – 10 Mar 2014                                                                                                                                            USG Phumzile Mlambo addressed the WGG Teen Orientation on Sunday March 9, 2014
 

Draft Agreed Conclusion as of March 21

Adopted by consensus just after midnight. Click here for the text              Good Shepherd Statement Click here

How does the text compare with recommendations made to the Commission in the written statement submitted by Good Shepherd?   Acceleration in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved now by:

  • Reallocating resources;
  • Cutting down on military expenditures and redirecting them to the Millennium Development Goals;
  • Addressing the debt issue. (According to data from the World Bank, in 2010 alone, developing countries paid out $184 billion on debt service, or about three times the annual resources required for the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals);
  • Implementing and allocating a financial transaction tax for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals;
  • Honouring official development assistance already pledged but not paid;
  • Implementing the full spectrum of girls’ and women’s human rights according to international human rights mechanisms and agreements, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime;
  • Implementing Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), 1960 (2011) and 2106 (2013) on preventing all forms of violence against girls and women;
  • Implementing International Labour Organization recommendation No. 202 on national floors of social protection, the Declaration on the Right to Development and the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights;
  •  Implementing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

With regard to reallocating resources we made 4 suggestions – two sources were referred to and two were not.  There is no mention of cutting down on military expenditures and no reference to the potential sources of revenue that can be gained from Financial Transaction Tax.   The agreed conclusions make reference to debt and official development assistance (ODA)

There are 4 references to debt.  Paragraph 21 The Commission expresses deep concern about ‘indebtedness’ in some countries and widespread fiscal strains that pose challenges for global economic recovery…  Paragraph 22 recognize that the long-term sustainability of debt depends on (my interpretation) business as usual model – ‘export prospects of debtor countries’ and ‘sustainable debt management’.  There is no hint of any structural transformation nor any mention of Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Paragraph 17 states that ODA remains inadequate to the task. Further austerity measures have impacted women and girls negatively. Paragraph 23 The Commission recognizes significant underinvestment  in gender equality and the empowerment of women  … that limits progress on the MDG’s for girls and women of all ages.  …It stresses that the available resources, through domestic resource mobilization and ODA, and their allocation remain a concern and are often inadequate to the task. Paragraph 25 has references to national machineries for the advancement of women and the need to endow these machineries  with the necessary human and sufficient financial resources to enable them to function effectively.

Under the heading ‘Maximizing investment in gender equality and the empowerment of women’ on page 21 (v) reads increase and ensure the effectiveness of financial resources across all sectors to achieve gender equality … through mobilization of financial resources from all sources, including domestic resource mobilization and allocation and increased priority to gender equality in ODA, and the creation of voluntary innovative financing mechanisms, as appropriate. Finally (z) reads increase resources and support for grassroots, local, national, regional and global women’s and civil society organizations to advance and promote gender equality.  What support are your receiving from your government to operate services promoting gender equality?

The weakness in all these references in the agreed conclusions is that no concrete funding has been identified for implementation of any aspects of the MDG’s.

The second set of recommendations concern girls’ and women’s Human Rights.  In the draft of February 4th, 2014 there was no mention of the Convention on the Rights of the Child nor the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementary Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking, Especially Women and Children.  I am happy to see them in the agreed conclusion.   The full list of Security Council Resolutions were names including the latest one 2122 (2013) that was passed after submission of the statement.  The Commission also added relevant Security Council resolutions on children and armed conflict. Of course, CEDAW and  the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action remain central to gender equality.  However during the negotiations some member states were invoking ‘sovereignty’ at national level in relation to the implementation of women and girls human rights?

Lastly, while ILO Recommendation 202 on national floors of social protection was not named there are six references to social protection. In paragraph 10 (MDG 1) notes the lack of access of people living in poverty to social protection and pensions.  Paragraph 12 (MDG 3) notes insufficient social protection and insurance coverage for women.  In the section under Realizing women’s and girls’ full enjoyment of all human rights (g) social protection is named as a way of addressing the multiple and intersecting factors contributing to the disproportionate impact of poverty on women and girls over their life cycle.   In (n) universal social protection is promoted and (o) prioritizes social protection policies  and lastly (r) that in crises funding for essential services and social protection systems be promoted.

It is 8.25 p.m. New York time – still waiting for agreed conclusion from CSW 58

Since I wrote the caption it has been announced that the meeting will not start until 10.00 p.m.  Rosa G. Lizarde uploaded some pictures and send an update at 7.30 p.m.  At that stage the paragraphs relating to climate had been agreed.

Corridor-outside conf. room 3.jpg
Some news is not so good for some key areas where women have already gained ground starting as back as 20 years ago! Other good news did filter in —- the news on the inclusion of climate change language comes like a cool polar vortex into the steamy corridor. The language adopted includes how the Commission “is deeply concerned that 
the adverse impacts of climate change on women and girls, especially those living in poverty can be exacerbated by gender inequality and discrimination.”  After 24 women’s tribunals on gender and climate justice, we know that the “can be” in the sentence above should be a definitive “ARE” exacerbate by gender inequality and discrimination.  Also, the CSW adopted language stating that “women and girls are disproportionately affected by the impacts of desertification, deforestation and natural disasters, persistent drought, extreme events, sea-level rise, coastal erosion and ocean acidification,…” see below
CSW58 Conf Room 3.jpg

We’ve been informed that the CSW will meet again in plenary in less than one hour to adopt the full Agreed Conclusions of the CSW 58. The Facilitator is currently drafting a Facilitator’s Text for the the final sticky paragraphs which include important issues we care about including but not limited to Comprehensive Sexual Education, child and early forced marriage, diversity and issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, and language of Post 2015 which some friendly governments who support a gender equality stand alone goal are being careful of having this language in fact limit in some way post 2015 language down the line in the Post 2015 process.

Climate Change language:  The Commission is deeply concerned that climate change poses a challenge to the achievement of sustainable development and that women and girls are disproportionately affected by the impacts of desertification, deforestation and natural disasters, persistent drought, extreme weather events, sea-level rise, coastal erosion and ocean acidification, and is deeply concerned that  the adverse impacts of climate change  on women and girls, especially those living in poverty can be exacerbated by gender inequality and discrimination, and expresses profound alarm that the emissions of green house gas emissions continue to rise globally, remains deeply concerned that all countries, particularly developing countries, are vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and are already experiencing increased impacts, including persistent drought and extreme weather events, sea-level rise, coastal erosion and ocean acidification further threatening food security and efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development and in this regard emphasizes that adaptation to climate change represents an immediate and urgent global priority. AD REF.
OP: s bis and t bis
Promote the integration of a gender perspective in environmental and climate change policies and strengthen mechanisms and provide adequate resources to ensure women’s full and equal participation in decision-making at all levels on environmental issues, in particular on strategies and policies related to the impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather events and slow onset impacts, including drought, ocean acidification, sea level rise, and loss of biodiversity on the lives of women and girls; and ensure a comprehensive approach to address the hardships faced by women and girls by integrating their specific needs into humanitarian response to natural disasters and into the planning, delivery and monitoring of disaster risk reduction policies to address natural disasters and climate change, and ensuring sustainable natural resources management.  AD REF  AD REF means language has been finalized. 
Based on agreed language in UNGA 68/212, Rio+20 66/288, CSW Agreed Conclusions 57, CSW Resolution 55/1
(Thanks Rosa for the update)

Last day of CSW 58 – Question will there be agreed conclusion?

Scenes from Thursday night at the UN where negotiations on Agreed Conclusions continued until 2.00 a.m.

CSW  58 Inside

Member states negotiating

CSW 58 Outside

Representatives waiting outside negotiation room,advocating for their priorities online

(Thanks to twitter and @femtaskforce   @UN_CSW  #CSW58  #humanrights  @phumzileunwomen @UN_Women

Read the statement on behalf of adolescent girl to CSW 58.  Click here

Negotiations on the CSW 58 Agreed Conclusion are ongoing …

A blog written by a friend of mine Joni gives a good overview of CSW 58 entitled  The ABC of CSW58                             By Zoe Nussy, Michiel Andeweg, Joni van de Sand, Heather Barclay

Click here

This is a very accurate account of issues presented during CSW 58.

Continuing CSW 58 Reflection – Side Events.

Towards the end of last week and into this week (March 17th) the focus has been at two levels:  presenting good practice during side events and secondly following the negotiations that are ongoing with regard to the outcome document through morning briefings and caucus meeting.  Apart from two specific side events, one focusing on Social Work and a second on Women and Girls’s Circles I followed and supported various side events addressing issues of prostitution and human trafficking.

The International Association of Schools of Social Work invited me to be a panel presenter at their side event entitled Social Work’s Response to Poverty as Violence Against Women. (March 12)  The panelists covered many areas highlighting the flexibility with which social work addresses the multidimensional aspect of poverty in many corners of the globe.   The social work interns Lindsay and Carlos presented on the pervasiveness of poverty and violence and the effect of migration policies on women and girls. I shared on ‘Good Shepherd’ work in Ethiopia.   Rebecca Davis, NGO Representative, International Association of Schools of Social Work, Director and Associate Professor, Center for International Social Work Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey presented on ‘Strengthening Child Welfare and Protection Systems to Address Poverty and Gender-Based Violence in Sub Saharan Africa’.  As Rebecca presented I was remembering the work prepared by Clare Nolan for capacity building sessions on Child Protection Policies in our ministries in the DRC.  Rebecca referred to the Child Protection Policy and Procedures Toolkit prepared by UNICEF.  Maybe this is a good opportunity to review child protection policy in your ministry.  Access the toolkit

 IASSW Panel - CSW 2014

From left to right Rebecca, Lindsay, Carlos, Winifred and Jean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      JuliaThe second event was sponsored by a number of like minded organizations  –  Earth Policy InstituteInternational Public Policy InstituteWomen’s World Summit FoundationMillionth Circle,  Circle Connections, We Are EnoughGather The WomenWomen of Spirit and Faith – focusing on women, sustainability and circle leadership.  Julia, a girl advocate from the Working Group on Girls brought girls to the circle. The event was entitled  ‘Implementing Women and Girl’s Circles: A tool to vitalize progress with the Millennium Development Goals’  A snippet from Julia’s presentation can be accessed here.

Panelist; left to right: Dr. Pam Rajput, Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen, and Julia. Moderator Ann Landaas Smith, Enough:The Rise of the Feminine and the Birth of the New Story Read more

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women had two excellent panels: ‘Survivors Speak:  Prostitution or Sex Work? When Terminology and Legalization Collide with Human Rights’ and the second  ‘Strategizing to Prevent AIDS and Gender Violence: Setting Goals to Advance Millennium Development. See flyer advertising the events.  Rachel Moran from Ireland presented on both panels. The sharing of experiences by women who were in prostitution was very compelling.  Some of the issues address can be read in the oral statement made to the Commission this morning (Thursday March 20th)  CATW oral statement to CSW.

The NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Person also had two side events Human Trafficking is Not Decent Work and From Objectification to Dignity – positive media representations of girls and women. The second was co-sponsored by the Mission of Ireland to the United Nations together with a with a number of other NGO’s  including Good Shepherd.  Panelists were

  • H.E. Tim Mawe – Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations.
  • Leif Coorlim – Executive Editor at CNN International and Editorial Director of CNN The Freedom Project
  • Youth Activists – Students from the Academy of the Holy Angels in Demarest, New Jersey, who created Project Stay Gold

Andrew Tarantowicz, an intern at the GSIJP Office provided the following write up of this event.

2014-02-20 17.34.25

Pervasive societal issues need to be addressed before we can change how women are perceived.  Society holds women to a standard of attractiveness, with less focus on more important qualities such as intelligence.  Women are portrayed in advertisements as body parts.  This is partially the fault of the advertising industry and also society as a whole.  Advertisements attempt to entice and to change perceptions on a product, but the root of this enticement is in how society views that product.  Women are objectified as a result of the way society views them, in selling products that are related and unrelated to women and girls.   Men are also expected to keep to a certain standard.  There are advertisements that display how to be manly.  This affects men and women, as attributes are assigned to women and are shown to be negative to the male image.  This demonizes women and ensures that they stay objectified.

A great way to fight this perception is to contact MISS Representation.  It is a non-profit that aims to curb the growth of harmful advertising.  They are active on social media as well with #notbuyingit.  They were instrumental in changing the focus of the godaddy.com ads that portrayed women in an unnecessary, sexual light, just to sell their product which has nothing to do with women.  The outcry at this harmful portrayal was effective in making change, proof that our voices can be heard.

There is also an inherent problem in the media where in an effort to increase the amount of stories on the air, the integrity of some stories is sacrificed.  Focus is sometimes given to the quantity of stories, not their quality.  This prioritization can make it difficult to focus on important stories that are related to women’s rights or on human trafficking.  The fact that the many people still do not know about the human trafficking and prostitution that occurs during large sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, is an example of the media’s lack of focus.  If the media can begin to shift its focus to telling stories with more depth, such as with impact journalistic initiatives like The Freedom Project at CNN, then there can be a change in the perception of women.  This will make the problem of trafficking harder to hide.

The genesis of The Freedom Project was a story that Leif Coorlim and fellow CNN journalists were chasing in Cambodia.  They went undercover to a Karaoke bar that had a selection of women in prostitution in the back of the building.  There were girls with different colors representing whether they were Cambodian or Vietnamese.  The CNN crew chose the girl that they believed to be the youngest.  They brought her up to a room and interviewed her.  What they found was that she was 14 years old and had been trafficked.

The next step was to contact the Human Trafficking division of the police in Cambodia.  This led to a planned raid on a Friday.  When CNN showed up to this raid, the police told them that it was cancelled as the girl had paperwork that identified her as 19 years old.  The frustration over this injustice spawned The Freedom Project.  Eventually, it was discovered that the head of the Human Trafficking Division was involved in the trafficking and a light was shown on the corruption of the government.

Project Stay Gold is an initiative started by students and now facilitated by both students and teachers from New Jersey that want to stop human trafficking and commercial  sexual exploitation here at home.  They are active on social media and have the bonus of being peer educators to youth in America.  This can really affect students and begin the process of educating the new generation on the problems that face the world.  This will create young activists who can make it their mission to change the world.

 

 

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.  

2014-03-11 18.34.37                                   2014-03-11 18.19.30

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