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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Blanca Nubia (Good Shepherd Sister) welcomes Pope Francis to Cartagena

“And so, about four years ago, I began a new program for girls. We called it Talitha Kum, words from the Aramaic Gospel phrase Jesus used to bid a girl to rise up. It honors the dignity of each person. According to the mission of our congregation, I had made a decision to go to the tourist city of Cartagena de Indias, the colonial name when Cartagena was a port for export of silver to Spain and import of slaves from Africa. It is famous for being a walled city — and, indeed, many invisible walls hide lives of poverty, unemployment, gangs and early pregnancies in squalid neighborhoods. Good Shepherd has a center dedicated to the prevention of sex tourism, which is, sadly, the specific object of many tourists.

At Talitha Kum the children “rise up” every day. We welcome children (ages 9-17) to a program that includes school, human and spiritual accompaniment, and enrichment of family and civic environments. We are always proud when, as recently happened, a 17-year-old girl finished high school and now continues her study. ”    Read the full article   Global Sisters Report – Papal Encounter in Cartagena, Colombia

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Reflections on October 11 – International Day of the Girl (IDG)

IDG 2017 MoniqueOctober is a busy month with the 11 days of Action in preparation for the celebration of International Day of the Girl.  It is followed by a number of other important days – October 15, International Day of Rural Women; October 16, World Food Day; and October 17th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.  Indirectly all these days impact negatively on girls as girls live in rural areas, are often hungry and experience multidimensional poverty.  All these issues were summed up in the hashtags for the International Day of the Girls #JusticeForGirls and #GirlsRights.

The GSIJP Office Sponsored one of the 11 days with Twitter Chat on October 8th.   Cecilie prepared a set of question  and then answered them from the @gsijp twitter account.  Here are a few samples Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 3.57.24 PM

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The highlight was October 11 with the Girls Speak Out from the ECOSOC Chamber of the United Nations, New York.  The Speak Out was cleverly crafted using a ‘Girls in Crisis Hotline’ to introduce stories and issues that affect girls. Three criteria were outlined prior to answering a call ‘Listen with full attention; Ask how they are feeling,’ and thirdly say ‘We love you, we believe you and you are not alone.’  You can view the full webcast HERE  There is a snippet with Under Secretary General Amina Mohammed remarks.

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The Member States of Canada, Turkey and Peru  (displaying their Day of the Girl writs band)

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were the sponsors of the resolution on the International Day of the Girl and present supporting girls.  The personal sharing of the Honorable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women Canada’s moving – a migrant, a muslim and the first woman muslim women to be a member of the parliament in Canada.  See marker 10.10 of the webcast.

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The ECOSOC Chamber was filled to capacity with girls … and yes there were some boys too supporting the International Day for Girls also.  Our Sisters and mission partners in Indonesia share a lovely video implementing the ‘HeForShe’ campaign From Jakarta

and a short video show

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More photographs from Yogyakarta

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Other events were also hosted … UNICEF in the morning.  The video recording of the  UNICEF Event  An opportunity to the Honorable Minister from Canada again.  Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Loretto Sisters cosponsored an event also celebrating girls hope and resilience.  It was streamed on Facebook Live    Plan International had an event in the evening .

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At the end of July and into August there was a request from the Working Group on Girls and through our GSIJP Office to submit stories, poetry, art etc telling the story of what it is like to be a girl where you live.   These stories were collated and formed the backdrop for the Girls Speak Out.  Thanks to Indonesia for sharing their celebrations with the office and thanks to Monique for the lovely image used at the top of the page.  I had one other reply from the Democratic Republic of Congo but it was late for inclusion.  Much has been done – much remains to have #JusticeforGirls and #GirlsRights

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Happy International Day of the Girl 2017!

International Day of the Girl 2017 – Yes, it is that time of the year again!

IDG 2017International Day of the Girl 2017 is almost here!  We celebrate the 6th annual day on WednesdayOctober 11, 2017.  Every year Good Shepherd around the world celebrate the day in amazing ways and I am sure that this year will be no different.  The International Day is preceded by 11 days of action starting on October 1 and concluding with ‘Girls Speak Out’ at the United Nations when girls initiate, prepare, and moderate the session speaking to world leaders of  girls’ experiences around the world.

What unique challenges are girls facing just because they are girls?  There are so many unusual challenges girls have to deal with today, from injustice in society, their community and in the workplace, to unfairness in opportunities in education, or gender violence, sexism, war, climate change, trafficking in person, sexual exploitation, migration and many others. There’s no right or wrong answer here. What’s important is how you define “crisis” or “injustice” and how you or a girl you know dealt with it.

The International Day of the Girl is our day to celebrate girls everywhere -– to celebrate our power, our voices, and our unique place in this world.  On August 4th you were sent a request to share stories.  The request was for creative work by girl sharing on ‘What it is like for you to be a girl facing injustice?”   While the closing date has gone for inclusion in the ‘Girls’s Speak Out’ it is not too late to share with the GSIJP Office and we will feature them on Winifred’s Blog and  on Day of the Girl Summit website and the GSIJP social media sites

Here’s how:
  1. Be a girl (or group of girls) up to 18 years old
  2. Describe the whole situation in any format that you want to express yourself. It can be a monologue, a story, a poem, a piece of visual art, a video, or a song. Be creative!
    • What happened?
    • Who was there?
    • When was it?
    • Where were you?
    • Why did you do what you did?
    • What was the outcome?
  3. Send us your inspirational story! Email your submission and consent form to:  gsijpoffice@gmail.com  and winifreddohertyrgs@gmail.com with your name, age, country, and contact information no later than October 13, 2017  

Full information can be found here. Be sure to include this consent form with all submissions.

GSIJP Office will be taking the leadership for Day 8 of the 11 days of action bringing attention to the importance of girls’ human rights and demands #JusticeForGirls.

 

Part of the Good Shepherd Team in NY attending the Girls Speak out 2016 – visitors from Australia, Tanya Corrie and Rome Monique Tarabeh and some pictures from last year.  Check out posting of October 2016 on this blog.

 

Check out this resource prepared by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girls Scouts WAGGGS – Hong Kong – Resource for IDG 2017

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Another resource is from 2015 entitled #Start the Convo: a guide to having healthy, meaningful and respectful discussion on gender equality #Start the Convo

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Reappraisal of the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Person September 27 and 28, 2017 at the United Nations, NY.

Trafficking in Person is an important issues to be reviewed with an appraisal of  the Global Plan of Action on September 27 and 28, 2017.  This is a high level meeting over two days following the opening of the 72nd Session of the United Nations under

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 4.45.29 PMthe new President of the General Assembly, His Excellency Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, (Slovakia).  The new President has outlined his vision and priorities under five headings – peace, migration, sustainable planet, human dignity and modern UN.

In September 2018 we will have the adoption of the the Global Compact on Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees.  Consultations continue with the last consultation to be held in Geneva on October 12, and 13.  Concurrently regional consultation are being held.  The intergovernmental negotiations will commence soon.  The website is very informative and updated.

Preparation for the appraisal of the Global Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons has been on going over a number of month and culminated with a  Political Declaration which will be adopted on September 27th.   A full list of document and a report on the stakeholder meeting held on June 23rd can be accessed HERE

Many NGO’s attended the Stakeholders meeting on June 23rd.  The NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons had prepared the CSTIP Advocacy Doc for Global Plan of Action.

The Political Declaration proposes to be strong using language such as ‘evince our strong political will to take decisive concerted action to end this heinous crime,…’  While there is reference to the integrated and indivisible nature of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and a reference to combating all forms of trafficking in person,  Good Shepherd advocacy is a clear call for specifically referencing the three targets where trafficking in person is mentioned in the 2030 Agenda – target 5.2 (on trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation), target 8.7 (forced labor and child labor) and 16.2 (all forms of trafficking in children) to be given equal priority.

Trafficking - 5.2 8.7 16.2 GPA CTP

We are concerned that the trafficking of women and girls under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 5.2 is falling under the radar for both Member States and the United Nations. For example, the recent High Level Political Forum reviewing SDG 5 made no reference to sex trafficking even though Target 5.2 specifically outlines the need to address the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls.  Check out blog post of July 5   While various forms of violence were mentioned under 5.2 human trafficking was not. 

ViennaThis same point I made during the  Thematic Session in Vienna September 4 and 5 ‘Smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery, including appropriate identification, protection and assistance to migrant and trafficking victims.’ Read the full  Statement 5th Thematic Consultation on the Global Compact on Migration

Below are three powerpoint with up to date information on human trafficking.

Global Plan of Action Slides English

Global Plan of Action Slides French

Global Plan of Action Slides Spanish

 

 

 

Reviewing Goal 5 at HLPF!

SDG 5SDG 5 – ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’  is one of the goals to be reviewed during this session of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF).  The Women’s Major Group is a recognized entity contributing to the HLPF.  Good Shepherd is a member of this group.   Earlier this group prepared a  POSITION PAPER

Do read the executive summary – two pages ‘ Gender inequality (SDG 5) is one of the most pervasive inequalities, evidenced by numbers of women living in poverty (SDG 1); discriminatory laws/policies targeting women, including
unequal inheritance or criminalization of abortion (SDGs 2, 3); predominant unsustainable industrial agriculture/fisheries models pushing out small farmers and artisanal fisher people, majority of whom are women (SDGs 2, 14); and reduction/elimination of essential services and infrastructure women and girls rely on, such as education/health services and social protection (SDGs 3, 9).”  The paper looks at 5 issues – Women’s Human Rights, Meaningful Participation, Civil Society Space, Finance and Accountability.

How does this compare with the the thematic review of SDG 5?   Link to Thematic Review     I attended this two day review in June – Expert Group Meeting on Strategies to Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls through the Gender-responsive Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development     I added my piece to the discussion – as various forms of violence were raised but not human trafficking.  See towards the end marker 2.52.40

See the other Webcasts:  Part 1; Part 2 above; Part 3  Reviewing these Webcasts will give you some idea of the complex and multi-faceted issues that affect women and girls and how important it is to connect the dots and see the inter-linkages across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and in particular SDG 1, 2, 3, 5, 9,14 and 17 as being reviewed this year.

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The side event for the Women’s Major Group:

WMG Side Event

Zonta presents:

Zonta

There is a very interesting website Women Thrive  hosting a National SDG Advocacy Scorecard Results.  The score card is in English and French

 

What was achieved at CSW 61?

CSW61_ClosingSession_Mar2017__RB_0460_675x450 (002)(Closing of the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.                   Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown)

UN Women sees the Agreed Conclusion as a Roadmap to women’s full and equal participation in the economy Press Release

The Commission on the Status of Women 61st session ended on Friday afternoon March 24th with Agreed Conclusion – a consensus document on ‘Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work.’ This in itself is an achievement.  The document is not yet published and was presented on Friday as an informal paper in English only. The negotiation of this document is an arduous work (the Australian delegated noted it was 107 hours of discussion) and its accomplishment is the result of long hours of discussion and negotiation, into the early hours of the morning each day of the second week.  A good overview of the situation can be had by listening to the UN TV  Webcast of the closing session.  It is about one and a half hours.  By listening to the webcast you will see how issues that affect  women and girls is highly political and fraught with all sorts of qualifications captured in the phrases such as according to ‘national laws’; ‘social norms’ does not enjoy global consensus   …. and the terms ‘sexuality’ is not acknowledged in national law or jurisdiction by a large number of member states nor in International law; express reservations on all principles that are not in accordance with the spirit of Islamic law. Another expression was that anything in the text of the agreed conclusion not in line with national laws is null and void and not applicable.  The Australian delegate noted that the discussion and link between SRHR and economic empowerment was profitable in coming to a process of understanding.  The Holy See interpreted the concept of ‘gender’ as being grounded in a person’s male or female biological sex, not in social constructions

The EU was largely disappointed with the outcome which it saw as an interpretation of the outcome rather than an negotiated outcome. Three issues were noted – limiting of the  space of CSO’s and NGO’s; the link between women’s economic empowerment and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) could be stronger by better references to the human rights component essential to gender equality; and emphasis on national policy space limited ambition and some language reflects the stereotypical role of women and girls and does not contribute to their empowerment and independence.  Despite this the EU will continue to work more to build consensus.

Here is the link to the US explanation of Position on Agreed Conclusions at the 2017 UN Commission on the Status of Women.

The person who chaired the negotiations is Ms. Fatma Al Zahraa Hassan (Egypt), Vice-Chair (African States Group)   In her address she mentioned the main pillars towards women’s economic empowerment – education, legal measures, socio-economic measures, giving voice to women, achieving financial independence.  The document is 20 pages long and will be published in all 6 languages of the United Nations.  Seven pages use the following words to introduce paragraphs: reaffirms (6 times), reiterates, (2) recognizes, (16) emphasizes, acknowledges, (3) takes note, strongly condemns, expresses it concern, (5) reiterates its concern, recalls, (2) welcomes, and urges.

Reaffirms – the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for action will make a crucial contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to women’s economic empowerment; commitments to gender equality and the empowernment of all  women and girls made at relevant UN summits and conferences; that the promotion and protection of, and respect for, the human rights and fundamental freedom of all women and girls,  including the right to development , which are universal, indivisible, interdependent and iterated, are crucial for women’s economic empowerment…; that the realization of the right to education, as well as to access to quality and inclusive education, contributes to the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; the importance of significant increased investment to close resource gaps for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and and girls.

Strongly condemens – violence against women and girls in all its forms in public and private spaces, including harassment in the world of work, including sexual harassment, and sexual and gender based violence, domestic violence, trafficking in persons and femicide, among others, as well as harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation, and recognizes these are major impediments to the achievement of women’s economic empowerment, social and economic development…

Expresses it’s concern – about the continuing significant gender gaps on labour force participation and leadership, wages, income, pension and social protection and access to economic and productive resources; structural barriers  including discriminatory laws and policies, gender stereotypes and negative social norms, unequal working conditions as well as about the growing high incidence of informal and non-standard forms of employment in many regions; occupational segregation; that the feminization of poverty persists; over the persistently low wages earned by women workers;

Reiterates it’s concern – over the challenge climate change poses to the achievement of sustainable development and that women and girls are often disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change.

The document is divided into the following sections:

  • Strengthening normative and legal frameworks
  • Strengthening education, training and skill development
  • Implementing economic and social policies for women’s economic empowerment
  • Addressing the growing informality of work and mobility of women workers
  • Managing technological and digital change for women’s economic empowerment
  • Strengthening women’s collective voice, leadership and decision making
  • Strengthening private sector role in women’s economic empowerment

The text was revised a number of time in the lead up to the opening of CSW 61 and during the formal negotiations of the two weeks.  In the initial text presented by the CSW61 Bureau there was a strong call for implementation of national floors of social protection – here is the reference:    (m) Establish universal social protection floors, in line with ILO Social Protection Floors recommendation, 2012 (No. 202), as part of national social protection systems to ensure access to social protection for all, including workers outside the formal economy, and progressively achieve higher levels of protection in line with ILO social security standards; (Based on E/CN.6/2017/3, para 49 (o))”  but this reference to ILO R 202 has not remained in the final version.

There are a number of references to social protection systems, social protection and pensions, social protection policies and in one instance including floors and ‘extending social protection and wages that allow for an adequate standard of living’… ‘without reductions in labour and social protections.’

w. Optimize fiscal expenditure for gender-responsive social protection and care infrastructure, such as equitable, quality, accessible and affordable early childhood education, child care, elder care, heath care, care and social services for persons with disabilities and persons living with HIV and AIDS, which meet the needs of both caregivers and those in need of care, hearing in mind that social protection policies play a critical role in reducing poverty and inequality, supporting inclusive growth and gender equality;

x.  Work towards establishing or strengthening inclusive and gender-responsive social protection systems, including floors, to ensure full access to social protection for all without discrimination of any kind, and take measures to progressively achieve higher levels of protections including facilitating the transition form informal to formal work;

Argentina speaking on behalf of Latin American countries did reference social protection as important to women’s economic empowerment.

See UN Meeting Coverage and Press Releases

Youth

Youth leaders address the opening meeting of the 61st Session of the                        Commission on the Status of Women

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