The day was spend mostly at the UN from 2.30 p.m. until 11.00 p.m waiting, watching, wondering, getting updates, chatting with friends, approaching delegates as they entered and left Conference Room 4. What is the situation of the negotiations now? How many paragraphs agreed? What are the sticky areas? Will there be an outcome document? It’s hopeful! Maybe at 5.00, no not 5.00 maybe in another hour or hour and a half! Then there is movement a rush towards the door – it is approximately 6.40 p.m. Yes we have Agreed Conclusion. A sigh of relief and excitement. We NGO’s file our way in and up to the balcony to await the opening of the 14th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. There is a delay – the agreed document has to be printed and distributed before the this session starts. Groups are moving around. It is approaching 7.45 when the session starts. The session is webcast Do look at it and you will have a global view of the current situation of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The session opens – with accounts of cyber bullying and telephone bullying of the facilitator of the Agreed Conclusions Ms. Koki Muli Grignon (Deputy Permanent Representative, Kenya), Vice-Chair (African States Group). Ambassador felt scared! These tactics are an attack on the multilateral system which strives to accommodate different opinions and celebrate diversity.
Objections to the agreed conclusions we expressed by some member states. By reviewing the webcast you can see what the red lines were. Some positive aspects for me – there is reference to ILO Recommendation 202 in paragraph 6, in paragraph (d) under strengthening normative, legal and policy frameworks, (f) ensure the right to social security in national legal frameworks, as well as ensure universal access to social protection, supported by national strategies, policies , action plans, and adequate resources, to enhance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Under strengthen women’s and girls’ access to social protection paragraph (gg) 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 protection, including facilitating the transition from informal to formal work. Other areas are highlighted (hh) to have social protection measures incorporated into humanitarian response, (jj) women’s access to pensions, and income security for older women, (ll) maternity benefits and (kk) access to social protection in countries of destination for migrant workers. The Agreed Conclusions stopped short of ‘universal child benefits’ or ‘basic income security for children’ (ILO R 202) but did elaborate a paragraph (ii) on nutrition policy. See the press release by UN Women
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.
In January 2017, I participated in a global consultation on Social Protection and Diakonia at Sigtuna, Sweden, hosted by the Church of Sweden. The word ‘Diakonia’ is a Greek term and equates with ‘ministry.’ People from twenty countries gathered to discuss the issue of social protection and ask what is the role and voice of church and faith based actors in the issue of social protection – and how to relate this to the responsibility of States to fulfill everyone’s right to social protection. Among the participants were members of Norwegian Church Aid. Good Shepherd had long -standing relationships with them dating back to the early days in Ethiopia when they funding Bethlehem Training Center.
It was a privilege for me to be invited to participate in the discussion and reflection integrating scripture and social policy. The statement is the outcome. I suggest that this could be a reflection/prayer/discernment document for use by sisters and mission partners on social protection and taxation. It is certainly integrating spirituality and social policy and the sustainable development goals. As you know I have been a long time advocate on the need to implement national floors of social protection – moving from poverty to prosperity.
A video and statement has been prepared – and are now in three languages – English, Spanish and French.
We call on churches and faith based organizations everywhere to stand up and demand for fair redistribution of wealth and social protection as a matter of social justice and human rights. We affirm that social protection is an essential requirement for a just society, regardless of nationality, legal citizenship or the level of economic development in a country. We also believe that taxation is a fundamental instrument for redistribution and for financing the common good so that all can have life in dignity.
” As we mark World Day of Social Justice, we see far too many places where there are increasing opportunities for a few and only rising inequality for the many. Growing inequality undermines the international community’s progress in lifting millions out of poverty and building a more just world. The fault lines are visible in falling wages for women and young people and limited access to education,health services and decent jobs. We must strengthen and build institutions and develop policies that promote inclusive development. In adopting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), world leaders committed to create a more equal and just world. Much progress has been made in enhancing decent work opportunities, strengthening social protection and improving public services. Despite these advances, billions of people desperately depend on our focused and tireless efforts. We must accelerate our work to meet the MDGs by the 2015 deadline and also look beyond by beginning to define new goals for sustainable development. As we seek to build the world we want, let us intensify our efforts to achieve a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable development path built on dialogue, transparency and social justice.”