Sunday, September 12, 2010

Listen to the Speeches from Beijing +15

You can hear some of the speeches - ISIS International was at the CSW and recorded many of the sessions - good to go back and listen again.

Monday, April 19, 2010

NGO's and the UN

The following article supports the experience of the NGOs at this year's CSW -

U.N. Blasted for Sequestering NGOs & Media
Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 18 (IPS) - A major structural renovation of the U.N. Secretariat is being used as a pretext to curb media access to delegates and Security Council members, and is also a veritable smokescreen to tighten restrictions on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) accredited to the world body, critics say.

"It's absolutely scandalous," says Jim Paul, executive director of the New York-based Global Policy Forum, which provides intense coverage of U.N. activities in its widely-accessed website. The Capital Master Plan (CMP), a five-year U.N. restructuring project costing about 1.9 billion dollars with a 2013 deadline, is apparently the primary excuse to restrict the physical movement of NGO representatives in the U.N. building, he said. "The United Nations appears to be getting progressively more hostile to NGOs - and member states appear to be behind this trend," Paul told IPS.

Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who had a love-hate relationship with NGOs, once described them as "indispensable partners of the United Nations" and "the conscience of the world". But his administration also had occasional battles with NGOs whose presence in the U.N. building, particularly during summit meetings and General Assembly sessions, was restricted on security grounds. But the current situation is the worst because "it is 10 times more difficult", complained Paul, who is a member of a new 'NGO Working Group on U.N. Access'.

The NGO complaint follows a strong protest by the U.N. Correspondents' Association (UNCA) which recently faulted the world body for new restrictions imposed on press access to delegates and members of the Security Council.

Asked for an update, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters Friday: "I think you should ask the President of the Security Council what the arrangements (for press access) are."

"It is not for me to second guess what the Security Council is doing. I am not going to pre-judge," he added.

Meanwhile, in a hard-hitting letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Working Group says that NGOs "are amongst the closest partners of the United Nations - sharing the vision and promoting the goals and ideals on which the United Nations was established."

But "we (are) compelled to write to you at this time in light of a number of obstacles restricting NGO access to the United Nations at different levels."

"Some of the restrictions are structural and related to the renovations, while others, of greater concern, reflect the political mood prevalent today," the letter complains. "We are particularly concerned that the temporary arrangements, as part of the Capital Master Plan, are creating additional access problems and significantly reducing space for NGO participation."

Currently, over 3,000 NGOs are recognised and provided "consultative status" with the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Additionally, over 2,000 NGOs are recognised and accredited to the world body by the U.N.'s Department of Public Information.

The new NGO Working Group, which is fighting for the rights of NGOs, includes the Conference of NGOs (CONGO) in Consultative Relationship with the U.N., International Service for Human Rights, World Federalist Movement - Institute for Global Policy, Baha'i International Community and Global Policy Forum.

The NGO letter also said: "It is widely acknowledged that in today's increasingly interdependent world, deliberation on issues of global concern - development, security and human rights - requires a closer participation of NGOs than ever before."

"We therefore believe that it is imperative for the United Nations to explore ways and means to expand and render more meaningful the access of NGOs to the Organisation, and its negotiation and decision-making processes," the letter adds.

The Working Group has also asked the secretary-general to assign an individual at a senior level within the executive office to serve as a liaison to the NGO community.

Under Annan, the Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations Gillian Martin Sorensen was the coordinator of NGOs.

In this role, Sorensen "played a significant role in engaging with and assisting NGOs, by organising regular meetings to discuss matters of concern," the letter adds.

In his response, Ban sent a letter pointing out that despite careful planning, "significant challenges remain from the current stage of the implementation of the Capital Master Plan."

"Indeed, the situation is difficult, not only for NGOs but also for member states and the Secretariat," he wrote.

The secretary-general also said that he has directed all departments concerned "to seek sound and coordinated solutions to providing access to as many NGOs as possible, within the security and safety requirements."

Paul dismissed Ban's letter as an "empty, say-nothing" response.

Meanwhile, in a letter to the secretary-general and to the president of the Security Council, UNCA President Giampaolo Pioli expressed "serious concern" about proposed restrictions on press access to Council members outside their new meeting area.

Any attempt to use the move and/or safety concerns as a pretext to institute unprecedented and unnecessary limitations on press access to the delegations is unacceptable to UNCA members since it would further reduce the transparency of the most powerful body within the United Nations, Pioli said.

"It is ironic that the very Security Council whose members have jointly and individually criticised governments around the world for not allowing a free press to operate in their countries have suddenly gotten into the business of curtailing a free press at U.N. headquarters," he added.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hillary Clinton's Remarks at the UN CSW (Friday)

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

UN Headquarters

New York City

March 12, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you to Ambassador Alex Wolff and to our U.S. Mission here at the United Nations. And it's wonderful to be back at the United Nations for this occasion.

I want to thank the deputy secretary general for being with us. I'm very pleased that my friend and someone who once represented the United States here before becoming Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, could join us; members of the diplomatic corps and representatives to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women; many of my friends, elected officials from New York, including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who has been recognized and who is a great champion of women's rights and responsibilities and to all of you. This final day of the 54th session of the UN Commission brings to a close a week of a lot of activity, and it reminds us of the work that still lies ahead.

Fifteen years ago, delegates from 189 countries met in Beijing for the Fourth World Conference on Women. It was a call to action - a call to the global community to work for the laws, reforms, and social changes necessary to ensure that women and girls everywhere finally have the opportunities they deserve to fulfill their own God-given potentials and contribute fully to the progress and prosperity of their societies.

For many of us in this room today, that was a call to action that we have heeded. I know some of you have made it the cause of your life.You have worked tirelessly, day in and day out, to translate those words into realities. And we have seen the evidence of such efforts everywhere.

In South Africa, women living in shanty towns came together to build a housing development outside Cape Town all on their own, brick by brick. And today, their community has grown to more than 50,000 homes for low income families, most of them female-headed.

In Liberia, a group of church women began a prayer movement to stop their country's brutal civil war. It grew to include thousands of women who helped force the two sides to negotiate a peace agreement.And then, those women helped elect Ellen Johnson Sirleaf president, the first woman to lead an African nation.

In the United States, a young woman had an idea for a website where anyone could help a small business on the other side of the world get off the ground. And today, the organization she co-founded, Kiva, has given more than $120 million in microloans to entrepreneurs in developing countries, 80 percent of them women.

So as we meet here in New York, women worldwide are working hard to do their part to improve the status of women and girls. And in so doing,they are also improving the status of families, communities, and countries. They are running domestic violence shelters and fighting human trafficking. They are rescuing girls from brothels in Cambodia and campaigning for public office in Kuwait. They are healing women injured in childbirth in Ethiopia, providing legal aid to women in China, and running schools for refugees from Burma. They are rebuilding homes and re-stitching communities in the aftermath of the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. And they are literally leaving their marks on the world. For example, thanks to the environmental movement started by Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, 45 million trees are now standing tall across Kenya, most of them planted by women.

And even young girls have been empowered to stand up for their rights in ways that were once unthinkable. In Yemen, a 10-year-old girl forced to marry a much older man made headlines around the world by marching into court and demanding that she be granted a divorce, which she received. And her courage helped to shine a spotlight on the continuing practice of child marriage in that country and elsewhere.

Now, these are just a few of the stories, and everyone here could stand up and tell even more. These are the stories of what women around the world do every day to confront injustice, to solve crises,propel economies, improve living conditions, and promote peace. Women have shown time and again that they will seize opportunities to improve their own and their families lives. And even when it seems that no opportunity exists, they still find a way. And thanks to the hard work and persistence of women and men, we have made real gains toward meeting the goals set in Beijing.

Today, more girls are in school. More women hold jobs and serve in public office. And as women have gained the chance to work, learn, and participate in their societies, their economic, political, and social contributions have multiplied. In many countries, laws that once permitted the unequal treatment of women have been replaced by laws that recognize their equality, although for too many, laws that exist on the books are not yet borne out in their daily lives.

But the progress we have made in the past 15 years is by no means the end of the story. It is, maybe, if we're really lucky, the end of the beginning. There is still so much more to be done. We have to write the next chapter to fully realize the dreams and potential that we set forth in Beijing. Because for too many millions and millions of girl sand women, opportunity remains out of reach. Women are still the majority of the world's poor, the uneducated, the unhealthy, the unfed. In too many places, women are treated not as full and equal human beings with their own rights and aspirations, but as lesser creatures undeserving of the treatment and respect accorded to their husbands, their fathers, and their sons.

Women are the majority of the world's farmers, but are often forbidden from owning the land they tend to every day, or accessing the credit they need to invest in those farms and make them productive.

Women care for the world's sick, but women and girls are less likely to get treatment when they are sick.

Women raise the world's children, but too often receive inadequate care when they give birth. And as a result, childbirth remains a leading cause of death and injury to women worldwide.

Women rarely cause armed conflicts, but they always suffer their consequences. And when warring sides sit at one table to negotiate peace, women are often excluded, even though it is their future and their children's future that is being decided.

Though many countries have passed laws to deter violence against women, it remains a global pandemic. Women and girls are bought and sold to settle debts and resolve disputes. They are raped as both a tactic and a prize of armed conflict. They are beaten as punishment for disobedience and as a warning to other women who might assert their rights. And millions of women and girls are enslaved in brothels, forced to work as prostitutes, while police officers pocket bribes and look the other way.

Women may be particularly vulnerable to human rights violations like these. But we also know that in many places, women now are leading the fight to protect and promote human rights for everyone. With us today are several women I was proud to honor earlier this week at this year's United States State Department's International Women of Courage Awards. They have endured isolation and intimidation, violence and imprisonment, and even risked their lives to advance justice and freedom for others. And though they may work in lonely circumstances, these women, and those like them around the world, are not alone. Let them know that every one of us and the many others whom we represent are standing with them as they wage their lonely but essential efforts on behalf of us all.

The status of the world's women is not only a matter of morality and justice. It is also a political, economic, and social imperative. Put simply, the world cannot make lasting progress if women and girls in the 21st century are denied their rights and left behind.

The other day I heard The New York Times columnist Nick Kristof, who has done so much to bring to a wide audience the stories of individual women who are working and suffering because of conditions under which they are oppressed. And he said, you know, in the 19th century, the great moral imperative was the fight against slavery. And in the 20thcentury, it was the fight against totalitarianism. And in the 21st century, it is the fight for women's equality. He was right, and we must accept and promote that fundamental truth.

Now, I know there are those hard to believe but there are those who still dispute the importance of women to local, national, and global progress. But the evidence is irrefutable. When women are free to develop their talents, all people benefit: women and men, girls and boys. When women are free to vote and run for public office,governments are more effective and responsive to their people. When women are free to earn a living and start small businesses, the data is clear: they become key drivers of economic growth across regions and sectors. When women are given the opportunity of education and access to health care, their families and communities prosper. And when women have equal rights, nations are more stable, peaceful, and secure.

In 1995, in one voice, the world declared human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights. And for many, those words have translated into concrete actions. But for others they remain a distant aspiration. Change on a global scale cannot and does not
happen overnight. It takes time, patience, and persistence. And as hard as we have worked these past 15 years, we have more work to do.

So today, let us renew our commitment to finishing the job. And let us intensify our efforts because it is both the right thing to do and itis the smart thing as well. We must declare with one voice that women's progress is human progress, and human progress is women's progress once and for all.

This principle was enshrined 10 years ago in Millennium Development Goal Number 3, the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. And that goal is essential for the realization of every other goal. Today, this principle is also at the heart of the foreign policy of the United States. We believe that women are critical to solving virtually every challenge we face as individual nations and as a community of nations. Strategies that ignore the lives and contributions of women have little chance of succeeding. So in the Obama Administration, we are integrating women throughout our work around the world.

We are consulting with women as we design and implement our policies. We are taking into greater account how those policies will impact women and girls. And we are working to identify women leaders and potential leaders around the world to make them our partners and to help support their work. And we are measuring progress, in part, by how much we improve the conditions of the lives of women and girls.

This isn't window dressing, and it's not just good politics. President Obama and I believe that the subjugation of women is a threat to the national security of the United States. It is also a threat to the common security of our world, because the suffering and denial of the rights of women and the instability of nations go hand in hand.

The United States is implementing this approach in our strategy in Afghanistan. As I said in London in January at the International Conference on Afghanistan, the women of Afghanistan have to be involved at every step in securing and rebuilding their country. Our stabilization strategy for both Afghanistan and Pakistan includes a Women's Action Plan that promotes women's leadership in both the public and private sectors; increases their access to education, health, and justice; and generates jobs for women, especially in agriculture.

This focus on women has even been embraced by the United States Military. All-women teams of Marines will be meeting with Afghan women in their homes to assess their needs. Congress has joined this focus as well. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, under Chairman John Kerry, empowered a subcommittee charged with global women's issues that recently held hearings on promoting opportunity for Afghan women and girls.

History has taught us that any peace not built by and for women is far less likely to deliver real and lasting benefits. As we have seen from Guatemala to Northern Ireland to Bosnia, women can be powerful peacemakers, willing to reach across deep divides to find common ground. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 reflects this principle. Now, we must work together to render it into action and achieve the full participation of women as equal partners in peace.
And as women continue to advocate for peace, even risking their lives to achieve it, many are praying that we will keep the promise we made in Resolution 1888 to take significant steps to end sexual violence against women and children in conflict.

We have begun the process laid out in the resolution. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appointed a special representative. Now we must press ahead to end forever the evil of rape in conflict, which has caused suffering beyond imagination for victims and their families.

For the United States, women are also central to our ongoing work to elevate development as a key pillar of our foreign policy alongside diplomacy and defense. As those who grow the world?s food, collect the water, gather the firewood, wash the clothes, and increasingly, work in the factories, run the shops, launch the businesses, and create jobs, women are powerful forces for any country's economic growth and social progress. So our development strategies must reflect their roles and the benefits they bring.

Three major foreign policy initiatives illustrate our commitment. The first is our Global Health Initiative, a $63 billion commitment to improve health and strengthen health systems worldwide. Improving global health is an enormous undertaking, so we are focusing first on those people whose health has the biggest impact on families and communities - women and girls. We aim to reduce maternal and child mortality and increase access to family planning. And we especially commend the commission and the UN' s adoption by consensus of the resolution on maternal mortality.

We also intend to further reduce the numbers of new HIV infections. AIDS has now become a woman's disease, passed from men to women and too often, to children. Through our Global Health Initiative and our continued work through PEPFAR, we hope to stop that deadly progression by giving women and girls the tools and knowledge they need to protect themselves, and by treating HIV-positive mothers so they are less likely to pass on the disease to their children.

Our global food security program, which I previewed here at the United Nations last September, is a $3.5 billion commitment to strengthen the world's food supply, so farmers can earn enough to support their families and food can be available more broadly. And women are integral to this mission. Most of the world's food is grown, harvested, stored, and prepared by women, often in extremely difficult conditions. They face droughts, floods, storms, pests without the fertilizers or enriched seeds that farmers in wealthy countries use. Many consider themselves lucky if they can scratch out a harvest sufficient to feed their children. Giving these women the tools and the training to grow more food and the opportunity to get that food to a market where it can be sold will have a transformative impact on their lives and it will grow the economies of so many countries.

I have to confess that when we started our Food Security Initiative, I did not know that most food was grown by women. I remember once driving through Africa with a group of distinguished experts. And I saw women working in the fields and I saw women working in the markets and I saw women with wood on their heads and water on their heads and children on their backs. And I remarked that women just seem to be working all the time. And one of the economists said, But it doesn't count. I said, How can you say that? He said, Well, it's not part of the formal economy. I said, Well, if every woman who did all that work stopped tomorrow, the formal economy would collapse.

A third initiative is our government's response to the challenge of climate change. In Copenhagen in December, I announced that the United States would work with other countries to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the climate needs of developing countries.

The effects of climate change will be felt by us all, but women in developing countries will be particularly hard hit, because as all of the changes of weather go on to produce more drought conditions and more storms and more floods, the women will have to work even harder to produce food and walk even farther to find water safe for drinking. They are on the front lines of this crisis, which makes them key partners and problem solvers. So we believe we must increase women's access to adaptation and mitigation technologies and programs so they can protect their families and help us all meet this global challenge.

These initiatives amount to more than an assortment of programs designed with women in mind. They reflect a fundamental shift in U.S.policy, one that is taking place in offices across Washington and in our embassies around the globe. But we are still called to do more - every single one of us. The Obama Administration will continue to work for the ratification of CEDAW.

Now, I don't have to tell those of you who are Americans how hard this is. But we are determined, because we believe it is past time, to take this step for women in our country and in all countries. Here at the United Nations, a single, vibrant agency dedicated to women run by a strong leader with a seat at the secretary generals table, would help galvanize the greater levels of coordination and commitment that the women of the world deserve.

And as the United Nations strives to better support the world's women, it would benefit from having more women in more of its leadership positions. (Applause.) Just as there are talented women working unnoticed in every corner of the world, there are women with great talent and experience whose potential leadership is still largely untapped, and they deserve the chance to serve and lead.

The Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action was not only a pledge to help women in other lands, it was also a promise by all countries to do more to advance opportunity and equality for our own citizens. Because in every country on earth, talent is universal, but opportunity is not. In my travels across the United States, I've met women for whom higher education is a distant dream. They have the talent, they have the drive, but they don't have the money. I've met mothers trapped in abusive relationships desperate to escape with their children, but with no means of support. I've met too many women who cannot afford necessary healthcare for themselves and their children. And I've met girls who have heard their whole lives that they were less than - less talented, less worthy of respect - until they eventually came to believe it was true.

So whether we live in New York or New Delhi, Lagos or La Paz, women and girls share many of the same struggles and aspirations. The principle of women' s equality is a simple, self-evident truth, but the work of turning that principle into practice is rarely simple. It takes years and even generations of patient, persistent work, not only to change a country's laws, but to change its people's minds, to weave throughout culture and tradition in public discourse and private views the unassailable fact of women's worth and women's rights.

Some of you may have seen the cover of the most recent issue of The Economist. If you haven't, I commend it to you. And like me, you may do a double-take. Because I looked quickly at it and I thought it said genocide. And then I looked more carefully at it, and it said gendercide. Because it was pointing out the uncomfortable fact that there are approximately 100 million fewer girls than there should be, if one looked at all the population data. I was so struck by that. A word that I had never heard before, but which so tragically describes what has gone on, what we have let go on, in our world.

My daughter is here with me today and being the mother of a daughter is a great inspiration and motivation for caring about the girls of the world. And I would hope that we would want not only for our own daughters the opportunities that we know would give them the chance to make the most of their lives, to fulfill that God-given potential that resides within each of us, but that we would recognize doing the same for other daughters of mothers and fathers everywhere would make the world a safer and better place for our own children.

So we must measure our progress not by what we say in great venues like this, but in how well we are able to improve the condition of women's lives, some near at hand who deserve the opportunities many of us take for granted, some in far distant cities and remote villages - women we are not likely ever to meet but whose lives will be shaped by our actions.

Let us recommit ourselves, as individuals, as nations, as the United Nations, to build upon the progress of the past and achieve once and for all that principle that we all believe in, or we would not be here today. The rights and opportunities of all women and girls deserve our attention and our support because as they make progress, then the progress that should be the birthright of future generations will be more likely, and the 21st century will fulfill the promise that we hold out today. So let's go forth and be reenergized in the work that lies ahead.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

Resolutions adopted by the CSW

The CSW on Friday, March 12th adopted 7 resolutions -
  • United Nations Gender Entity,
  • Assistance for Palestinian women,
  • Release of women and children during hostage taking,
  • Maternal mortality and morbidity,
  • Economic Empowerment,
  • Women, the Girl Child and HIV/AIDs,
  • Ending Female Genital Mutilation
The Commission on the Status of Women concluded its fifty-fourth session today with the adoption of six resolutions on a range of issues concerning gender equality and women’s empowerment, and the approval of one text, by recorded vote, on Palestinian women, to be sent to the Economic and Social Council for adoption.

The Commission also adopted the draft report of its current session, as well as the provisional agenda of its fifty-fifth session.By a recorded vote of 31 in favour to 2 against ( Israel, United States), with 10 abstentions ( Belgium, Cameroon, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Togo), the Commission approved the draft on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women. (See annex for details of the vote.)

By its terms, the Commission, deploring the economic and social conditions of Palestinian women and girls in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, would have the Economic and Social Council demand that Israel comply fully with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among other treaties. The Council would call on Israel to facilitate the return of all displaced Palestinian women to their homes, and on the global community to continue to provide urgently needed assistance. The Secretary-General would be requested to continue to review the situation and assist Palestinian women by all available means.Speaking after the vote, the representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine expressed her gratitude to all States that had supported the text. Resolutions remained necessary in light of Israel’s grave human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. She looked forward to a day when Palestine did not have to put forward resolutions, but, until then, her delegation would look to the United Nations to help protect those most in need.

Speaking before the vote, Israel’s delegate expressed dismay at the resolution’s consideration. Rather than address the countless issues women faced, the Commission had been forced to consider a resolution of those who wished to impose their agenda. The text chose to politically scapegoat Israel and failed to mention the deteriorating situation of women as result of terrorist policies by Hamas. She urged standing firmly against consideration of such texts in future.Turning to women in armed conflict, the Commission, by a consensus text on the release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts, reaffirmed that hostage-taking was an illegal act aimed at destroying human rights, and condemned all violent acts committed against civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law, in situations of armed conflict.

In other terms, the Commission called for an effective response to such acts, particularly the immediate release of women and children hostages, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts, by strengthening international cooperation. Further, it requested the Secretary-General to ensure the widest possible dissemination of relevant material, particularly relating to Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), on women, peace and security.By an orally revised consensus text on eliminating maternal mortality and morbidity through the empowerment of women, the Commission urged global and national leaders to generate the political will, resources, commitment, cooperation and technical assistance urgently required to reduce that phenomenon, and improve maternal and newborn health. It called on States to address gender inequalities and harmful traditional practices, and further, to integrate HIV/AIDS interventions into programmes for primary health, sexual and reproductive health, and mother and child health.

Among other things, States were urged to strengthen health systems for women and girls through financing, as well as procurement and distribution of medicines, vaccines, commodities and equipment; implement comprehensive gender-sensitive poverty eradication strategies; and maximize resources for maternal health.By a consensus resolution on strengthening the institutional arrangements of the United Nations by consolidating the four existing offices into a composite gender entity, the Commission recognized the United Nations significant role in promoting those issues and welcomed General Assembly resolution 63/311 (2009), notably its provisions on strengthening the institutional arrangements for support of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The Commission also adopted by consensus an orally revised text on ending female genital mutilation, by which it welcomed the appointment of the Special Representative on violence against children, and stressed that the empowerment of women and girls was key to protecting all human rights, including that to the highest attainable standard of mental and physical health. Among other things, it called on States to mobilize girls and boys to help create programmes to prevent and eliminate harmful traditional practices, and to take all necessary measures -– including enacting and enforcing legislation -– to prohibit female genital mutilation. It urged States to complement punitive measures with education activities to promote consensus towards eradicating harmful practices like female genital mutilation, and take targeted measures for refugee women and women migrants.

Adopting an orally revised consensus text on women, the girl child and HIV and AIDS, the Commission urged Governments and other stakeholders to take all steps to empower women and girls to protect themselves against HIV infection. In that context, Governments were encouraged to address the challenges of older women and those with disabilities in accessing HIV treatment; ensure affordable access to and supply of condoms; and rapidly scale up programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission, in accordance with the call by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to eliminate such transmissions by 2015.By other terms, it urged Governments to enhance health-care services and step up efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls in relation to HIV/AIDS. Governments, donors and relevant United Nations entities were urged to prioritize HIV-response programmes and streamline funding processes towards that end.

By an orally revised consensus resolution on women’s economic empowerment, the Commission called on States to incorporate gender perspectives into social and economic policies and address the extent to which policies, programmes and activities actively dealt with the needs, priorities and contributions of women and men.Among its provisions, the Commission called on States to apply a systematic approach to accelerate women’s full participation in economic decision-making and ensure that a gender perspective was mainstreamed into economic and development policies and social safety net and poverty eradication programmes. States and other stakeholders were urged to strengthen policies to enhance the employability of women and ensure their access to full employment; promote women’s participation in high-level management; adopt measures to promote equal pay for equal work; and undertake legislative, administrative and financial measures to create a strong environment for all women entrepreneurs.

In other business, the Commission decided to transmit the moderator’s summary of the high-level round table discussion on “Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly and its contribution to shaping a gender perspective in the realization of the Millennium Development Goals” (document E/CN.6/2010/CRP.5) to the Economic and Social Council’s 2010 Annual Ministerial Review. Similarly, it decided to transmit the summaries of four panel discussions (documents E/CN.6/2010/CRP.6, E/CN.6/2010/CRP.7, E/CN.6/2010/CRP.8 and E/CN.6/2010/CRP.9) to the 2010 Review. It took note of other panels, entitled “Commemorating 30 years of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”, “Unite to end violence against women”, and “The evolving status and role of national mechanisms for gender equality”.

The Commission also took note of three other documents under agenda item 3: the Secretary-General’s report on release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts (document E/CN.6/2010/5); the Secretary-General’s report on the joint work plan of the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (document A/HRC/13/70-E/CN.6/2010/7); and a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) on the activities of the Fund to eliminate violence against women (A/HRC/13/71-E/CN.6/2010/8).Finally, Vice-Chair-cum-Rapporteur Leysa Sow ( Senegal) presented the Commission’s draft report on its fifty-fourth session (document E/CN.6/20010/L.10), which contained information on the organizational part of the session and which would be updated as required. Proceedings of today’s meetings would be reflected in a final report.

Rounding out the day, Rachel Mayanja, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, and Commission Chairperson Garen Nazarian ( Armenia) delivered closing remarks.After the conclusion of the fifty-fourth session, Chairperson Nazarian declared open the fifty-fifth session. Following the resignation of Roberto Storaci ( Italy), Takashi Ashiki ( Japan) and Julio Peralto ( Paraguay) from their positions as Vice-Chairs, delegates elected Filippo Cinto ( Italy) and Maria Luz Melon ( Argentina) as Vice-Chairs of the Commission.

The formal appointment to fill the post left vacant by Mr. Ashiki’s resignation would be made when the Commission held its next meeting, in 2011. The Committee decided, on the Chair’s proposal, that upon nomination by the Asian States Group, the nominee would be permitted to participate fully in the Bureau’s work.


The Commission on the Status of Women met today to take action on several draft resolutions under its agenda item 3, entitled “Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women, and to the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, ‘Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century’”.

Action on Drafts

First, the Commission considered a resolution entitled Release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned in armed conflicts (document E/CN.6/2010/L.3).Speaking before action, Azerbaijan’s delegate, as a main sponsor of the text, said several open-ended informal consultations had been convened, which had created an opportunity for dialogue among all interested delegations. The draft included elements of General Assembly resolution 63/183 (2009) on missing persons. The text stressed the need for addressing those women and children as a part of peace processes. He hoped it would be adopted by consensus.

The Commission then adopted that resolution by consensus.
Next, the Commission turned its attention to a resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2010/L.4).

Speaking before the vote in a general statement, Israel’s delegate expressed dismay at the consideration of the present resolution. Rather than address the countless issues women faced, the Commission had been forced to consider a resolution of those who wished to impose their agenda on the Commission. That ignored the needs of countless other women, none of whom had blocs to lobby on their behalf.

The text singled out Israel, she said, while no other geographical resolution had been brought before the Commission. Such politicization was seen in the fact that the Beijing Platform for Action refrained from mentioning any regional conflicts. If the draft was truly intended to help Palestinian women, it would include all challenges confronting them. For example, the Secretary-General’s December 2009 report noted that some Palestinian women were killed as result of “honour killings”. A previous report of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) on forced prostitution of Palestinian women and girls had also raised alarming concerns.

She said the draft also failed to mention the deteriorating situation of women as result of terrorist policies imposed by Hamas. Palestinian women in Gaza were systematically being denied their inheritance rights, another report had found. The draft resolution chose to politically scapegoat Israel and, as such, her delegation suggested that the States that submitted it acknowledge the damage done to women when endorsing a one-sided narrative. Israel would vote against the resolution and called on the Commission to do so as well. In closing, she urged standing firmly against consideration of such resolutions in the future.

The representative of Jordan said the thrust of the resolution was that in any given conflict women and children were most affected. The purpose of the draft was not to just discuss the plight of Palestinian women. He hoped that the text would be viewed in that light and supported.Explaining his vote before the vote, the representative of the United States said his country supported Palestinian women in several ways to create environments that enabled them to lead. The United States strongly supported the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and was its largest donor. The United States had also called on Israel to open borders to enable Palestinians to live productive, healthy lives. Through good-faith negotiations, the parties could mutually agree on an outcome that ended the conflict. The current text, however, sought to insert the Commission into permanent status issues, such as refugees, which should be the purview of the two negotiating parties. For that reason, the United States would vote against it.

Next, by a recorded vote of 31 in favour to 2 against ( Israel, United States), with 10 abstentions ( Belgium, Cameroon, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Togo), the Commission approved that resolution. (See annex for details of the vote.)

Speaking after the vote, Japan’s delegate said she was concerned at the critical situation of Palestinian women and expressed hope that their situation would be significantly improved by international assistance. She had hoped to see a text accepted by various States, but, because the draft could have been more balanced, Japan had abstained from voting. Nonetheless, Japan would continue its strong support to improve the situation of Palestinian women.Egypt’s representative, speaking in general statement after the vote, said everyone would prefer not to differentiate between Palestinians and others, but that should not come at the expense of Palestinians’ rights. To the point made about Palestinian women’s inheritance, he said Palestinians had nothing left to inherit. Palestinian women had problems crossing lines to reach a doctor -- they waited at inspection points for hours. That compromised all human rights.

The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations expressed her gratitude to all States that had supported the resolution. Resolutions remained necessary in light of the ongoing need for international services and the grave human rights violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Today’s resolution was especially important, as Palestinian women bore the brunt of Israel’s illegal policies. Adherence to international law could only promote peace efforts, and not undermine them. Such respect would truly bring about a change on the ground and in the negotiating environment. She would not respond to the “absurd” comments by Israel’s delegate, but rather point out that nothing effected Palestinian women more than a 43-year-old occupation by Israel. The Israeli representative should be more concerned about the actions of her Government to create conditions for peace.

In that context, she recalled that, just after the announcement to resume indirect talks, Israel had announced the construction of 1,600 new settlements in East Jerusalem. That was the real obstacle to peace. She looked forward to a day when Palestine did not have to put forward resolutions, but in light of Israeli activities, her delegation would look to the United Nations to help protect those most in need.Gabon’s representative said her delegation had backed the resolution, but her country’s vote had not been recorded.

The Commission’s Secretary said that comment would be reflected in the Commission’s report.The representative of the United States then introduced a text on eliminating maternal morality and morbidity through the empowerment of women (document E/CN.6/2010/L.6). She said it addressed a subject of grave concern. Millennium Development Goal 5, on maternal mortality, was the Goal least on track at the moment. The resolution called for increased political will to tackle maternal mortality. It underscored the importance of guaranteeing all of women’s human rights, including sexual and reproductive health rights. It also called for evidence-based interventions to eliminate the problem worldwide.

The representative of Jordan recommended that the resolution include the input of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which had a general comment on the right to health, including reproductive health, and maternal mortality.The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations said that abortion was not a part of reproductive health-care rights and inclusion of it violated the language of the International Conference on Population and Development. She would continue to advocate for the life of mothers and unborn children.

Acknowledging the Jordanian representative’s request, the representative of the United States said it would be difficult to take on board a new suggestion at this time.The representative of Norway, also speaking on behalf of the United Kingdom, said that, despite progress in women’s rights in the past 15 years, more than half a million mothers still died annually from preventable causes. Bold, focused and coordinated health care was needed to achieve reproductive and maternal health-care targets. To eliminate preventable maternal mortality, full health-care access and reproductive health-care rights were needed, including family planning and prenatal and postnatal care, as well as reducing the recourse to abortion. Access was needed to family planning services and training for health-care providers to ensure that, in countries where abortion was legal, the procedure was safe and accessible.

The representative of New Zealand said preventable maternal mortality was a human rights issue. The International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action provided the most comprehensive blueprint for achieving the maternal mortality target, but Millennium Development Goal 5 had seen the least progress. Welcoming the text, she said political will was the answer to reducing maternal mortality. Progress must be made in that regard.

The representative of Cuba said the Beijing Platform was the path to address women’s rights. Cuba would continue to work for women’s full empowerment. She stressed the need to continue international cooperation to scale up resources and ensure implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.

’s delegate expressed deep concern at the high global levels of maternal mortality, and especially that Millennium Development Goal 5 [on maternal mortality] was the least likely to be achieved. For its part, Ireland had held a high-level side event on the theme of maternal mortality and overcoming barriers to achieving Goal 5. Regarding the resolution’s preambular paragraph 14, it was Ireland’s understanding that the reference to sexual and reproductive health services be clearly understood in context of the World Health Organization (WHO) framework.Poland’s delegate said her Government understood the reference to reproductive and sexual rights and services in the resolution as not constituting an encouragement of abortion.

’s representative said that while his delegation was not a Commission member, it had participated in good faith in negotiations on the draft. Malta was motivated mainly by the fact that maternal mortality affected all United Nations Member States. Malta had a reservation on the use of the terms in the resolution on reproductive health and rights, and any references related to them. Malta did not accept any recommendations by the Commission to consider abortion a legitimate form of family planning or other services.He said Malta reserved its position on “unsafe abortion”, as it implied that abortions could be free of any physical or psychological risks and ignored the rights of the unborn. Malta was committed to the overall goal of the text, but had reservations about various phrases contained therein.

’s representative cited the high death rate among pregnant women around the world, mainly in developing countries. Chile supported help for mothers and children and had sponsored actions in that regard in 2008. Chile appreciated the resolution’s content, as long as that did not imply an endorsement of abortion.Saint Lucia’s delegate said mothers continued to die from preventable causes, and their health must be placed first in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. She reiterated that efforts should be placed on providing assistance to most affected regions. References to reproductive health services and rights did not refer to the promotion of abortion. She reserved her country’s position on the use of the term “safe abortion”.

’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Sweden and Finland, stressed that maternal mortality was a critical problem that must be addressed. He fully agreed that more political will and resources were needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and he was pleased at references in the text to family planning and reproductive rights, and to a WHO report on unsafe abortions. His delegation would have wished to have seen a more comprehensive reference to reproductive rights and a fuller reflection of advancements in that area since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. He looked forward to further discussions on that issue.

The representative of Mali said her country had undertaken measures to reduce maternal mortality, including through programmes to fight malaria and HIV/AIDS. Her Government was assisted in efforts to combat maternal mortality by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She endorsed the resolution as part-and-parcel of such programmes.Iran’s representative said his country had made significant progress in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity in the last three decades. He reiterated that all activities related to reproductive health, including education, should take into account the ethical and moral values of each country, and that the resolution did not establish any new rights beyond those that already existed.

The Commission then adopted the resolution by consensus, as orally revised.

The representative of Egypt than introduced a resolution entitled strengthening the institutional arrangements of the United Nations for support of gender equality and the empowerment of women by consolidating the four existing offices into a composite entity (document E/CN.6/2010/L.7). She said it was a political statement of the will of Member States to support system-wide coherence of all United Nations entities mandated to work towards gender equality. It reflected the United Nations important role to achieve that priority target of gender equality and women’s empowerment, as set out in the Beijing Declaration and Platform. It reaffirmed Member States’ commitment to put women front and centre.The representative of Norway said that, in adopting the text, which had more than 181 co-sponsors, the Commission would confirm that strengthening United Nations institutions was a truly universal objective. That clear message from Member States should inspire and boost ongoing negotiations of the General Assembly to set up an entity by the end of the current Assembly session.

The Commission then adopted that text by consensus.

Afterwards, the representative of Yemen, speaking on behalf of the Joint Coordinating Committee of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, and the Non-Aligned Movement, the text’s main sponsor, said the text symbolized the sponsors’ commitment to gender equality and the role of the United Nations to better enable its system to help Member States achieve it by consolidating its gender entities into one composite body. The work of the entity should take into account national traditions and cultural and religious backgrounds, and be guided by the principle of universality. The United Nations response must be in accordance with national needs, and thus, priorities should be set by national focal points. The entity’s operational activities should be governed through a new executive board. He called on the Commission’s members to consider the suggestions put forth by the Joint Coordinating Committee.

Equatorial Guinea
’s representative introduced, on behalf of the African Group, a resolution on ending female genital mutilation (document E/CN.6/2010/L.8), saying that female genital mutilation was an irreparable abuse that placed more than 3 million girls at risk. Numerous appeals to end that abuse had emerged from national, regional and international forums, and through various resolutions, including General Assembly resolution 60/141 (2005).He said there were also declarations, including the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as protocols, such as the 2003 Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, on the Rights of Women in Africa. There were also recommendations, including that adopted at the Second Pan-African Forum for Children, which urged a female-genital-mutilation-free Africa. Such appeals were more than sufficient to justify that a more specific resolution, such as today’s text, received significant backing. He urged all Member States to firmly support and co-sponsor the draft, so that it would be universally adopted.

The Secretary asked the representative of Equatorial Guinea to clarify whether he wished to add oral revisions to the text or read a list of additional co-sponsors.Equatorial Guinea’s delegate then deferred to the United Republic of Tanzania’s delegate, the facilitator, to introduce revisions to the draft.The United Republic of Tanzania’s delegate then read the series of oral revisions.

[The new draft was distributed in the room, with the changes to the text clearly marked, in both the preambular and operative sections.]The Secretary noted that the resolution might have programme budget implications.

The Commission then adopted the text by consensus, as orally revised.The representative of Namibia introduced a resolution on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS (document E/CN.6/2010/L.2/Rev.1), saying it highlighted major factors, such as eliminating mother-to-child transmissions of HIV by 2015, as well as the need for commitments by Member States to reverse the spread of HIV by 2015, as outlined in the Millennium Summit outcome document. It referred to voluntary testing and counselling for HIV. But that was not enough to reverse the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Government health-care services must be improved.

The Commission then adopted that text, as orally revised.

After the action, the representative of Iran said he supported the resolution, but said it must be interpreted within the context of national law. Action concerning HIV/AIDS must be guided by moral values.Next, the representative of Colombia introduced the draft on women’s economic empowerment (document E/CN.6/2010/L.5). He said economic empowerment was a key factor in achieving all of women’s human rights. The lack of empowerment in the social field put women at risk for violence. He went on to detail the text’s references to a wide range of issues concerning women, such as their participation in all levels of decision-making, land and property rights, violence against women, their access to education and health, the plight of rural women, discrimination in the workplace, unequal access to economic and financial resources, and mechanisms to assist women during the economic crisis.

The Secretary noted that the resolution might have programme budget implications.The Commission then adopted the resolution, as orally revised, by consensus.

After the action, the representative of Cuba lauded the fact that the revised text had incorporated language on the importance of sustainable economic development, poverty eradication and fulfilling the Beijing commitments as the necessary preconditions for economic empowerment of all women based on overall macroeconomic development. She was pleased that several of Cuba’s proposals had been included in the text, such as the reference to official development assistance (ODA). Despite those favourable aspects, she regretted that, owing to the opposition of two delegations, it had not been possible to include a reference to the obstacle to equal empowerment of women living under foreign occupation.

The representative of Venezuela regretted that it had taken so long to adopt the resolution. She lauded the fact that a comprehensive view of women’s empowerment had been included, but she regretted the insistence of many delegations to politicize the resolution. She too noted that two delegations had been opposed to including language on the situation of women living under foreign occupation or colonial domination. That was unfortunate; such language should have been taken into account.In closing remarks, RACHEL MAYANJA, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, said that, during the session, representatives of Member States, civil society and the United Nations had held lively discussions on a broad range of subjects within the framework of the Platform for Action. There had been high expectations for the Commission to make 2010 a year of accountability for gender equality and women’s empowerment. There had been calls to send a strong political message of recommitment to full and speedy implementation of the Beijing Platform and to shape gender perspectives for the upcoming high-level events of the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly.

The resolution adopted earlier in the day on the composite gender equality entity sent a powerful message that should galvanize all Member States to take action to consolidate the four women-specific entities, so that the Organization could better support national achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment, she said. Action was needed to give girls training and access to education, to empower women who risked death and disability in childbirth and those who worked long hours for little, unequal or no pay. “We must commit ourselves to ensuring a place for women at the peace table, on the village council and in national parliaments. By ensuring equal opportunities for women and men, we promote the progress of our entire society,” she said.She called on all Member States to carry the commitments from the Commission into forthcoming intergovernmental processes at the United Nations and in their respective ministries of finance, economic planning, education, health, environment and others. Local and municipal authorities, parliaments, the private sector and civil society must also be involved in turning commitments into concrete action.

Commission Chairperson GAREN NAZARIAN ( Armenia) thanked all participants and gave a recap of the session. He said the moderator’s summary on the session would be posted on the website of the Division for the Advancement of Women. He called on all to move from commitment to action. The time for action was now.


Vote on Situation of Palestinian Women

The draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2010/L.4) was approved by a recorded vote of 31 in favour to 2 against, with 10 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Eritrea, Guinea, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russian Federation, Senegal, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Zambia.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Belgium, Cameroon, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Togo.

Absent: Gabon, Rwanda.

* *** *

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Session with the NGO's - ideas for next time

Two of the younger members, from Rawanda and Togo

Rosy Weiss, International Alliance of Women, facilitated the meeting, looking at recommendations for next year.

Renee Gerard, France, and member of the International Alliance, and the International Federation of University Women

Elisabeth Newman, VP, and Cosima Schenk, President, International Council of Women

A few of us gathered to come up with a report on issues faced by NGOs at this session of the Commission on the Status of Women - basically long line ups, and access to delgates, and information. There were some recommendations, that were captured by Rosy Weiss. These will form a report, which will be sent to the appropriate authorities. We developed a list of e-mails, to stay informed for next years CSW.

The 55th session: the priority theme will be “Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work” and progress will be evaluated in the implementation of the agreed conclusions from the fifty-first session on “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child."

Last Session - National Mechanisms for Gender Equality

Suzanne Cooper, Status of Women Canada, and part of the official Canadian delegation. Thanks Suzanne for your work in support of the NGOs!

Jennifer Lynch, Chair of the Canadian Human Rights Commission presenting proposal that Human Rights Commissions have an independent role to the CSW.

This was the last session for me - it was in Conference Room 1, and included representatives from many countries, plus the NGOs. There were 3 panelists (experts), plus the chair, Mr. Takashi Ashiki, Vice-Chair of CSW (Japan)

The 3 panelists were Ms. Rounaq Jahan, Senator Margaret Mensah-Williams (she was a riot!) and Ms. Mary Rusimbi. Their papers are available at

Canada played a role in this session -

Jennifer Lynch, Canadian Chief Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke about support for independent status for Human Rights Commissions, rather than being part of a country's delegation. The would be strategic partners. Want independent status This would include many benefits. We all agree on importance of national human rights. Joint statement -Ms. Lynch presented this proposal on behalf of many countries, including Australia, and European countries.

The panel presented on the type of structure for national machineries, focal points at local, or national institutions. Mandate - generally gender mainstreaming. In Europe - incorporated - Financial and human resources. Both from top leadership and broad based support. Instruments, strategies - mainstreaming, programs, priorities, violence, Trafficking, women's health, Coordination very weak. No clear mandate. Budget constraints. Identified achievements - legal, women's representation. Growth of machinery, information exchange. Constraints, Donor reliance, limited collaboration. Lack of political will, social conservatives, first ladies. How we can sustain political will.

multiplicity of structures is positive.
  1. coordination is weak.
  2. resources do not match their mandate.
  3. gender mainstreaming, but still no understanding
  4. special measures has improved womens participation
  5. legal - most used
  6. research
  7. accountability is weak
  8. collaboration - strain national mechanism.
  9. international - supports exchange
  10. multiple actors influence what's going on on the ground.

Senator from Namimbia presented her personal experiences --she was well received. She has introduced important legislation - domestic and rape act. She learned from older women - today in parliament - women without women can't do much - role of institutional mechanizations - gender committee - gender sensitize all members of parliament. have votes with out women lose votes. Women coming thru war, assisting them. All elected women's forum. Didn't know how to preside. For a women to rule, can be intimidating.

Gender mainstreaming - well acknowledged strategy, need for assessing, programs, and policies. Need to see if whatever focusing on impacts on women and men.

Strategy to assess budgets, programs and policies, to deal with men and women's need.

Gender mainstreaming concept that enables us to make transformative changes. Gendermainstraming a great strategy, and gender responsive budgeting well used.

We need to support national machineries. Fact when setting - where do we place gender responsive budgeting. We are missing the boat, minister of women, not doing budgeting, minister of finance does it. But should take minister of budgeting, and finance - to be able to influence the ministers, Minister of Women becomes a resource. . Turned into fund raisers. How sustainable this approach is? Gathering information - sex aggregated data. or influencing gender relevant data - that supports budgeting. Need to have enabling environment.

Jennifer Lynch, Canadian chief commissioner for human rights - support for independent status - strategic partners. Want independent status, not as part of government delegation. ICC would include many benefits. Agreed on importance of national human rights. Joint statement - HRC of Canada, Australia, etc. to recognize the formal role of independent HRCs. Consider independent status.

ACPD - gave a statement supporting strong national machineries to support women, and enforce legislation, and policies.

Lunch with Canadian Colleagues

Thursday lunch with Mira Hall (North West Territories) and Kate McInturff (FAFIA).