Approximately 4000 NGO Representatives participated in CSW 57. Last year, CSW ended without Agreed Conclusions with regard to the issues of rural women, but hopes were high this year, that a strong proactive Outcome Document would be agreed upon that provides a policy framework for all member states of the United Nations to eliminate violence against women and girls. UN Women composed and provided the draft outcome document that became the starting point of negotiations for the official delegations from forty five nations that built in intensity over the days.
NGO representatives used caucus meetings to strategize on how to lobby the delegations to be sure that all understood and took to account, the crucial issues so women and girls are safe and protected in their homes, in the midst of armed conflict and everywhere else, as well as support services provided for those who are victimized. Statements were composed and updated as negotiations proceeded to clarify positions and use as lobbying tools. Though I have participated in the last twelve CSWs, this year, NGO representatives had significant intensity and a new level collaboration to pressure toward agreed conclusions. In fact, the European Union, North American caucus used its listserv during the final negotiations to inform the caucus members on progress and announce the final agreed conclusions! It was reported that Madame Bachelet spoke to negotiators when the process was flagging, providing encouragement that the whole world was watching and women and girls everywhere are counting on their good work. The NGO community was gratified to hear that member states had reached consensus on a strong and proactive outcome document. A side effect of the process was a stronger and more connected regional caucus network, as both the African and Asian regional caucuses have now linked into the EU-North American listserv. There is no doubt that going forward, these international electronic connections will assist the NGO community to gain momentum on the ground and leverage each other's good practices as well as face challenges and barriers through the support of the network.
The official meetings are the core and centerpiece of CSW, and offer national delegations the opportunity to report progress and challenges in their nations. In addition Side Events are held by UN Agencies and Member States, briefings by various official delegations, daily briefings by members of the NGO CSW NY Executive Committee and UN Women representatives and an extensive kaleidoscope of parallel events held by NGOs in consultative status with the UN and their partners. Parallel events were held in four different locations. The menu of events was extensive and high quality.
One parallel event sponsored by Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), Violence, Ecologies and Livelihoods - Confronting Unsustainable Development examined forms of violence resulting from unsustainable development and related environmental degradation. Speakers from Colombia, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Japan and the Netherlands shared experiences of violations against women's human rights in the context of land grabbing, mining, agribusiness, nuclear testing, and disasters plus proposed measures to achieve sustainable development and eliminate violence against women.
A second panel, Degradation of the Earth and Violence Against Women and Girls connected resource scarcity, deforestation and damage to our earth with increased domestic violence and violence against women and girls. Donna Goodman of Earth Child Institute works with groups of children to empower them to protect and restore the environment, benefiting today's children and future generations, reducing violence against women and girls. Nina Simons, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Bioneers inspires a shift to live on Earth in ways that honor the web of life, each other and future generations. Nina stressed how important story is as a reservoir of our values. We need to change the story to earth honoring for all of humanity. Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. Jungian analyst, psychiatrist, author and activist spoke of the importance of trees and nature. The question was raised, "What do we have to learn from nature?" Jean spoke of trees and nature having the power to connect across differences and bring differences
together, creating more resilience and strength. One way to connect for the betterment of the earth and humanity is to plant trees.
Ending Violence Against Women: Effective Practices sponsored by International Federation of University Women presented diverse perspectives. Panelist Mick Menard reminded us this is the age of media, and the importance of narrative. She presented a video with cameos of grassroots women leaders from rural India, their view of self and their development of self-respect, power in decision making and factors in development of one's agency. The next panelist from UNICEF stressed education as a key effective practice for elimination of violence against women and girls but promoted a holistic approach that included efforts to reduce and prevent incidents of violence against women and girls. Sixty one million primary school aged children are out of school around the world. Facing violence takes a complex multifaceted approach, that takes a human rights perspective and monitors incidents. For instance, one community found that boys who had been suspended from school were acting out violently toward girls and bullying other boys to participate. When a different disciplinary approach was used, keeping the boys in school, incidents of violence declined. Without monitoring, the connection would not have been discovered.
The NGO, World Vision used their event, Girls Not Brides - Prevent Early Marriage to launch the report: Untying the Knot. World Vision Australia CEO emphasized that early marriage is a type of violence against girls that lasts a lifetime and leads to other forms of violence. Sadly, it is a complex matter closely tied to family poverty and a fundamental view that girls are less valuable. In times of natural disaster or other crisis, early marriages increase as parents see marriage as protection against the unknown dangers with displacement and deep, relentless poverty. A young woman from Bangladesh spoke on behalf of her peers at home. Two thirds of the girls in her country are married before age 18, the highest rate in Southeast Asia. So far she has convinced her parents to let her stay in school but each year at least two of her friends have married and become mothers. The government has started a media campaign, parent education, drama presentations and provides educational expenses to curb early marriage and keep girls in school. It is the law but not followed.
Friday March 8, 2013 the official International Women's Day celebration was held at UN Headquarters North Lawn Building. Conference Room 2 was full to capacity with women and men, many in colorful traditional dress from their nations. Though the tone was serious to align with the seriousness of violence against women and girls, the priority theme and sense of urgency for an agreed outcome document, UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon and Madame Ban, and UN Women Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet presided. CNN international anchor, Ms. Isha Sesay served as moderator. Permanent Representative from France to the UN, Ambassador Gerard Araud also spoke. Madame Bachelet introduced the UN Women theme song, One Woman, via video featuring 25 musicians from around the world. Madame Bachelet enjoyed singing along with the video performance as we all slowly joined in. Secretary General Ban, an advocate for women's rights and the end to violence against women and girls, told us about his call to action, A Promise is a Promise. He inspired us with his message, "On Women's Day, I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart. You have my full support to accomplish the dream of gender equity. We honor the pioneers who advance the process to enjoy rights for women and girls. But we also must set our sights. Violence against women is not inevitable. Mindsets can be changed, data collection can be strengthened. There is a simple power in naming and shaming. Prevention should be our watch word. Laws are being strengthened. UN Women Campaign Resources are critical. We can only fund 1% of requests. UN Women also needs more money. Never forget men and boys. I commend the CSW for devoting the time on this issue and remind states about the importance of addressing this issue. We do not have the luxury of time. We must reach more women and girls before violence reaches them. If we work as one, we shall shine."
WFWPI was a signor of the statement submitted to CSW57 on behalf of NGO/CSW Austria. Full statement at http://www.wfwp.org. Also review: Agreed conclusions.