Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Doubtful progress and closed sessions

Behind closed doors, government delegates are discussing a document that is as likely to arouse an increase in funding for the empowerment of women as chocolate is likely to stay solid in the tropics. It is full of phrases like “appropriate funding” (try quantifying that amount!) and “the Commission further recognizes that the Bretton Woods Institutions, other financial institutions, and the private sector also have an important role to play in ensuring that financing for development promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”. Well, yes, but that doesn’t add to what is already agreed in the Beijing Platform for Action. Here is what the BPfA stated: “The success of the Platform for Action will also require adequate mobilization of resources at the national and international levels as well as new and additional resources to the developing countries from all available funding mechanisms, including multilateral, bilateral and private sources for the advancement of women; financial resources to strengthen the capacity of national, sub regional, regional and international institutions”.

Oh, and yes, it is all happening behind closed doors, this second week of CSW 52. Accredited NGOs are not permitted in the room. Its just the next hurdle in the obstacle race NGO participants in CSW 52 are running. We first of all had to get into the country - quite a number of African NGOs didn’t make it into the United States. Then we had to queue for up to four hours in the corridor to get our security passes, but when the desk closed for the evening we were told to come back the next day and try our luck again. And just when we thought we had vaulted all the obstacles, we were told by the chair of the CSW that the sessions in the second week will be held behind closed doors. How do we follow what is going on? The Chair said we could talk with our delegates. “But they are inside, and we are outside,” we said. “Well, catch them when they come out,” he said. In other words, we can participate in UN dialog by standing all day waiting for our delegates to materialise. And if they are in a hurry… wait some more. After all, if we came all the way to New York we have nothing better to do than stand around in basement corridors.

With two days of this CSW to go, civil society is asking itself: where is the money for women’s equality and women’s empowerment? Will CSW 52 make a contribution?

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