Friday, March 13, 2009

Reflections on attending the CSW from the plane

Daniela Rosche, of Oxfam Novib also attended the CSW and collaborated on the Dutch NGO’s lobby and other lobby work at the CSW. She shares her impressions of the CSW experience with us in this blog post.

“Wednesday 11 March
On my way back to Amsterdam last night, I was Iucky to enjoy clear skies over Manhattan. There it was: the Big Apple, a seemingly quiet buzz. In Midtown Manhattan, where the UN headquarter is located, I have spent the past two weeks, leading the Oxfam International delegation through the cloudy halls of the annual meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). From above the ground, it seems not so cloudy now. I am glad to realize this because the UN and the CSW meetings are easy places to get lost in and lose perspective.

Bringing the perspective of Oxfam’s partners and colleagues from developing countries to this year’s CSW was one of our main goals. The two key themes on the agenda this year, equal sharing of responsibilities for women and men, also in the context of HIV and AIDS and the impact of the financial crisis on women’s rights, were important issues to reflect on. While governments are still discussing the deletion, inclusion and rewording of language in the (to CSW go-ers famous) “Agreed Conclusions”, it is important to remember what the fuss is all about. It’s about women’s everyday lives and the fact that across the world, women are still earning less than men., are primary care givers for the children, people living with HIV and AIDS the sick, the elderly, are forced to work in the informal labor markets, are under- represented at decision making tables, subjected to violence, and the list goes on. Of course, these issues vary between developed and developing countries. But not in nature, only in degree.

Oxfam’s partners and staff did a great job in bringing that perspective to the enormous number of panels, NGO caucuses and political negotiations. Just as I was leaving, my African colleague and I made a last ditch to get language on the African Women’s Protocol into the final outcome text. A good example of South-North collaboration that, we have to be confident, helps change the inequality of women and bring men more strongly to the table. But also our many NGO colleagues representing organizations working on women’s rights, succeeded to bring that perspective to CSW, especially by bringing so many grass-roots women along. So, as I am just about to be fed some healthy “plane breakfast”, I feel that months of prep work, long hours writing strategies, policy recommendations, amendments and organizing tedious logistical details have been worth it. Even if the outcome text may not be the big splash. Manhattan wasn’t built in a day either.’ Daniela Rosche

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