Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Outcomes CSW 54 online

On March 12 2010 the CSW adopted seven resolutions:
# Women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS
# Release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts
# The situation of and assistance to Palestinian women
# Women’s economic empowerment
# Eliminating maternal mortality and morbidity through the empowerment of women
# Strengthening institutional arrangement of the UN for support of gender equality and the empowerment of women by consolidating the four existing offices into a composite entity
# Ending female genital mutilation
Downloads are available at the CSW-website.

At the same website Moderator’s summaries of high level round tables and panel sicussions are to be foud:
* High-level round table on “Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes 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”
* Panel discussion on “Linkages between implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals”
* Panel discussion on “Women’s economic empowerment in the context of the global economic and financial crisis”
* Panel discussion on “Implementing the internationally agreed development goals and commitments in regard to gender equality and the empowerment of women – contribution to the 2010 Annual Ministerial Review of the Economic and Social Council”

For the moment this is our last blog. There are still several subjects to write about on my list, but other commitments have to prevail for the moment. Maybe later.

Leontine Bijleveld

Friday, March 12, 2010

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton inspires on the last day of the CSW

At 3 p.m. on the closing day of the 54th session of the CSW Secretary of State (US Minister of Foreign Affairs) Hillary Clinton addressed the CSW with an inspiring speech. The deadline for adoption of all the resolutions by 1 p.m. was unfortunately not met. Therefore many delegates could not attend Clinton’s address as they had to go back to the negotiating tables to seek agreement on final language for the resolutions on women’s economic empowerment and HIV/Aids. This did not dampen the spirit of Hillary Clinton and her audience. Invitees from civil society counted their luck as it opened up space for their attendance.
Clinton recalled her ‘maiden’ speech at the NGO Forum in Huairou at the occasion of the Fourth World Conference in Beijing in 1995. That was an important event for herself, as first lady then. It was also important for women around the world, whom she inspired by underwriting the, then fresh, acknowledgement of women’s rights as human rights and human rights as women’s rights. Fifteen years later, Clinton is not satisfied with the progress made: “We have to write the next chapter, as progress made is not the end of the story. It is maybe only the end of the beginning.” She called for recommitment as individuals, as nations and as United Nations to the principle of equal rights and opportunities for all women and girls on the globe. “It is the right thing to do and it is smart to do so, women’s progress is human progress and human progress is women’s progress.” She ended with sharing four commitments on behalf of the Obama administration. First of all US ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). This was met with applause from the floor, above all from US civil society representatives. Second support to the establishment of a single, vibrant UN agency dedicated to women’s issues with strong leadership who will sit at the table of the Secretary General. Thirdly, support to strategies to promote more women in positions of leadership. And fourthly, the promise that the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action not only hold a promise to women in developing countries but hold a promise to women in all countries, including the US.
In every country talent is universal, but opportunity is not.” She concluded: “Let’s go forward and be reenergized in this work.”
Hillary Clinton’s speech was an important energizer for CSW attendants, in particular women’s rights activists, who got frustrated and disillusioned by the total absence of new and forward looking commitments on the part of governments and the UN at large to the agenda of Beijing.

Ireen Dubel

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Let’s scale up as there are plenty of opportunities!

On the one but last day of the CSW, the Dutch government in collaboration with AWID, Hivos and Mama Cash hosted a side event on the opportunities for governments to successfully invest in women’s empowerment and gender equality. At the CSW two years ago the Dutch government hosted a similar event. It then launched the MDG3 Fund, a new € 50 million fund in support of Millennium Goal 3: women’s empowerment and gender equality. The overwhelming number of applications submitted, more than 450, asked for multiple folds the amount of resources available. The Fund was raised to € 70 million. Forty five, predominantly international and regional, organisations have since received funding out of the MDG3 Fund. Their activities take place in 105 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Robert Dijksterhuis, head of the gender division at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, used the occasion of this year’s CSW to highlight the relevance of this new funding mechanism, its collaboration with Dutch NGOs as co-signatories to the Fund, and the experience of MDG3 Fund recipients of being capacitated to scale up their work. Dijksterhuis was adamant about his mission: “We as governments can not drive this agenda of gender equality and women’s empowerment on our own. But we can support it as women’s organisations are the driving force. We need to support scaling up of their agenda and programmes. It can be done, and should be done and I so appeal to other donors, fellow bilaterals, foundations and International NGOs to do the same, either contribute to the MDG3 Fund or the UNIFEM Fund for Gender Equality, or set up similar funding mechanisms.
The MDG3 Fund did not emerge overnight and was the result of a collaborative Dutch NGO lobby towards the Dutch government, inspired by AWID’s action research Where is the Money for Women’s Rights and Organizing. A key actor in this lobby process was the Dutch development agency Hivos, represented by myself, Ireen Dubel, on the panel. The other four panellists were MDG3 grantees. Geeta Misra, MDG3 recipient and Executive Director of CREA (India and global) and board member of the oldest women’s fund Mama Cash, shared the difference the MDG3 funding has made for her organisation in the field of violence against women: upscaling of the work, coalition building across five countries in South Asia and collaboration with Central Asia, plus inclusiveness towards women who are at the margins of violence against women’s work, lesbian women, transgenders, sex workers, disabled women. She emphasized the importance of the MDG3 Fund support to organisations like Mama Cash and other women’s funds, as a mechanism for redistribution of large grants to women’s initiatives at grassroot level. Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng, Executive Director of Isis-WICCE, a regional organisation based in Uganda active on issues of women in (post) conflict situations, was very honest about being a MDG3 recipient. “We got a million and it almost made us crazy, it made our dream come true. It was a lot of money, but to be honest, the money is spend easily given the demands.” The request for results by donors was perfectly responded to by Ruth’ narrative on what Isis-WICCE was able to do, given the new and substantial injection of resources. Delivery of health services to women in post-conflict Liberia, empowerment of Sudanese women resulting in standing for local government office, South-South exchange and professionalisation of her own organisation.
Her conclusion: “The MDG3 Fund must be scaled up!”
For Mallika Dutt from the Indian and US based multi and popular media organisation Breakthrough the MDG3 funding was a game changer in terms of capacity, depth and scale of the work done in the field of violence against women in India. Apart from reaching out to new audiences, new stakeholders have come on board, ranging from ordinary citizens, men and women, engaging with issues of violence against women, to local governments taking responsibility. Asia wide demands are forthcoming for Breakthrough to facilitate similar processes.
Cindy Clark from AWID completed the panel with the latest AWID research on the funding landscape, trends, challenges and opportunities for women’s rights work. Renewed interest to fund this agenda might be jeopardised by the impact of the financial and economic crisis.
The more than hundred persons in the audience shared appreciation of the MDG3 initiative and the Spanish funded UNIFEM Fund for Gender Equality and the need for other donors to come in in support of similar funding mechanisms, in particular given the context of the crisis and falling levels of ODA support and the flux of the Dutch government due to the fall of its cabinet and upcoming elections in June 2010. Robert Dijksterhuis however was optimistic: “The MDG3 grantees and non-awarded applicants are proof of the need and demand. So the future is in collaboration.

Ireen Dubel

Side-event Investing in women's empowerment

Een foto-impressie.

van Leontine Bijleveld

Lesbians, Bisexual and Trans Women not included

The rights of lesbian, bisexual women and transgender people (LBT) were not included in the Beijing Platform for Action, despite strong efforts of organizations present at Beijing. Theoretically, the rights of all minorities - handicapped women, widows, LBT etc were part of the 12 critical areas of concern, just not specifically named. This 15 year review showed that many of the actions in the Platform for Action have been watered down, many promises not kept.

The idea that programs to stop violence against women would include violence against lesbian women proved to be false, and lesbian women are under attack in many countries, our rights ignored or denied. In more than 70 countries being lesbian, bisexual or trans is considered a crime, in at least five countries the penalty is death.

The idea of education for all girls in many countries does not include lesbian girls. In schools in Uganda we learned, in a forum on homophobia in the education system organized by ILGA – the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, that lesbians are expelled from school if it becomes known that they are lesbians. Research needs to be done worldwide on the incidence of illiteracy among lesbians. Research in Canada shows that masculine girls face more violence, and from peers, than do feminine boys, and that children of lesbian parents hear every day that there is something wrong with their family. The education system is not engaged sufficiently in stopping homophobia. Chairing the forum, Rebeca Sevilla of Education International reminded us that trade unions have excellent resources on combatting homophobia in schools.

By making lesbians, bisexuals and trans people invisible in the Platform for Action, for 15 years States have done too little to counter homophobia and its terrible effects worldwide.

A positive development however was the side event organized by the Dutch government, in conjunction with the Belgian and Portuguese governments that explored best practices in supporting LBT people. This is the first time that Member States have organized an event on LBT at the CSW. One of the speakers acknowledged that equality means equality for all of us, including sexual minorities. Twenty years ago or more, courageous women formulated the credo "Women's Rights are Human Rights". Its time to embellish that statement with "and that includes all women".

My goal is for the LBT agenda to be an emerging issue at a CSW within 5 years.
Who will join me in the effort to get LBT rights on the CSW agenda?

Lin McDevitt-Pugh
Interim Executive Director, ILGA

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Human Rights for All – Sign the Petition

Since mid February a petition on Amnesty International’s suspension on Gita Saghal, head of AI’s gender unit, circulates on the internet. It has been signed by internationally known feminists like Charlotte Bunch, Mallika Dutt, Sonia Corea, Yakin Ertuk, Ros Petchesky, Virginia Vargas. Salman Rushdie also signed. It is supported by various organisations including AWID, the Urgent Action Fund, Women living under Muslim Laws. So far not that many organisations and individuals based in the Netherlands did sign. High time to change that.

What is it all about? Gita Saghal, Head of the Gender Unit at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International in London, is suspended for questioning Amnesty International’s partnership with individuals whose politics towards the Taliban are ambiguous. She raised a fundamental point of principle which is about the importance of human rights movements maintaining an objective distance from groups and ideas that are committed to systematic discrimination, this time of women and minorities.
The petition calls upon Amnesty International to clearly and publicly affirm its commitment to all human rights and to demonstrate its obligation to make itself publicly accountable, as it so often has demand of others.
The petition also extends solidarity and support to Gita Saghal.

Please go to the website for more information and to sign the petition.

Leontine Bijleveld

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Joint Statement Beijing +15 Review Process

At thursday 4th March Ama participated in the WIDE breakfast caucus. She proposed on behalf of Wo=men to draft a joint statement criticising the exclusion of civil society from the Beijing +15 Review Process and to allign with the open letter of the international trade union movement (see blog dated March 5th. The proposal was accepted and Ama, Luisa Antolin and some others worked hard on the language. Friday March 5th a final draft was accepted by the European Caucus and circulated for endorsement.

On International Women's Day Ama read out the statement in the High Level Plenary of the CSW. The statement is to be found on the Wide-website, as are the European and international organisations that endorsed the joint statement. WO=MEN is among those.

15 @ 15 - Reproductive Rights Now

Young People Advocating for Sexual and Reproductive Rights at Beijing +15 Review Friday 5th March 2010 New York

Young people from across the world have gathered together in New York to attend the 54th Commission on the Status of Women which also marks the 15 year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. These documents noted governments’ commitments to increase young people’s access to counselling, sexual and reproductive health information and services, and to promote their rights to privacy, confidentiality, respect and informed consent in this regard.
Today, during the lunch break for government delegates, the coalition of young people made a statement for the support of their rights. Fifteen young men and women, wearing T-shirts with statements such as ‘Dead healthy women’, ‘unplanned pregnancies’ and ‘misinformed’, took a strong stand for achieving the goals that were set in Beijing fifteen years ago. “We demand access to comprehensive sexuality information, services and supplies for all young people. We need it today - and today needed to be yesterday.”
The young people from more than 20 countries and every continent collectively demand their sexual and reproductive rights:
− All young people must have access to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception and emergency contraception, in order to avoid unintended pregnancies.
− Accessible, affordable and safe abortions should be made part of the minimum packages of sexual and reproductive health services.
− All young people should have access to psycho-social health services for prevention of gender-based violence and violence against women.
The cohort of young people believe that decision makers attending the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women need to listen to the needs and demands of young people and promote their human rights including sexual and reproductive rights to ensure the health and wellbeing of women, young people and all people worldwide.
For more information please contact (1)917-744-9181 or

Monday, March 8, 2010

Interessant panel over 30 jaar CEDAW

Dat het VN-Vrouwenverdrag 30 jaar bestaat bleef niet onopgemerkt op deze CSW. Niet alleen werd er in talloze speeches aan gerefereerd: de middagsessie van vrijdag 5 maart was er aan gewijd. Drie experts presenteerden een paper – elk ruim 10 minuten. Het aardige is dat van twee papers een uitgebreide versie te vinden zijn op de website van de CSW (wel even naar 5 maart doorscrollen). Ze zijn de moeite waard om te lezen, voor geïnteresseerden in het VN-Vrouwenverdrag.
Het ene is het paper van CEDAW-Comitélid Dubravka Šimonović, die betoogde hoe het Vrouwenverdrag aan de ene kant en het Beijing Platform voor Action aan de andere kant elkaar versterken. Het paper geeft een aardig overzicht van de ontwikkelingen de afgelopen 15 jaar. Het andere paper, van Professor Andrew Byrnes uit New South Wales (Australië), heeft een meer academische en juridische insteek - The Convention and the Committee: Reflections on their role in the Development of International Human Rights Law and as a Catalyst for National Legislative and Policy Reform.
De derde spreker was een advocate uit Nepal, Ms. Sapana Pradhan Malla. Ze pleit er voor om zowel de Algemene Aanbevelingen van het CEDAW-Comité als de landspecifieke Concluding Observations te gebruiken in proefprocessen en andere rechtszaken over vrouwenrechten. Ze gaf een aantal voorbeelden van procedures in India en Nepal.

Om een levendige discussie te stimuleren had het secretariaat een notitie gemaakt met concrete discussiepunten (ook te lezen op de website). Uitdrukkelijk waren discussianten van regeringsdelegaties en NGO’s verzocht om geen statements voor te lezen, maar op de papers in te gaan en concrete vragen te stellen. Dat bleek voor de meeste sprekers te moeilijk. Ook werd duidelijk dat vrijwel niemand de moeite had genomen om de papers te lezen, laat staan zich nog wat verder te verdiepen in de recent vastgestelde veranderingen in de werkwijze van het CEDAW-Comité. Zie bijvoorbeeld de website van de 45ste sessie van CEDAW eind januari begin februari.
Soms werden de vragen wel heel concreet: of het Comité advies kon geven hoe de positie van vrouwen aangaande X in land Y verbeterd kon worden. Toch bood het antwoord van Dubravka Šimonović wel aanknopingspunten voor de Nederlandse situatie. Een aantal landen hebben de moeite genomen om CEDAW-Comitéleden uit te nodigen om een toelichting te geven op de (kritische) Concluding Observations en om met hulp van de Comité-leden mogelijkheden voor nieuwe maatregelen te verkennen. Dat zouden we hier ook kunnen doen.
Uit Uganda kwam nog een andere goed idee: daar staat het VN-Vrouwenverdrag elk jaar op de agenda van het parlement (al acht jaar). Besproken wordt hoe nog beter uitvoering gegeven kan worden aan de verplichtingen die voortvloeien uit het VN-Vrouwenverdrag. Dat zouden we in Nederland ook eens kunnen proberen.
Op termijn zal een samenvatting van de sessie op website van de CSW geplaatst worden.

Op het blogspot schaduwrapportage staat een bericht over de Nederlandse interventie tijdens dit interactieve panel.

Leontine Bijleveld
Co-rapporteur Schaduwrapportage Nederland VN-Vrouwenverdrag 2009/2010

We will not be silenced...

There is not much space for Civil Society to meaningfully engage with their governments and influence the current CSW processes. There is little transparency and access to information is limited. For many people registering and moving around during this CSW is a logistical nightmare. And to top it all off there is a feeling that this process is a bit of a façade. The declaration will not be negotiated, so there will not be a new outcome document. Member states have chosen to copy and paste the declaration from 5 years ago because they fear that opening up the declaration for negotiations will mean taking steps back.

Is it possible that using a declaration that was made 5 years ago is more progressive than making a new declaration that takes the current context and new challenges into account? Is that type of thinking not inherently a sign of taking major steps backwards?

Many Civil Society Organizations have come here to participate in the negotiations of this declaration. We were hoping for some space to influence our governments to improve on the declaration. However, there will not be any negotiations. So what are we all doing here?

A group of women from WIDE and various networks came together to write as statement to Member states and the chairperson of the CSW to express their sentiments on this issue. This statement has been endorsed by a variety of Women’s groups such as WIDE, AWID, DAWN, GAD and so on. Currently the statement is being circulated and people can sign on to it.

Writing this statement has been a very interesting participatory process. We are hoping that the statement will be circulated to Member States and that something will be done about this situation in the coming year. The statement is to be found on the WIDE-website.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Feminists on the Frontline

On 4 March I attended a lively and rich discussion on some of the latest findings that are part of the larger multiple-year AWID research on Resisting and Challenging Fundamentalisms.
AWID has undertaken eighteen in depth case studies to grasp how religious fundamentalisms, in different contexts and different religions, operate, how they appeal or not to women, how they impact on women’s rights and women’s activism.
The case studies are a follow up to the 2008 AWID survey among 1600 women’s rights activists on their understanding of religious fundamentalisms. The respondents to the survey were adamant about the similarities between different religious fundamentalisms: preoccupation with controlling women’s bodies and sexuality, curtailment of women’s rights, freedom of movement and speech, and instigation of violence against women.
Nadine Moawad, from Lebanon, shared the history of Meem, an LBT organisation in a country where homosexuality is criminalized, where sexuality education does not exist and that is characterised by religious sectarianism that operates in all spheres of people’s lives. Meem builds a community of support for lesbian, bisexual, queer and questioning women and transgenders. The safety of this community is critical and a precondition for employing other strategies such as alliance building with other progressive forces in the women’s and human rights movement, religious leaders and intellectuals. Online activism is a main strategy that allows Meem to maintain members’ anonymity whilst its online presence enables both public and underground organising, and connection to members and allies across Lebanon and the world. Meem works to reclaim discussions of sex and sexuality in the Arab world, search for gay-friendly Islamic interpretations and to contribute to building an Arab LBTQ movement. Read more
Little is known as yet about Christian fundamentalisms in Africa. Jessica Horn (Sierra Leone/Uganda) explored its dynamics and the impact on women’s activism, with a strong focus on the role of Pentecostalism. African Pentecostalism is characterised by a mass popular base and an ideology of making money, drawing in poor people through promises of material benefits. Mobilization strategies exercised by Christian fundamentalists include the use of popular and mass communication channels, entry into formal party politics, mobilization of women against women’s rights and strategic appeals to cultural and national identity. Women’s rights activists are currently identifying entry points to begin tackling and resisting Christian fundamentalisms in Africa. The civil society coalition against the Anti Gay bill in Uganda is an example of concerted action and solidarity across women’s rights and LGBT activists. However the presence of fundamentalist actors within the broader gender equality sector (which we experienced during the Dutch government LBT side event two days before) weakens the uncompromising response from progressive feminist activists.
Juan Marco Vaggione summarised the findings of eight Latin American case studies. Striking commonalities were found throughout these cases. Catholic fundamentalism is the most influential political actor vis-à-vis women’s rights and abortion has become the political cleavage of women’s rights. Catholic fundamentalism in Latin America targets the state, political parties and civil society in order to influence state policies. In Vaggione’s view catholic fundamentalism in Latin America is a counter response to the success of the women’s rights agenda.
The recommendation to explore strategies of engagement with faith based organisations and to track dissent from within religious fundamentalisms met cautionary responses from the floor. Suggestion was made to also make an assessment of the impact of religious fundamentalism on the human rights system and the mandates of special rapporteurs.
For AWID’s research on Resisting and Challenging Fundamentalisms read more
Ireen Dubel

Open Brief vakbondsvrouwen aan Ban Ki-moon

Een van de eerste gecoördineerde protestacties kwam van de vakbondsvrouwen. Er zijn ruim honderd vakbondsvertegenwoordigers uit alle continenten. Het zijn vooral leden van onderwijsbonden en publieke sectorbonden, naast de vertegenwoordigsters van vakcentrales en hun internationale, de ITUC. Al op dinsdag 2 maart publiceerden de Global Unions een open brief aan de secretaris generaal van de Verenigde Naties om uitdrukking te geven aan hun verontwaardiging over proces en inhoud van de CSW. De open brief is op het ITUC-PSI-EI UNCSW-blog geplaatst (met vertaalfunctie!). Daar kan ook adhesie worden betuigd.
De brief wijst er op dat de bedoeling was tijdens deze CSW de balans op te maken wat er bereik was in alle 12 ‘areas of concern’ en wat er nog gedaan moet worden door regeringen samen met maatschappelijke organisaties, waaronder vakbonden. “Engaging civil society in this assessment proces is critical to the success of the UNCSW, but also to our collective succes in achieving gender equality.”
De vakbondsvrouwen wijzen er op dat effectieve participatie in deze CSW onmogelijk is. Daarbij noemen ze het gesloten proces van hét uitkomst document (de Declaration), maar ook op de eindeloze registratie procedures –er waren participanten die er meer dan 8 uur over hadden gedaan maandag. Verder maakt de verbouwing van het VN-gebouw en de beperkt toegankelijke tijdelijke behuizing zowel onderling contact als informeel contact met regeringsdelegaties er moeilijk. Omdat voorzien is dat de verbouwing van het VN-gebouw tenminste vier jaar zal duren moet daar echt een oplossing voor gevonden worden.
Kennelijk is de boodschap wel aangekomen. Al een dag later nodigde deputy secretary Ashan-Rose Migiro een delegatie van vakbondsvrouwen uit voor een gesprek over de brief. In dat gesprek zijn geen concrete toezeggingen gedaan, maar wel excuses aangeboden. Er zal wel overlegd worden met de beveiliging hoe in de toekomst betere toegankelijkheid tot stand kan komen.

Leontine Bijleveld

Kale herbevestiging Beijing PfA na 15 jaar

Dinsdag 2 maart is in de Commission on the Status of Women een verklaring aangenomen ter gelegenheid van de vijftiende verjaardag van de Vierde Wereld Vrouwen Conferentie in Beijing. In de verklaring onderstrepen de regeringen nogmaals het belang van de uitvoering van het Beijing Platform for Action en beloven ze plechtig verdere actie te ondernemen. Waar dat uit bestaat blijft echter duister. Het is een bloedeloze, kale verklaring, te vinden op de Beijing +15 website – in de woorden van Luisa Antolin (WIDE) “everything is a copy paste of what we already agreed before.”
De tekst van de ‘Declaration’ was, al voordat de CSW begonnen was, ‘uitonderhandeld’. Vanaf de loop van januari hebben via de missies van de landen bij de Verenigde Naties (Permanente Vertegenwoordiging) conceptteksten gecirculeerd. Verschillende landen hebben geprobeerd de verklaring op te tuigen, er meer ambitie in te stoppen, maar tevergeefs. Het hele proces heeft zich bijna geheel buiten de NGO’s om voltrokken. Daarover heerst, begrijpelijk, grote frustratie onder de NGO’s. In allerlei caucusses en minder gestructureerde samenwerkingsverbanden wordt op dit moment gewerkt aan tegen verklaringen. Ama werkt in de WIDE-delegatie aan een tekst. Het is nog niet geheel en al duidelijk in hoeverre daarbij samengewerkt wordt. Communicatie onder de NGO’s is erg lastig, omdat er in het VN-gebouw geen ontmoetingsgelegenheden zijn. De locaties waar de meeste side-events plaatsvinden hebben geen wireless toegang. De dagelijkse NGO-briefing is in de Salvation Army op de 52str, toch gauw een half uur lopen van het VN-gebouw. Andere jaren was die altijd in de vergaderzaal waar de officiële sessie om 10 uur begint en daardoor veel beter bezocht. Dat was een goede gelegenheid informatie uit te wisselen en die is er nu eigenlijk niet.

Leontine Bijleveld

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The "colour" of the csw is...

The colour of the 54th session of the CSW is Opaque:
1.not transparent or translucent; impenetrable to light; not allowing light to pass through.
2.not transmitting radiation, sound, heat, etc.
3.not shining or bright; dark; dull.
4.hard to understand; not clear or lucid; obscure: The problem remains opaque despite explanations.
5.dull, stupid, or unintelligent. (

Opaque is not a color.


"The mothers of those bad men"

Anticipation and enthusiasm overflowed last Saturday. The sounds and sight of an excited mob of grey and white haired ladies is not one you can miss. This weekend there was a large gathering of all walks of women’s human rights defenders. All forms of women’s organizations was represented. They were mostly old and they were ALL very active. The organizers did a great job invited a variety of inspiring speaker such as Dr. Sima Samar, Charlotte Bunch, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda and Alexandra Garita.

Though it was great to have such a large gathering of women in all their diversity, there was also a great sense of frustration. This was both due to sense that not much has been achieved in the last 15 years and due to some logistical organizational shortcomings. At the end of the first day of the NGO forum, there was an open mic. The majority of women stood in line and waited (not always patiently) for a chance make themselves heard. There was such a hunger to be heard that there were very few silent listeners. It all dissolved into a cacophony of comments. In all the noise I picked up a few things:

It is high time for the ladies to hand over the torch to the next generation. This is necessary for a sustainable women’s movement. There needs to be an intergenerational dialogue and meaningful participation of youth.
Also, one of the panelists said, we should not forget that we are the mothers of those bad men we speak of. We can and should reprimand them! Also equality between women and men starts with upbringing, the way we educate our sons. This is of course not to say that the only space for women to influence men is at home. Women are increasingly active in decision making in the public as well as commercial arena.

No matter how many doors are shut, no matter how many voices are silenced women will continue to come because we want the UN to work for us. The NGO forum was great to bring people together. But let us not forget the critical points, because what would the women movement be without criticism? Regional working groups were organized however there was no clarity about what these groups were supposed to discuss. At the end of the forum a call for action was circulated. No one knew who the author was and everyone was annoyed at the fact that there had not been a consultation on this. These would be the first of many closed, opaque non participatory processes here at the CSW.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

CSW-Blog van Cordaid and partners

Cordaid CSW 54 delegation, staff and partners, are sharing their CSW impressions as well as relevant reports and materials via the website. We hope you enjoy our posts!

On behalf of the Cordaid CSW Delegation
Margriet Tolsma and Nathalie Lasslop

Dutch Government takes leadership on LBT rights

Herstory was made on the second day of the CSW in New York. The Dutch government, with support from their Belgian and Portuguese counterparts, hosted a panel on human dignity for lesbian and bisexual women and transgender persons. It was the first, ever, official government organised event at the CSW on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. The meeting space was packed with good attendance by representatives from LBT organisations throughout the world, including many Hivos partners. Carlien Scheele, co-chair of the session and head of the Dutch government delegation, was adamant in her opening speech about the role of civil society organisations in making the event possible and tabling LBT issues at the CSW. A deliberate choice was made to have a co-chair from civil society in the South: Geeta Misra, Executive Director of CREA (India). CREA is a women’s rights organisation with a track record of working on women’s sexual and reproductive rights with an inclusive perspective towards women who tend to be excluded by the mainstream of women’s organisations. This means inclusiveness towards lesbian and bisexual women, transgenders, sex workers, and disabled women. CREA has been an active member of the Indian civil society coalition that achieved the landmark of decriminalisation of homosexuality in India in 2009.
The representatives from the Dutch, Belgian and Portuguese governments shared their latest policy ambitions and challenges in support of promotion of the rights of LBT persons. Common for the three countries is their acknowledgement of inadequate attention for the specific issues of lesbian and bisexual women and transgenders in their overall sexual diversity policies. Gays remains dominant in the LGBT acronym and the policy responses. Representatives from LBT organisations from various parts of the world shared the need for specific attention for the rights and issues of lesbian and bisexual women and transgender persons within sexual diversity policies and programmes. The participants expressed appreciation for the Dutch initiative. They had however hoped for more time for dialogue and interaction.

Ireen Dubel

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Times for Women – A dream comes true

Monday, March 1, on the opening day of the 2010 CSW session, women activists are handing out the brand new Newspaper The New Times for Women to government delegates and NGO representatives as they enter the UN premises and conference rooms. Two smiling and jubilant African women on the front page of this special edition mark the dawn of a new era. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has announced the creation of the new UN women’s rights agency. After many years of persistent lobby and advocacy by women’s rights activists under the leadership of the Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign it is time for celebration at the CSW. Surprised responses. “Really!” “Has it come true?” “So the search for a UN Under Secretary-General to head the new women’s agency can start as of today?”
Attentive readers soon sober up. At the bottom of the page they read: “This is news we would like to read. Turn the page to see where we stand now.”
The special New Times for Women edition is launched by the European section of the GEAR campaign in order to call for accelerated action by governments and the UN Secretary General to realise the dream of the new UN women’s agency. This year’s CSW provides an excellent opportunity to announce its creation as it reviews fifteen years of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and its impact towards the full realisation of the Millennium Development Goals.
The press statement released by the European section of Gear speaks of a spoof newspaper promoting the GEAR campaign vision for the new super agency. Daniela Rosche from Oxfam Novib has been one of the driving forces behind the New Times for Women. Read the full paper.

Ireen Dubel
Programme Manager Hivos

Redelijk soepele registratie op zondag

Het veel ons alleszins mee. Het kostte ons vanochtend (zondag) maar tweeënhalf uur om het VN-toegangspasje te bemachtigen. Even na negenen sloten we ons aan bij de pakweg dertig vrouwen die al stonden te wachten. Het was niet koud, de zon scheen, de sneeuw aan de rand van de weg, slechts een enkele auto reed over de 1st Avenue.
Nathalie Lasslop (Cordaid) was ons al voor, queeing samen met Jessica Nkuuhe uit Oeganda, directeur van Hivos-partner Urgent Action Fund Africa. Nkuuhe zit in het side-event van Cordaid morgen/maandag “Meet Women Human Rights Defenders”. Even later viel mijn oog op een tasje waarop niet alleen CEDAW-Working Group Initiative stond (altijd interessant voor de co-rapporteur CEDAW-schaduwrapportage Nederland), maar ook Hivos. Dat bleken afgevaardigden van een Hivos-partner uit Indonesië, waarvan Ireen Dubel onlangs in Jakarta collega’s had ontmoet.
Toen het hek van het VN-gebouw open ging om 10 uur waren die dertig vrouwen voor ons verviervoudigd. Onder de queue-jumpers sprongen de Italianen, de Iraniërs en de Afrikanen in het oog. Die laatste hadden wel smeuige verhalen: de regeringsdelegatie uit Nigeria zou maar liefst uit 60 leden bestaan, terwijl voor iedereen onduidelijk wie nu eigenlijk acting president is. Veel plaatsvervangende schaamte onder de Afrikaanse jongeren (V/M) van de International Women’s Health Coalition.

We hoorden dat er nog maar 900 registraties hadden plaatsgevonden, terwijl die toch al op vrijdag begonnen was. Toen we Dewi Suralaga (Cordaid) bij het foto-gedeelte van de registratie troffen begrepen we een beetje waarom. Op vrijdag had een deel van het VN-personeel wegens sneeuwstorm hun werkplek niet kunnen bereiken. We hoorden verhalen over anderhalve voet sneeuw (45 cm).
Maar goed, dat betekent qua registratie nog een paar duizend te gaan. Dat zal de voorspelde chaos morgen niet verminderen. Luidden de berichten een paar dagen geleden nog dat alle officiële sessies van de CSW, inclusief de opening en andere ceremoniële bijeenkomsten, naar het noodgebouw waren verplaatst (met nauwelijks NGO-plaatsen), vandaag hoorden we weer dat de beweging terug was ingezet, in ieder geval voor de eerste dagen. Dat betekent dat we toch een poging gaan wagen de opening mee te maken op maandag.

Leontine Bijleveld
WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform en Netwerk VN-Vrouwenverdrag

Monday, February 22, 2010

Voorbereidingen voor CSW 54

Ama van Dantzig (links) en Leontine Bijleveld (rechts) zullen WO=MEN vertegenwoordigen tijdens de 54ste sessie van de CSW. Deze staat in het teken van Beijing + 15.

Ter voorbereiding verzorgen ze, samen met Daniela Rosche van Oxfam Novib,een workshop op het symposium van
23 februari 2010 in Utrecht.

Op de website van WO=MEN gaf Ama al een impressie van de voorbereidingen. Daar zijn ook de Dutch NGO Recommendations CSW te vinden. WO=MEN nam het initiatief hiervoor.