Thursday, December 20, 2012

De voorbereidingen op de CSW57 zijn begonnen!

Wat willen we de Nederlandse regeringsdelegatie meegeven als ze naar de Commission on the Status of Women in New York gaan?
Dat was de hoofdvraag tijdens de maatschappelijk middenveld consultatie op 6 december in Den Haag die WO=MEN samen met Aletta-Equality en de Nederlandse Vrouwen Raad (NVR) organiseerde. Elk jaar geven we de regeringsdelegatie die Nederland vertegenwoordigt in de Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) bij de Verenigde Naties aanbevelingen mee. Dit jaar gaat het hoofdthema over geweld tegen vrouwen. Wat vindt het netwerk van WO=MEN goede methoden om geweld tegen vrouwen te voorkomen? En waar moet Nederland voor strijden bij de VN? Nederland wordt internationaal gewaardeerd en is een speler die gevoelige onderwerpen durft aan te snijden, zoals seksuele en reproductieve gezondheid en rechten (SRGR). De 40 organisaties/individuen die aanwezig waren bij de maatschappelijk middenveld consultatie hebben flink wat input gegeven die worden verwerkt in twaalf aanbevelingen voor de Nederlandse delegatie.

Daarnaast maakten we kennis met de nieuwe VN Vrouwenvertegenwoordiger 2013: Josette Dijkhuizen. Zij heeft een eigen bedrijf waar ze vrouwelijke ondernemers ondersteunt om als mens en onderneming te groeien. Volgens Josette heeft vrouwelijk ondernemerschap meerdere voordelen. Het zorgt er voor dat vrouwen empowered worden en daardoor weerbaarder zijn voor bijvoorbeeld geweld. Maar ze zegt ook dat vrouwen anders ondernemen dan mannen. Vrouwen investeren namelijk meer terug in het gezin en de maatschappij dan mannen. Als onze VN Vrouwenvertegenwoordiger wil ze zich dan ook in 2013 inzetten om het vrouwelijk ondernemerschap onder de aandacht te brengen.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

No agreed conclusions of CSW 56 at all!

Even though the negotiations had been extended beyond the date that was scheduled to have concluded the session in the end no agreed conclusions have been adopted at the 19th meeting of the fifty-sixth session of the CSW (March 15 2012). To my knowledge it is the first time in history that the CSW did not adopt agreed conclusions to (formally) submit to the Ecosoc Council.

Embarrassment all around the diplomatic community in New York! Diplomats rightfully fear to be seen as incapable of flexibility and compromise. In words of Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Women: ‘a disappointing inability to reach consensus.

There are some rumours that after another nightly session the informal negotiations in the end stuck especially around the wording of issues of sexuality and reproduction. But other subjects too were far from resolved. The statement on behalf of the African Group (AG) hints for instance at disagreements about the term gender: in the African understanding the Beijing Declaration outlined gender as ‘male’ and ‘female’, according to the press release of the UN Economic and Social Council.

By emphasizing the African understanding of ‘sex education’ (should be age-appropriate and under the guidance of adults) the Zimbabwean spokesperson of the AG seems also to point at disagreements on the sexual and reproductive rights issues. The ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ as promoted by the EU seems miles away from Africa. Zimbabwe is one of the hardliners in issues of gender identity and sexuality. Is it a coincidence that the informal negotiations about the agreed conclusions started with the representative of Swaziland speaking in behalf of the AG and in the end the representative of Zimbabwe?

Since the informals were closed for NGO observers almost from the start it is difficult to reconstruct the process and analyse the discourses. It seems too easy to put the blame to the unlikely alliance of Iran and the Holy See or to assume that mainly the African Group and CARICOM are heading backwards from the Beijng Platform for Action.

A link to the EU-statement can be found at the website of E-quality.

Some countries might take the lead on development of a resolution for the General Assembly of the UN in September to provide a specific reference point on the empowerment of rural women and other related subjects like decent work and social protection.

Leontine Bijleveld

Friday, March 9, 2012

Informals gestaakt tot aanstaande dinsdag

Vanuit de zaal waar de onderhandelingen plaatsvinden hebben we het laatste nieuws over de onderhandelingen gehoord:

Vanavond om 6 uur hield de voorzitter van de CSW een pleidooi aan alle aanwezigen om zich te richten op de groep om wie het deze CSW ging: rural women.
Hij riep op de eigen strijdpunten in dat perspectief te zien en om tot een eindresultaat te komen.

De informals vervolgden tot 8 uur, op welk tijdstip de balans werd opgemaakt.
Er waren slechts 7 paragrafen extra overeengekomen, en nog tientallen para's pending. De voorzitter legde voor hoe/of nog verder te gaan.

De EU gaf aan te willen doorgaan, evenals Zwitserland.
De African Group (die al had aangegeven enkele para's mee terug te willen nemen naar de groep) en Rusland wilden stoppen, vervolgens bleek uit de zaal dat de wil om verder te gaan ontbrak.
De voorzitter gaf aan dat men dinsdag of woensdag de informals zal voortzetten.

Joni van de Sand, WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform

5th Women’s World Conference in 2015?!

A proposal to held a 5th Women’s World Conference in 2015 will be put forward to the General Assembly of the UN on behalf of Secretary Seneral mr. Ban Ki-moon and on behalf of President of the General Assembly, mr Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. Early this morning at the last NGO Briefing Ms. Ana Marie Hernando (Philippines), Vice-Chair of the Bureau of CSW 56, confirmed that the chef of the Secretary General’s Cabinet yesterday indeed made an intervention under Agenda item 5 of the CSW. Both gentlemen will embark on a process of consultation as the member states note only have to agree in the General Assembly), but also have to provide the funding to organise the conference. The official statement is to be found on the UN-Website. Possiby this link does not work - inthat case one should try to search at the UN-website: latest statements of the gs, date March 8 (

The 5th Women’s World Conference is to take place in the year 2015: the target date of the Millennium Development Goals and the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

San Francisco?

No reference was being made by the Bureau nor by UN Women to the place that ought to host the World Conference. The city of San Francisco organised in collaboration with San Francisco based NGOs several site events during CSW 56 to promote their beloved city as THE place for the next Women’s World Conference. One of the strongest arguments the organisers put forward was that San Francisco not only had implemented the Beijing Platform for Action, but also CEDAW – the US is one of the few countries that did not ratify CEDAW.

We raised a few questions during these side events, amongst others to find out whether the ‘SF-committee’ did consult any international and regional women’s organisations and networks and/or the Coalition of Labour Union Women (CLUW) – the answer being NO.

Consultation with civil society organisations?

Given the timing of the announcement at the CSW the General Secretary apparently did not want to encourage the process of civil society consultations straightaway. It seems, however, imperative that women’s rights organisations discuss the pro’s, con's and preconditions, not only national and regional, but also at an international level. Hopefully the upcoming AWID Forum in Istanbul in April can provide the space for such conversations. The Forum could be used as a platform to start an inclusive collaboration of women’s organisations at regional and international level to coordinate lobby and advocacy efforts with regard to gender equality and women’s empowerment at the level of the UN.

In the discourse the suggestion of the Huairou Commission could be taken into account: do not make it a UN World Confenrence, but a UN Forum (comparable with the Habitat Forum).

In the Netherlands the NGO’s will request a dialogue on the subject with the government, to be finalised before the international consultations in the UN will start.

Leontine Bijleveld

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The impact of the global economic crisis on women’s organisations

On March 6, the Malaysia based International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW AP) organised an event on the global economic crisis and how to sustain and invigorate the women’s human rights agenda.

Due to the current economic and financial crisis there has been a significant shift and shrinking of financial support for women’s human rights organisations. During the event organisations and donors - amongst others OSI and Hivos - discussed main issues that have had an impact on the women’s movement.
Women’s organisations shared their experiences and strategies on how to advance the women’s human rights agenda, the challenges that they face in doing so and the innovative measures they used in addressing the funding crush.

One of the presenters was Leontine Bijleveld, of WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform, she shared the experience of a coalition of Dutch organisations in keeping women’s rights on the Dutch international agenda.

The Netherlands government commits to women’s rights as a priority within its foreign policy. It has a dual track strategy as established in the Beijing Platform for Action: investing in women’s rights (stand alone track) and mainstreaming gender into all other programmes and policies. At the end of the nineties the stand alone track disappeared from the political agenda. The Dutch government focussed on gender mainstreaming, which was in fact gender “away streaming”. The second track, investing in women’s rights, was pushed to the background.
An evaluation of Dutch policies and programmes indicated that focussing on gender mainstreaming, led to away streaming and that the dual strategy was essential in the fight for equal rights for women and men. Due to the evaluation and an intensive cooperation with the coalition of Dutch women’s organisations, the Dutch government reaffirmed in 2007 its commitment to the dual track strategy and created a fund amounting to 70 million Euro to promote women’s rights and gender equality via women’s rights organisations, the MDG3 Fund.

Leontine Bijleveld emphasized that “due to the strong lobby and cooperation with parliament by civil society organisations, women’s rights are kept on the Dutch political agenda, even under the new conservative government.” The MDG3 Fund is continued in a new fund: FLOW Funding for Leadership Opportunities for Women – 42 million Euro. Though this commitment from the Dutch government is positively welcomed, there is also critique, due to the complicated procedures the fund is mostly inaccessibility for grassroots and smaller organisations.
The important lessons which can be learned from the experience of the Dutch women’s coalition, especially in times of crises are:

1. A strong collaboration of women’s organisations is essential to keep women’s rights on the international cooperation agenda, especially in keeping governments committed to support women’s rights.
2. The dual track strategy as developed at the Beijing Platform for Action is essential in guaranteeing gender equality and women’s rights.

The presentations during the event focussed on the importance of coalition building by the women’s movement and funding for women’s organisations, with a specific focus on the importance of core funding for over a longer period. The event brought together donors and organisations from all over the world, IWRAW AP will present the main outcomes of the event to donors in order to keep gender equality on the international agenda.

Jessie HexspoorProgramme officer West Asia Hivos

March 8 Global Women for Equality, Development & Peace

NGOCSW/NY Forum offered CSW-delegates and NGO-participants the opportunity to march on international women's day.
Jessie Hexspoor (Hivos) made an impression of her first global women's march.

5th World Conference on Women?!

Breaking news bij de CSW: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gaat voorstellen om een 5e WereldVrouwenConferentie te organiseren in 2015! Hij zal dit formeel in stemming brengen bij de 66e sessie van de UN General Assembly die in oktober dit jaar zal plaatsvinden. Dat is aangekondigd door het CSW bureau bij de laatste algemene publieke sessie.

Komt er een vrouwenconferentie in navolging van de vierde conferentie in Beijing (1995)? En zo ja, wat zou dit betekenen voor gender gelijkheid en empowerment van vrouwen in de wereld? Sinds het Beijing Platform voor Actie is de wereld veranderd. In een aantal opzichten zijn vrouwen erop vooruitgegaan. Aan de andere kant lijken de verhoudingen tussen progressieve en reactieve krachten steeds meer op scherp te staan. Een nieuwe conferentie kan leiden tot een nieuwe declaratie. Daarmee zal Beijing verouderd zijn.

Als er een 5WCW komt, zullen pro-gender, pro-vrouwenrechten, pro-empowerment, pro-sexual orientation and gender identity activisten alles op alles moeten zetten om ervoor te zorgen dat het outcome document en vervolg plan voor actie, nóg beter zullen zijn dan de uitkomsten van Beijing!

What have we got to win? What have we got to loose?
Discussieer mee! Twitter: #5WCW

Joni van de Sand, WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform

Arrestation d’Iraniennes pour militantisme au sein de la CCF

Voici une déclaration sur le droit des femmes iraniennes de participer à la CCF qui a été lue par une consœur, au nom des militantes iraniennes, au cours de la séance d’information matinale des ONG. Des copies de cette déclaration ont été distribuées pendant les célébrations de l’ONU marquant la Journée internationale de la femme.

La délégation syndicale à la CCF

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The right to participate in the CSW, the Case of Iran

A group of international women's and human rights activists, organizations and networks, including AI, AIDOA and AWID to name a few, joined forces with a group of Women's rights activists from Iran and applied for an oral statement during the General Discussion at CSW 54.
The application was turned down. UN Women was requested to explain why: CSW's Bureau decided to refuse allotting speaking time to the alliance because Iran, one of the 45 members of the CSW this year insisted to do. We all thought that freedom of expression was one of the fundamental right, guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but apparently this does not apply to UN premises!

In the end the CSW-NGO liason team right allowed one of the sisters to read the statement just after the closing the daily NGO briefing this morning. You can read it through this link.

Also watch the video, ABSENT VOICES, in youtube.

Leontine Bijleveld

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Financing for Gender Equality & Financing for Women's Empowerment 4

Patti O’Neill, Deputy Head Policy Coordination Development Co-operation Directorate OECD, presented a paper at the Interactive Panel on the Review theme.: Follow the Money – Tracking Financing for Gender Equality. Download of the paper is possible via CSW 54.

In the first part of her paper O’Neill explained the development of the OECD DAC gender equality policy marker. Once countries become members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), they are required to submit statistical data on their aid activities along common reporting rules and standards. Data on aid activities targeting gender equality have been collected since 1991. The biggest breakthroughs have come over the last five years, leading to increases in aid focused on gender equality. Today all 24 DAC members are using the marker and 75% of the sector-allocable aid is screened. The Committee is able to use the data in peer reviews to identify gaps between political commitments and statements and individual donor financing of particular sectors or countries. As a consequence donors feel the need to step up their efforts. The gender equality marker has, in other words, political power.

O’Neill quoted from the latest report, fresh from the printshop (February 2012): Aid in Support of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

In the second part of her paper O’Neill elaborated on the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. In November 2011 the Korean government hosted the Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. According to O’Neill the Forum was a turning point for development: the most inclusive meeting ever held on development effectiveness. As a result of five years of close collaboration by the DAC Network on Gender Equality with UN Women (previously Unifem) and with women’s organizations. In the outcome agreement governments made strong commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment. O’Neill cited paragraph 20 of the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. At the same time a number of complimentary international agreements were launched, including the Busan Joint Action Plan on Gender Equality and Development. This action plan has been designed to help to implement the Busan commitments at country level, which is imperative to make the gender commitments a reality. UN Women has a key role to play in each of the key areas that are needed to achieve impact and results:
- the countries’ capacity to collect, analyse and disseminate data disaggregated by sex
- more systematically addressing gender equality throughout the public financial management cycle.

Patti O’Neill was optimistic about the expected outcome of the Busan Partnership and the joint Action Plan on Gender Equality. This optimism is not shared by several women’s organizations. “Commitments (to gender equality) should be driven by a real commitment to the enjoyment of women’s rights and to strengthen their autonomies, not a desire to generate economic benefits.” according to Kate Lappin, APWLD Regional Coordinator. The Asian Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) is a regional network of feminist organizations and women, that has been active for nearly 25 years. The 180 members represent groups of diverse women from 25 countries in the region. APWLD was one of the initiators of the Busan Global Women’s Forum Political Statement.

Kate Lappin was one of the panelists at IWRAW-AP’s side event Development and Women’s Rights: the Way Forward on March 5th. In her presentation Lappin identified as one of the problems the increasing “Pink washing” as she framed the instrumental approach to gender equality, that easily dilutes the rights based approach.

Personally I think it can be sometimes useful to emphasis the ‘smart economics’ to invest in women, as long as the human rights perspective is not lost. I would suggest, however, readers of the blogspot to follow up on the links in this blog that are worthwhile reading anyway.

Leontine Bijleveld

Monday, March 5, 2012

Challenges and prospects for gender equality in the context of the Arab uprisings, part II

On Friday 2 March, the organisation Karama organised a conference on the role of Arab women’s rights activists in the Arab Spring.

Greater representation of women in decision making processes in countries in the MENA region, increased participation and representation of female - civil society - leaders from the Arab region in the international analysis and public dialogue on the Arab Spring and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 were the main topics on the agenda during the conference.

Approximately fifteen NGO leaders and women’s rights activists from Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, Somalia, and Sudan presented three main panels:

1. Are the Arab women shaping the future after the Arab Spring

2. Striving for new constitutional rights in the context of Islamist electoral victories

3. Women, peace and security: demanding accountability for implementing resolutions 1325 and 1820 in the Arab region

Are the Arab women shaping the future after the Arab Spring

Transitional governments have marginalized women from political power. Few women were named to the constitutional committees and interim Cabinets of Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Libya. Only eight women were elected to Egypt’s 500-member parliament for the next five years. During the session at the CSW the lack of representation of women after the Arab Spring in decision making processes was addressed. The event intended to convey the recommendations of Arab women’s rights leaders to – international – policymakers in order to address the lack of their representation in official decision making processes.

Women, peace and security: demanding accountability for implementing resolutions 1325 and 1820 in the Arab region

In the struggle to reverse women’s lack of representation, the UN Security Council’s mandatory Resolution 1325 and subsequent Resolutions 1820, 1888, 1889, and 1960 are an invaluable piece of international law calling for increased roles and representation of women in formal peace processes, conflict resolution, and transitional governments, and prosecution of sexual violence as a weapon in wartime. The group of women used the CSW event to invoke Resolution 1325 and call for increased roles and representation of women in the Arab region’s politics and transition processes.

Besides the event the group of female activists from the MENA region had lobby and advocacy meetings with UN agency leaders, official delegations of Member States and representatives of the – international – women’s movement, trade unions etc.

After the event a number of recommendations were presented: Here you find the complete list of recommendations.

Hivos supported the conference of Karama to provide a platform for women from the Middle East to be represented during the CSW.

For more information please contact Jessie Hexspoor, Programme Officer West Asia Hivos at

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Challenges and prospects for gender equality in the context of the Arab uprisings.

El-Karama organized a one-day conference on March 2nd at the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel. The conference was composed of experts and activists from within the Arab region, including women from Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunis, as well as global partners, amongst which from HIVOS and WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform.

The conference led to a concrete set of recommendations for the future:

Panel 1: Are Arab women shaping the future after the Arab Spring?

- Success for women will come from how well we are organized, ad what social and other resources women have. We must use our numbers to organize, to speak loudly, to counter what’s happening against women’s rights, to reach the political candidates, and to use the media.

- poverty and politics are the crux for women’s empowerment. We must work at the level of the village and in rural areas to end poverty and illiteracy, so that not just the Muslim Brotherhood is recognized for this.

- We have to play the game differently: we must build bridges around different players, bring youth, progressive men, bring all who are for human rights, equality, justice, ad freedom, and build a good connection to the religious men as well. We have to know what is the language the Islamist’s are using to get in power, and we must make new languages.

- We should examine and emulate each other’s achievements lobbying for equality in the new constitutions, such as article 19 in Morocco, and the electoral law in Libya.

Panel 2: striving for new constitutional rights in the context of Islamist electoral victories

- We must realize that Islamic trend movements are not uniform when it comes to their conceptions and discourse of women’s rights. There is a split between generations within the Muslim Brotherhood (older more paternalistic, younger more used to seeing women in decision-making roles)

- Women should not be holding ourselves to the standard of repressive countries, but rather to the most progressive countries on women’s rights issues

- Before blaming local political parties for excluding us, we should look at ourselves and rise to a higher standard.

- Gender must be included in the (new) constitutions

Panel 3: Women, peace and security: demanding accountability for implementing Resolutions 1325 and 1820 in the Arab region.

- 1325 is an extremely useful took for lobbying at international levels, and national action plans for 1325 must be written with the participation of all stakeholders

- 1325 and its children have suggested a new conception of ‘peace’ not as an absence of conflict, but as something that must be constantly negotiated and upheld even during periods of stability.

- 1325/1820 are not well disseminated at the national level, and more awareness-raising is necessary

- It is important to start working with men on peace and security issues

Friday, March 2, 2012

Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women 3

The interactive dialogue about the review theme was expected to lead to strong recommendations for accelerating progress in implementation of the Agreed Conclusions 52, taking into account not only the challenges but also the opportunities stemming from the current global context. The multiple crises facing the world however threatens real progress. As the secretariat had stated in the issues paper: “To achieve equitable and sustainable development results, a stronger response tot the issue of financing for gender equality is needed."

Generally spoken the interactive dialogue was not very exciting or revealing. A moderator’s summary will highlight the key findings and recommendations of the event. We present some of the more interesting views below.

Lydia Alpizar (AWID) observed some trends in funding women’s rights: “What we see is kind of a paradox. On the one hand, in the last 3-5 years, there has been an increase by mainstream actors in interest in women and girls as agents of change. You can see the examples at the WorldBank, NIKE Foundation, and GoldmanSachs. Clearly women have the increased attention of various sectors of society. On the other hand, Official Development Aid (ODA) funding is influenced by the multiple crises. As a result, governments invest less means in development work. Especially amongst the more conservative governments in the North, there is less interest to support international solidarity through ODA. As a result, funding for women’s rights has decreased. Also, some of the processes to access grants are highly technical and complicated. This makes them difficult to access for smaller organizations. “

Jeni Klugman (WorldBank): “What is new in the WorldBank when it comes to gender issues, is the recognition of the rights agenda. It is not not just about economic development. Improving gender equality is also related to voice and agency. And about the recognition that economic growth will not be enough. We therefore call for public policies and programmes.”

Barbara Byers (ITUC/Global Unions) asked the panelists views about the funding for decent work for women programmes, and about support for the ILO Gender Audit programmes.

Lydia Alpizar was the only panelist taking up these economic and social rights issues: We should not limit our understanding of women’s economic empowerment to encourage women to take up entrepreneurship. We need decent work and labour rights. The empowerment agenda must also be about decent ways for women to get livelihoods. Women will not only get out of poverty with entrepreneurship, the agenda is broader.

Leontine Bijleveld (Dutch NGO’s) posed a question about trends in funcding for Lesbian Bisexual & Transgender organizations. Lydia Alpizar: “Clearly LBT-organizations are amongst the groups most marginalized because of the level poverty, or being ethnic minority groups, dealing with sexual orientation and gender identity issues, etc. AWID’s research shows that they are the groups with lowest budgets, and they can often not secure funding through the year. Also their level of access to funds is restricted. They report having to close down organizations. And they are under a high level of violence. It becomes a matter of human survival to get funded. It is very important that resource allocation includes resources for specific organizations of highly marginalized and suppressed groups.”

Joni van de Sand WO=MEN

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women 2

Thank you Chair for the invitation to make an intervention in this rich debate on behalf of Hivos, a Dutch development agency. I am speaking also on behalf of the other Dutch NGO’s with ECOSOC accreditation attending this 56th CSW, which in their turn represent many other women’s rights organizations at home.

To start I would like to recall our excitement in 2008 that the M word, Money, was on the CSW agenda. Gender equality requires money and investments and so Money Matters indeed.

The Agreed Conclusions of CSW 52, finalised behind closed doors in the night after the closing ceremony, did not meet our expectations at all.

Women’s rights organizations in the Netherlands and Europe, having been present at the CSW 52, issued a statement, expressing their deep concerns that there were no meaningful commitments in the Agreed Conclusions related to financing for gender equality. No concrete targets and timetables and no strong mechanisms for effective tracking and monitoring of financial resources spent on gender equality.

Instead of scaling up resources to support the work of crucial gender equality stakeholders, the Agreed Conclusions of CSW 52 had been distracted by the renegotiations around the language of earlier agreed commitments. And in some aspects even weakening those earlier agreed commitments, amongst others by the addition of "bearing in mind national priorities" with respect to the recommended following actions.

Now that we are reviewing the Agreed Conclusions we can see that this escape route of the national priorities is widely used. In the crisis of the last years more and more governments are tiptoeing away from their commitments.

We are noting moreover the consequences of the fact that the Agreed Conclusions failed to address the need for adequate resources and a diversity of funding mechanisms to support the indispensable role of women’s organizations as the driving force of the agenda of gender equality and empowerment of women at all levels. More and more women’s rights organizations face severe budget cuts, forcing them to scale down or even to close down.

In that respect I would like to ask Ms Alpizar whether she could elaborate a bit about the financial resources of the LBT-rights based organizations. In the Netherlands we notice a shift with regard to government’s subsidies from women’s rights organizations to (single issue) LGBT-organizations.

Ms Patti ONeill I would like to ask whether she could provide us with an informed guess about the trend in funding since 2010, especially with respect of the support for the women’s rights organisations.

Ms Jeni Klugman rightfully concluded her written paper with the observation that addressing deep seated structural inequalities take time. She pleaded to counsel patience both within organisations as to the broader audience. We would say: yes changes do not happen overnight, and since we did not start yesterday and since we have lost precious time and money, do you agree that we need to counsel the sense of urgency alongside the patience for the tangible results and deep seated changes?

Thank you very much.

Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women 1

In the organization of Work of CSW 54 Thursday 1 March was dedicated to the Review theme Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women. In two panels experts presented their views, often in the form of a shorter oral paper presentation and a more extensive written version, available on PDF on the CSW 54 website, as is the Issues paper prepared by the secretariat (your have to scroll down untill you see the aanouncements of the panels). The morning focussed on the national experiences and the afternoon was dedicated to the perspecive of international organisations an multilateral development partners.

For the Dutch organizations, especially Hivos and WO=MEN, the review theme did have a special meaning as they had been very intensely engaged in the lobby for strong Agreed Conclusions on the subject of Financing for gender equality and women’s empowerment. By the way: it is recommendable to read the blogs the HIVOS/WO=MEN/IIAV team wrote back in 2008, the year when we started the WomeninNewYork.blogspot.

This keen interest was the reason Hivos applied also on behalf of the other Dutch organizations, for an oral intervention in the afternoon session. As a starting point we used the joint Dutch NGO recommendations from 2008 and the statement the NGO’s issues after having analysed the Agreed Conclusions CSW 52. However, given the fact that the panel was supposed to be interactive, we included questions to the panelists. What we present to you in our next blog is the result of preparation beforehand and adaptation during the session. We included the phrases we had to skip in view of the very limited time.

Leontine Bijleveld
writer and speaker of the intervention

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Patriarchy is a multi-headed shape-shifting beast

Gender equality is about the relationships between women and men. Take a second to really absorb this apparently simple statement. Though the overall majority of the people walking around the CSW56 premises are women (with the exception of government delegates where the balance is about 50/50), we – as the network called “Women Equals Men” - are happy to share that men’s organizations working on gender equality are present here as well.

Male gender champions Gary Barker from Instituto Promundo (Brazil), and Tim Shand and Aviwe Mtibe from the Sonke Gender Justice Network (South Africa) shared stories of change when working with men at the grassroots. Representatives from UNFPA and UNICEF also reaffirmed that without men, there can be no gender justice. These organizations therefore havetargeted programmes with men, as well as mainstreamed work with men in projects related to a.o. violence against women and family planning.

Gary Barker explained about the recently lounged MenCare campaign, a cooperation between Promundo, Sonke and MenEngage. It takes men’s care giving roles as departure point for gender equality, for the benefit of all. In father’s groups men share their experiences as fathers, sons and men. It helps them to see alternatives, to change thoughts on what these roles are like.

What are challenges?
: “This is the power to transform the community. Men who step outside the box, get better lives as well. The women’s rights revolution affects men, they are part of it: some experience it screaming and kicking, but others are really getting it. We use the carrot and the stick when we tell men: ‘Your lives get better when you are in contact with your child(ren).’ We have done extensive studies on men’s experiences. These show that when men have deeper relationships with the people around, this can lead to better mental health, less depression, less violence. And relationships with women get better. For example, when men do more work around the house, both women and men report better relationships and better sex-lives. We have not been talking much to men about fatherhood. But from our survey we know 4 in 5 men around the world will be fathers in their life.”

Gary: “If its just a handful of men, it will not lead to the structural change that we want to see. Besides change in men, we need to have sectors attuned. For example the health-sector; work-regulations and time-off for men; poverty alleviation and empowerment: when we see women’s work-time going up, where is the care-work time of men? We do not want to counterbalance maternity leave with paternity leave. What we want is family leave. We work on how to put dialogues up. We always want to do this together with women.”

Joni van de Sand on behalf of WO=MEN contributed to the discussion. At CSW we tend to talk about practical issues such as women’s empowerment, access to health and financial services, political participation, etc. These are all essential. We however also have to address the underlying causes of gender inequalities, such as traditional values, cultural barriers, gender stereotypes, etc. Yes, it is indeed patriarchy stupid! If we do not address the question of why gender norms favor the masculine over the feminine all around the world, we are not going to achieve structural change.

The panel replied in agreed, indeed we often fail to address the rights issue. This also includes sexual rights and reproductive rights, added UNFPA. In the words of Lulu Xingwana, Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, South Africa (in public) “Patriarchy is a multi-headed shape-shifting beast.” Nurper Ulkuer from UNICEF: “If we just push women in the same structures that are in place now, we will replace the patriarch with the matriarch. But it is about social justice. We have to change social norms, by working with young boys and girls to change how they are socialized.”

Last but not least, GBC Health from the private sector explained why they are involved in the MenCare campaign. The rhetoric gives them access to male workers. To change the new generation of men. And to bring male engagement angle in on maternal health, childhood care, etc. They thanked organizations like Promundo and Sonke to pave the way and provide the materials to work on these issues.

On March 7, at the eve of International Women’s Day, Gary Barker will speak at de Globaliseringsezing in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform co-organizes this event.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Regional caucus Africa: meeting of regional civil society at the CSW

This afternoon was the moment for several regional caucuses. That means: civil society organizations from a specific region meet up and exchange thoughts. Unlike the negotiations between the government delegations, these meetings are open to anyone who wishes to join. We were very interested to hear how women from around the African continent strategize during the CSW. As you may recall, during last year’s session the representative of the African Group did not flourish in pro-gender statements…

An African Women Statement was presented on behalf of regional African women’s organizations. The organizations recall CEDAW and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (‘Maputo Protocol’ 2003). They underscore acceleration of the implementation of commitments made to women’s human rights. Hinders to women’s freedom of choice and mobility in the socio-economic context are mentioned. Even the persistence of patriarchal norms and rural women’s violation of their human rights, are included.

Regional organization FEMNET voiced worries about the nature of the negotiations between delegations. “In the past two years we have noticed that the conversation leans towards the conservative. For example on issues surrounding gender equality. Last year even the notion of gender equality itself was up for discussion by some governments. As African women it is important we are involved in the negotiations on the Agreed Conclusions outcome document. We must lobby for the points that we want to put and keep in.”

The African caucus fiercely moved forward, by selecting in democratic fashion a volunteers-panel to review the oral statement by the African Group (Tunisia); a lobby-group with government and non-government delegation members; and a panel to draft the amendments to the Agreed Conclusions. Furthermore, one of the feminist activists in the panel called on her colleagues to add reproductive health services, including family planning, to the Agreed Conclusions.

So, let no-one state that progressive statements can not be African (as happened last year). The African caucus represents African women (and some men), living life in Africa or as African diaspora, voicing the perspectives of African people. We look forward to align with African and other regional organizations to get the best out of the CSW56 outcome documents for gender equality and women’s rights.

Van Bijsterveldt riep CSW op 'to move forward'

Voor het eerst sinds 7 jaar maakt de minister van emancipatie deel uit van de regeringsdelegatie naar de CSW. Minister van Bijsterveldt heeft vol overtuiging daarvoor gekozen, zo vertelde ze de NGO-vertegenwoordigers vanmiddag tijdens de lunch op de PV, waarvoor ze hen had uitgenodigd. Hoewel in de Nederlandse context de politieke discussie over emancipatie tegenwoordig vaak ten onrechte verengd wordt tot emancipatie van homo’s, lesbo’s, biseksuele en transgender personen (LHBT), gaat het Nederlandse emancipatiebeleid ook en nog steeds over verbetering van de positie van vrouwen. De titel van het persbericht - Minister maakt zich bij VN sterk voor vrouwenrechten - moet dan ook zeker niet worden opgevat als wel bij de VN, maar niet in Nederland, merkt uw columnist op.

De toespraak van de minister vond op dinsdagmiddag plaats, toen het al avond was in Nederland, zodat we niet meteen een link naar de tekst konden plaatsen - inmiddels, het is nu hier een uur of zeven, vonden we de link op (bij PV New York is nog niets te vinden).
Van Bijsterveld riep op niet alleen onverkort vast te houden aan de afspraken en het committent dat in 1995 met de Beijing verklaring en actieplatform is aangegaan. Met meer energie, middelen en vasthoudendheid moet gender gelijkheid en women’s empowerment gerealiseerd worden. Ze hield de VN-lidstaten voor dat het ook tijd is stappen vooruit te zetten: gender equality impliceert ook gelijke rechten ongeacht gender identity en daarmee een einde aan discriminatie van homo’s, lesbo’s en transgenders.

In de Nederlandse benadering betreft gelijkwaardigheid tussen vrouwen en mannen, ongeacht hun seksuele oriëntatie of gender identiteit, in essentie mensenrechten. Vandaar de strategie om via gendergelijkheid ook LHBT-rechten te agenderen, een strategie waarop Nederlandse NGO's al enige jaren aandrongen.

De toespraak van de minister werd met een gepast applausje ontvangen. Omdat ik via de computer luisterde (geen toegangskaart tot de tijdelijke VN-gebouwen) kon ik niet zien of dat applaus uit de regeringsbankjes kwam of van de kant van de toehorende NGO’s. Een van de adjudanten had de NGO’s opgeroepen niet alleen aanwezig te zijn, maar ook instemming kenbaar te maken. Dat we als Nederlanders meestal kritisch zijn op NGO’s die als applausmachine voor hun regering optreden had hij zich vast niet gerealiseerd.

Hoe dan ook: naast minister van Bijsterveldt lieten verschillende ministers uit andere EU-landen een strijdbaar geluid horen: het gaat om het bereiken van gender gelijkheid en afstand nemen van de ambitie én de formuleringen uit Beijing is niet aan de orde. Daar kunnen we tenminste mee uit de voeten.

Ik denk dat we wel langer dan 7 jaar terug moeten zoeken naar een toespraak van de Nederlandse delegatie met zo’n (VN) politiek activistisch gehalte. Houden zo, en zeker niet weer zo lang wachten!

Leontine Bijleveld

Monday, February 27, 2012

Trend watching @ Opening Ceremony

This morning the opening ceremony of the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place in the General Assembly of the United Nations. Several organization- and country-representatives delivered speeches, which provide us with some useful insights in the overall trends and specific agenda’s during the session to come.

All spokespersons confirmed the importance of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA). This agenda captures the centrality of gender and gender equality. It is not entirely surprising that progressive, moderate and conservative states alike underline the BPfA. After all “one of the key roles of the CSW is to monitor progress and address remaining gaps in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.” (Ms. Marjon V. Kamara from Liberia, chair of CSW56). Ms. Kamara further stated that “For good reasons, the annual sessions of the CSW are a ‘must-attend’ on the calendars of the global gender equality community. It is the time when we gather to take stock, rejoice progress made, rally around key issues and commit to move forward to bring real change to the lives of women and girls around the globe.” See her full statement here.

Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, emphasized the importance of linkages for gender equality, empowerment of women and girls, and protection of all their human rights throughout the UN system. She made a strong case for SRHR when she followed this statement up by saying: “The right to sexual and reproductive health is fundamental to women’s empowerment and gender equality.”

Ms. Silvia Pimentel, Chair of CEDAW, also made the case for linking gender equality, women’s rights and human rights, by referring to interaction with the human rights machinery.

Ms. Tutwiler, Deputy Director-General for Knowledge at FAO, made extensive use of statistics from the very recent report State of Food and Agriculture. Women and agriculture: closing the gender gap for development (FAO 2011). If women would have equal access to production resources, agricultural production could increase from 20-30% and BNP from 2,5-4%. See the full report here. She also announced FAO’s new gender policy to be released next week!

Several countries made statements on behalf of regional groups:

Algeria on behalf of Group 77 and China emphasized the importance of women’s economic empowerment, and therefore the full implementation of the BPfA, and especially in light of impact on the MDGs.

Denmark chairs the EU delegation, and found some inventive ways to frame progressive language. See the full statement here: “The EU will pay special attention to gender equality and the rights of women and men to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexual and reproductive health. To this end, we will work actively to ensure that health systems provide information and health services addressing the sexual and reproductive needs of women and family planning, as this is crucial for women’s rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment and subsequently benefits society as a whole.”

“Measures such as comprehensive sexuality education, outlawing early and forced marriage and preventing teenage pregnancies or combating harmful traditional practices reduce maternal mortality and have huge development dividends in terms of family health, educational levels, people's ability to lift themselves out of poverty, and positive effects on economic growth at family, community and national levels.”

Also interesting was the statement by Samoa on behalf of Pacific Islands Forum Group, who was progressive enough to mention stopping violence against extra-vulnerable women, such as women with disabilities, women affected by HIV, and lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

France was fierce and stated something along the lines of: It does not make much difference to women anno 2012, whether they came to the world during a good or a bad political cycle of the defense of their rights: these rights are universal and timeless. They must be always be adhered to. This is why France will not resign that agreed language is contested, and that women become dependent again on diplomatic maneuvers.

The opening statements from the various CSW56 member states will continue tomorrow afternoon. Dutch Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt will then address the CSW with a much awaited statement including the relevance of gender equality itself.

Joni van de Sand / WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform

Rustige CSW?

Rustige CSW?

Het was uitermate prettig om maar een stuk of vijf vrouwen vóór ons te hebben in de rij bij de registratie op zondag. Terwijl we toch pas na half tien aansloten. Al waren het er wel iets meer geworden voor we uiteindelijk aan de beurt waren, ruimschoots voor elven liepen we alweer door een zonnig, maar erg fris Manhattan – erg fijn voor mijn griephoofd.
Nu we de eerste CSW-dag achter de rug hebben beginnen meer eerste impressies in te dalen. Het lijkt er op dat het, in ieder geval qua NGO-aanwezigheid, erg rustig is. Veel rustiger dan in 2010 en 2008 – mijn voorgaande CSW-gangen.
Of het ook qua inhoud rustig zal zijn valt te bezien. Er schijnt al weer informeel verder onderhandeld te zijn over de door het Bureau van de CSW opgestelde draft Agreed Conclusions (zie voor de Bureauversie de link een blog of wat geleden).

Hopelijk horen we daar meer over op de lunch bij de Permanente Vertegenwoordiging waarvoor we morgen door minister van Bijsterveldt zijn uitgenodigd. Of anders woensdag bij de eerste (ook laatste?) EU-briefing voor NGO’s.

Rustig was in ieder geval het eerste LBTI-event vanmiddag in de kapel (!) van het UN Church Centre, georganiseerd door de Zweedse Federatie voor Lesbische, Homoseksuele, Biseksuele en Transgender Rights in samenwerking met ILGA. De grote ruimte was afgeladen vol, maar iedereen luisterde me belangstelling en respect naar de verhalen van de spreeksters uit Kenia, Indonesië, Namibië en New Hampshire (VS). Het was zelfs doodstil tijdens het verhaal van de Amerikaanse plattelands transgender schoolverpleegster, die (ook) een griepkeel had. Gezien het thema van deze CSW stond ‘storytelling’ over ervaringen op het platteland centraal. Heel belangrijk, maar even werd de suggestie gewekt dat er nog geen onderzoek is gedaan en geen meer omvattende boeken zijn gepubliceerd.

Toen kon ik het niet laten te wijzen op het prachtige boek Urgency Required. Gay and Lesbian Rights are Human Rights (redactie André Hielkema en Ireen Dubel) dat Hivos in 2009 publiceerde. En laat dit nu in zijn geheel (en gratis) in PDF op de Hivos-website staan! Er was alvast veel belangstelling voor de link. In de discussie was verder veel aandacht voor de wijze waarop LBT’s spiritualiteit een plek in hun leven geven en over hoe vanuit kerken en religieuze gemeenschappen de mensenrechten van LBT’s bevorderd kunnen worden.
Dat de bijeenkomst zo rustig verliep schept goede hoop voor de volgende LBT-side events: morgen die van het COC en partners en woensdag die van de Nederlandse regering. Die zaten ‘m namelijk toch wel even te knijpen. We zullen het minister van Bijsterveldt morgen vertellen, want tot onze grote verbazing was er geen spoor van haar adjudanten te bekennen.

Leontine Bijleveld

die zich voor deze gelegenheid ' out' als een lesbo van het Friese platteland

Victory for domestic workers

The National Domestic Workers Alliance (VS) celebrated the Oscar for The Help in numerous ‘Be the Help’ viewing parties. Trade Union Women from all over the world, in New York for CSW 56, joined in last saturday night. They felt like having received the honour of the prestigious award for themselves.

Marieke Koning (International Trade Union Confederation) explained about the international campaign the global unions have embarked on. The international Domestic Workers Network is of course on of the partners in the campaign.The ‘12 by 12’ Campaign aims at 12 ratifications of C189, the new ILO Convention Decent Work for Domestic Workers, by 2012. The Campaign runs now in 56 countries. Dozens of unions /coalitions organised events in December 2011 to officially launch the Campaign.

Though the Netherlands has ratified the majority of the ILO-Conventions minister Kamp has decided not the ratify the new convention. Consequence of ratification would be that domestic workers ought to enjoy a better sociale protection and Kamp is not prepared to do that. See for more information in Dutch.

The global unions representatives aim to include recomendations targetted at improving the position of rural domestic workers in the Agreed Conclusions. We will report about the drafting process over the next few days.

Leontine Bijleveld

WO=MEN / Dutch CEDAWNetwork

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

CSW56 is about to start!

The 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW56) will start on Monday 27 February, at the United Nations in New York.

The Dutch delegation will be strongly represented this year, and we look forward to cooperate with our colleagues and friends of last years session, and the ones we have been in close contact with in the last months during the preparations. We are prepared!

The Dutch government delegation will consist of Minister van Bijsterveldt of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) -we are delighted to have her on board! - and representatives from the Departments of Emancipation and Gender Equality of both the Ministry of OCW as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MinBuZa).

Many representatives of Dutch civil society will travel to New York one of these days. To make our voices heard for gender equality, women's rights, diversity and freedom of choice!
Through this blog we will keep you updated on interesting side events and, very important and what the CSW is all about, the INFORMALS: the negotiations between UN member states on this year's priority theme:

The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges

The Dutch civil society delegation has formulated recommendations for the Agreed Conclusions (the outcome document of the Informals):

Pre-ambule: Points of Departure

i New analysis shows how power imbalances and gender inequalities at the national level are linked to reduced access to clean water and improved sanitation, land degradation and deaths due to indoor and outdoor air pollution, amplifying the effects associated with income disparities. Gender inequalities also interact with environmental outcomes and make them worse. (ref: Human Development Report 2011, Sustainability and Equity: A better Future for All, page iv).

Furthermore, power imbalances and gender inequalities within the family are linked to maternal deaths and violence against women, because of social and cultural traditions which obstruct women’s access to health care and to financial independence.

ii Rural women are agents of change who contribute to local and national economies, agriculture, rural development, household livelihoods, food and nutrition security and social well-being. (ref: EGM/RW/2011/Report, Accra Ghana 20-23 September 2011). The role of men as agents of change alongside women is important to combat gender-based discrimination and to promote gender equality.

Furthermore, engagement of women is not only a way to provide women with means to enhance their participation and use of their potential, but also smart economics. (ref: World Development Report 2012; World Bank WDR 2012, Gender Equality and Development)

iii The international community and civil society should work together to eliminate discrimination under the law, to promote equal access to resources and opportunities, to ensure that agricultural policies and programmes are gender-aware, and to make women’s voices heard as equal partners for sustainable development. Achieving gender equality and empowering women in agriculture is not only the right thing to do. It is also crucial for agricultural development and food security (ref: The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-2011: Women in agriculture: Closing the gender gap for development. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, 2011)

iv Because of the diversity of rural women by age, religion, ethnicity, their social, economic, political and ecological status, and other factors, an intersectional approach is necessary. Development and implementation of this approach will contribute to the full enjoyment of their individual and collective human rights. (Several mechanisms have addressed intersectionality or multiple forms of discrimination: for example Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, general recommendation No. 28 (CEDAW/C/GC/28), paras 18 and 31)

General recommendations on gender equality

1. The UN system should comply with gender equality and diversity commitments within its own organizations in order to serve as role models for Governments and other organizations and to legitimize policy guidance on gender equality issues in their operations (ref: EGM/RW/2011/Report, Accra Ghana 20-23 September 2011)

2. Enhance efforts, by legislation, policy, programs, and financial resources, for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly on Gender Equality (3) in combination with Poverty and Hunger (1), Maternal Health (5) and Sanitation (7).

Recommendations on rural women

3. Incorporate gender-sensitive perspectives when designing and implementing rural development strategies, policies and programs, and include the objective of “gender equality” as an overarching goal of such strategies, policies and programs, and adopt and implement temporary special measures in favour of rural women (ref: General Statement of CEDAW on Rural Women (recommendations), CEDAW 50th session, 2011)

4. Implement policies to promote access of rural women to healthcare services and programs, including reproductive health and sexual health services. Pregnancy leads in many societies to poverty, and is the prime cause of death among women. Involve young women’s groups and networks in the development and implementation of reproductive health education and services, in particular on the local level.

5. Promote closing the gender gap between rural women and men by employing gender budget analyses on national and international agricultural policies concerning land ownership, funding, agricultural education, inheritance and agricultural co-operatives, in order to increase women’s access to land, livestock, financial services, co-operatives, education, technology, rural employment and decent work.

6. The under-representation of women from rural areas in political and public life remains high in most societies. Implement institutional arrangements, particularly at the local government level, to support participation of rural women in policy design, implementation and evaluation as part of decision making processes. Involve rural women’s organizations and networks in the process of development and implementation of such institutional arrangements.

7. Improve rural women's access to resources through alternative policy instruments that ensure more equitable gender-based distribution of land, labour, capital, technology, social services and infrastructure.

Mechanisms should also be in place to reduce women's vulnerability to loss of land in cases of divorce, separation and widowhood. (ref: Geneva Declaration for Rural Women, 1992, 12iii, 13vi)

8. Ensure that national legislative and administrative reform processes, including those linked to land reform, decentralization and reorientation of the economy, promote women’s rights, particularly those of rural women and women living in poverty, and take measures to promote and implement those rights through women’s equal access to and control over economic resources, including land, property rights, right to inheritance, credit and traditional saving schemes(…). (ref: Women2000 (Beijing+5) A/RES/S-23/3, GA 23th, 68h) 2012 is the UN year of Cooperatives. Ensure that women have access to and control over farmers cooperatives, and stimulate women’s cooperatives. Raise awareness on socio-cultural norms and regulations that exclude women .

9. Improve gender statistics and data disaggregated by sex, age and other variables where appropriate, and analyse data on rural-urban disparities, in order to support empowerment of rural women and gender equality policy processes.

10. Promote rural women’s education, employment and participation in decision-making by enhancing their access to communication technology training and devices. (ref: Agreed Conclusions CSW55, in particular para 22n)

Besides the priority theme with a focus on rural women, the CSW 56 will deal with:

Review theme: Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women (agreed conclusions from the fifty-second session)

Emerging issue: Engaging young women and men, girls and boys, to advance gender equality

We look forward to sharing our experiences and thoughts with you! And do not hesitate to contact us or send us your input for this blog:

WO=MEN Dutch gender Platform