14-24 March 2016:
60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women #CSW6
Friday, March 22, 2013
Ending Violence Against Women - Now the Real Work Starts
One week after the adoption of the agreed conclusions at CSW57, Daniela Rosche from WO=MEN member OxfamNovib shares her views. Read the full article in the Huffingtonpost.
Last Friday, governments at the UN adopted an outcome document at
the conclusion of the 2 weeks session of the UN Commission on the
Status of Women (CSW 57). Following last year's collapse of the meeting
and the huge pressure from conservative forces who tried to derail the
process, the adoption of an outcome text condemning violence against
women in strong terms is celebrated as a success.
But is it?
The concerted attempt at rolling back women's rights, by bringing
national level strife on the position of women and abortion, religion,
culture and custom into the global arena, is not a new development.
The pressure on the CSW meetings and its role in upholding basic
rights for women has gradually increased each year since 2009. And this
trend has long spilled over to other UN forums such as the Human Rights
Council, Rio+20 and the development of new sustainable development goals
or the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) negotiations. But finally, this year
many leading governments and civil society came together to make a
concerted push back at the attempts to discredit the CSW.
At the same time, an even greater challenge to the elimination of
violence against women than these reactive forces taking the CSW hostage
is the huge gap between text and implementation - between rhetoric and
concrete action on the ground.
I would argue this is the gender equality challenge of the 21st
century. At CSW many women's rights activist made the case that violence
is increasing- a fact supported by daily news reports of maiming,
raping, shooting, killing women and an Oxfam country level survey from
2010. In a 2005 multi-country study by the World Health Organization
(WHO) up to 70% of women between 15 and 49 years of age said they had
experienced some form of violence throughout their life.
Of the 3,5 billion women worldwide, up to 2,5 billion will have experienced violence at some point in their life (Credit: Oxfam)
These are known facts about the elimination of violence against
women. Yet at this CSW meeting, governments again did nothing about the
lack of implementation. So while its good news we have a text coming out
of CSW, a fact hailed as "historic", we must not fool ourselves
thinking that an adopted text is going to make gender equality happen on
the ground. It doesn't serve women to discredit the achievements of the
international community at CSW. Nevertheless, we must do more to
eliminate violence. We really must.
The power plays at the UN has left no time for governments and all of
us to answer this question: HOW can we ensure all the positive rules
and policies aimed at eliminating VAW are being put into practice at
country level? By when will governments, for example, repeal laws that
discriminate against women? By when will each country allocate resources
in their national budget or poverty reduction strategy to eliminate
VAW? How fast and by when will governments set up hotlines for victims
and survivors of VAW or end user fees for health services? When will
teachers in class have before them text books through which they can
teach children about human rights and issues around sexuality?
Oxfam wants a plan that details concrete steps towards making any of
these policy recommendations coming out of CSW 57 reality. We need a
plan to see where we are going, what our priorities are from the 50+
actions that governments have promised at CSW. Oxfam has therefore been
calling on governments to use CSW 57 as an opportunity to commit to the
development of an international action plan which sets concrete
targets, timetables and other measures to fast track implementation of
existing norms to end violence and provide an accountability tool.
I am a big fan of laws and policies and I am glad the good guys could
not be defeated at CSW. But when it comes to ending violence against
women, I get very impatient that we are asked to be satisfied with
another UN outcome text. As civil society and international community it
is our job to want more, and to recognize that we need more than text
to realize women's rights and end VAW.
We all say, violence is the biggest human rights atrocity of the 21st
century. If this is so, then we need to do all we can to make sure we
put an end to it... not only on paper.