Only one month ago, our colleagues met here at the UN for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The conference delivered promising language on ending all forms of violence against women, young women, and girls after two weeks of high tensions. Today, we find ourselves, once again, sitting in the UN building discussing the most strategic approach to tackling sensitive, yet extremely important issues. The migration theme will present several specific challenges. For example, many countries which have traditionally been strong vocal advocates of progressing SRHR issues may now become unpredictable players in the negotiations due to tense domestic migration policies back home.
Furthermore, migration is an extremely broad theme and brings up a range of implications for women, SRHR, and youth. Young migrants under the age of 29 make up half of all global migrants. An undocumented young migrant, for example, can face many difficulties accessing crucial information and services regarding their sexual health. Moreover, marginalized migrants are often not in a position to voice their needs and address their human rights.
The Zero Draft, which is the original draft on which the negotiations will be based this week, already contains some promising language to address these issues. For example, it already urges member states to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence, discrimination, trafficking, exploitation and abuse of women and girls. It is going to be an extremely important week for the rights of all young migrants as we will struggle to give them a voice at this important international platform.
Today the plenary is in session and the member states will briefly negotiate the first paragraphs of the text. The atmosphere here outside of the negotiations hall is very mellow and calm. It has been predicted that this conference will try not to attract to much publicity because of the contentious theme and its close proximity to the CSW. How this conference will actually play out remains to be seen. We are extremely excited to get to work and will keep you updated throughout the week!
About the authors: Vincent McLeese and Stefan Hennis are both youth advocates for the Dutch based NGO CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality. CHOICE is a member of WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform. You can read more about CHOICE at http://www.choiceforyouth.org/.