Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tomorrow: CSW58 begins!

CSW58 is about to start: tomorrow! At 10 o’clock the session will be opened. See the schedule of the official programme here.

After the CSW58 bureau (this year consisting of Philippines, Sudan, Georgia, El Salvador and Switzerland) drafted the first version of the Agreed Conclusions (the text that will be negotiated) UN member states from around the world had a critical look at it and made their amendments, either suggesting to remove or to add things. This second version was circulated a few weeks ago, and shows some interesting developments.

What stands out is that Iran has made many amendments. Already in the 2nd paragraph they suggest not to “reaffirm” but merely “take note” of CEDAW - the most important binding agreement to end discrimination against women existing in the world. They also suggest to to remove “gender equality” several times from the text. Other vocal countries. both making amendments that I would flag as “like” and “don’t like” include Turkey, Russia, Phillipines, and also the EU – of which the Netherlands forms part. (can’t give much detailed information about what they say at this stage, because the lobby is ungoing – sorry).

Noteworthy is that the African Group has added some really good language on women’s economic empowerment, political and economic decision making, violence and discrimination faced by women living with HIV and aids, effects of economic crises and climate change, etc. Which women-activists from the region and beyond are supportive of.

What also stands out is the large amount of additions on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI – by most better known as LHBT though that not fully covers it). As much as 11 amendments have been made to include this in the text, by countries as diverse as USA, Israël, El Salvador, the Philippines.

Still largely absent from the text are the roles of men and boys, and addressing negative forms of maculinities. I consider this a missed opportunity, especially considering that “good agreed language” is already existing since CSW48 which was entirely dedicated to the theme. Not integrating this perspective broadly in these Agreed Conclusions seems to be a step back in time and a failure to take into account developments in recent years by civil society organizations around the world.

The CSW outcome document is not binding and it often remains vague how countries will deal with the agreements that have been made through the text. It is rather an international norm-setting conference, which is often used as a geo-political arena rather than as a space to negotiate what is really on the table: women’s (and men’s!) lives.

However, this CSW is a slightly different and very important one in terms of concrete action. Because the analysis of achievements and challenges in the MDGs and suggestions for improvements and concrete actions will be taken into account in the design of the Post2015 development agenda. One of the crucial lessons learned from the MDGs is the importance of a stand-alone goal on gender equality (MDG3, but then a much-improved one). It is CARICOM who does a very concrete suggestion to include this in the CSW58 outcome doc:

27 alt bis. [CARICOM ADD: The Commission calls for gender equality and the empowerment of women to be reflected as a stand alone goal through a transformative approach and to mainstream a gender perspective throughout any new development framework.]

Let's see what the coming days will bring us. International activists are prepared!

= Joni van de Sand, on behalf of WO=MEN =