Sunday evening, a few hours before the official start of the 59th session of CSW. A few more hours before the end document of this session, the political declaration will be adopted at the UN General Assembly Hall.
Different from other years is the end document going to be adopted on day 1 of the CSW, instead of at the end. This means that negotiations have been taken place over the last few weeks. Negotiations that proved to be particularly hard this year. There was a harsh fight for removal of reference to ‘Human Rights’ throughout the text. A fight that was put up by a block of known reactionary forces: Russia, Indonesia, the African Group and the Holy See. The text that will be adopted tomorrow unfortunately proofs who won this battle. By not connecting Gender Equality directly to Human Rights there is a miss-out of the recognition that it is impossible to fulfill Human Rights without achieving Gender Equality. Women’s Human Rights are at danger of becoming a pick-and-choose menu. This undermines the implementation of all the critical areas of the Beijing Platform for Action. Missing as well is a strong link with Post-2015, reference to contributions and recognition of women’s groups and movements and Women’s Human Rights defenders, as well as specific areas that urgently need to be addressed.
To show our disappointment about the final text of the political declaration, 974 women’s rights and civil society organization worldwide have signed a statement:
Twenty years after the adoption of Beijing, this version of the Political Declaration is not what women need. There has been tremendous progress toward gender equality and the realization of the human rights of women and girls. However, many of the gains that women and girls have made are under threat and women and girls worldwide face extraordinary and unprecedented challenges, including economic inequality, climate change and ocean acidification, and rising, violent fundamentalisms. At a time when urgent action is needed to fully realize gender equality, the human rights and empowerment of women and girls, we need renewed commitment, a heightened level of ambition, real resources, and accountability. This Political Declaration, instead, represents a bland reaffirmation of existing commitments that fails to match the level of ambition in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and in fact threatens a major step backward.
See here for the whole statement, as well as translations in Spanish and French.
As it is always easy to focus on the negatives, highlighting here some positives in the political declaration: Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is reaffirmed, which does have a strong Human Rights – Gender Equality link; there is pledge to take concrete action to implement BPfA and eliminate discrimination against women and girls; although there is not a strong link with Post-2015, there is specific reference to the stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal on gender (SDG5) as well as integrating a gender perspective in the other goals.
Entering the 2 weeks of CSW everyone is asking what will happen now that the negotiations about the end document are over. What ever happens, we are here, and we are still full of energy. ‘Not without us about us’. So bring it on.
= Posted by Sanne Holtslag on behalf of WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform =