• Tuesday, October 13, 2015
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    CSW 54, According to MDG3 Networks


    Opening of the 54th Commission on the Status of Women. Credit: Bomoon Lee/TerraViva

    Beyond the endless queues to get registered at CSW, the exceptional networking opportunities (to which the queues also contributed), and the general feeling that after 15 years Beijing promises are far from being a reality, the 54th U.N. Commission on the Status of Women the first two weeks in March in New York was a rich and inspiring opportunity for the global women’s movement.

    Here’s some lessons we learnt from the family of MDG3 networks and organisations in New York.

    AWID’s daily blog posts provided key insights from parallel and official sessions at the CSW. Like this one on the impact of the global financial crisis on women and women’s rights. AWID’s studies show how women’s rights activists have been denouncing the underlying model leading to the crisis decades before the collapse, while proposing alternative frameworks and visions. Without being heard, evidently. Read more here.


    As the US delegation circulated a resolution on maternal mortality at the Beijing+15 review, activists from around the globe called on government to accompany this with strong language on sexual and reproductive rights. To know more, you can read the daily reporting by GenderLinks.

    For more than six hours many of us listened to the testimony of 12 women who had suffered every kind of violence under the military dictatorship of Burma. A special panel of judges, including Nobel Prize winners Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams listened to personal stories of physical abuse, but also civil and political violations, and asked the UN Security Council to implement its own resolutions on violence against women in the country. More information on the International Tribunal on Burma can be found here.

    logotbttMedia and communication have been turned upside down since Beijing ’95 and many women’s rights organisations are now using social networking tools to support women whose lives are threatened, and to prevent violence against women and girls.

    In South Africa, Women’sNet is teaching girls to avoid harassment through cell phones, and the Association for Progressive Communication (APC) launched a global campaign three years ago to “Take Back the Tech!” to end violence against women. But “judging from the numerous observations by advocates present at the 54th CSW as documented by the GenderIT team, it seems that the elusive Section J is still hard to pin down, whether in terms of sessions, mentions or locations, says Jac Kee of APC.  Read more here.

    Finally, the Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) – an organization established after the Beijing Conference, 15 years ago – met on March 5 at the New School in New York to celebrate its own anniversary and discuss ways for mobilizing women’s rights and eliminating violence against women.

    thoraya_robinson_wfp“We work hard for the kind of world that we want to be in and that is why it is better we work in partnership with men and boys,” said Mahnaz Afkhami, President of WLP to a crowded auditorium. “We believe in the power to change traditions and cultural practices that are harmful and autocratic. This is an opportunity for us to chart a new future.”

    Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), who was a keynote speaker at the event, said that “discriminatory practices towards women are deeply rooted within social norms and cultural understandings” and are often stronger than the laws that have been enacted to stop them. You can follow the most interesting exchanges of the panel through the WLP twitter page.

    These are only some examples of the so many interesting ‘parallel’ debates at CSW 54. We are happy to give voice to other related news you want to spot! Write to mdg3@ips.org.

    beijing15-lg-web-a1During the two weeks of the 54th session of the UN CSW an international team of IPS reporters have filed daily updates on the continuing challenges of holding governments accountable to the promises made fifteen years ago in Beijing. The Beijing+15 daily electronic IPS-TerraViva includes analyses of the latest developments from the IPS team in New York, as well as gender stories from the global IPS Gender Wire.

    Read or download the special 1st March and 8th March newspapers and all the other news at IPS TerraViva Beijing+15 to find out if women’s rights have become human rights yet.

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