by Louise McLeod
From Beijing to New York – 20 years in review at CSW
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by 189 governments in 1995 that identified 12 critical areas to empower women was considered one of the most comprehensive agendas advancing women’s rights. Twenty years have passed and while progress has been made, it is not enough.
The intent of the 2015 UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW59) was to review the progress made since Beijing and to bring world attention to the gaps that remain, tasking world leaders and governments with implementing laws and policies that will put women on equal footing with men in the areas of social, economic and environmental development by 2030.
“Creating a world with greater equality for generations to come is the defining and most urgent challenge of this century,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of U.N. Women, said in a statement. “Gender equality and the realization of women’s and girls’ human rights are fundamental for achieving human rights, peace and security and sustainable development.”
As for progress made with the Millenium Development Goals which end in 2015 “No country has achieved gender parity, despite the many good laws that have been passed,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said in a taped address. “This means that we cannot continue in the same way and expect far-reaching changes. Business as usual will erode the gains we have made, so we have to step it up.”
Customarily, a declaration or outcome document from CSW occurs at the end of the two-week meeting with significant input from civil society groups.
This year, however, the decision was made to agree to a declaration before the Commission started thereby excluding input from civil society. The political declaration that was adopted on March 9th at the Commission on the Status of Women (http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=E/CN.6/2015/L.1) is being viewed by the many hundreds of women’s NGOs (Non-governmental Organizations) attending UNCSW59 as a disappointment. Negotiated prior to the beginning of the Commission, there are no recommendations for going forward. It simply reaffirms existing commitments that do not match the level of ambition in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and in fact could threaten a major step backward.
WG-USA has joined with hundreds of groups demanding
- Unequivocal commitments towards fully realizing gender equality, the human right and empowerment of women and girls.
- Universal ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women
- Accountability for governments – addressing the structural causes of gender inequality, ensuring an enabling economic environment for woman’s rights and gender equality
- Affirmation of the strong linkages between Beijing, Post 2015 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Reaffirmation of the links between the human rights of women and girls and development.
by Louise McLeod
President, Women Graduates-USA