Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Conference 63: Overview

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Throughout the 63rd conference of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), all meetings revolved around improving and developing social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality, and the empowerment of all females. Meetings ranged from being entitled “Steer Any Diplomatic Conversation by Asking the Right Questions” hosted by UNITAR and Columbia Law to typical plenary GA meetings to plan and discuss logistics of new ideas and vote on final statements.

Floating around from meeting to meeting, a point that was frequently brought up and emphasized was the importance of maintaining culture while developing female personal character. Instead of changing culture and straying further away from these roots, we should be working with and integrating new aspects into it. This is just a baby step in removing the gender gap and equalizing the gender lifestyle. Specifically with Afghan women, the role of the female is heavily depended on to take care of the household as well as the children while the males are unavailable to do so. Even young females are expected to help their mother, as only around 26% of females are in school. Discussion on closing the gender gap was productive, not through increasing attendance in school buildings, but increasing the accessibility of these educational means. Providing a simple laptop will allow for a greater entry into the world of computer science coding, which is something these females can do at home while taking care of their duties.

Meeting: Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Conference 63

Date/Location: 13 March 2019, UN Headquarters

Written By: WIT Representative Jessica Shi

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Women, peace, and security

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Women with the Afghan National Army Air Force & International Force during an International Women’s Day celebration in Kabul. Photo: Sgt. Dustin Payne.

The meeting began with acknowledging the fact the first woman president had won the election in Ethiopia. This gave way into the discussion of the political and economic empowerment of women. Women need to be apart of peace and security agendas. Many already are, but they need to be further supported in reducing any challenges. There has been progression, especially within women’s groups who focus on this large issue. Although there has been progress, there is still a long way to go.

Women peace workers help. Women can be quickly drawn into the conflict and be severely affected by it, so more women need to be able to speak on their behalf. Women are better aware of their community needs. Gender equality programming is needed to address the devastating effects by building sustainable peace. There has been a systematic failure to bring women in peacekeeping. Women are constantly excluded. It was brought up that there is a significant gap with what it is said in UN chamber and what is actually going on in the world. Superficial efforts need to come to an end and they need to become concrete.

Women are active and resilient. They have negotiated ceasefires, safe zones, drawn up protection plans. This includes women from various countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, among others. They need to be enabled to do even more. One main way to give women this chance is education. During the conflict, girls are more likely to be out of primary schools. Child marriage is high in these conflict areas. Not only is a girl likely to not be attending school, but she is likely to get pregnant. Maternal mortality is almost twice the global ratio in conflict and post-conflict areas. Education is a catalyst for equal participation.

The way the world views the role of women needs to be changed. Women are perceived to not have the skills or knowledge to handle these important roles. Greater participation of women in political life causes a stronger path for peace. Global peace and security are enhanced when helping women. It was said that no woman needs to be given a voice, there just needs to be more listening.

Meeting:  Women and peace and security

Location/time/date: Security Council Chamber, UN HQ-NYC; 10:00 PM – 12:45 PM, October 25, 2018

Speakers:

  • Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)
  • Ms. Randa Siniora Atallah, General Director of the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling
  • Her Excellency Mara Marinaki, Principal Adviser for Gender and the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women
  • Ms. Narjess Saidane, Permanent Observer of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie
  • Ms. Amarsanaa Darisuren, Senior Advisor on Gender Issues of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
  • Ms. Clare Hutchinson, Special Representative of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General for Women, Peace and Security
  • Secretary-General, His Excellency António Guterres
  • Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden
  • Yoka Brandt, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
  • Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State in the Federal Foreign Office of Germany
  • Simona Leskovar, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia
  • Iryna Herashchenko, First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

Written by: WIT Representative Yasmeen Razack

Gender-responsive Disarmament

 

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All over the world, people have access to weapons. However, in some areas, it is much easier to gain access to a weapon than others. The increase of these weapons leads to an unnecessary increase in violence. This puts those who are in these communities at a disadvantage because they are much more vulnerable to victimization. Disarmament refers to reducing military efforts as well as weapons. There is actually a UN Office for Disarmament Affairs.

It is important to note that this armed violence can be in both con conflict and non-conflict areas. One speaker mentioned how young boys in South Sudan were reported to have guns. In fact, thousands of children have been recruited and armed for fighting a conflict in areas like South Sudan and Somalia. In the meeting, it was noted that the non-conflict areas also need great attention because of the severe and large quantity of injuries that are occurring. Guns can be easily accessed in both legal and illegal contexts by citizens and there has been an increased spread of small arms.   

The main point of this meeting was discussing how gender, just like in other issues, plays a vital role in this violence. While men are reported to be the majority of small arms users, women are noted to be at a disadvantage- economically, socially and psychologically.  A systematic approach, which would require the help of many members states, would be needed to combat this widespread issue. Gender plays a role in the issue, so therefore, it is crucial in implementing the solution. Although women are the primary victims, they should be empowered leaders in fixing the problem. It was brought up that women are underrepresented at government talks and negotiations. It was noted that usually, only 1 in 4 delegates are women and that this number must increase if we hope to make progress.

Meeting: International Gender Champions Disarmament Impact Group Securing our common future: Promoting gender-responsive disarmament and security

Location/time/date:Conference Room 4, UN HQ-NYC; 1:15 PM – 2:30 PM, October 15, 2018

Speakers:

  • H.E. Michael Gaffey, Ambassador of Ireland to the United Nations in Geneva
  • Izumi Nakamitsu, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs
  • Päivi Kannisto, Chief of Peace and Security at UN Women
  • H.E. Neville Gertze, Permanent Representative of Namibia to the United Nations in New York
  • H.E. Pennelope Beckles, Permanent Representative of Trinidad & Tobago to the United Nations in New York
  • Victoria “Mavic” Cabrera Balleza, founder/CEO Global Network of Women Peacebuilders.
  • Renata Dwan, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, UNIDIR
  • H.E. Michael Gaffey, Ambassador of Ireland to the United Nations in Geneva

Written by: WIT Representative Yasmeen Razack

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), 71st Session

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Led by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women at the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG), this conference engaged in a number of topics surrounding gender inequality in South-East Asia, specifically in Laos. First addressing the imbalanced gender ratios in education, a lack of data in Laos’ unsystematic education system was evinced, rendering some conclusions drawn in a recent CEDAW report dubious. Remaining in the education sector, the conversation shifted to whether educational capacity investment is being matched by the necessary supporting infrastructure. Developing countries often suffer from virtuous investment being deployed in silos – in Laos’ case, girls seeking education are frequently burdened by inordinate transportation costs or distances. Dual-gender class resistance was another complication barring women from entering education, particularly when educational capacity is limited. Furthermore, there was a floor-wide call to gather more data regarding which educational paths girls are pursuing. If women are being driven into traditionally female fields such as cooking or needlecraft, presenting uncategorised educational data could belie its message. Laos’ 25% female inclusion targets was criticized as too low and as sending the wrong public message about social ideals.

Keeping education in focus, more data was requested regarding the impact that premature pregnancy has on educational drop-out rates amongst women. Collecting such data would provide more precise insights into targeting responsible sexual behaviour and sexual education. However, high birth, maternal death and female STD rates point to ineffective sexual education efforts in Laos. Building on this, it was posited that women are too often seen just as procreators and mothers. This makes efforts to assuage high maternal death rates too parochial. Specifically, are there lifestyle choices or societal pressures that increase a woman’s risk of retracting fatal diseases that are independent of gender? Is this an unaddressed dimension when discussing high maternal death rates? The floor also enquired into how Laos’ illegal abortion rates, unsafe abortion rates and its current prohibitive abortion policies contribute to its substandard maternal death rates.

Moving onto gender violence, four forms of women-directed violence were outlined: physical, phycological, sexual and economic property violence. This delineates four avenues to approach female discrimination by with to approach Laos’ current state of affairs, although they were not elaborated upon in the conference. In closing, the panel was questioned whether current Laos gender equality programs are financially designed to withstand funding cuts, or are they more comparable to ‘window shop’ programs.

Date and Time: Friday, 2 November 2018

Location: Salle XVI, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Speakers: Hilary Gbedemah (UNHCR), Mr. Gunnar Bergby (OHCHR), Magalys Arocha Dominguez (OHCHR)

Countries represented: Laos People’s Democratic Republic

 Bodies represented: Author: WIT Representative, Farri Gaba

The right to say no: 72nd session Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

1506685855_eeb204dc36061d725f5db3e393c34229-1.jpgBad mothers. Loose Morals. Lack of femininity. That is how world leaders such as Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and President Donald Trump refer to women’s rights activists. Both men have continuously made women the butt of the joke of their presidencies with Donald Trump’s famous “Grab her by the pussy” and President Duterte’s continuous rape jokes and command to shoot women rebels in the genitals. According to the Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, this is the continued norm of how the world treats women.

The conference held on July 26th, 2018 shed light on the deeply rooted patriarchy engrained into our international system that has resulted in the championing of white males in human rights movements and the vilification of the women actually affected.

Lolita Chavez has been the target of 5 assassination attempts, two massive hate attacks, lynching attempts, accused of illegal entry, and has had more than 25 petitions filed against her in court resulting in a forced exile from Guatemala. What could cause this type of horrific backlash on a 5-foot-tall mother of 2? Her advocacy for indigenous people and the environment. In Uganda, Brenda Kuganza has been punched in the gut by a policeman, slaughtered on social media for defending victims of sexual violence and has had to witness her friends be brutally attacked, arrested, and/or killed for wanting the right to say no.

People trying to defend their territories and rights are sidelined – jailed, tortured, raped. Now more than ever, there is a need for concrete action from the international community but also a needed refrain by states in legislation and policy of repression action against human rights defenders. The governments in places such as Guatemala, Uganda, Nicaragua need to make the role of human rights defenders facilitative not restrictive.

There needs to be an understanding that human rights defenders are not performing a job. There is a deep commitment to protecting life, livelihood, and the dignity of communities. That is what empowers these women to endure layers of oppression and brutality.

Meeting: Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; 72nd Session

Location/time/date: Conference Room 2, UNHQ-NYC; July 26th, 2018

Speakers: Michéle Forest, Special Rapporteur; Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights; Marusia Lopez Cruz, Senior Associate, Power & Protection of Women’s Activist; Lolita Chavez; Brenda Kuganza; Asha Kowtal; Miriam Miranda

Written by: WIT Representative Ariel Granat