United Nations – Commission on the Status of Women – CSW57 Report

The Commission on the Status of Women
March 20, 2013
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. At its annual sessions, the CSW systematically reviews progress in the implementation of areas of concern identified in the Beijing Platform for Action, and adopts recommendations to facilitate additional implementation. The “priority theme” for this 57th session of the CSW (CSW 57), which convened in March 4-15, 2013, is The Elimination and Prevention of all Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls.
Since the UN Women agency was established in 2010, CSW has had a much more stable working mandate, and a specified group to oversee and provide support, as well as include civil partners via a number of side events, panels and workshops hosted by UN agencies, NGOs and member states themselves.
During the actual events at the General Assembly, member states, working groups and individuals can address the gathering, but there are also sub-meetings run by previously agreed-on agendas, resolutions and elected leaders. All of these meetings then come together at the end of the two weeks to consense on what a resolution on ending violence against women and girls will say.
This year records broke all previous ones with the pre-registration of 6,000 representatives of civil society; it was the largest international meeting on ending Violence Against Women (VAW). According to UN Women, nearly 7 in 10 women across the world will experience some kind of violence in their lifetimes.
Over the past decade, the Commission has systematically achieved progress in the implementation of the twelve critical areas of concern identified in the Beijing Platform for Action at its annual sessions, and has adopted action-oriented recommendations, in the form of agreed conclusions, to facilitate increased implementation at all levels.
On 4 March 2013, Ms. Michelle Bachelet (former president of Chile) the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director, among others, opened the talks marking her motto: “TIME FOR ACTION: Prevent and end violence against women and girls.”
She stated that “The world is watching as recent events and protests point to growing awareness and momentum. Over the past few months, women, men, and young people took to the streets with signs that ask “Where is the justice?” with rallying cries that say “Wake up!”
They declared solidarity with a Pakistani girl shot for defending the right to education. They pledged justice for a young woman in India and another in South Africa who were brutally raped and later died. They demanded an end to the endless cases of rape and violence that threaten the lives of countless women and girls in every country but never make the headlines.
She emphasized that every person has the right to live free of violence and discrimination. The world, she added, can no longer afford the costs of violence against women and girls, the social and economic ones or the costs in deep human pain and suffering.

This Commission has promoted the advancement of women and the realization of women’s rights as human rights, and drafted the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW.
It is time for action: up to 70 per cent of women in some countries face physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Intimate partner’s violence accounts for between 40 and 70 per cent of female murder victims in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States. One in three girls in developing countries is likely to be married as a child bride; some 140 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation; millions of women and girls are trafficked
in modern-day slavery; and women’s bodies are being used as battleground, and rape is used as a tactic of war: it is time for action today.
During the past six months, we have witnessed rising global public outrage at the violence committed against women and girls, some of whom are human rights defenders. One of them is a 15-year-old girl, a brave human rights defender by the name Malala Yousafzai whose courage, determination and campaigning for girls education is an inspiration to us all. She proved her incredible strength by enduring a brutal attack and underwent two operations to repair her skull and to restore her hearing. It is for Malala and every girl and woman, and all human being, that we must come to a strong action-oriented agreement to prevent and to put an end to violence against girls and women.
The full and equal participation of women helps promoting democracy, improving economy, and establish a stronger peace.
As former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated clearly to the world diplomats: If you want your economy to improve, you should incorporate/engage the other half, i.e., “the women” and girls.
Bachelet closed her remarks by encouraging the audience and the rest of the world to seize this historic opportunity to end the cycle of violence that diminishes us all. She called for women and girls to stand up and demonstrate a United Nations that lives up to our ideals of equal rights and human dignity for all.
Many events and side events were sponsored by various Missions, strong and interesting statements were delivered and of which I quote some pertaining to the Lebanese, in Lebanon and around the World.
According to the Chinese Ambassador Wang Min, Violence against women not only violates women’s rights, but also undermines family’s harmony and hinders social progress. He added, “a society that tolerates violence against women is a hopeless society.” In 2012, the Chinese government promoted women’s development by issuing more than 100 billion of RMB in small secured loans and nearly 10 million women in urban and rural areas were helped to find employment or start their own business. On the other hand, when dealing with the protection of women’s rights and interests, China’s State Council issued the Special Provisions on Labor Protection for Female Employees, which contains rules on prolonging leave for female employees and preventing and stopping sexual harassment at work places.
Furthermore, China is committed to continuing to work with other countries to contribute to the advancement of women’s causes throughout the world. It supports the recommendation contained in the Secretary General’s report to have the CSW carry out in 2015 a comprehensive review and appraisal of the implementation of the above documents.
The year 2015 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Women’s Conference as well as the deadline for the realization of the MDGs or the Millennium Development Goals.
The Order of Malta stood united with the 189 nations who emphasize the importance of the goals of this international campaign. In addition to promoting women’s rights, and the prevention and treatment of violence against women, is the amelioration of the affect of HIV/AIDS on the female population. The Malteser International, a worldwide relief organization for humanitarian aid, worked along with Unnati, another relief service in north-eastern India, to maintain a project that enables women to develop their leadership skills and demand for their rights. It provides funded shelters and relief support for girls and women subjected to violence like the case of DR Congo where sexual violence accompanies conflict and rape is often used as an instrument of war, these centers provide medical care tailored to these horrific acts against women. In Maynmar and Namibia, Malteser runs a program that allows HIV/AIDS infected persons to live an independent life, helping the children who became orphaned by the disease.
The Order also runs countless retroviral dispensary clinics and HIV/AIDS testing facilities in over 60 countries, predominately located in the African continent, and also in Latin America and Asia. Through these medical relief projects, the Order of Malta works to mitigate the consequences of HIV/AIDS on severely affected communities and their female populations.
Turkey’s presence was felt by its generosity (bringing a luncheon inside the convention) and its secular agenda, when it sponsored the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence or Istanbul Convention for short in Istanbul in May 11, 2011.
Fatma Sahin, a secular Turkish Minister of Family and Social Planning of Turkey, along with Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science of Netherlands and Lynne Featherstone, parliamentary under-secretary of State for International Development of the United kingdom opened the session by presenting the added value of the Istanbul Convention in the framework of international and regional legally binding treaties. It also highlighted its significance as an efficient and practical tool for governments to prevent and combat violence against women and against domestic violence in Europe and elsewhere.
The Istanbul Convention covers various forms of gender-based violence, which is defined as “violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately” (Article 3 d). The most widespread forms are domestic violence, sexual
violence, stalking, sexual harassment, forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FMG) and forced sterilization.
The Istanbul Convention ensures that its provision are implemented without discrimination on the ground of migrant status, refugee status (women, with or without documents), and women asylum-seekers who are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence under Article 4 paragraph 3. It requires states parties to ensure that gender-based violence against women may be recognized as a form of persecution within the meaning of the 1951 Refugee Convention (Article 60 paragraph 1.)
1. It also requires states parties to ensure that the grounds for asylum listed in the 1951 Refugee Convention are interpreted in a gender-sensitive manner (Article 60 paragraph 2.) In relation to persecution on the ground of race or on the ground of nationality, for example, women could face certain types of persecution on the grounds of religion; women may be persecuted for not conforming to religious norms and customs of “acceptable behavior.” This is particularly true in case of crimes committed in the name of so-called “honor”, which affect women disproportionately. In considering women fleeing from gender-related persecution such as female genital mutilation, forced marriage and even serious domestic violence as forming a “particular social group”, women may be granted asylum.
2. Finally, persecution on the ground of political opinion can include persecution on the grounds of opinions regarding gender roles: for not conforming to society’s roles and norms of acceptable behavior and for speaking out against traditional gender roles.
3. Women seeking asylum and unaccompanied, are often exposed to sexual harassment and sexual exploitation and are unable to protect themselves; the Istanbul Convention established, under Articles 60 paragraph 3, the obligation to introduce a gender perspective into procedures and to allow for the differences between women and men to be taken into account.
4. Finally the non-refoulement provision was included to ensure that victims of violence against women, who are in need of protection, regardless of their status or residence, are not returned to any country where their life would be at risk or where they may be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The 12 steps taking in order to comply with the Istanbul Convention, recognize and support the role of NGOs and civil society in combating violence against women and domestic violence by allocating adequate financial and human resources and by establishing effective co-operation with these organizations.
Even though The Istanbul Convention was drafted in Europe, it was not meant for Europe only. Any state can accede to it or use it as a model for national and regional legislation and policies. The Istanbul Convention will enter into force following its ratification by 10 countries. An independent group of experts (GREVIO) will monitor the implementation of the Convention.
The Islamic Republic of Iran also presented its achievement in preventing and overcoming violence against women and girls. Iran introduced:
 Legal measures and drafted a bill on women’s security in 81 articles in 2011-2012.
 Increasing Educational coverage for equal opportunities and provide awareness and prevention from violence.
 Health measures and plans by organizing operational teams and mobile units (according to the needs of damaged communities, particularly the need of women and children) by the country’s Red Crescent.
 Judiciary and disciplinary measures such as establishment of counseling centers at the level of police stations and other special centers with the aim of improving women’s safety and security and addressing their problems.
 Economic measures by strengthening family support via economic policies with the focus on women and children as vulnerable members of the society by providing social insurance to single mothers and by providing entrepreneurial and self-employment facilities for women.
 Supportive measures including the establishment of social emergency programs and assistance centers to address individual and family crises; operation of the hotline 123 for social emergency centers with the aim of empowering women in their informal occupations and to control and reduce social vulnerability.
Although these were the official guidelines for the Republic, there were as well side event sponsored by Italian NGOs where some Iranian women spoke about their painful experience in long-life struggle against domestic violence and abuse by the husband who was protected by the court; they spoke freely on conditions of strict security measures – no photos taking and under the eyes of government’s representatives in the room.
The Permanent Observer Mission of the organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to the United Nations presented a Ten Year Program of Action or their roadmap to facilitate and increase women’s contribution to social, economical and political development of their countries.
Last February, the OIC Member States signed the statute of the Women’s Development Organization (WDO) which called upon them to ratify it a soon as possible in order to make it operational. The OIC’s established an Independent Permanent Commission of Human Rights in 2011. The 18 members Commission, headed by a distinguished women scholar from Indonesia, have been visiting the human rights in New York and Geneva in order to exchange views and seek collaboration. The Commissioners’ agenda stressed women’s rights giving women and girls the right to participate fully in economic, social and political decision-making. Women and girls must also be able to access educational and professional opportunities without fear. It is the duty and responsibility of the governments to ensure it.
The OIC is against female genital mutilation (FMG) that is being practiced under the cloak of religious, cultural and tribal practices. It is raising awareness across the Muslim world against this terribly hazardous practice that endangers the physical and psychological health of women and girls. It was concluded at the 2nd Islamic Conference of Ministers in charge of Childhood held in Khartoum – Sudan in 2009 that FMG is a violation of human rights of girls and women. It goes along with the UN General Assembly resolution 67/146, entitled, Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilations and General Assembly Resolution 67/144, entitles, Intensification of Efforts to Eliminate all forms of violence against women, both of which were adopted without a vote.
The OIC explained furthermore that Child marriages, violence against women as well as other negative acts perpetuated are often misidentified as being part of Islamic tradition, whereas they are part of the local tradition, and that awareness should be raised at the local level to de-link these practices from religion. In this line, the OIC General Secretariat also condemned the assassination attempt on the young, Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai, who, even as a child, understood the importance of women’s education and just wanted to improve education access for women and girls. The OIC stated further that whether women are interested in participating in science, engineering, math or technology; creating, building and maintaining peace; participating in economic or government decisions or becoming entrepreneurs; attending school and university or providing for their families; WOMEN and GIRLS should have equal access to all opportunities without any FEAR.
The statement of the Holy See pointed to this year’s choice of this important topic which underlines the tragic reality of the continued victimization of women and girls around the world by myriad forms of exploitation and violence; ranging from sex-selection abortions, female infanticide, abandonment, trafficking, rape, domestic abuse, rape as a weapon of war, prostitution, to misguided government policies unduly restrict the number of children per family and other forms of violence. Many women and girls, from the moment of conception until natural death, face an array of immoral and dehumanizing acts of violence, degrading practices such as FGM, child marriage, forced sterilization and forced abortions, etc.
There are certain ideologies that postulate and glorify a conception of the human body and of its sexual availability that is strongly threatening to the dignity of women which leads to a vision of the human person, wherein women are necessarily discriminated against and are easily considered as a possession, and the corollary of being disposable at will. The women are thereby reduced to a body without a mind or a soul.
Noting in closing remarks John Paul II who wrote in his Letter to Women (#6), the cause of women’s freedom is both “great” and “unfinished.” The decision made at the UN will hopefully advance that cause and at the same time will help to protect women from violence as they will also fulfill the Charter of this institution to advance the dignity and worth of all persons.
The last event was, if not the most important at the Convention put together in collaboration with the Mission of Botswana at the UN and with the Presbyterian Church (USA), an interesting panel entitled Moving Men from Bystanders to ALLIES. Lessons from Botswana to the US, the Honorable Margie R. Braxton of Detroit Michigan (Judge at the Circuit Court), addressed the issue of preventive education. Providing counseling and dispute resolution through exercises, role play and presentations the students examine the issue of violence against female, and date rape.
Intervention and Counseling: Since men are the primary perpetrators of gender violence they need to take a visible role in ending it. Court ordered treatment programs that keep men from taking a stand against gender violence and treatment programs which identify ways to educate, equip and mobilize men to be accountable for their own behavior and equally as important on how to intervene in other’s behavior effectively.
There is an emerging consensus within the legal community that is seeking men’s active support for the gender equality that creates more effective violence prevention. From a legal perspective to Health issues, Susan Kheder, LMSW, pointed out the long-term individual and family impact on health status in addition to healthcare costing in billions, caring for the consequences of abuse.
It is no longer perceived as a family issue, Ms. Kheder declared, it is more of a community issue and problems that need to be deal with and changed. Being transparent is better than remaining SILENT. The patient policies that screen both genders male and female along the cost of health are forcing the system to look at treatment from a different perspective. Hospitals are treated like business; training managers see red flags and caring about the employees as well as treating, screening in order to prevent domestic abuse.
The Women in Parliament or (MPs)
Based on Y2012 statistics, the highlights on the Members of Parliaments globally and regionally were:
 The 2012 was a year in progress: the global average of women in parliaments is now at 20.3%; a gain in 5.3% points in 10 years.
 The 33 lower houses of parliament had 30% or more women MPs by end of 2012; more than triple the number in 10 years ago and is up from 30 lower houses in 2011.
 Women won 18.7% of all seats up for renewal in 2012 in 57 chambers across 48 countries.
 Women continued to fare better when either legislated or voluntary quotas were used. In 2012, electoral quotas were used in 22 countries holding elections. With legislated quotas, women took 24 % of seats and with voluntary quotas they gained 22%. Where no quotas were used, women took 12% of seats.
 Sub-Saharan Africa: the highest electoral gain was achieved in this region in Senegal where women MPs reached 42.7 per cent.
 Firsts in the Americas: historic highs were reached in Jamaica, Mexico and the United States of America. The region boasts the highest average of women parliamentarians in the world.
 Asia: Women became the focus of elections when Park Geun-Hye became the first women President of the republic of Korea, and human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi won a by-election in Myanmar.
 Arab States: Algeria became the first country in the region to hit the 30% threshold while change remained slow in Libya and Egypt.
 The Pacific: was the only region stagnating over the past 10 years. Positive news was the election of three women MPs each in Papua New Guinea and to the Senate of Palau.
As their voices were heard at the ECOSOC’s meeting, Moroccan, Quataris and The Kingdom of Bahrain’s Member of the Council of Representatives: Ebtisam Abdul Rahman Hejres ended the session with a passionate intervention and a decisive voice. Alas, there are not enough MPs representing all communities.
Moreover in the Arab states, a sign in continuing positive change was seen with the appointment in early 2013 of 30 women (20%) to the Shura Council of Saudi Arabia, a first for the conservative Gulf kingdom.
In a first for Algerian politics, an all-woman list of candidates was also formed. Despite a fatwa forbidding the nomination of women candidates, 7,500 women ran in the elections. This not only catapulted Algeria ahead of Tunisia (26.7%) and Iraq (25.2) but also made the country the first and only Arab State to have more than 30% women MPs.
In Libya, 33 women (16.5%) were elected to serve in Libya’s General National Congress in the first free elections since 1969. Thirty-two of them belonged to political parties and one ran as an independent.
Women’s parliamentary representation in Egypt has dropped to the lowest – a mere 4.4% – level of any North African country. Prospects for changing this in the future look bleak. The new electoral law adopted in early 2013 provides for an obligation to include a minimum of just one women candidate in party lists, with no mention of ranking.
In short, how can parliamentarians strengthen their representation in the Arab States and worldwide? By
 Working on changing social and cultural norms and attitudes;
 Amending discriminatory legislation;
 Promoting respect for women’s rights;
 Mainstreaming gender in parliament.
Are few of the goals that each parliamentarian will work to achieve in the future?
OUTCOME and Conclusions
The head of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, was prepared to compromise on the language used in the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) outcome document, as long as the words used “reflected the spirit” of the key issues and did not undermine past agreements. Libya along with other conservative states spoke against the gay rights language, henceforth the LGTB rights (Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered and Bisexual People) were mostly dropped, in exchange for dropping a sovereignty exception. To read the full text of agreed conclusions which are still in the making, please see link below.
The outcome of the Commission’s consideration of the priority theme took the form of agreed conclusions, negotiated by all States. The announcement came past 8 pm on Friday, after the adoption of a compromise outcome document at the Commission on the Status of Women. 1. Strengthening implementation of legal and policy frameworks and accountability. 2. Addressing structural and underlying causes and risk factors so as to prevent violence against women and girls. 3. Strengthening multi-sectoral services, programmes and responses to violence against women and girls. 4. Improving the evidence-base. Please see link below for full text. http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw57/CSW57_agreed_conclusions_advance_unedited_version_18_March_2013.pdf
Violence against is a shame that has been going on for too long. It not only affects negatively the lives of millions of women but it harms families and communities across generations and reinforces other violence prevalent in society. Violence against women also impoverishes women, their families, communities and nations. It is not confined to a specific culture, region or country, or to particular groups of women within a society. The roots of violence against women lie in persistent discrimination against women. “Violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon .
prepare By M. M. Hanna

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