Last week, the United Nations 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) came to a close in New York with agreed conclusions on ending violence against women and girls.
At the end of two weeks of negotiations, member states agreed on a document that outlines priorities for the elimination of violence against women and girls. Despite resistance from a small number of delegations, the assembled nations put forth a strong affirmation of women’s rights to safety and opportunity, including access to multi-sectoral services for women like sexual and reproductive health, legal recourse for survivors of violence, and social supports.
Amidst these victories came the recognition that there is more work still to be done. Amnesty International, a Campaign Advisory Committee Member, called the non-binding document a “powerful instrument for activists” and a “peer-pressure mechanism” which must be actively put to use. The International Women's Health Coalition also noted that the document provides no clear protection to lesbian and transgender women. Likewise, UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet saw the agreement as only the beginning:
“We need to do so much more. Words now need to be matched with deeds, with action. Now is the time for implementation and accountability. We must continue moving forward, with courage, conviction and commitment.”
The Campaign was well represented in New York during the proceedings, with Nobel Peace Laureate and Campaign Co-Chair Jody Williams in attendance alongside other members. Williams participated in a high-level side event with delegations from Norway and South Africa at the United Nations that highlighted states’ obligations to uphold women’s human rights around the world. Meanwhile, at a side event open to CSW attendees and the public, the Campaign brought together activists from around the world to discuss strategies for confronting sexual violence in conflict.
As negotiations during the session stalled – most notably due to efforts by delegations from Russia, Egypt, Iran and the Holy See – the Campaign released a letter to negotiators, signed by Williams and 20 member organizations, urging delegations to take a strong stance on women’s rights and the elimination of gender violence.
U.N. Meet on Women Wrangles Consensus to Address Violence, Inter Press Service, 17 March 2013.
U.N. Body Agrees on Women's Rights Policy, Skirting Sexual Politics, Reuters, 15 March 2013.
Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict, Global Gender Current, 6 March 2013.