IWTC Women's GlobalNet #299

Activities and Initiatives of Women Worldwide

March 21, 2006

by Mavic Cabrera-Balleza and Joey Bose

1. 50th CSW Session Concludes Later than Expected

The 50th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) did
not conclude on March 10 as scheduled. The conclusion was only reached
March 16, 2006. In an interview with CSW Vice Chair Mrs. Adekundi
Abibat Sonaike of
Nigeria, she clarified that the commission actually
had an agreed conclusion by late afternoon of March 10. However, they
finished the negotiations at
5:45 p.m. and the official session was
scheduled to end at
6:00 p.m. That left only 15 minutes for the official
session to resume as the translators
and the sound engineers work
hours ended at 6:00 p.m. On that particular day, the translators and the
sound engineer agreed to work until
6:20 p.m. but that still did not
provide the delegates sufficient time to finish all the final

The texts in the document that took so long to negotiate were the ones
related to armed conflict and lack of security as some of the obstacles
to women
s advancement and participation in decision-making processes.
Delegates from Syria, Sudan and Egypt asserted that foreign occupation
should be in the agreed conclusion as one of the predicaments that women
confront. In the resumed session on March 16, the representatives of the
said countries agreed to the terms armed conflict and lack of security
in the spirit of consensus. However, they stressed that their national
position is that they want to see the term
foreign occupation in the
official document.

Cynthia Rothschild of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership felt that
the political tensions surrounding the CSW’s delayed conclusion were
very compelling. These tensions, she explained, are not new to the CSW
or other UN processes and are a result of the complicated dynamics that
exist between member states that play out in difficult ways during
negotiations. Rothschild also identified the politics of states on
sexual and reproductive rights as an unspoken undercurrent that is
always at play in work around gender at the United Nations. She cited
the last minute attempt to name permanent observer states [such as the
Holy See and Palestine] as entities to be consulted in the future work
of the CSW as a worrying effort by conservative lobbies to ensure the
continued influence, voice, role and status of the Holy See.

Rothschild also observed a disturbing trend to curb the influence of
civil society as reflected in the protracted battle over NGO
participation. It is a sorry state of affairs indeed, she said, that
governments have to spend so much time negotiating so hard on something
that should be a given.

2. CSW Identifies Themes for 2007-2009 Sessions and New Methods of Work

The 51st session of CSW will be held from February 26 to
March 9, 2007.
The theme will be
“the elimination of all forms of discrimination and
violence against the girl child.” In addition to discussing how each UN
Member States are addressing this issue, delegates to the next CSW
session will also evaluate the progress in the implementation of the
48th CSW session in 2004 where the theme was
“The role of men and boys
in achieving gender equality.” The single-theme approach and the review
of implementation of agreed conclusions from past CSW session are part
of the new methods of work that the CSW adopted. NGO representatives
like Doris Mpoumou of the Women’
s Environment and Development
Organization said that the Commission must be given credit for proposing
a single theme for future sessions as this will check protracted
negotiations and enable it to focus on implementation.
For 2008 the CSW theme will be
“Financing for gender equality and the
empowerment of women.” The agreed conclusions that will be evaluated are
the ones from the 48th session on “women’s equal participation in
conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in
post-conflict peace building. For 2009, it will be “The equal sharing of
responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the
context of HIV/AIDS.
” The agreed conclusions that will be evaluated are
the ones from the 50th session on “The equal participation of women and
men in decision-making processes at all levels.

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