Advocacy of a UN 5WCW at the 2009 CSW

Report by Jean Shinoda Bolen (March 2009)

With NGOs: There was considerable support among NGO delegates for the idea of a 5WCW—it was as if the election of President Obama had changed the climate for it at the United Nations. The panel on Gender Equality and 5WCW had many sponsors and was very well attended, the blue 5WCW buttons were a positive item—with 800 or more accepted by NGO delegates. 5WCW was a focus at two workshops, and serendipity paved the way for a 5WCW Caucus on March 5. A petition was started there. The point of these efforts was to seed widespread grassroots support from NGOs. A reasonable assumption is that there is NGO support that will grow as efforts continue, especially when tangible plans materialize.

With CSW: The a newly appointed CSW chair and a newly appointed United States delegation were running to catch up—their learning curve was similar only much more so than it is for new NGO delegates such as those who came as 5WCW advocates. This year, NGOs closely involved with the UN CSW had two major concerns which took priority over any other issues. The GEAR (gender-architecture-reform) campaign, the effort to create a strong, autonomous, centralized women’s agency, which was not successful. (see article for explanation of what it is and what happened), and the Agreed Conclusions on “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS.” This document was widely discussed by NGOs and by the CSW, with considerable lobbying done, including by organizations opposed to reproductive choice. (ten page “Agreed Conclusions”document can be downloaded from the homepage of the UN Division on the Advancement of Women

Oral statement: Advocacy for a UN 5WCW (prepared for the CSW)

With member-states: Any member state can propose a resolution in support of a UN 5WCW which can go to the General Assembly, or be introduced to the CSW or ECOSOC. The proposal for a 5WCW Council of Europe March 2006 can serve as a model(—link to document). It is the advocacy from member-states which will count. It is up grassroots and NGOs to get this. An activist in any one of the 192 member-states may be only one or two degrees of separation away from someone in her government who could get support for this proposal. To be effective, more countries need to get on board as part of the process. This can begin with a few individuals. I learned that UN Security Council Resolution #1325 on women, peace and security, began with the support of the ambassador from Bangladesh who with several others wrote the first proposal. (I learned this from Dotty Prunhuber who was one of them).

New Chair of the the CSW: Olivier Belle from Belgium

Olivier BelleThe newly appointed chairperson of the the CSW came to the first NGO briefing—which is held in the UN CSW chambers for 45 minutes preceding the CSW under the auspices of the NGO CSW-NY. I had an opportunity to ask him a question. I said that since a proposal from Finland for a UN sponsored 5th World Conference on Women was tabled by ECOOC until 2009, would the CSW support taking this proposal off the table? He asked me to repeat the question, took notes and said that since he was new, he would look into it and come back, which he did the next day. He apparently referred to the Beijing + 15 plans in his answer. The NGO presiding chair told him that this was not the question that had been asked. (I was not able to be at this meeting because I was in the Oprah and Friends studio taping an interview with Dr. Oz). I was not successful in my efforts to reach Mr. Belle during the remainder of the week either at the CSW or through the Belgium consulate.

Jean Shinoda Bolen