CSW 2010: Reflections of Day One

By YWCA of Canberra, Australia Executive Director Rebecca Vassarotti

Well, the first day of CSW has been amazing.  It is incredible to be part of this incredible machinery.  There have been some humbling experiences, some highs and some lows and some experiences which have left us somewhat bemused, watching the movement of some 8000 women around a construction site.

Roslyn, Maree and myself were extremely lucky to get into the overflow room for the opening session – so while we weren’t in the room, we were next door.  This meant we were able to sit in the seats usually held by delegates and joined with hundreds of women listening to the opening.

There were a number of speakers in this first session, from the UN themselves, getting the meeting underway and setting the scene for the session.  It was interesting to note that at this Commission, which is responsible for the status of women was only able to produce three women in the seven speakers, and both the Chair and the Secretary of the Commission were male – but more about the progress of the UN in this area later.

In relation to key messages at this session, they included:

–          The need to move from commitment to action

–          The recognition that progress has been uneven everywhere – globally, regionally and nationally

–          The call to use opportunities to learn lesson, translate good practice

–          Statements that equity for women, and the empowerment of women and girls is a priority for the UN

–          The contribution of the NGO women’s sector was highlighted and acknowledged

–          All made links to Millennium Development Goals

–          Observation that the goals of equity and women’s empowerment not just a goal in its end but will create a global

Issues highlighted:

–          Violence against women

–          Injustice

–          Poverty

–          Reproductive health, including maternal health (almost all maternal deaths should be preventable)

–          Illiteracy (2/3 of illiterate people are women, and this has not changed in 20 years)

–          Location of women in the informal workforce

–          Trafficking

Report on UN progress around gender equity within the UN:

–          3.7% increase of females holding leadership positions in the UN in the last year.

–          38.8% of professional positions in the UN are held by women – no increase.  A

–          gender balance strategy and action plan has been development

Important issues:

–          deadline for resolutions is Tuesday 9 March at pm

–          There has been a call to develop a binding instrument to end trafficking for organs (following a report provided by the Assistant General Secretary General Special Advisor on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women

After this session, the Australia YWCA delegates were privileged to be able to observe a high level meeting of Pacific Nations around the strategy for this region to use CSW to promote issues of joint concern.  This was hosted by the Australian Ambassador to the UN and included participation from Government Ministers from New Zealand and Samoa.

Through the day, I attended a number of parallel events.  They included:

Intergenerational Conversation on Beijing
This session was run by the Working group on Girls (NGO Committee on UNICEF).  This session was aimed at assisting members of the working group to lobby on key issues, and was very instructional, providing advice on how to work with permanent missions to advocate on issues around members of CSW keeping promises made around ending discrimination; protecting girls and empowering girls

Gassroots Caucus
This was a small group but very powerful group which committed to meeting on a daily basis, to share information, support one and other and ensure that the ‘lived experience’ was recognised as an important voice in this conference.  I am looking forward to learning more for the amazing women participating in this.

The official end to the day included a briefing from the Australian Government delegation and information put under the door from World YWCA.  If day 2 is anything like day 1 we are in for an experience.

For more information visit http://www.worldywca.orgYWCA of Australia

Women of faith gather at CSW 2010

By World YWCA CSW Intern and Superstar: Chelsey Butchereit

The World YWCA delegates that attended the Ecumenical Women Orientation Day on February 27, 2010 at the United Nations Church Center were part of a group of a couple hundred women (and men) that received training about combining their faith and advocacy efforts during CSW 2010.

A review of the establishment of CSW, a short history of the BPFA, and an introduction to Ecumenical Women’s organisation was presented first.

Following that, there were speakers that discussed how faith communities could engage the UN specifically on issues where Ecumenical Women believes the BPFA remains unfulfilled. These include

·      Ending the culture and practice of impunity: violence against women

·      Transforming leadership: Gender, Power, and Decision-Making

·      Establishing Economic Justice: Women and the Economic and Financial Crisis

Keynote speakers addressed these issues and gave examples of innovative ways faith groups are tackling challenges related to women’s rights in their communities. As a group we were also encouraged to not only work during the days of CSW but throughout the entire year on building relationships with UN members and holding the body accountable for what they say they will do.

To finish the orientation a couple of hours were dedicated to advocacy training and practice. During this time the World YWCA participants Arda Aghazaria, Sheila Matindike, and Chelsey Butchereit re-energised the entire group when they role played how they could use the Ecumenical Women’s talking points in a short encounter with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon (role played by our very own World YWCA staff Juli Dugdale!).

It was another nice day of preparation as we all gear up for the start of CSW on Monday.

World YWCA CSW Chelsey Butchereit

Visit http://www.worldywca.org  for more information

World YWCA delegates find their way at CSW 2010

By World YWCA CSW Intern and Superstar: Chelsey Butchereit

World YWCA delegates met together in a conference room at the UNICEF building for the first time as an entire group on February 26, 2010. During this orientation we were able to learn more about each other, grow as a team, and gain knowledge that will help each of us have a meaningful CSW experience.

Susan Brennan, World YWCA President, gave an overview of the objectives of the World YWCA’s participation in CSW that included:

  • Building a movement and leadership
  • Participating in global advocacy and conversations
  • Planning for World Council 2011
  • Developing fund raising and friend raising

As a group we also discussed our individual expectations as well.

Susan also gave a brief but comprehensive overview of the United Nations structure, how the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) fits into that structure, details about the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), and what to expect from this year’s CSW.

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, World YWCA General Secretary, took on the task of helping the group understand our talking points and ways to best approach difficult or sensitive subjects that may come up in our conversations with others.

To finish up the orientation Bonnie Fatio-Pollock, World YWCA volunteer, lead the group in a discussion about best practices for getting our message across effectively and in only a couple of minutes! In small groups members of the delegation had the opportunity to come up with and present one minute “elevator speeches” for each of the six  recommendations the World YWCA has for the UN CSW (invest in women and girls, ensure safety and security of women and girls, involve women most affected, expand access to comprehensive services, promote women’s leadership, and keep promises made).

Overall it was an exciting and informative start to CSW 54!

Related Links

World YWCA at CSW 2010