There’s a huge debate right now in LAC feminist networks, because for the first time ever a CSW session couldn’t arrive to an agreed-upon resolution. In other sessions, they were able to reach consensus a week after the session was closed, but this time it simply wasn’t possible.
The main issue is that several countries did not agree with the language on sexual and reproductive rights (a government delegate from an Arab country even said “what do they have to do with rural women” (this year’s issue)? Comments are that some countries like Egypt were terribly hard on this issue and LAC, CARICOM countries (Caribbean Common Market) and Nicaragua led a conservative and fundamentalist position. Even with Scandinavian countries doing their best to intervene, nothing of substance could be achieved.
UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet commented : “The discussions during the past two weeks gave us hope that stakeholders were ready to provide both priority attention and much needed resources to further women’s empowerment and gender equality in all its dimensions, including sexual and reproductive health, and access to technology, and other important areas.”
As highlighted by Bachellet this situation is especially disappointing for rural women and girls to whom the 56th session of the CSW was dedicated. Because of political disputes the governments put on hold adoption of important conclusions that would improve rural women and girls’ lives in areas like access to technology. For example, the internet is critical channel for rural women and girls to access information on reproductive health, sexual rights or support services for survivors of violence against women.
I find that this situation sparks concern around future discussions on Cairo+20. It’s also difficult to think of a new women’s conference, that the UN wants to convene in 2015. If the language is revised, LAC women, and I’m sure women all around the globe, feel that there will be a great fight as many countries would like to erase many of the rights already conquered in Beijing. That would be a real step backwards!
I agree with what Norway says: “we cannot accept that religious, cultural and certain so-called moral arguments are being used to block decisions and avoid obligations we all know would give millions of women freedom and save hundreds of thousands of lives every year”.
Moreover, as women’s rights activists said in their recent statement “Say NO to safeguarding “traditional values” at the expense of women’s human rights”, such values contradict the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and governments must not condone any tradition, cultural or religious arguments which deny human rights and fundamental freedoms of any person.