19 March 2015

Commission on the Status of Women approves weak Political Declaration

March marked the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), having as theme the implementation of Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (PoA) at their 20th anniversary. Yet, the Political Declaration agreed by Member States deceived CSOs and women’s rights advocates as it falls back on several commitments and lacks of inspiration and ambition.


The Political Declaration includes only vague references to key issues related to women empowerment and falls back on several commitments of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (PoA). During negotiations at closed-doors, conservative Member States watered down language on many issues and blocked progressive suggestions (supported inter alia by EU, Uruguay, Argentina and Canada). Despite years of affirmative language at CSW and other international human rights processes, the Declaration makes no reference to women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and falls back on issues of critical importance:

-The goal of ensuring the full enjoyment of women’s and girls’ human rights and fundamental freedoms is cross-cutting and emphasized throughout the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Yet, several references to human rights were removed in the Political Declaration finally adopted and although Member States’ language suggestions brought forward during negotiations.


-If the final Declaration mentions the goal on gender equality proposed by the Open Working Group (para 7), it refers to it as one of the inputs that will contribute to the integration of a gender perspective into the post-2015 agenda. At a key moment in post-2015 negotiations, CSW declaration could have made stronger connections between the full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and PoA and the realization of the sustainable development goals.


-The Declaration recognizes and welcomes the critical role of women’s NGOs, but does not mention feminist organizations and individuals on the ground who have been the driving force behind the implementation of Beijing PoA and the realization of gender equality, empowerment and the human rights of women.

 

In addition to the Political Declaration, CSW also adopted a document that reviews and clarifies its working methods for the future: the Future organization and methods of work of the Commission on the Status of Women. Civil society voices were largely excluded from discussion on this document, which would limit CSOs role and participation at CSW (see the joint statement 'Nothing About Us Without Us').

Ahead of CSW, nearly 1,000 women’s groups and feminist networks from around the world have reacted to the draft declaration with a joint statement, outlining areas where commitments needed to be strengthened, but very few of them where retained in the final version. Organizations expressed their disagreement also with the discussion procedure of the Declaration, which did not let civil society participate, thus constituting a change in CSW methodology and violating the principle of transparency.