The fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 10 to 21 March 2014.
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WILPF members had an energizing experience at CSW 58 (2014), where 75 activists and advocates from the WILPF global network joined over 3000 other civil society participants at hundreds of events in a two week long hustle and bustle around UN Headquarters. WILPFers came from Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, Colombia, Geneva and many places in between. We united as a delegation to collectively raise our voices and bring attention to the fact that you get what you pay for, and there can be no peace or development without disarmament and women’s full and equal human rights.
Together, we spoke fiercely and truthfully. We organised 10 successful events and we mobilized and build momentum around WILPF’s 100th anniversary movement recognizing Women’s Power to Stop War! Thanks to everyone who joined us and shared a photo in our #100Women4Peace photo campaign or engaged with our unprecedented social media discussions through #CSW58 #WILPF100 #DisarmSDGs!
WILPF’s inspiring Secretary General, Madeleine Rees was honored as the recipient of the Dean’s Social Justice Award by the CUNY School of Law on March 13th for her leading legacy of advocating for women’s human rights throughout conflict. “When women are not represented in peace processes, it is a failure. It is absolutely vital to include women in peace negotiations”, Madeleine remarked discussing the situation in Syria. We all joined in celebrating Madeleine and her work with WILPF for peace.
“Together and in many forums, WILPF participants united to demand action creating peace through demilitarization and disarmament”, recalls WILPF PeaceWomen Programme Director Maria Butler, who coordinated WILPF’s work at CSW. Many of WILPF’s events were standing-room only, demonstrating the importance of the issues we addressed.
At WILPF’s event, “No Development without Disarmament,” panelists Rehana Hashmi (WILPF Pakistan), Debir Valdelamar (WILPF Colombia), Joy Onyesoh (WILPF Nigeria), Ray Acheson (WILPF Disarmament Programme), and WILPF Secretary General Madeleine Rees brought regional and global perspectives to show the links between conflict prevention, development, disarmament, and peace. Rehana Hashmi of WILPF-Pakistan discussed the impacts of drones, small arms and the war economy on development in Pakistan. “This war economy is not taking us anywhere,” she said. Debir Valdelamar of WILPF-Colombia reminded us that “peacemaking happens at the local level” and shared examples of WILPF’s work with displaced women in Colombia.
At WILPF’s “From Bosnia to Syria” event, WILPF partners and Syrian women peace leaders Nawal Yazeji and Sabah Alhallak, as well as Bosnian women peace leaders Nela Porobic Isakovic and Gorana
Mlinarevic, shared experiences from the powerful recent workshops WILPF held bringing Syrian and Bosnian women together to learn from each other’s experiences and strengthen women’s participation and rights in peace processes. Women both from Syria and Bosnia highlighted the need for women to be seen as agents not as victims and to design gender equality into post-conflict governance systems.
WILPF launched our WILPF PeaceWomen mobile application on Women Peace and Security (WPS)- now available on all smart phones! – at our event, “Access and Technology: Breaking Down Barriers to an Holistic Women, Peace, and Security Agenda” .
In addition to holding our own WILPF events, the PeaceWomen team (Maria Butler, Abigail Ruane, Cristina Chahine, Sandra Neuman, and Shafferan Sonneveld) monitored over 60 events related to the women, peace and security agenda during this years’ CSW,
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Read full report and event summary here.
Late on the evening of Friday, March 21st, 2014, one of the world’s main bodies dedicated to promoting gender equality and women’s rights came to agreement to strengthen gender equality in development. The 58th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 58) reached consensus in recognising that the current development agenda has resulted in only slow and uneven progress for gender equality and women’s rights, and called for the next development agenda to address this gap as a critical priority. In particular, the commission called for gender equality to be prioritised in the next development agenda through both a stand-alone gender equality Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and integration of gender throughout all other goals. This was critical to strengthening momentum for addressing key gaps on gender equality and women’s rights gaps in the design of the next development agenda.
In addition to supporting gender equality in the next development agenda, there was some recognition of interrelationship between gender equality, development and peace. The CSW 58 recalled the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) resolutions (paragraph 9). They recognized conflict as an obstacle to development, and called for measures to implement and monitor the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations, ensure women’s effective participation in peace processes and conflict situations, and to end impunity (paragraph 42 B part (ss)). They also acknowledged the contributions of civil society, women’s organizations and feminist groups (paragraph 40), and the important role of women human rights defenders and the need to protect them (paragraph 42 A (f)).
The Commission also addressed some key issues critical to preventing conflict and promoting peace.The Agreed Conclusions called Member States to “monitor and evaluate the impact of all economic decision-making on gender equality, including public sector expenditures, austerity measures, where they apply, public-private partnerships and investments, and official development assistance, and take corrective action to prevent discriminatory impacts and achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women, including by ensuring promoting women’s full and equal participation in economic decision- making structures” (paragraph 42 C (ccc)). A strengthening of this approach is critical to designing development for conflict prevention and peace.
Despite gains, there continued to be resistance. Challenges were made even on some references to women’s rights, especially sexual and reproductive health and rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, particularly led by the Holy See. A small number of States led by the USA and China managed to delete support for reducing military spending to strengthen development financing. This is a failure of the CSW 58 Agreed Conclusions, not to include already agreed language from Rio (1992) and Beijing (1995) on financing development by reducing military spending. New ways to tackle this resistance and galvanize support for stronger progressive language in the post 2015 development framework must be found.
As the MDGs near their 2015 expiration and a post- 2015 sustainable development agenda is designed, CSW 58 put a strong call to place gender equality at the center of sustainable development. It brought attention to the need to design development for peace. And it highlighted the need for continued strong advocacy to avoid going backwards but move forward toward the world we all want and so critically need.
Read full report and event summary here.