WILPF submitted a written statement to the 64th Commission on the Status of Women. Read our statement.
Update: Due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, CSW64 has been shortened to a procedural meeting on 9 March.
Read the alternative Feminist Declaration, launched by the Women's Rights Caucus.
The 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) was planned from March 9-20 in New York, with over ten thousand women activists, country representatives, and others planning to attend what is known to be the largest UN gathering on the rights of women worldwide. The year 2020 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995). At CSW64, these women belonging to women’s and feminist movements planned, alongside representatives of governments, to take stock of the progress of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) and call for greater accountibility and implementation with maximum available resources for key commitments.
In 1995, feminist movements from around the world joined together in Beijing, China, for the Fourth World Conference on Women. At this conference, the world’s governments adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was a landmark platform for ensuring the rights of women and girls. It contained comprehensive commitments under 12 critical areas of concern in all dimensions of life, including economic autonomy, political, social, and cultural decision-making, access to healthcare and related services, impact and role of armed conflict on the rights of women and girls, the impact of environmental catastrophes and hazards on women. The BPfA also underlined the full and equal participation of women in political, civil, economic, social and cultural life at the national, regional and international levels, and the eradication of all forms of discrimination.
Due to ongoing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, CSW64 was shortened from its original two weeks (9-20 March) to one day (9 March) and a follow-up meeting on 13 March. On 9 March governments still adopted a political declaration, a consensus document on gender equality which they pre-negotiated before the conference, and other procedural related decisions.
Unfortunately, the government-adopted political declaration was an extreme disappointment for feminist movements, as it failed to make any new progress or real commitments to gender equality. In the view of the global feminist movement, the declaration completely lacks the ambition needed to push women’s rights forward into the next decade, and instead merely reaffirmed commitments made 25 years ago.
To address the huge gaps in the political declaration adopted at the CSW by governments, the Women’s Rights Caucus—a global coalition of more than 200 feminist organizations, networks and collectives that advocates for gender equality at the United Nations—has published an alternative, feminist declaration. The Feminist Declaration outlines a bold and urgent agenda for gender equality and the human rights of all women and girls, and centers the critical role of civil society organizations advocating for accountability in policy and programs meant to promote, protect, and fulfill human rights for all. WILPF is a member of the Women’s Rights Caucus, and actively participated in its advocacy and communications working groups this year.
The feminist declaration includes critical issues that governments must tackle to achieve gender equality, including: women, peace, and security; sexual and reproductive rights and bodily autonomy; the intersections between the climate crisis and gender equality; and the role of women’s human rights defenders and feminist movements, who are the key to driving long-term change.
What did WILPF do at CSW64?
Original schedule of events:
10 March 2020, 8:30-10:00AM: “Feminist Alternatives: Challenge Militarism to Save our Planet” (4 W 43rd Street, Social Hall, New York, NY). Sponsor: WILPF **rescheduled to 1 April**
11 March 2020, 12:30-2:00PM: "Media's Role in Implementation of UNSCR 1325" (52nd St Salvation Army, Downstairs), Sponsors: International Media Support, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and Syrian Female Journalists Network (SFJN)
11 March 2020, 2:30PM: “Sisters, Seeds and Soil: Bold Voices & Choices for Ecofeminism” 4 W 43rd Street, Green Room, Sponsors: WILPF, FAO/WUNRN; Rural Coalitions; Seeding Sovereignty/Indigenous Iowa; WhyHunger; Soul Fire Farm; Family Farm Defenders and WILPF Ghana
12 March 2020, 4:30-6:00PM: SHE SPEAKS: Conversations for a Peaceful and Inclusive Society, (52nd St Salvation Army, Downstairs), Sponsors: Joy Onyesoh Foundation, WILPF Nigeria
12 March 2020, 7:00-8:30PM: Global Women Changemakers Summit: Reimagining Peace, Working Toward Justice (The Forum, Columbia University, 601 W 125th St, New York, NY 10027) Sponsors: Earth Institute Women, Peace and Security Program, Columbia University World Leaders Forum (Co-sponsors: Nobel Women's Initiative, Peace is Loud, and the Public Science Project)
13 March 2020, 12:30-2:00PM: Transnational Feminist Peacebuilding to End the Korean War, (52nd St Salvation Army Auditorium), Sponsor: Korea Peace Now!
13 March 2020, 2:30-4:00PM: Feminists Want System Change: Agenda2030 & BPfA, (CCUN Chapel), Sponsor: Women’s Major Group
14 March 2020, 10:30AM: Beijing Platform for Action Implementation in Yemen: Recommendations from women at frontlines, (CCUN Tenth Floor), Sponsor: Peace Track Initiative, WILPF, Food for Humanity
14 March 2020, 10:30AM-12:00PM: Beijing Women's Peace Train - Looking Back, Looking Forward, (CCUN 8th Floor), Sponsor: WUNRN - Women's UN Report Network, WILPF US
18 March 2020, 2:30-4:00PM: Implementation of 1325 in (Post)Conflict Context: Balance Between State and Human Security (Church Center for the United Nations, Drew Room). Sponsors: WILPF, Women's Initiative "One of Us", Women's Network for Dialogue and Inclusive Peace, Ukrainian Women's Veteran Movement
Women Peacebuilders Discuss Feminist Political Economy in the Context of Beijing+25
Under the current dominant economic model, whose priorities and needs are being cared for? Specifically before, during, and after conflict, how do economic, political, and social policies exacerbate or reduce inequalities, and what are the gendered impacts of these policy decisions? Who has the authority to make these decisions in the first place?
On 18 March, WILPF held a workshop with Young WILPF members and MENA partners on feminist political economy, to address some of these questions from a feminist peace perspective. The discussion was led by Nela Porobić Isaković, Coordinator of WILPF’s Women Organising for Change in Bosnia Project and WILPF’s focal point on political economy. Zarin Hamid, Programme Manager for the Women, Peace and Security Programme, welcomed Nela and the participants, and introduced the concept for the workshop which was originally planned to take place during CSW64 in New York. The workshop was attended by WILPF members and partners who were originally planning to come to CSW from different parts of the world, including from Australia, Yemen, Japan, Sweden, and Lebanon.
The opening presentation introduced the concept of a feminist political economy analysis to the participants, and outlined the value of bringing a feminist political economy lens to advocacy work conducted by human rights and peace activists as well as others. Although feminist political economy looks specifically at the gendered aspects of economic, political, and social policies, the presentation highlighted that this frame of analysis does not box us in, but rather opens up our ways of seeing the world to also look at other intersections, such as class, age, urban/rural divides, race, and disability.
The current dominant economic framework of capitalism, manifested in neoliberal policies, is frequently presented as “neutral” and an “objective” way to look at economic realities. In response to this, feminist political economy analysis makes visible the interconnections between production and reproduction, formal and informal economies, and asymmetric power relations, as well as the different harms that are perpetuated under the capitalist framework. Participants were introduced to a methodology for conducting a feminist political economy analysis, including a myriad of questions and topics that can be explored under a feminist political economy framework, which can assess for example, investment in public goods, environmental degradation, care economies, and remittances.
Participants then analyzed their own contexts within a feminist political economy framework. Members from WILPF Japan highlighted the varied impacts of US military bases that have been built in parts of Japan despite the opposition of the local population, and how these bases carry associated economic and gendered impacts on communities. The current situation with COVID-19 was also raised by several participants, including in the context of xenophobic policies in Sweden and other European countries, the unique threats to political prisoners incarcerated in Egyptian prisons during the pandemic, as well as the broader underinvestment in public goods under neoliberalism. In Yemen, a current conflict country, one participant identified the importance of looking at differential impacts of violations and harms on different groups.
WILPF will be continuing the discussion on FPE with its members and partners as a powerful way to make visible the realities that dominant economic thinking seeks to obscure. In the context of conflict and post-conflict settings, this will be be a critical tool for analyzing lived reality of affected communities, and paving a way forward to inclusive, sustainable peace.