The 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) concluded on Friday 20 March and it has been an exciting two weeks in New York!
The WILPF delegation hailed from around the world including from Australia, Denmark, Japan, Norway, Palestine, Syria. Together, we brought attention to critical gaps 20 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on issues of women and armed conflict. Together, we demanded that actions move from commitments to accomplishments.
WILPF Events Demand Accountability 20 Years After Beijing
WILPF’s events powerfully brought attention to the need to address the root causes of violence and war and integrate issues of disarmament, women’s human rights, and Women, Peace and Security (WPS).
At WILPF’s 6 March Women Confronting ISIS all day symposium, women peace leaders from Iraq, Syria, and other countries around the world mapped the relationship between gender based abuses under ISIS/DAESH and state-sanctioned discrimination and violence against women in Iraq and Syria. “Women must never be used as a military strategy” said global author of the UNSCR 1325 Global Review Radhika Coomaraswamy. Syrian human rights lawyer and WILPF MENA Project Associate Laila Alodaat further commented that “local women and activists on the ground are key to fighting ISIS.”
WILPF’s 9 March event on women in public life showcased the many challenges that women in public life face, particularly those who work on gender, human rights and women, peace and security. “Women do not start wars, but our bodies are the battlefields, yet we are not consulted on peace and rebuilding our countries,” said Special Representative for the Secretary General on Sexual Violence Zainab Hawa Bangura.
At WILPF’s 11 March civil society consultation on the 2015 Women, Peace and Security High Level Review, panelists shared opportunities for civil society engagement and participants provided recommendations on the review. “The conversation has not changed for the past 20 years, not just here but everywhere,” said UN Women Policy Adviser and Officer in Charge Nahla Valji. Participants explored how to overcome existing obstacles through creative efforts to transform the status quo.
At WILPF’s 12 March event on the situation of women and girls in post-conflict and post-transition states, panelists discussed the interrelationship between institutional mechanisms, human rights and armed conflict. According to Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, “In any country where women’s rights are denied, there is conflict.” Sarah Boyd of WILPF Australia brought attention to the failure to address root causes: “The WPS agenda is meant to transform institutions and prevent conflict, but this still has not been conceptualised.”
CSW Political Declaration: Failed Ambition or a Step Backward?
On 4 March 2015, the Commission on the Status of Women adopted a Political declaration on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women. Unfortunately, feminists agree that the declaration failed to meet Beijing’s ambition and actually risks being a step backwards for women’s human rights. It also is almost completely blind to peace and conflict.
WILPF joined over 900 women’s activists from around the world in demanding that efforts be ramped up “to achieve the goals of fully realising gender equality, the human rights and empowerment of all women and girls everywhere.”
With the Post2015 Women’s Coalition, we launched a vision statement outlining a proposal for feminist sustainable development that fills the gap of the weak and inadequate CSW political declaration.
Join us in demanding feminist sustainable development and peace rather than business as usual! Demand your government to raise the bar for peace, gender justice, and women’s human rights.
Throughout CSW, WILPF continued to mobilise with partners to push for a feminist approach to gender justice, security and development that addresses the root causes of violence and promotes sustainable peace. Our Secretary General Madeleine Rees urged activists to demand transformation of patriarchal structures of power for gender equality through reigniting a new global movement for change. She called for peace leaders to “rethink, strategise, organise and make a difference.”
At WILPF’s 100th anniversary Women’s Power to Stop War conference in the Hague 27-29 April 2015 we will continue to mobilise for peace and gender justice.
This is a critical time to take feminist action for transformative peace and freedom for all. To change the world, we need all of us! We invite you to join us as we craft a vision and strategy for the next century for gender justice and peace activism.
See you in the Hague!