Archive for the 'blogging' Category

“UN dishonors women”

Solana Larsen

Here’s an example of some of the spectacularly negative things some American conservatives say about the UN process:

National Review (via Andrew Sullivan):

Last Friday, the UN surpassed itself as it finished its annual session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women by singling out Israel and only Israel (which actually has a very good record on women’s rights) as being the only state “found in violation of women’s rights.”

It’s outrageous the writer would make it sound like that everything that went on for two weeks was related to Israel. (Perhaps, a more interesting article for the National Review would be how the United States blocks international progress in women’s rights that would help the muslim women they supposedly care so much about.)

It was a PS to the meeting and not a central thing. Pakistan put forward a resolution on the Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, which refers to this report completed by the United Nations. Forty out of forty-five countries voted in favour of it. Granted, it is a little weird that Israel is the only country mentioned in any of the four resolutions suggested by states (and jeez, who is Pakistan to talk?). But it is a rather striking poll on international sentiment. Only the USA and Canada voted against. Here is a summary of how the Commission voted. The fact that Israel has a “good record” may be why it’s particularly important to point out (here’s a little reminder of the UN’s role in creation of Israel). OK, so it would be nice if there was no such thing as politics at UN meeting on women. But then it wouldn’t be governments sitting at the table.

The fact that representatives voted to help Palestinian women is no reason to slam the entire CSW or the UN. On the contrary. Here is a draft of the agreed conclusions of the CSW. It is a long and detailed document which will be of great assistance to women’s rights activists around the world. (No country is singled out. I am not sure if it is because the bit on Israel goes in a seperate document or simply hasn’t been included yet.)



Solana Larsen

We’ve got a couple of articles on openDemocracy to help draw this blogging session to a close. Sarah Lindon on International Women’s Day (“Gendered States“) and myself on the closing day of the CSW (“How power works for women“).

I won’t promise not to post again in this blog. But for now it’s goodbye. If you participated in the CSW or you have any comments whatsoever, feel free to email them or post them in the comments below. Thanks for your links, comments, and support.

… what if it was the Commission on the Status of Men?

Jane Gabriel

“You are absolutely the last one!” said the woman trying to control the queue into the UN press and ID centre as she slammed the door behind me and locked it firmly. She glared at all of us and shouted “And don’t unlock the door under any circumstances”!

As I squeezed into the crowded room I thought, just for a minute, that word was spreading that journalists were turning up to cover the CSW. But I was wrong, everyone else seemed to be from an NGO and the press room inside was empty. Valerie Semplicino said the only journalists who had asked for accreditation were from Spain, Korea, the Netherlands and Iran. The only male journalist in the world here covering the CSW is from Iran.

When Valerie started her job in 1999 she told me that the journalists formed a “line that never stopped, it went on for days and days, it was constant, it was crushing”. They’d had to move the press accreditation office outside into a trailer in the garden in order to deal with everyone”. Those days have gone she said “but I cannot even begin to guess why”.

As you enter the main lobby of the UN the first thing you see is an exhibition called “I am powerful” – but read the text below and it says “a celebration of women’s potential – and a call for action”. My heart sank again; the irony must surely be lost on the exhibition’s organisers: the wording could have been from 1946 when the CSW was first created.

As I headed off for my first two sessions called ‘Violence against Women and the girl child’ and ‘Stop Rape Now’, I thought ‘Yes, we are powerful, but we certainly do not have the power’. I suddenly thought about what would happen if this UN meeting was the Commission on the Status of Men. The journalists would surely come flocking and Valerie would be out in the the trailer like before. I for one, would queue all round the block for as long as it took for the chance to report on the status of men – and what needs to be done…

More later from the two sessions on violence against women and girls.

The CSW’s absent media coverage

Jessica Reed

Isabel Hilton wrote a piece for the Guardian’s Comment is Free titled “Forgotten Women”, which questions the motives behind the CSW’s lack of coverage. You can read it here.

Just imagine that it was possible to get 4,000 women and 200 girls together, along with hundreds of NGOs and representatives of 45 governments to talk about real ways of protecting young women and girls from violence and improving the status of women. Surely such an event would be of interest?

So why, when 45 governments, 4,000 women and hundreds of NGOs do get together to focus on these issues do none of the conventional media pay the slightest attention?

Sad but true: a quick search in Google News shows less than a dozen of articles about the Commission, a good amount of them published by pro-life groups considering abortion as the “greatest crime against women and children in this generation” (and as Solana pointed out, they have active delegates at the CSW):

Millie Lace (Arkansas), Licensed Professional Counselor and Director of the National Helpline for Abortion Recovery says that if CSW is truly pro-woman and truly wants to protect women, they should call upon governments to protect girls (and boys) from the moment of conception.

We have however found good company in the blogosphere: a couple of brilliant women’s blogs have picked up openDemocracy’s efforts and commented: Women’s Space, Feminist Law Professors and the F word.

Forgotten women

Solana Larsen

openDemocracy’s editor Isabel Hilton comments on the lack of press coverage for this year’s CSW on the Guardian website, Comment is Free. “Is Britney Spears’ shaved head or celebrities not wearing underwear more important than the fate of half the world’s population?”

Danish radio tomorrow

Solana Larsen

I’ll be reporting on the CSW for a technology programme on Danish public radio Thursday evening (Danish-time). I’m happy to have given the editor of “Harddisken” reason to boast on their blog, that there will be lots of women on his programme tomorrow.

UPDATE: You can listen to the programme here.

openDemocracy blogs the CSW

Solana Larsen

From 26 February to 9 March, there is a meeting at the UN in New York called the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that will bring together governments, UN representatives, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to evaluate progress on gender equality and set new standards for global policy.

The day before the meeting ends, 8 March, is International Women’s Day.

The news media tend to carry almost identical stories about UN meetings. They repeat the most jarring facts from press releases, and everyone steers clear of describing the seemingly boring and symbolic process.

openDemocracy tries to make global politics more accessible. Our blogs take you behind the scenes at meetings like the World Social Forum, World Economic Forum, and now the CSW for a deeper understanding of politics in action.

From the colour of the chairs in the cafeteria, to the personal accounts of women who participate, these details help give a sense of what it’s really like.