The 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 9 to 20 March 2015. The main focus of the session was on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action -which held its 20th anniversary (Beijing+20) in 2015 - including current challenges that affect its implementation and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Commission conducted a review of progress that includes the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly and also addressed the opportunities for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women in the post-2015 development agenda.
Representatives from Member States, UN entities, and NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) from all regions of the world attended the session.
After an exciting two weeks at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York, the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women concluded on Friday March 20, 2015. WILPF delegates from Australia, Denmark, Japan, Norway, Palestine, Syria, the United Kingdom, and the United States; as well as international staff converged in New York City and worked collectively to advocate for a transformative and sustainable Post2015 development agenda that addresses the root causes of violence and war and integrates issues of disarmament, women’s human rights, and Women, Peace and Security (WPS).
WILPF co/sponsored 14 events which brought together regional and global perspectives and gave voice to those women working on peace, disarmament, and women’s rights around the world.
We united as a delegation to collectively raise our voices and bring attention to the fact that 20 years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and 15 years since the adoption of UNSCR 1325, progress has been uneven. WILPF Secretary General Madeleine Rees gave the call for us to create a new global movement for change and to “rethink, strategize, organize and make a difference.”
The CSW59 Political Declaration which was adopted on March 4, 2015 however failed to strongly and adequately reaffirm the existing commitments and ambitions of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. WILPF joined over 900 women’s activists from around the world in demanding efforts be ramped up “to achieve the goals of fully realizing gender equality, the human rights and empowerment of all women and girls everywhere.”
Given the upcoming 2015 High Level Review of the implementation of UNSCR 1325, on March 11th, WILPF cosponsored a Civil Society Consultation on the 2015 WPS High Level Review. The consultation provided updates on the HighLevel Review; participants discussed civil society engagement and were able to give important recommendations towards the drafting of the WPS High Level Review Global Study.
Focusing on uncovering the linkages between hegemonic masculinities, violence, militarism and conflict, events such as WILPF’s Women Confronting ISIS and Amplifying the Voices of Palestinian Women, also sought to show the importance of, and give a voice to local grassroots women and their networks in the fight for women’s rights in conflict settings. Hanan Kaoud discussed the importance of building a movement of women civil society activists so as to empower women’s participation indecision making and advocate for women’s access to justice and security.
Our events also aimed to put forward a transformative agenda for gendersensitive peacemaking. At the event on A Transformative Women, Peace & Security Agenda: The Need To Challenge Militarism, PeaceWomen Program Manager Abigail Ruane urged that we reclaim the peace agenda and move away from militarized security toward human security in national and regional strategies and action.
At these events and others, WILPFers joined peace activists around the world in envisioning and taking action for transformative change. Charlotte Bunch reminded participants that “women are not just victims but as survivors, they are the key actors for providing the mechanisms for change.” “It is not just about inclusion, stated panelist Carol Cohn, “but about transformation [of the WPS agenda].” Isabelle Geuskens of the Women Peacemakers Program reminded participants that given the increased militarization within the multilateral system, there is also a need to make concrete investments in especially disarmament, human security, and conflict prevention.
On this 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, WILPFers also shared memories and testimonials of the Beijing Peace Train which traveled from Helsinki to Beijing, China for the Fourth World Conference of Women in 1995.
We also continued to build momentum around WILPF’s 100th anniversary Women’s Power to Stop War conference at the Hague where we will launch a new global movement for change. WILPF General Secretary Madeleine Rees reminded: “100 years after the founding of WILPF, the feminist antiwar movement is still as important as ever.”
Although what happens at CSW is just a small part of the work that continues day to day at the local and national level, it reaffirms our strength as WILPFers in creating a world of greater peace and freedom tomorrow by integrating our diverse strengths today. We look forward to continuing to work with all of you in this important work both in New York and around the world!
WILPF’s events powerfully brought attention to the need for a transformative change that addresses the root causes of violence and war and integrates issues of disarmament, women’s human rights, and Women, Peace and Security (WPS).
Throughout CSW, WILPF continued to mobilize with partners to push for a feminist approach to gender justice, security, development and that addresses the root causes of violence and promotes sustainable peace.
WILPF 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, strategize, organize and make a difference.”
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 stepping backwards for women’s human rights. It also is almost completely peace and conflict blind.
WILPF joined over 900 women’s activists from around the world in demanding efforts be ramped up “to achieve the goals of fully realizing gender equality, the human rights and empowerment of all women and girls everywhere.” In addition, 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.