Inspiring Change - Campaigning at the CSW
Perhaps no time of year is as intense for gender rights activists as the month of March, when lobbying at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and organising events to celebrate International Women's Day guarantees a number of sleepless nights.
Rosa Lizarde - of the Feminist Task Force - has compiled a list of notable quotes to capture the spirit of the CSW negotiations and the women who tirelessly campaign for gender equality.
"At a time when speaking up for justice, or just being yourself, can result in a woman being attacked, beaten, threatened, violated, insulted and shunned, let us seek inspiration for CHANGE, JUSTICE, EQUALITY, EQUITY and the fulfillment of WOMEN'S HUMAN RIGHTS in the words of everyday heroes," writes Lizarde, who is also the civil society co-chair of the Policy and Strategy Group (PSG) of The World We Want 2015. "Here are inspiring messages from the CSW and a “People's Voices” side event organised by the PSG and FTF.”
Read on to learn more about the outcomes of this year's CSW as well as Lizarde's list of inspiring quotes for change.
What happened at the 2014 CSW?
Speaking at the 4th UN World Conference on Women in 1995, Hillary Clinton - who was then the First Lady of the United States - stood in Beijing and declared "women's rights are human rights", lifting to international prominence a phrase coined years earlier by activists.
Nearly 20 years later, many of the same rights violations that Clinton highlighted persist, including female infanticide, gender-based violence, human trafficking, genital mutilation and a lack of access to safe abortion.
But the struggle to realise women's rights continues on a daily basis as well.
At this year's CSW, conservative governments – and the Vatican – pushed back against language on sexual and reproductive rights as well as on other key issues. But they did not win the day. While campaigners did not get everything they would have liked at the CSW, either, there is a sense that progress has been made.
The CSW outcome document affirms that climate change disproportionately affects women and girls and has specific references to sex education programmes for young people. a woman's right to abortion services and the elimination and prevention of violence against women and girls. The CSW also calls for a stand-alone Post-2015 goal on gender equality and argues that gender equality must underpin all Post-2015 goals.
"Sexual education is not just something that happens between the legs, it happens between the ears." ~ El Salvador delegate
“Indigenous women’s voices are essential . . . because we cannot be distracted, intimidated, bribed, raped, or beaten into giving up our roles of protecting our great grandmother Earth. The world needs to hear our direction on how to develop and grow economically, while hold(ing) our winds, waters, and lands in trust for future generations.” ~ Lori Johnston of Yamasi Peoples.
Lori comes from a matrilineal line of indigenous women leading civil government in the original nations of southeast North America. She and hundreds of thousands of indigenous citizens live alongside 100 million newcomers.
“Rural African women are the central indicator used to measure development outcomes . . . (but) they are the least resourced (and) remain on the margins." ~ Nebila Abdulmelik, a pan-Africanist working with FEMNET.
- "Campaigners welcome 'milestone' agreement at UN gender equality talks," Liz Ford, The Guardian, 23 March 2015
- "UN panel OK's document promoting women's rights," Edith Lederer, The Boston Globe, 23 March 2015
- Watch "Women and the Post-2015 Agenda", part of the People's Voices Series