Tag Archives: MDGs

Thursday 20th March 2014: *Newsflash*

20 Mar

The agreed conclusions have been going rather slowly, despite the facilitator’s efforts to keep the pace up and be nearly done by lunchtime today. Yesterday evening we met with our negotiator from the Government Equalities Office and he did not have much of an update, other than everyone wants their two cents’ worth of input; and that posturing and attempted compromise continues.

This evening I have just received the latest version and a few more paragraphs have been agreed completely, with a few more nearly agreed. Of the ones nearly agreed, a few bits of our wording relating to women’s inheritance rights and equal access to justice have remained in. One paragraph that has been agreed addresses internet safety, although we can’t claim credit for that one!

I suspect the session will continue well into the night with interns being sent off to buy pizza and strongly caffeinated fizzy drinks. I, meanwhile, have enjoyed a session with the Anglican delegation (including our lovely Mothers’ Union members), reflecting on the past two weeks, and am now scoffing cough sweets to battle the dry tickle in my throat.

More to follow; until then, happy first day of spring to you all.

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Wednesday 12th March: Keep on agitating!

20 Mar

On Wednesday I attended a meet and greet with Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Quite a novelty meeting a woman bishop! With great warmth and welcome, she encouraged us to keep agitating to seek change in the world. During the same session, Mugisa Isingoma talked about her role as Mothers’ Union President for Congo and the need for her and other leaders to be role models to women. She also talked about her work with United Women for Peace and Social Inclusion, which supports women to become self-sufficient, particularly those who have survived rape and domestic violence. She highlighted how the women she works with do not want to keep telling their story but rather look to the future to see what they can achieve.

Afterwards, I attended an event on engaging faith communities to address sexual and gender-based violence, held by Episcopal Relief and Development and chaired by Terrie Robinson, Women’s Desk Officer with the Anglican Communion. She highlighted how people often look to the church for support and encouragement, yet how the church has often remained silent on the issue of domestic and gender-based violence. Rev Ann Marie Hunter of Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership spoke about how faith can be used as a weapon of abuse, as well as being a source of support and healing; and how faith communities need to repent and speak out against violence, as well as offering support to survivors. Other panelists spoke about the importance of faith leaders being educated about gender-based violence and becoming advocates for transformation.

At the end of the day I attended a reception hosted by Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative, UK Mission to the UN New York. I was introduced to Maria Miller, Minister for Women and Equalities, and spoke to her about Mothers’ Union’s perspective on this year’s CSW, including the discussions Rhoda and I had had about girls missing school each month. I also chatted to Sharon Hodgson MP, Shadow Women and Equalities Minster, who told me her concerns about the sexualisation of young girls and boys, including their use of internet pornography and self-generated content such as sexting. She was aware of our Bye Buy Childhood campaign and the Bailey Review, having met with her shortly before coming out to CSW.

Tuesday 11th March: Next draft of the agreed conclusions

14 Mar

Someone was obviously working hard in the wee hours, as early Tuesday morning the revised draft (now the third version) of the agreed conclusions made its way into my email inbox. For the first time, certainly since I’ve attended CSW, the agreed conclusions are being made available freely to all. No longer do we have to rely on helpful leaks and subterfuge, which makes the process much easier (if not a little less exhilarating!).

The new draft is down to 30 or so pages, and for the first time there is no indication on which countries or groups of countries have made which amendments. An interesting piece of psychology, perhaps, to persuade NGOs to read through the amendments without prejudice based on who has written them.

Some of our amendments that made it into the compilation draft remain in this draft, although some suggestions have not been included. I beavered away making further amendments and whizzed them over to the UK negotiators and other contacts. Despite being in New York, I think I’ve had better laptop performance and internet connection in South Sudan, so this took up a fair amount of time.

Later, I found a comfy spot in a shiny new lounge in the UN building overlooking the river to do some more work and managed to ‘overhear’ other government delegates discussing their amendments to the agreed conclusions. They were in favour of a paragraph that is not popular with more progressive states and were collaborating on making it more acceptable. Referring to women as a ‘reproductive unit’ is perhaps not the most empowering language!

The UK Government also gave its statement to the CSW, presented by Lynne Featherstone MP. She highlighted the Government’s commitment to giving 0.7% Gross National Income in overseas development assistance and announced that soon all those applying for DFID funding for aid and development will need to prove that they are also taking into account gender issues in what the money will be spent on.

And the evening briefing proved a rich source of information again, this time about progress on the post-2015 development agenda. Whilst there is a lot of agreement on the very detailed High Level Panel report, it is by no means set in stone yet; so there is still the opportunity to lobby on ensuring the next set of goals truly seek to further gender equality.

Wednesday 6th March: Winds of change

7 Mar

This morning I opened my curtains to a grey and windy morning. I barely survived being taken by the wind in the manner of the prospective nannies in Mary Poppins, on my way to the UK NGO meeting.  Winds today gusted up to 35mph.

I spent some time today chasing my tail, as side events I wanted to attend were not where they were supposed to be. So I used a couple of spare hours to take advantage of the wonders of remote email access to deal with the work that continues in the UK.

The side event that did remain in its rightful place was one hosted by the UK Government. In front of a packed Lynne Featherstone @ CSWaudience, Lynne Featherstone MP outlined some research from England and Wales – 7% of women in England and Wales have reported some form of sexual violence, increasing to 14% for younger women and girls. The UK Government’s approach to dealing with VAWG is prevention, provision of services, partnership working and bringing perpetrators to justice. Ms Featherstone highlighted UK initiatives such as extending the definition of domestic abuse to include 16 and 17 year olds, work on tackling the sexualisation of young people (for example through the Bailey Review), the Body Campaign and the recent teenage rape prevention adverts on TV – featured in the UK’s Action Plan to tackle VAWG.

Carlene Firmin, from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, talked about the importance of tackling violence against girls, including gang violence. Within gang culture, boys are sometimes drawn in and groomed by men to sexually assault girls before passing the on to men to abuse.

I later bumped into Jeanette. She has been doing an excellent job and has tracked down the Papua New Guinea delegation to talk to and hand them Mothers’ Union’s statement (position paper) – they apparently have seldom been approached at CSW by NGOs from PNG. She is also aiming to talk to the delegation from the Solomon Islands.

At the evening meeting with the UK Government delegation, we were briefed on the UK’s work on the Post 2015 Development Agenda. Prime Minster David Cameron is co-chair of the High Level Panel which was set up to make recommendations on the vision for and shape of the development agenda following the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the Panel’s final report will be presented to the UN Secretary General in May 2013.

Following the meeting, a group of us headed to a nearby diner for dinner and to discuss progress of the agreed conclusions and identify areas we need to push. Formal discussions known as informals (contradictory?!) begin tomorrow, so we’re unlikely to get any text developments until the weekend or beginning of next week.

I rounded off the evening with a few episodes of Big Bang Theory, hot chocolate and Oreos.