[New York, 08 March 2013] From 04 to 15 March 2013, representatives from Member States all over the world will gather in the United Nations building in New York to discuss the conclusions of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The 2013 conclusions will be on the elimination and prevention of violence against women and girls. Representatives of thousands of NGOs are in New York to work towards obtaining the best conclusions possible, through advocacy actions, side-events and networking activities. The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is proud to be part of this important event, working for strong conclusions that are more than ever needed at international level. Here is a summary of EWL’s activities at the 57th CSW to date.
Tuesday 05 March
EWL President Viviane Teitelbaum spoke at the EU side event on violence against women, and stressed the need for comprehensive policies to tackle VAW including at EU level. Using examples of experience and actions of EWL members in the EU member states, she demonstrated that without a holistic approach and strong political will, policies won’t efficiently or sustainably end violence against women, and therefore reach equality between women and men.
Many EWL members are also in New York and plan to organize various side events throughout the two weeks, on a wide variety of issues, ranging from rape to violence against girls, prostitution, giving birth and male domestic violence.
The ‘zero draft’ of the CSW conclusions were made public by UN Women at the end of February and national delegations have been working on these texts ever since. The EWL delivered a set of amendments on this first draft and disseminated it as much as possible to influence the discussion process within the delegations.
Wednesday 06 March
EWL President Viviane Teitelbaum spoke at the EU side event on trafficking in women and girls as a form of violence against women. By addressing the gender dimension of trafficking, both from the supply and demand sides, she demonstrated that trafficking cannot be tackled effectively as long as the EU and its Member States refuse to address the systems of prostitution and the globalised sex industry. She stressed the need to develop campaigns but also effective legislation, and called for respect to be the key driver in any discussion. No person should be separated into different groups receiving different levels of respect.
A fresh draft of the conclusions was released, comprising the amendments of different countries. Certain key contentious issues have emerged for Member States, like women’s sexual and reproductive rights, the recognition of prostitution as a form of violence, the refusal of any culture or tradition to justify violence against women and girls, the involvement of men and boys and the role of media. The EWL therefore issued its position on this second draft, highlighting the key issues women’s organisations would like to see in the conclusions, based on international agreed language.
In the evening, the EWL hosted a side event on prostitution and violence against women; protection women’s rights in Europe and worldwide. Equality Now, the EWL and CLES (Concertation pour la Lutte contre l’Exploitation Sexuelle) jointly presented the situation in New York, Europe and Canada as well as their work to raise awareness and change legislation towards the abolition of prostitution. MEP Antonyia Parvanova presented the recent adoption by the European Parliament of a resolution on CSW which qualifies prostitution as a form of violence against women. Rachel Moran gave a very moving testimony of her experience as a sex trade survivor. “The money is the central part: once you’re paid, that money buys your silence. It is paid rape. It is rape behind the veil, behind the mask. I hope for society to take that mask off.”
Thursday 07 March
After the daily briefing of UN Women with NGOs, the EWL, together with its members took part in the march of women’s organisations for International Women’s Day, organized by the CSW NGO. Many women joined the march around the UN to call for equality and an end to violence against women.
EWL Secretary General Cécile Gréboval co-facilitated the first meeting of the Europe and North America NGO Caucus of CSW 2013. It was a very successful meeting, where all NGOs agreed on a common position on the current draft conclusions. Based on 12 points, this common position is now a key tool for NGOs to address their national delegations and to obtain support for the positions and points highlighted and supported by women’s organisations, in order to prevent any tentative of backsliding or the adoption of even more conservative language.