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UN 58 Commission on the Status of Women: advocacy document of the Europe/North America NGO caucus, 11 March 2014

[New York, 11 March 2014] The Europe/North America NGO caucus met yesterday to discuss its joint recommendations on the draft conclusions of the 58th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

You will find below and here our main policy issues, and here the latest version of the draft conclusions (of 10 March) with our amendments.

Recommendations of the Europe - North America NGO caucus, 11 March 2014

Commission on the Status of Women 58th session, 10 – 21 March 2014

With regards to the priority theme of CSW 58, “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”, the Europe-North America NGO caucus asks Member States to take into account the following important issues:

The Caucus asks all Member States to strongly reaffirm and strengthen their commitment to all existing international and regional instruments, ratify CEDAW for countries which haven’t done it yet, and implement them at national level, including documents related to the Beijing process, the ICPD programme of action, CEDAW and its protocol, Conventions on the rights of the child and on the rights of persons with disabilities, Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, UNSCRs on Women, Peace and Security.

The Caucus calls on all Member States to stop invoking any custom, tradition or religious considerations and ensure a consistent protection of women’s human rights throughout the world, with no exception. The realisation of the commitments cannot be conditioned to the sovereignty of Member States and their various cultural and religious backgrounds.

The Caucus stresses that the full integration of women and girls’ multiple identities through a intersectional perspective including factors such as gender, sex, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, health (including pregnancy and HIV/Aids, civil status, citizenship, nationality, housing, migration status, age, disability, class, income, language, geographical location (rural areas, conflict zones), sexual orientation and gender identity, is a crucial condition for addressing the multiple forms of discrimination and violence that many women face.

The Caucus wants to see the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls as a key priority.
The Caucus calls on all Member States to acknowledge the diversity of families.

The Caucus urges Member States to fully include the concept of women’s sexual and reproductive rights, in conformity with agreed language (including ICPD). Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights should continue to be a policy priority. This includes no negotiation on access to sexuality education, free access to all means of safe contraception and safe and legal abortion.

The Caucus wants to see UN international agreed language when it comes to prostitution and sexual exploitation, such as in the UN 1949 Convention, stating that “Prostitution and the accompanying evil of the traffic in persons for the purpose of prostitution are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person”. The Caucus alerts on the normalisation of prostitution, on the impact of the lobby of the sex trade which denies any unequal power relationship in commercial sex, and on the growing commercialisation of sexuality. We refuse the framing “sex work” or “forced prostitution” and maintain that prostitution is one of the most archaic manifestation of the unequal power relation between women and men and therefore, measures must be taken to protect all women and girls in prostitution and address the demand for trafficking and prostitution.

Decent work and free equality education and lifelong learning needs to be a priority for all.
The Caucus stresses the need for well-funded, sustainable, accessible and non-discriminatory multisectoral public services.

The Caucus wants to see strong commitments to end gender stereotypes which need to be countered and fought in multiple areas: in languages and vocabulary, laws and practices, mind-sets of people, justice systems, media and education, in different organizations and public authorities, in enterprises and in individuals.

Women and girls should have equal participation at the elaboration, negotiation, policy development and evaluation levels of all policies.

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