EWL News

Commission on the Status of Women 64 cancellation : European Women’s Lobby participation

[Brussels, 4 March 2020] On 2 March 2020, ahead of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the 64th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women was significantly sized down to a one-day procedural meeting with Member States’ New York-based representatives, in light of increasing global concerns of the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Although the political statement and multi-annual work programme will be approved at this meeting, women’s civil society organisations from around the world will miss this unique moment to bring the collective voices of women and girls, in all their diversity, to the international political table. This situation, which is caused by external, extenuating circumstances, is devastating for the thousands of women’s and feminist organisations around the world, many of whom are from small, grassroots organisations and have funded their travel to New York from scarce resources, now lost.

Sadly so far, the UN and UN Member States have not been forthcoming to reassure us or propose other ways in which Women’s Civil Society voices will still be brought to the CSW64. This lack of commitment is part of the broader concern of the increasingly shrinking space of women’s civil society. The UN system and the Member States must take proactive steps to support feminist women’s organisations, to ensure they are included and financially supported within upcoming UN processes for 2020, including the Generation Equality Forums in Mexico and Paris, and the UN General Assembly in New York.

“In times like this, we must remain vigilant and stand strong in the face of uncertainty, adversity, and instability. We continue to recognise the incredible work of women’s activists and feminists everywhere, and their ongoing efforts to ensure a feminist world where women and girls live free, equal and dignified lives. While we are physically divided, we are united in our vision for a feminist world.” Gwendoline Lefebvre, President, European Women’s Lobby

“Backed by the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, women’s organisations and feminist groups have been a driving force for change, playing an important advocacy role in advancing legislation or mechanisms to ensure women’s and girls’ human rights. It’s not by chance that the CSW is the second largest annual meeting of the United Nations! Having it shortened during the 25th anniversary of the BpFA, at a time when we are witnessing the progressive weakening of the recognition of women’s and girls’ human rights, is deeply disturbing. Women, through non-governmental organizations, need to keep on participating in and strongly influence the community, national, regional and global forums, and international debates.” Ana Sofia Fernandes, Presidente da Plataforma Portuguesa para os Direitos das Mulheres Vice-Presidente do Lobby Europeu das Mulheres ; Vice President, European Women’s Lobby

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