Written by Fiona Basile
I’m pleased to report that both Jane and I have returned safely home after spending two intense weeks at the United Nations in New York for the 57th Session of the Commission for the Status of Women. What a steep learning curve... this was certainly NO HOLIDAY!!
The theme for the session was ‘The Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls’. It’s tragic that we even need to have such an ‘event’ to discuss this topic, however, the reality is, violence against women and girls is rife in many (if not all) nations, and the magnitude of the violence, the forms in which it is manifested, and its causes are MANY! And sadly, it seems we have a LONG WAY to go to alleviating this horrific problem.
Given there was no ‘Agreed Conclusions’ document at last year’s commission, there was intense pressure on the UN’s state delegates to produce a final document at the end of the two weeks. After tense negotiating, word for word, paragraph for paragraph, and a frenzy of Twitter feeds and Facebook updates in the final hours of the Friday afternoon and evening, the Agreed Conclusions document was adopted.
According to one delegate from Malta, most countries accepted the text as ‘fair’. She said the initial document had been littered with references to sexual reproductive rights (which includes abortion), which had been filtered down to only a few mentions, and which are qualified ‘in accordance with the International Conference on Population and Development.’
However the biggest loss in terms of language that was to be included or not, was the deletion of the words ‘the family’ (which appeared in earlier drafts), due to the controversy over saying ‘all forms of the family’ and the deletion of a phrase ‘the inherent right to life, liberty and security of persons’. This was a serious blow given the deletion contradicts a foundation principle of citizens and civilizations worldwide, as expressed in the US Declaration of Independence and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. What were delegations thinking when they accepted this deletion? Apparently the Holy See objected, but it was overruled!
Please take the time to read the CSW57 Agreed Conclusions document: http://bit.ly/WByZSE
So, where to from here? Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be processing and writing up the information learned from my time at the UN as well as from the in-depth interviews I conducted with the many inspirational people I met. There was much learning in terms of the processes of the UN and the Commission, the member states and their positions with regard to ‘how’ we eliminate violence against women and girls. But perhaps the most fascinating for me was the inconsistencies apparent in terms of the ‘language’ used to express different things. It’s fascinating that some NGO and state government representatives can on the one hand advocate for protecting the dignity of women and girls, and protecting the most vulnerable, along with trying to promote a culture of respect and life, and yet, on the other hand, they also advocate for the ‘right to abortion’, which in itself is a violent act against human life. Does anyone else see an inconsistency there?
For those of us not at the UN, it’s absolutely imperative that we engage in this issue of eradicating violence against women and girls, and in fact, more broadly, we must ensure that we are doing all we can to foster a culture of life, love and respect for ALL people (ALL HUMANS!), from conception to natural death. A special thank you from Jane and I, to all of you, for your prayers, support and words of encouragement (either through Facebook or via email) during our time at the UN. It was a first for both of us! And a special thank you to the CWL Victoria Wagga Wagga Social Questions Committee for making this experience possible for me.
Dr Sr Mary Glowrey, Servant of God, pray for us!
P.S. There was a lot of criticism against the Holy See’s delegation during the CSW57, for its holistic view of preventing violence against women and girls, from conception to natural death. It’s well worth reading the Holy See’s official statement again so that you can read for yourself that in no way does the Holy See condone ANY form of violence against women and girls.
The Holy See’s statement to CSW57 is at http://bit.ly/109VlIT.
Please continue to keep all of those people working at the UN to preserve a culture of life and love, and respect for the human person, from conception to natural death, in your prayers. They need your continued prayers, support and encouragement.