Day Three of UNCSW
UK NGO briefing
This was my first stop of the day! The briefing is where all UK delegates find out what is planned with regard to the draft agreed conclusions of CSW61 and also gives an opportunity to give input to the next draft. Rose Wright (MU Campaigns and Social Policy Officer) had put our thoughts on paper for submission before the next round of formal discussions. The briefing session touched on some issues which NGOs have asked to be included and some instances where the wording might be changed. We heard about some of the current "sticking" points and the worry that UN Women were not as "clued in" on our concerns as they were in previous years.
We then had a short input by three Libyan women who were leading "Hope Charity" they told us about the war in Libya - its impact on families, the countries supplying arms, the lack of a stable government, and the conditions in which their refugees (mostly women and children) lived. It was discussed how we might raise these matters with the U.K. Delegation and how we might bring them to attention of the UK Government.
What does Economic Empowerment really look like?
The next session involved our own member - Rebecca Tohasanau. She spoke about the credit schemes which she has helped set up in the Solomon Islands through MU to help women start businesses. This was part of a side event promoted by an UN Women group called "Advance" on the role of entrepreneurship in the economic empowerment of women and girls. Rebecca was excellent and we learned a lot from her about her work under the umbrella of MU in her homeland.
Four others gave short presentations on aspects of economic empowerment. We then had a short group discussion and session of feedback where we covered an immense amount of ground in terms of economic empowerment and what might be done to make progress. I was heartened by the very able, intelligent and articulate young people from the UK who were there as part of CSW61 and who showed such immense concern and passion for others in this world which should give us all hope for the future in the hands of their generation.
Ending Violence Against Women
This was organised by the ILO and UN Women. The session focused on violence in the workplace and was conducted as two separate panels made up of five women who held prominent positions in government or other authorities. They talked about their aspirations, the plans of their countries/organisations to improve conditions of women in the workplace and to minimise or hopefully stop workplace violence. We also heard about how in Australia, they have already enacted preventative legislation and strategies, guidelines, legal penalties, the reality of media exposure, as well as every type of government endorsement. The second panel of was made up of trade unionists who largely said all the same things, perhaps a little more forcefully (!), about the horrors of workplace violence.
UK Delegation briefing
This session was quite disheartening as we were told very little. We were told about some of the on-going problems but that we couldn't be told about many of them as the negotiations on the next version of the agreed conclusions were moving exceptionally slowly. One of the staff had been sent to report on behalf of the UK. One of the UN staff also gave a short presentation on how the UN itself had a target to have gender parity at the senior level of its staff by 2021- they are a long way from it at present and the aspirational plans met with some derision from who were present. I think the UN is going to have to rethink some of that strategy in order to meet their own goal!
- We pray for all the Mothers' Union members who have bravely stood in front of many people at UNCSW and told their stories in the hope of bringing about change for women across the world. May The Lord continue to guide and bless them in their work.
- We pray for progress in the agreed conclusions of CSW61 as there seems to be backward steps across the board. We pray that we will, as a nation, continue to push forward and create a more equal world.
- We pray for all the work that Mothers’ Union is doing around the world to help empower women and for the positive effect this is having on their families and communities.