Women’s Learning Partnership’s Written Statement for CSW59

December 16, 2014

WLP submitted this written statement to the 59th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The statement builds on discussions held at WLP’s 2014 Transnational Partners Convening (TPC) and highlights key issues currently facing our Partnership that will be discussed at WLP-hosted events at CSW59 in March 2015. WLP will hold a screening of our new film on human rights at the New School’s 12th St. Auditorium on March 10, 2015, from 6:30-8:30pm. We will share additional details on WLP’s and our partners’ activities at CSW when we have more information.

The Women’s Learning Partnership’s Written Statement for CSW

The Women’s Learning Partnership, an international partnership of 20 independent organisations working to promote the rights of women in more than 40 countries, is looking forward to the upcoming 59th session of the CSW, which will provide a space for assessing progress in the implementation of the Beijing Platform of Action and will also, and hopefully, contribute to the shaping of the post-2015 agenda in such a way that the rights and entitlements of women are at the heart of this agenda, a matter which has been critically lacking thus far.

At such a critical juncture in the history of the UN, twenty years after the global landmark that is the IVth Conference on Women which was held in Beijing, we take this opportunity to draw attention to the realities of women’s lives worldwide and the erosion of their rights due to the rise of religious fundamentalism, armed conflict, militarisation, and poverty.

The Partnership would like to express its concern especially with regards to the situation of Arab states in transition.  Indeed, and since the hopeful Arab Spring began in 2010, the much-aspired-to changes towards democracy, equality, and the rule of law have failed to materialise and the new spaces were hijacked by armed fundamentalist Islamists, whose latest manifestation, the murderous ISIS, has taken women and girls as their prime targets.

Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen are well underway to being decimated and their wealth taken over by Islamist Jihadists.  Other countries in the region are not faring any better.  Early marriage, trafficking in women and girls, slave markets, public lapidation of women and girls, and other forms and manifestations of gender-based violence have become widespread throughout the region.  Gains made during the past decades at bridging the gender gap in education and health are quickly fading away, with the exclusion of women from public life and the disintegration of public infrastructure, institutions, and services.

Islamist Jihadism is a globalised phenomenon, which draws membership, sympathy, resources, and financing from many countries and communities across the world.  This phenomenon knows no geographical or other boundaries and is in no way accountable to the United Nations or to the international community.  Women, girls, and minorities are its prime target, and it rules by the sword.

Furthermore, the destruction of the health and education infrastructure, two areas where significant advances had been made in terms of women’s participation and access to opportunities over the past three decades, has brought back illiteracy amongst girls and women and the return of communicable diseases eradicated since the early seventies.  In addition, all reports from the region agree that the economies of the region are deteriorating, with rising unemployment, particularly among women and youth.  With such a grim scenario involving the rise of political Islam and Jihadism, unfettered militarisation, the crumbling of local economies, the destruction of infrastructure, the inadequacy of new powers and governments, and the systematic rise of violence against women and girls in both the private and the public sphere, it is unclear how the global post-2015 agenda can function and lead to its desired outcome.

We call on the United Nations and its member states to take cognisance of the dangerous situation of the MENA region and its current inability to move towards the post-2015 era unless significant steps are taken, namely:

  1. Recognise Jihadism and religious terrorism as a global and dangerous phenomenon and as a major threat to women’s rights and to human rights and dignity;
  2. Take the necessary steps toward halting this phenomenon and its impact by identifying and addressing its sources of financing and mobilisation of human resources;
  3. Invest in rebuilding and recreating infrastructure and social institutions that are inclusive, efficient, and accountable;
  4. Hold member states responsible and accountable for the rights, entitlements, and welfare of their women and men citizens, as well as for their safety and security;
  5. Ensure that women are fully integrated and part of state- and institution-building processes and peace talks;
  6. Prioritise actions which would enhance women’s role as leaders in both the private and the public spheres; and
  7. Put in place mechanisms that would ensure member states’ commitment to the implementation of human rights conventions and mechanisms, namely CEDAW and the OP-CEDAW.

 

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