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Posted by on Apr 12, 2013 in Blogs

UN CSW report back VOW program – April 10 by Alice Medcof

The discussion on Violence & Women was begun at the first meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women in 1947: 66 years later it is still working to realize the promise articulated by the founders of the United Nations, the promise of the equal rights of men and women.


In 2013 6,000 women were present, determined to move forward, determined to set global standards for action to prevent and end one of the gravest violations of human rights in our world: the violence that is committed against women and girls


The discussions raised red flags about the current state of global thinking on women’s rights. A small but significant number of countries, led by Iran, Russia, Syria and the Vatican, pushed hard to roll back language on women’s rights to where it was decades ago.


One particular example:

Egypt proposed an amendment to the text saying that each country is sovereign and can implement the document in accordance with its own laws and customs, a provision strongly opposed by many countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia.


Egypt’s proposal was dropped by the meeting’s chair. Instead, the final text urges all countries


“to strongly condemn all forms of violence against women and girls and to refrain from invoking any custom, tradition and religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination.”


This is significant in that it is the same issue that caused much consternation during the international discussions prior to Beijing while the draft Platform was being framed during 1994 and early 1995.



During the difficult negotiations, gains were achieved.  The women welcomed the explicit call in the agreed conclusions for accessible and affordable healthcare services, including sexual and reproductive health services, such as emergency contraception and safe abortion for victims of violence.  For the first time, the Commission has urged governments to procure and supply female condoms.


The outcome document emphasised the need to end harmful traditional practices, including child marriage, and called on member states to ensure services were focused on marginalised groups, such as indigenous women, older women, female migrant workers, women with disabilities, women living with HIV, and women held in custody.


The final document approved Friday March 15, 2013, reaffirms that women and men have:

–         the right to enjoy all human rights “on an equal basis,”

–         recommits governments to comprehensive sex education,

–         calls for sexual and reproductive health services such as emergency contraception and safe abortion for victims of violence, and,

–         calls on governments to criminalize violence against women and punish gender-related killings.


The agreement condemns and calls for action to prevent violence against women in healthcare settings, including forced sterilisation.


The document fails to state that ending violence must apply to all women, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.


There was no agreement on the definition of “intimate partner violence.”


The document is not legally binding, rather, it sets a certain standard by which each member state can monitor its own performance.


The links between HIV and violence against women were also noted.





Two statements by Michelle Batchelet, Under Secretary-General of the UN and Executive Director of UN Women.


Link to agreed conclusions

The Draft Agreed Conclusions in six languages are posted on the UN web site.


Posted: 19 Mar 2013 01:00 AM PDT

Page 1. United Nations E/CN.6/2013/L.5 Economic and Social Council Distr.: Limited 19 March 2013 Original: English 13 …

Size: 80K
Publication Date: Tuesday, 19 March 2013
[ Arabic (220K) | Chinese (242K) | English (80K) | French (95K) | Russian (294K) | Spanish (163K) ]