Source : Awid Newsletter, April 2012
For the first time in its history, the 56th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)—a key global policy-making body dedicated to gender equality and the promotion of women’s rights—ended with no Agreed Conclusions. Not since Beijing (4th World Conference on Women in 1995) has there been such a stalemate between women’s rights advocates and ultra-conservative forces. Once more, culture and tradition were invoked to stall progress on critical women’s rights issues and provoke a political deadlock. Fundamentalist forces see this impasse as a great "pro-family" victory.
The African Group, the OIC, the Holy See, CARICOM and several states worked in various combinations to explicitly block progress on several key issues, including opposition to already agreed upon language in international texts, such as removing the term traditional from "harmful traditional practices", lobbying to change "early and forced marriages" to the more ambiguous "child marriage", and replacing "gender equality" with "equality between men and women" to refute the existence of any other genders.
The most conservative blocs also sought to advance "parental rights" and deny the right to comprehensive sexuality education and "reproductive rights and sexual health" as human rights. The Holy See once more insisted that the terms "sexual and reproductive health" and "reproductive rights" should exclude abortion and abortion services. They also refused to endorse contraception or condom-use for family planning or preventing HIV/AIDS and other STDs, or support sexuality education stating that:
"The advancement of an agenda which promotes ’sex education’ and artificial contraception to children, and completely disregards their parent’s [sic] involvement, is antithetical to the role of the state which has the responsibility to promote the common good of the family and society."
In a joint statement, Say NO to safeguarding "traditional values" over women’s human rights!, women’s rights organizations have expressed their outrage with the end result of the 56th CSW. The statement calls on governments not to put on hold the advancements of women’s rights because of political battles between states; says no to re-opening negotiations on already established international agreements on women’s human rights; and calls on governments to promote, protect and fulfill the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and reject attempts to invoke traditional values or morals which infringe upon human rights guaranteed by international law. They urged governments to ensure that the health and human rights of girls and women are secured and reaffirmed at the upcoming Commission on Population and Development and the International Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
More information can be found at:
To add your name to the list of signatories to the above statement, please click here.
 See the Family Watch International report on the 56th CSW here.