The Equal Sharing Of Responsibilities Between Women And Men, Including Caregiving In The Context Of HIV/AIDS: The 53rd Session Of The CSW
AWID's Fernanda Hopenhaym gives an overview of this year's Commission on the Status of Women, which took place in New York the first two weeks of this month.
By Fernanda Hopenhaym
The 53rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was held from March 2-13, 2009 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The main themes considered by the commission were "The Equal Sharing of Responsibilities between Women and Men, including Caregiving in the Context of HIV/AIDS" as the priority issue and "The Gender Perspectives of the Financial Crisis" as an emerging issue.
The key elements in the consideration of the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men were: accelerating implementation of previous commitments at national level, including through sharing experiences, lessons learned and good practices; increasing attention to information and data needs; enhancing capacity to mainstream the issue; and identifying further key policy initiatives to move implementation forward .
In the agreed conclusions emerging from the session, the Commission reaffirmed the relevance of the CEDAW protocol and the Beijing Platform for Action, and called for the full implementation of this platform and the outcome documents of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, the 1995 World Summit for Social Development, the 2000 Millennium Summit, the 2002 World Summit on Children and the Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development. There was a lot of emphasis given to the issue of HIV and AIDS and how these international agreements could inject momentum into the fight against the pandemic, with a gender equality perspective that would lessen the burden for women.
There was a significant mobilization by grassroots organizations and networks, as well as caregivers’ groups to influence the conclusions and to further the commitments by governments with regards to gender equality, equal participation of men and women, and particular issues around home-based caregiving such as compensation.
Additionally, there was a lot of discussion around the financial crisis and its impact on women. There was a high level panel with government representatives, as well as many parallel sessions organized by women’s organizations. AWID participated in some of these sessions as part of the Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development, and hosted a session on development practices from a feminist perspective.
Some of the main issues discussed in those sessions were related to the specific impact the crisis has on women, as main producers of food in some regions and as the majority of the poor, and also addressed the inclusion of a gender equality perspective in the possible solutions to this crisis, such as stimulus plans. Women’s organizations also particularly explored ways of organizing to face the effects of the crisis.
There were also meetings around next year’s commemoration of Beijing+15, a theme that will probably be endorsed by the Commission for its 54th Session. Many organizations proposed to have a women’s event prior to the CSW 54, focusing efforts on pushing for the full implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. There is still much to be defined about the activities in 2010 but there is a clear demand from the women’s movement for an assessment of advances as well as backlash, and continued pressure for governments to meet their commitments.
Finally, another central area of action was the advancement of the Gender Architecture Reform (GEAR) within the United Nations, promoted by the GEAR Campaign that gathers several women’s rights and human rights organizations from around the globe. There had been signs of political interest in using a “composite model” which could potentially create a new women’s entity that, if developed as GEAR supporters have been advocating for, would have strong country presence, significant funding capacity, high level leadership and a strategic normative and policy making function. This gave an opportunity for the campaign members to lobby government representatives and to mobilize more activists to further the support for this reform option, which would translate into the women’s entity that the movement has been waiting for.
* Fernanda Hopenhaym is Manager of AWID's Where Is The Money Strategic Initiative.