CSW61 Side Events: Inclusions, Girls' Education, Agreed Conclusions

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    Submitted by Serap Maktav

    17 March 2017: UNDESA Side event
    Leaving no one behind: the imperative of inclusive development

    The Report on the World Situation, 2016 prepared by UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) was introduced.
    World’s situation: social inclusion is critical to 2030 agenda and SDGs. One progress is in recognizing inclusion in the agenda. Within the implementation process, how to realize it, identify who are left behind. Then we can address the challenges. The report prepared by UNDESA is an attempt in addressing these questions and issues, based on the research reviewed in these areas. People are at the heart of the development process and gender is a cross cutting issue so that women are not left behind.
    The main policy issues of the report: It is an abstract topic and therefore the starting point is with defining the concepts and measurements. Point of departure is the 2030 Agenda. With well-being, (i.e. free from poverty) not only material well-being but also others. Enhancing opportunities, human rights and measuring disparities in all these areas of inclusion. Therefore, there needs to be an analysis of three sets of indicators: access to opportunities namely education, health and other basic services; access to employment and income; and participation in political, civic and cultural life.Unequal opportunities in these areas create barriers to inclusion or lead to social exclusion.
    Prejudice and discrimination on the basis of their identity or characteristics is a common cause of exclusion. Societies make distinctions based on ethnicity, race, sex, gender or other characteristics. Discrimination affects opportunities that people have, that in turn affects their well-being. Both formal/systemic and interpersonal discrimination were explained with the methods of their measurement: statistical analyses (i.e. indirect evidence), perceived experiences, (i.e. inquiring about perceptions), attitudinal studies, experimental survey techniques, and field experiments to detect these practices.
    The final section introduced was the policy options for inclusion: since a single set of policies or strategies is applicable to all contexts, countries, they do not provide a prescriptive approach, rather a more equity based approach.
    Final notes:
    – need to establish a universal approach to social policy: leave no one behind, reach as many as possible through broader social protection systems, increased data disaggregation to identify excluded social groups, complemented with political will and commitment.
    – need to promote inclusive institutions, engage more with civil society, anti-discrimination laws and their effective implementation.

    20 March, 2017: UNICEF Side event
    Education for Adolescent Girls towards empowerment of women in Afghanistan
    Education Director delivered opening remarks on adolescent girls’ education, challenges, opportunities and the need for strengthening our efforts.
    During the panel, Deputy Minister of Education of Afghanistan, presented the recent statistics on the progress Afghanistan has made in girls’ education including number of schools, and girls’ enrollment in school. The improved numbers after the restriction of Taliban was impressive with over 9 million children in school with girls making up 40% of the enrolled . While the success was enabled by valuable partnerships with the UN/UNICEF, donor governments and NGOs, there was a request for more cooperation and support from the UN System.
    Education Portfolio Manager of Agha Khan Foundation, explained the role of community-driven initiatives in encouraging adolescent girls to enroll and stay in school. The impact of interventions such as the Girls Support Program funded by the Canadian government, which promoted the retention of girls in school through improvement of school facilities and teacher training, was highlighted.
    Permanent Representative of Norway, stated the importance that education holds for donor and recipient countries and the challenges it represents for Less Developed Countries (LDC) and states in conflict. He further discussed Norway’s priorities regarding education in Afghanistan, including the promotion of gender equality and provided some examples of their work to increase school enrollment of girls (i.e., constructions of schools and dormitories for girls). He stressed that a democratic society is not possible without ensuing gender equality and education for all.
    Finally, Representative of the Secretariat of UNGEI, talked about the importance of sector planning to put Afghanistan’s National Education Plan into action. She emphasized the role of platforms that bring together ministries, donor countries and civil society to ensure a clear vision, strategy, and sound policies. She also discussed Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UN Girls Education Initiative’s (UNGEI) sector-responsive education planning and the launch of a new guidance for gender-focused education planning.

    24 March 2017
    The previous day and night long discussions of the draft Agreed Conclusions were voted on, during the concluding session of the CSW61. Although the Agreed Conclusions were adopted by the CSW in a matter of minutes, some delegates made presentations in support of, while others made presentations relating their concern and reservations. Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member States’ representative indicated that the term “early marriage” would be subject to the national laws of the States. Yemen, also on behalf of Sudan, Nigeria, and Libya expressed reservations about social terms that did not enjoy international consensus, such as “sexuality”, which was not in some of countries’ national laws. Spain, on behalf of EU, as well as Australia were concerned about the lack of emphasis on NGOs, especially national human rights institutions. The representative of USA, not a member of the Commission this year, does not recognize the importance of unpaid work and have not included it in national accounting, including Gross Domestic Product (GDP).They also do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning and as one of the largest donors of family planning assistance, do not support abortion in their reproductive health. Holy See observer similarly noted that their delegation did not recognize the right to abortion. Pakistan representative was concerned about the concepts of sexual and reproductive health and rights and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) lacking adequate definition, leaving it open to interpretation.

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