An informed Approach: Themes that need to be strengthened in the Draft Agreed Conclusions – CSW 58

After listening carefully to the ongoing general discussion and reporting by Members States on the challenges and achievements of MDGs and panel and roundtable discussions and after reading several reports in preparation for CSW58, the following are some recommendations for emphasis in the final CSW58 Agreed Conclusions Statement:
1) Human Rights principles must be embedded in the MDGs and the 2015 agenda and should inform the actions of Members States in the achievement of goals
• As they stand, the MDGs have a very narrow focus and do not reflect the concerns and commitments of historical international agreements, covenants, platforms, declarations on women’s rights
• The indivisibility and interdependence of women’s human rights are not reflected in the MDGs.

2) The interconnectedness of MDGs must be strongly emphasized
• Member States must be required to take a holistic view of the MDGs if remaining goals are to be achieved by 2015
• Gender equality, in particular (MDG 3) cannot be accomplished without reviewing and responding to the violation of women’s and girls’ rights within all millennium development areas.

3) Education for women and girls must become a top priority
• Enrollment in primary education is not enough; attendance and graduation rates must be emphasized
• There needs to be equal access to secondary and tertiary education where there are huge disparities between the rates of enrollment and graduation between men and women
• Structural constraints to education must be removed including lack of schools, roads, sanitation and hygienic facilities, security, time, care and other unpaid obligations, nutrition as well as patriarchal objections to education, societal taboos and other cultural norms
• Education is central to women’s social and economic empowerment

4) The elimination of all forms of violence against women must be emphasized as well as the direct relationship between militarization and the increase in violence against women and girls
• Violence against women and girls is on the rise world wide
• Violence not only violates their fundamental rights but negates MDG gains in all areas
• Conflict-related violence not only violates their rights but dehumanizes women and girls

5) Gender Mainstreaming must become a priority across all sectors
• Member States must look through the gender lens at all programs and policies and laws to understand their impact on women
• Quality disaggregated data is required to understand how or if women and girls have made substantial and meaningful progress
• Adequate funding and other resources should be allocated towards gender mainstreaming
• National gender-responsive budgets should be developed to support gender equality which is currently under-funded

6) The need for an enabling environment for women’s rights must be emphasized
• The policies and programs of globalization have worked at cross purposes with the MDGs
• Women have borne the greatest negative impacts of these policies and programs
• The livelihood of the majority of poor women in developing countries is related to agriculture and to the environment. Global trade and investment practices are either preventing women from accessing agricultural land and other natural resources associated with this land or have destroyed much of the environment in these countries depriving these women of their livelihoods
• Globalization policies have contracted the national policy spaces and the resulting macroeconomic policies have violated the fundamental rights of women and girls in developing countries
• The global financial crisis has affected women more than men in developing countries because they have been involved in vulnerable jobs
• There have been major reductions in social protections that have impacted women and girls disproportionately
• Developing states are required at a minimum to meet their core obligations to poor women and girls regardless of crisis- induced austerity measures or agreements with international multi-lateral institutions and developed states

7) Women’s social and economic empowerment is central to sustainable development
• There needs to be a deeper more multi-dimensional understanding of poor women’s and girls’ lives in order to improve their current social and economic conditions
• Social constraints such as unpaid care work, household chores, daily living activities undertaken on behalf of male members of the household, have to be mitigated so that women have the requisite time for education and paid employment
• Support mechanisms such as daycare for the very young and the elderly (which are a woman’s obligation in most developing countries), mentorship, business funding, infrastructure such as transportation, information on suppliers and buyers, communications, continued social protections, have to be in place.
• Discrimination and cultural prejudice against women and girls in general and women and girls in marginalized or indigenous communities has to be recognized as an important deterrent to social and economic empowerment.

Submitted by:
Geeta Desai
Advocacy Convener, WG-USA
GWI Membership Committee