My name is Maja and I come from WYA Croatia. I would like to share with you my experience of being part of WYA delegation to the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58), which took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from 10-21 March 2014. This is “an annual two-week session where representatives of UN Member States, civil society and UN entities come together to evaluate the progress and identify challenges in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, the key global document on gender equality.”
The priority theme for CSW58 was “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls. The review theme was “access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work.”
While in plenary sessions and side events, we often heard that “women’s rights are inextricably linked to sexual and reproductive health and rights” (SRHR) and that safe and inexpensive access to contraception and abortion would reduce maternal mortality ratios (MMR). However, in reality these practices may not actually make a significant change in a country’s MMR. During the main plenary session on March 12, 2014, where countries discussed their progress and failures in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the representative of Indonesia stated that despite a 69% increased in condom usage between married couples in Indonesia, the MMR has not seen a significant decrease. Increased use of condoms thus may not actually help a country decrease their MMR.
Although we hear many proclaim SRHR is the main solution to all the world’s problems, there is light at the end of tunnel.
This year we mark the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family. As WYA Latin America’s Director of Operations noted in a previous blog post, “This anniversary offers two great opportunities: first, reevaluate the role of family in development, and second, examine the challenges that families face today.”
One of the most memorable events I had the opportunity to be part of was about “3Fs”: Female participation, Family perspective and Flexible working conditions. All of the panelists were in favor of family-centered society and emphasized the family as the cornerstone of the society. H. E. Prof. Joy Ogwu, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, said, “The role of the family is crucial for our development. Family is our first unit of analysis, it is place where a child learns the first things about politics, family is where we learn how to be citizens and that is why we have to give special attention to the family when defining SDGs and Post-2015 Agenda.”
Coming from Croatia, I can witness how important family is for all of us. Just recently we had a referendum that was initiated by a citizen’s movement called “In the Name of the Family.” This referendum was initiated with the following question: “Are you in favor of the constitution of the Republic of Croatia being amended with a provision stating that marriage is matrimony between a woman and a man?” The government was against it, the media was against it, but people were in favor showing how important family is, as well as family values are, to them.
I am happy that I had an opportunity to witness first-hand how resolutions are being discussed and decided. I hope that the politicians in charge will listen to the voices of the people and address the current problems we are facing with effective solutions.
By Maja Pazin, Winner, WYA Youth Voices at the UN Essay Competition