PRESS RELEASE: Issues Remain at Close of UN Commission

62nd Commission on the Status of Women strives for consensus but includes controversial terminology

March 23, 2018

UNITED NATIONS—The Commission on the Status of Women adopted Agreed Conclusions at the closing of its 62nd annual session. These conclusions included some strong measures for human dignity, but sadly fell short in some key areas.

Delegates gather before adopting Agreed Conclusions

Member States began negotiating last month on the theme “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.” From the start, the text included controversial policies such as abortion, which is not agreed upon in international law, and comprehensive sexuality education, which contains material many would consider inappropriate.

Despite the efforts of many Member and Observer States in the face of great pressure, particularly the Arab Group, the Africa Group, and the Holy See, some of this problematic language persisted to the final version of the text, in contrast to the idea that the outcome document reflects a global consensus. Many Member States were relieved to achieve an outcome document following intense and uncertain negotiations, but several did make statements and reservations objecting to the inclusion of reproductive rights, and expressing concerns about sexuality education and the need to respect national sovereignty.

WYA regrets the inclusion of this language in the Agreed Conclusions. However, we are grateful for the extensive efforts of Member States to remove it, and welcome their achievements in the inclusion of language supporting family policies and helping young mothers complete their education, among other items.

“We appreciate the strong efforts many Member States made to achieve true consensus, and the success in some positive language that authentically empowers rural women and girls, ” said Nadja Wolfe, WYA Director of Advocacy. “As Member States consider how to implement programs to benefit rural women and girls, we encourage them to focus on those programs which are founded on and foster respect for the dignity of the human person.”

WYA will continue to monitor events at the UN and support Member States in promoting policies grounded in human dignity.