The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has met at the United Nations every year since 1957. Today, during its opening session, the Commission adopted the Political declaration on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women (E/CN.6/2015/L.1). Although declarations are not binding on Member States, they reflect political will and States’ goals and priorities.
The Declaration notes both that significant achievements have been made in women’s equality and tasks that remain unfinished. Importantly, it neither mentions nor promotes “sexual and reproductive health and rights”—which include abortion—as necessary for women’s empowerment. It reiterates key areas of concern, including education, poverty, health and violence. The Declaration also recognizes “the positive role and contribution of women.” These all address authentic needs of women for the respect of their dignity, and we welcome them.
There are some areas of concern as well. Although it does not directly promote abortion, it does reference favorably the outcome document of the Open Working Group for the Sustainable Development Goals, which included reproductive rights as part of a goal for gender equality. Truly sustainable development and true equality for women can never occur through violations of human dignity and rights, and labeling such violations a right cannot make it so.
In addition to the Commission’s meetings, at which WYA is maintaining a presence, there are many other events occurring at the UN this week.
WYA co-sponsored a parallel event organized by Women’s Federation for World Peace titled, “Young Women and Leadership: Education, Opportunities, and Obstacles.” In addition to women leaders from around the world, WYA’s Director of Education Weronika Janczuk presented the Human Dignity Curriculum and FEMM women’s health program. Her remarks addressed the need for health and education programs centered on the human person and respecting women’s right to informed choice in their healthcare. These statements were met with applause and Ms. Janczuk received the majority of questions during the question and answer section of the event. WYA is grateful to WFWP and the other co-sponsors for the opportunity to make these programs known to approximately 300 people during the CSW.
WYA will continue to monitor the CSW and work to identify new allies and work with friends in the promotion and protection of human dignity.