Some positive news but challenges persist - the latest draft conclusions from the Commission on the Status of Women | ActionAid UK

Kasia Staszewska

Women’s Rights Policy Adviser

The 58th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) is still in session at the United Nations' Headquarters in New York.

While negotiations on the outcome document will last at least until 21 March, the new - already third - draft of the agreed conclusions was released on 17 March.

Zainabu Kamato, Kenya, whose unpaid work includes looking after her sick husband and six children
Zainabu Kamato, Kenya, whose unpaid work includes looking after her sick husband and six children

ActionAid has had sight of the new draft and notes that, although strong language on some of the aspects of women’s economic rights has been kept, some of the critical issues have already fallen through the cracks.

The good news is that the new draft proposes quite strong language on recognising, valuing, reducing and redistributing women’s and girls’ disproportionate share of unpaid care work. Unfortunately it doesn’t go as far as recognising unpaid care work as a collective responsibility and recommending to address this key human rights issue in the new development framework post 2015.

Disappointing outcomes for women at work and macro-economic policies 

The new CSW58 draft keeps the references to women’s rights to work and their rights at work, however, the call for ensuring a living wage, the application of human rights principles to macro-economic policy, and addressing accountability of the private sector for violations of women’s rights have all been dropped.

There is no reference to the extraterritorial obligations of the State (pdf) in regards to their trade regulation and investment policies. We see no mention either of the behavior of transnational corporations.  

These are all very serious omissions that fall far short of an adequate response to the harsh reality of economic exploitation and discrimination of women across the globe, especially in the Global South.

In this sense, the concerns of ActionAid – as expressed in my previous blog – have largely been confirmed.

On a more positive note, the new draft conclusions hold onto language which expresses the need for a stand-alone goal on gender equality, empowerment of women and women’s and girls’ human rights.

Still 4 days (or more) to go

Officially the CSW negotiations will conclude on Friday. With the review of Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and forthcoming high-level discussions on the new development agenda post 2015, the stakes this year are exceptionally high.

Reaching agreement won’t be easy as strong differences between Member States persist on topics such as their approach to the interconnection between development and human rights, as well as on the need for CSW58 to lay the ground for the replacement of MDGs.

While some Member States would like to see more strategic engagement, others refuse to pre-empt the post 2015 discussions.

Nothing is certain until the end of the negotiations and the current draft of the CSW58 conclusions is likely to undergo substantial changes.

ActionAid UK: Where do we stand?

The struggle for women’s rights is global. ActionAid representatives join forces with women’s organizations and other gender equality advocates calling for strong human rights based CSW Conclusions and a just development agenda post-2015 (pdf).

CSW is a key principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and women’s rights. We believe that this is a key space in which to achieve momentum to lay the much-needed solid transformative ground for high-level debates on the new development agenda post-2015.

Our specific focus this year is on economics, yet we call for full realisation of ALL women’s human rights including eradication of all forms of violence, and sexual reproductive health and rights.

Human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and no compromises should be made to water down the existing international agreements.

It is thus imperative that this year’s CSW conclusions take only big steps forward and no steps back.

Follow Kasia on twitter at @KasiaStasz

Find out more about the Commission of the Status of Women

Kate Holt/Shoot The Earth/ ActionAid