Advocating at the commission on the status of women (vlog)
Youth Advocates Jinte and Giulia travelled to New York for the 62nd UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Every year the CSW bring together government representatives, civil society organizations, activists and stakeholders to discuss the current and future situation of women around the world. For (youth) representatives of civil society organizations the CSW can be a complicated and daunting process to navigate. In this blog and vlog Jinte and Giulia tell you all about their experiences!
This year’s theme was ‘Rural women and girls’. Many important topics are discussed, from women’s ownership over land and food resources to women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and their participation in local and international decision-making processes. All these issues affect women’s lives on a daily basis, so it felt like a great honor to go to NYC and advocate for our collective rights.
Experiencing the CSW
The main goal of the CSW is for all participating governments to create an ‘outcome document’: a set of commitments about what they will be doing to improve the situation of women, that they have all unanimously agreed upon. With so many governments taking part and so many different interests and opinions, you can imagine that the negotiations can be hard work! A few days the negotiations even went on until far past midnight.
Going to the CSW as a young person can be quite daunting: there seems to be a protocol for everything and sometimes everyone seems to know what they are doing but you. Additionally, all negotiations and the outcome documents are in English, which can be quite hard if that is not your first language. Fortunately, we had a great support system! Giulia and I did not only represent CHOICE at the CSW, but we were a part of Right Here Right Now, a global alliance of youth and youth-led organizations from around the world advocating for young people’s rights to make their own decisions about their sexuality and whether and when to have kids. While we were in New York, we worked together with young people from Kenya, Malawi, Indonesia, Honduras, Nepal and Bolivia, with each person bringing their own expertise and experiences.
Finding your way as CSOs
Our preparations for the CSW started months ago by reading the first draft of the text that would be negotiated (the Zero Draft) and giving input our governments about what should be added or changed in that text. At the CSW, if you are not part of a government delegation – which is the case for many NGOs and youth organizations – you are not allowed into the negotiation room; so instead, you depend on those that in the room (likeminded governments) to advocate for your rights and beliefs. That’s why it is very important to make sure that you have good relationships with the delegations, so that you are in constant contact with you and they can give you information about what is going on in the negotiation room while you give them language suggestions about the text. A complicated system that definitely does not favor civil society organizations.
Not Giving up
However, thesse conclusions are just the beginning. We as civil society need to hold our governments accountable and make sure that they follow up on the commitments they made.Have a look at the CSW62 outcome document and see what your government has committed to. The document might seem quite complex, but you could search for the terms that are important to you and your organization. And once you’ve found the parts of the texts that are important for you, think of how this can be used to advocate for your cause. After all, when the governments come back to New York for the next CSW in 2019, we would like to see that the situation has improved!
Written by Jinte Veldman, CHOICE Youth Advocate
Want to know more about the CSW? Check out our Resource Hub YOU(TH) Do IT! for factsheets, tools and other resources that will help you learn everything there is to know.