The Commission on the Status of Women, which takes place annually in March in New York, is the largest UN meeting of civil society delegates, ministerial delegations, UN experts and global leaders.
As the principal intergovernmental body dedicated to promoting gender equality, CSW is always an exciting opportunity for LGBTI defenders to work in close coalition with our feminist allies, including the many experienced activists that form the Women’s Rights Caucus.
This year over 8,000 delegates attended the 62nd session of CSW from 12 to 23 March 2018, with the theme Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls. Again, ILGA was in attendance at CSW62 as part of the LBTI and Women’s Rights Caucuses – making interventions at high level segments, organising and speaking at parallel events, coordinating to bring defenders to CSW62, working on the Agreed Conclusions text, and much more.
In addition to Ministerial Roundtables and High-level Dialogues on the priority theme, the first day of CSW62 kicked off with an early morning event sponsored by the governments of The Netherlands and France, on the topic “Gender Stereotyping: Why we do it, why it is harmful and how we combat it”. Moderated by performance artist and philosopher Simon(e) van Saarloos, and with academic, governmental and activist panellists including ILGA’s Gender Identity and Gender Expression Senior Programme Officer, Zhan Chiam, the interactive and engaging event took place in a packed conference room. A great start to CSW62 indeed!
Also in the first week was the ILGA – COC Netherlands – RFSL organised side event “Gender identity and expression, feminism, and the empowerment of rural women and girls”, moderated by Zhan Chiam (ILGA), and with panellists Zhanar Sekerbayeva (Feminita, Kazakhstan), Mario Prajna Pratama (Transhition ID, Indonesia) and Dawson (Fiji). The panellists discussed a range of issues, including how religious fundamentalism, rigid gender norms, legal setbacks and climate change impacted on LBTI communities in rural settings in their countries. They also discussed how international norms and mechanisms could be utilised in achieving advocacy goals. Finally, Zhanar also presented a groundbreaking data collection report by her organization on LBT women in Kazakhstan.
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres also meets with civil society during CSW and a “town hall” meeting took place on 13 March 2018.
The LBTI Caucus was present in full force, and Tuisina Ymania Brown, from ILGA Oceania, posed the Secretary-General a question formulated by the whole Caucus on how LGBTI communities and all marginalised and at-risk groups can benefit from the 2030 agenda. The Secretary-General replied that the principle of non-discrimination is an essential part of the UN Secretariat’s policies. However in many countries where full gender equality is not legally available, and where the situation is even worse for LGBTI persons, the UN and the Secretary-General’s role is that of advocacy.
The question posed...
... and ILGA Oceania co-convenor Tuisina Ymania Brown posing it
The two weeks were packed with hundreds of state and NGO organised parallel events, including ones organised by us and our allies on women human rights defenders, sex work, abortion and comprehensive sexuality education, families, religion, land rights, climate change and more.
On the LBTI front, the second week of CSW62 wrapped up with two powerful and timely events - a parallel event on the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10 (YP+10), which included Monica Tabengwa of Pan Africa ILGA speaking particularly about additional Principle 30 (the right to state protection), and one entitled Reclaiming Faith and Family by the LGBTIQ Community: The Ethics of Reciprocity Project, with Ymania Brown from ILGA Oceania speaking.
This year, CSW’s Agreed Conclusions, or the final outcome and set of recommendations for stakeholders on the priority theme, contained significantly improved language on gender diversity, violence and discrimination – including the impact on families, families in general, and intersectionality. This was a result of tireless work by many in the Women’s Rights Caucus and LBTI Caucus, including those representing ILGA, who worked on language and negotiations with states up to the adoption of the Agreed Conclusions at the end of the meeting.
In addition, many bilateral and multilateral meetings took place, new friendships and collaborations were formed and old ones strengthened, and much learning and sharing of expertise was exchanged.
We are already looking forward to CSW63 in March 2019!