The Commission on the Status of Women…

…was a cry for the end of all forms of violence against women and girls. Founded on 21 June 1946, this Commission (about as old as the UN itself) is dedicated to ensuring women’s equality and promoting their rights. Yet after all these years–

  • There are still governments that refuse to acknowledge gross violations of women’s rights.
  • 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not a crime
  • As many as 1 in 4 women experience physical or sexual violence during pregnancy
  • Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides married before the age of 18
  • More than 100 million girls are “missing” due to prenatal sex selection
  • Worldwide, up to 50% of sexual assaults involve girls under the age of 16
  • Women and girls make up 80% of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked yearly, with 79% of those for sexual gratification100 to 140 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting
  • Up to 7 in 10 women in the world report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime

*Statistics from UN Women publication A Promise is a Promise.

At the two-week meeting, women from all over the world gave presentations celebrating marvelous examples of women empowering women to develop their potential and assume the place all too often denied them by males (in the name of culture and tradition). We heard encouraging stories of how NGOs reach out in support of women and girls. We saw that where women and men participate equally in decision making processes that enable and empower both sexes, giant steps in economic progress are made. There were panels of men, concerned with failure of governments to ratify and/or implement the human rights documents of the U.N. These men spoke of the necessity of working with youth to change the mind-set of men and boys that readily accepts the idea of male superiority and condones violence against women and girls.

All felt the urgency to produce a strong document. And, after an afternoon of tense waiting, with the stirring intervention of Michelle Bachelet, Head of UN Women, and a courageous stand by the female delegate from Egypt who openly opposed the formal stand of her government, the outcome document of CSW-57 was agreed upon by all states except Libya.

The document states among other things that “The Commission strongly condemns all forms of violence against women and girls. It recognizes their different forms and manifestations, and recognizes that domestic violence remains the most prevalent form that affects women of all social strata across the world. It also notes that women and girls who face multiple forms of discrimination are exposed to increased risk of violence.” (To see the complete outcome document, go to the CSW57 website –click on “Agreed Conclusions.”  Now the world, especially the women of the world, await its implementation by world governments.

–by Mariam Norick, RJM