Report on Beijing +20 (CSW 59)
In this well-written and informative piece, PEN International - the world’s leading association of writers - reports on the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59). In the report, the author, Tsung Su, acknowledges the work of specific non-governmental and civil society organisations in their efforts to inform, educate, and influence the negotiations of CSW59. Using examples from side-events of CSW59, the report focuses on four main themes: how far we have come from Beijing +20; violence against women; the inclusion of men and boys; and looking ahead from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals.
The report notes the substantial progress made in advancing and protecting women’s rights over the last two decades, while at the same time showing that such advances are not enough when viewed in a wider context, such as how despite two billion more people having access to clean water, in 25 sub-Saharan African countries women still spend 16 million hours per day collecting water.
On the topic of violence against women, the report focuses on rape, trafficking, and the machismo mind-set, making detailed reference to the challenges faced by women in India, and highlighting the work of organisations at the CSW such as the Center for Health and Gender Equity, and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. The important work of men’s organisations, and those seeking to include men and boys in efforts to advance gender equality, are also acknowledged.
The report ends with a look back on, and a look forward to, the development goals that between them will define the development agenda for a total of 30 years. The report regrets that the MDGs made no reference to violence against women, but notes that overall the success rate has been encouraging. Finally, an end note remarks on the calling for a new World Conference on Women by some women’s NGOs - the first since Beijing in 1995 - in order to reinvigorate the women’s movement.