On March 8 every year, we commemorate International Women’s Day. On this occassion, we hear of forums, workshops, meetings (high or low level), radio/TV talks or shows deliberating on issues surrounding women or honoring great women. Around the same period in March, the United Nations hosts its Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) bringing together various stakeholders- representatives of Member States, UN entities and NGOs to deliberate on pressing issues affecting women and girls. Brought to birth by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Resolution 11 (II) of June 21, 1946, the Commission is charged to analyze progress on gender equality, discuss current critical issues affecting women and presents its report and recommendations for necessary actions.
This year the Commission met from March 4 to March 15, 2013. After two weeks of presentations, statements, discussions, and brainstorming, the draft agreed conclusions that came out lay emphasis on “elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”. Within the contexts of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the outcome documents of the 23rd Special Session of the General Assembly, the declarations adopted by the Commission during the 10th and 15th anniversaries of the Fourth World Conference on Women, and several other international instruments pertaining to women and girls, the draft agreed conclusions of CSW 2013 (57th session) aim at:
1. Strengthening implementation of legal and policy frameworks and accountability
2. Addressing structural and underlying causes and risk factors so as to prevent violence against women and girls
3. Strengthening multi-sectoral services, programmes and responses to violence against women and girls
4. Improving the evidence-base
To ensure progress and ultimate success of the above objectives, all are called on to take appropriate actions. “The Commission urges Governments, at all levels, and as appropriate, with the relevant entities of the United Nations system, international and regional organizations, within their respective mandates and bearing in mind national priorities, and invites national human rights institutions where they exist, civil society, including non-governmental organizations, the private sector, employer organizations, trade unions, media and other relevant actors…” to take the above actions.
Similar to other declarations, conventions and resolutions related to women and girls’ rights, the agreed conclusions set forth objectives and actions that when or if accomplished should bring about a drastic positive change in respecting the rights of women. In the face of realities, as observed, implementation has always been a big challenge, not only as a result of limited resources, and legal, judicial, security, and health sector challenges but also lack of will or commitment which is influenced by cultural factors. The concern here is how certain cultural behaviors or attitudes that perpetuate the act of violence against women and girls could be changed to ensure that women and girls are treated appropriately. Still, looking at the root causes of violence against women and girls, it should also be worrisome that girls and boys are not socialized in an equal manner by their parents or caregivers who had themselves been raised in a gendered way. Thus, tradition continues. And, the quest for a world free of violence committed against women and girls is still on…