The ABCs of the Committee on the Status of Women 58 (CSW58)

IPPF staff, civil society groups and partners are working behind the scenes at CSW58 to ensure that there are conclusions on key themes around women and girls with Member States in New York this week.  To find out what CSW58 is all about Zoe Nussy and  Michiel Andeweg (Choice for Youth), Joni van de Sand (Wo=Men) and Heather Barclay (IPPF) explain in this blog.


Abstinence - you'll hear this from the conservative opposition  - they're trying to promote this as the best way to address the HIV epidemic

Beijing is a great landmark agreement for women's rights, but a lot has advanced since then. We're working to make sure that our rights are not left in 1995, and that the advances we have made have been recognised.

Comprehensive Sexuality Education is the best way to give people the ability to make free and positive decisions about their sexuality. Now we are reminding member states of its importance so they keep it in the final document.

Diversity - that is a word that you may not hear here. We are fighting hard to have "women in all their diversity" reflected in the text. And others are fighting to take it out.

Elimination of violence and discrimination is central in the CSW negotiations and the post-2015 framework

Family -We are seeing a lot of references to the importance of "The Family". Now we just need to be sure that they add "all forms of the family." It's a hard fight but every family should be recognised. 

God - The Holy See is here negotiating on behalf of the world's Catholics - however that their views don't represent a lot of their congregations around the world.

Humour- after a lot of prep time and many long nights, sometimes as sense of humour is all that keeps us and the delegates going (practicing flash mobs in the hallway....)

International - the real challenge of CSW comes alive when trying to develop an international framework that works in every country from Australia to Zambia. How do you make it real for women and girls around the world?

Justice, rights and reparation - for the CSW to be meaningful, it must be enforceable. After we all leave New York we need to ask our governments what they are doing to realise these rights on the ground.

Knowledge is power - by working together and sharing intelligence, the Women's Rights Caucus influences the negotiations and hold states to account for their actions.

LBT - You won't hear much about in the negotiations about LBT, the language at the UN is "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity". This is a more open term and the preferred UN language, but either way it is very hard to get member states from conservative countries to recognise that discrimination against this group must end.

Member state - The UN is a member state club - we can influence them but at the end of the day, it's up to the states to negotiation the positions and push for our issues.

Negotiation - above and beyond anything else, CSW is a negotiation. Which means that countries have to discuss their positions and reach consensus. Our challenge is always to make sure that our more controversial issues don't get "traded" away for the sake of coming to an agreement.

Outcomes - although the negotiations can be hard and sometimes really dispiriting, it's essential that we keep our eye on the prize. Year on year we are making progress and our work here is paying off for women and girls all over the world

Post-2015 - a lot of the discussion at CSW58 is on the post-2015 development framework and its outcome will feed into the wider UN negotiations on this. So we are working hard to makes sure that there is a good strong call for a standalone goal on gender in the Agreed Conclusions.

Questions are sometimes asked: why are we here? What is the point? The CSW is the only place in the world where the global community comes together to set the agenda for women's human rights. We are here because we believe in women, and the point is to set the normative human rights framework to improve the lives of women and men all over the world

Right to Development - We believe - and the outcome document of Rio+20 does too - that every individual has a right to development. Shame that some countries seem to have forgotten this...

Sexual rights are being rejected in all forms - CSE, Sexual orientation, sexual health -  and we are working with allies to explain why it is central to human rights and therefore to development. 

Transformative approach - many states are calling for a transformative approach to gender equality, which means addressing the underlying causes and social norms that result in gender inequality

Universality - human rights belong to every person regardless of "who they love or how they look", as Ban Ki Moon said.

Values - Ultimately we are all here because of our values. We believe that all people have the right to decide freely and fully about all matters relating to their bodies, lives and sexualities.

Women Human Rights Defenders - you would not think that protecting the human rights of those women that fight for the rights of others is controversial. But here at the CSW it is.

X - paragraph X alt in the current draft being negotiated refers to countries' obligations to meet their ODA commitments. We think that these commitments are essential to realising meaningful development. Let's hope the donor countries think so too.

Young people  are playing an active role at CSW, as official delegates on government delegations, lobbying and moving the progressive agenda forward.

ZZzzzzz - the sounds of snoring is something that you will never hear at CSW. The day starts as early as 5am to prepare positions and fact sheets, then there are breakfast caucus meetings, lunch strategy sessions, then negotiations all day, ending when the text is finalised. This never happens in working hours; I'm posting this at 2.30am - and now it's finally time for my zzzzzzzzz.