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Objections To Sexual, Reproductive Rights Language In CSW Agreement Are ‘Misguided’

“[W]hile sitting through events, debates and discussions in New York [at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meeting], my recurring thought was why, in 2013, are we still arguing over whether women should have ownership of their own bodies?” Liz Ford, deputy editor of the Guardian’s global development website, asks in the newspaper’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” “The mention of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the draft CSW agreement this year has become a major source of contention among negotiators — much like it did at the Rio+20 summit last year,” she writes, noting objections to the language from Pakistan, Iran, Malta and the Holy See, which holds permanent observer status at the U.N.

“Contesting these rights, which have been enshrined in international agreements, sends out a strong message that women are still very much second-class citizens, who can’t be trusted to look after themselves,” Ford continues. “In conversations I had, and overheard, at the U.N. last week, it is clear that the Holy See and some of the lobbying religious right believe endorsing women’s reproductive rights will open the door to more abortions and undermine the role of the family. … But this is misguided,” she states. Ford outlines other “contentious” issues in the draft agreement, concluding, “After years of struggle and in spite of statutes, laws and agreements, perhaps the best we can hope for from the CSW this year is an agreement that doesn’t roll back previous commitments — and maintaining the status quo would only come about after months of behind the scenes lobbying and two weeks of intense negotiations. How did it come to this?” (3/11).