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U.N. CSW Adopts Declaration Urging End To Violence Against Women, Girls

“A United Nations policy-making body has agreed upon a declaration urging an end to violence against women and girls despite concerns from conservative Muslim countries and the Vatican about references to women’s sexual and reproductive rights,” Al Jazeera reports (3/16). “Iran, Libya, Sudan and other Muslim nations ended threats to block the declaration and agreed to language stating that violence against women could not be justified by ‘any custom, tradition or religious consideration,’” Agence France-Presse/France24 notes (3/17). “After two weeks of tough and often contentious negotiations, 131 countries joined consensus Friday night on a compromise 17-page document that Michelle Bachelet, the head of the U.N. women’s agency, called historic because it sets global standards for action to prevent and end ‘one of the gravest violations of human rights in the world, the violence that is committed against women and girls,’” the Associated Press/ABC News writes (Lederer, 3/16).

According to the Guardian, “the outcome document included strong agreements to promote gender equality, women’s empowerment, and ensure women’s reproductive rights and access to sexual and reproductive health services — an area of particular contention,” and “[i]t reaffirmed previous international agreements on women’s rights, such as those made in Cairo in 1994” (Ford, 3/16). “Among the priorities in the document is the establishment of multi-sectoral services for survivors of violence, including for health, psychological support and counseling, as well as the need to protect the right to sexual and reproductive health,” the U.N. News Centre notes (3/15). “The declaration also called on governments to ‘devote particular attention to abolishing practices and legislation that discriminate against women and girls, or perpetuate and condone violence against them,’” Deutsche Welle writes (3/16). “While the declaration of the commission, created in 1946 for the advancement of women, is non-binding, diplomats and rights activists say it carries enough global weight to pressure countries to improve the lives of women and girls,” Reuters notes (Nichols, 3/15).