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U.N. Member States Gather In New York For 57th Meeting Of Commission On The Status Of Women

“Member states of the United Nations will gather in New York for the next two weeks to discuss the elimination of violence against women and girls,” GlobalPost’s “Rights” blog reports, noting “the United Nations’ annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will hold meetings, discussions, debate and make decisions on how to deal with this sweeping and all-encompassing issue” (Pearlman, 3/4). Michelle Bachelet said the 57th meeting of the CSW “should send a clear message that custom and tradition could not stand in the way of progress,” the Guardian notes. “Bachelet said this time round the commission could ‘not afford not to progress in the fight to end violence against women'” and that “existing international agreements and national laws need to be upheld and implemented, and concrete steps need to be taken to ensure violence is prevented,” the newspaper writes (Ford, 3/4). U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson “stressed that it will take multiple approaches to tackle this issue, from governments implementing policies to empower victims and prosecute perpetrators, to creating a culture where gender stereotypes are broken by encouraging men and boys to take an equal share of responsibilities in their home and families,” according to the U.N. News Centre (3/4).

However, “[t]he Vatican, Iran and other religious states are resisting efforts by [the] conference … to demand tougher global standards to prevent violence against women and children,” Agence France-Presse/The Globe & Mail writes, adding, “Diplomats said the Holy See, Iran and Russia are leading attempts wipe out language in a final statement that says religion, custom or tradition must not be used as an excuse to avoid a government’s obligation to eliminate violence” (3/4). In a separate article, the Guardian notes Bachelet “acknowledged that the issues of sexual and reproductive rights and health were of major importance in ending violence and in poverty alleviation and development, but remained sticking points for some conservative member states of the U.N.” and “has indicated she would be prepared to compromise on the language used in the [CSW] outcome document, as long as the words used ‘reflected the spirit’ of the key issues and did not undermine past agreements.” “Bachelet said that although the phrasing of the text was important, what was needed was the will and action to eliminate violence against women and girls,” the newspaper writes (Ford, 3/5).