Aurat Publication & Information Service Foundation
UN CSW Reflects 20 Years of Beijing Declaration (9-20.3.2015), New York

New York

UN CSW Reflects 20 Years of Beijing Declaration (9-20.3.2015)

The 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 9th to 20th March 2015. Representatives of member states, UN entities and ECOSOC accredited Non-Governmental Organizations from all regions of the world attended the session. The CSW focused on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action including challenges that affected its implementation, the achievements of gender equality and the empowerment of women. It undertook review of progress in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, twenty years after its adoption at 4th world conference on women in 1995.

The Beijing +20 Review included the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the UN General Assembly, the first five year assessment conducted after the adoption of the platform for action. The session also addressed opportunities for achieving gender equality and empowerment of women in the post 2015 development agenda. The 59th Session of the CSW marked the 20th anniversary of Beijing+20 Platform for Action and individuals, groups, organizations and delegations from all over the world participated in the event, setting a new record this year with morethan 1,100 NGOs and a total of 8,600 representatives securing registration.

The 59th Session of the Commission consisted of two kinds of events/sub-sessions; one where permanent missions and UN entities discussed their respective countries and the situation of women rights and the second where NGOs from different countries arranged side/parallel events. The government sessions were restricted to general entries and only government officials and UN officials were allowed to participate in those events. As opposed to the sessions arranged by governments, the parallel events of NGOs were open to all participants. However, owing to the huge number of participants only those with prior registration were allowed to participate in the side/parallel events.

Pakistan was represented by both a government delegation and a delegation consisting of representatives from civil society organizations. The government delegation participated in the 59th session of UN/CSW consisted of the following members, Advisor to Prime Minister Barrister Zafar Ullah Khan, Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women, Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson Provincial Commission on the Status of Women, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Neelum Toru and Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Law Justice and Human Rights, Shehzad Ahmed.

The NGO delegation included four representatives from Aurat Foundation, Prof Farkhanda Aurangzeb, Asim Malik, Rabeea Hadi and Mumtaz Mughal; Nabeela Malick (UNFPA), Saliha Ramay (Rozan), Tabinda Sarosh (Shirkat Gah), Nighat Saeed Khan (ASR) and Ayesha Imtiaz (Ahaan). The team from Aurat Foundation organized a parallel event in joint collaboration with Collective for Research and Training on Development- Action (CRTD.A) and Women's Learning Partnership (for further detail see box below).

The objectives of the 59th CSW Session were:

  • To undertake a review and appraise the implementation status of Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action as well as the outcomes document of the 20th special session of the General Assembly held in March 2000.
  • To analyze current challenges that affect the implementation of the platform of the action and realization of women and girls full and equal rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • To access the achievements of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls throughout their life cycle.
  • To ensure the acceleration of implementation of Platform for Action and Beijing Declaration.
  • To use opportunities in the post 2015 development agenda for the integration of gender perspective into economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
  • Re-affirm the commitment to ensure the mainstreaming of a gender perspective into the preparations and coordinated implementation.
  • Follow up to all the major UN conferences and summits in the development, economic, social, environmental, humanitarian and related fields, so that they collectively contribute to realization of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.
Wide range of examples with varying shades of gender equality in South African Region, South American Region, South East Asia Region and Asia Pacific were thoroughly discussed by the participants of the session, which enabled experience-sharing around violence against women, social exclusion of women and their absence in decision-making positions. Equal opportunities to women without discrimination also remained a critical focus of discussions. Pro-women legislation around the world especially in Asia Region was appreciated as a positive move towards formal gender equality yet need for implementation of these laws was stressed as a challenge by UN member States and NGO representatives. Trafficking of women and children, forced migration and rising poverty index also emerged as common features of the discourse.

As a major document, the CSW adopted a 'Political Declaration' at the opening session. The political declaration penned 13 points to lay out the future strategy for better compliance to the Beijing Declaration. It also encompassed the progress and advancement made in the field of women's empowerment and development. As per the information available on the official website of UNCSW the draft of the political declaration was submitted on March 05, 2015, well before the start of the 59th Session. The website further states that it was based on informal consultations; however, the declaration was not shared with the participants in a formal setting for their feedback.

The political declaration aroused critique and concerns by the global civil society which was reflected in the Civil Society Statement (see above).

Another important document to come out of the session will be the Post 2015 Development Agenda. The United Nations is in the process of defining the post 2015 development agenda including the finalization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will set the agenda for the next 15 years. The process of finalizing the agenda is at a crucial stage with the two final inter-governmental negotiations to be held in July 2015. It is extremely important for Pakistan to participate actively in the process to ensure national priorities are reflected in the agenda.


New York

Meeting with Ambassador / Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations

An NGO delegation from Pakistan held a meeting with Her Excellency Dr Maleeha Lodhi, Ambassador / Permanent Representative of Pakistan, United Nations, on March 11, 2015, at New York. Aurat Foundation was represented by Ms Rabeea Hadi, Mr Asim Malik, Ms Farkhanda Aurangzeb and Mumtaz Mughul. The ambassador was briefed on the scope of work by the NGOs representatives as well as Government engagements and facilitations at different levels. The ambassador offered her services to lobby for the Pakistani women at international forums.

New York

Meeting with Ms Carol Ballantine- Policy Officer HIV & Gender (Trocaire)

Aurat Foundation’s team had a meeting with Ms Carol Ballantine, Policy Officer HIV & Gender, Trocaire, and shared following key points:
  • Each year Aurat Foundation publishes VAW data reports which are shared different government and civil society organizations and stakeholders. The procedures to collect the data, its funding history and its implications in the legislative business (quoted in the recent two bills passed by Senate) were also shared.
  • The research studies conducted by Aurat Foundation on AWPA, which has identified loopholes in the law as well as its implementation, were also shared with her.
  • She was also briefed about our alliances with different government organizations like National Police Bureau, Federal Judicial Academy and provincial judicial academies, Women Parliamentary Caucus etc. and our engagements with these departments.
  • Our efforts to link regional issues with national and then with international events were discussed with her. We shared that Aurat Foundation has been putting its energy behind the struggle to establish point of connection among the issues at the three levels (regional, national and international). Aurat Foundation`s team prior to its arrival had shared a document with Pakistan`s permanent representative to the UN which elaborated our stance on the content of the political declaration and contained key points to recommended for inclusion in the political declaration.
This was a productive meeting in many ways one of which was that she took firsthand information which led to many mutually agreed points of suggestions and recommendations.

New York

Governance and compliance for Pakistan and Lebanon reviewed

During the 59th Session of the CSW, Aurat Foundation organized and jointly collaborated a parallel session with Lebanon's Collective for Research and Training on Development- Action (CRTD.A) and Women's Learning Partnership. The theme of the session was titled ‘Country Reflections on the Beijing Platform for Action: Government Compliance and Way Forward, Case Studies from Pakistan and Lebanon’. The event gave a detailed account of the women rights` status in Lebanon and Pakistan and the pro-women legislations specifically in Pakistan.

Aurat Foundation's Ms Rabeea Hadi, Director Advocacy and EVAW, presented "Issues of State Machineries for Women, Politics and Laws in Pakistan", which began with a thorough background and contextual outlook of women in Pakistan. Ms. Rabeea discussed the issues faced by women in politics, women parliamentarians and women in the workplace. Gaps and loopholes in legislation and implementation of laws were also pointed out.

The speaker went on to highlight the positive contributions of Pakistani women such as the only girl Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, for voicing the right of girl's education, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy for her Oscar on the documentary which shone light on the sensitive topic of acid crimes against women in Pakistan and the numerous other women in public space and public service for their commitment and dedication towards emancipation and equality for women in Pakistan, despite challenges and adversity. Ms Lina Abou Habib analyzed the situation of Lebanon in perspective of the Beijing+20 declarations and the country response to international commitments. Ms Saliha Ramay, Co-chair for the EVAW Alliance in Pakistan briefed the participants about management of survivors of violence in Pakistan, situation of shelter homes and challenges faced by women and children during redress and access to justice. Ms Wafaa El from Morocco moderated the event.

The session concluded with both countries bringing forward recommendations to take steps and compliance measures to come closer to their commitments to Beijing and other international commitments. The broader objective of the event was to link regional advocacy campaigns and groups on women's rights issues with their international counterparts.

New York

Partnership meeting with SIDA held

Aurat Foundation delegation had a meeting with Ms Nasrin from SIDA on March 17, 2015. The major focus of the discussion was on the partnership between WLP and Aurat Foundation. Information regarding the scope of work of Aurat Foundation, its regional and national engagements and the demographics of the areas where Aurat Foundation is working were shared with her. She asked a question that Aurat Foundation is comparatively bigger organization than WLP than why does it need partnership with WLP? To this we highlighted the dire need of this partnership because:
  • The information shared through publications by WLP and Aurat Foundation requires regional integration. There is a significant amount of similarities between Afghanistan and Pakistan in terms of socio-political, cultural and economic conditions, thus the purpose of partnership is productive in the context.
  • Aurat Foundation is working on policy, advocacy and awareness and as the situation of GBV or women rights issues are identical in almost all Muslim majority countries of the world, the idea of holding an international conference on the said issues was also shared.
  • This also gives a platform to connect regional and national issues with international and then advocate for them nationally and internationally through this partnership between Aurat Foundation and WLP.
  • Because of the region based similarities our interaction with participants during the ToT in Turkey was effective despite the presence of language barriers. Results were achieved quite efficiently through non-verbal communication including postures, body language, gestures and facial expressions.
Aurat Foundation has developed concept note on regional hub for advocacy on international commitments and gender based national legislation. This report was shared with her and she assured that she will discuss this further with SIDA.