I blogged yesterday about the U.S. denying visas to the Iranian delegates to the UN Conference on the Status of Women to be held this week in New York. Reader/blogger Status of Women responded in the thread to say her colleagues will be covering the UN Conference on their blog, Status of Women and also letting us know that only 10 journalists have applied for accreditation to attend the proceedings! What’s up with that?!
As Isabel Hilton of the Guardian says (quoting Solana Gordon of Status of Women):
Just imagine that it was possible to get 4,000 women and 200 girls together, along with hundreds of NGOs and representatives of 45 governments to talk about real ways of protecting young women and girls from violence and improving the status of women. Surely such an event would be of interest?
So why, when 45 governments, 4,000 women and hundreds of NGOs do get together to focus on these issues do none of the conventional media pay the slightest attention? The 51st Commission on the Status of Women is currently in session in New York. The CSW is a United Nations body which comes together for an annual two week session to review the world’s progress on the elimination of discrimination against women. It brings together women from countries of every faith, including Islam, women from the global south and from the advanced industrial countries and an impressive array of interest groups and organizations who set up a vast ancillary programme of meetings and events. Where else will you find Iraq’s first female judge in a room with a woman parliamentarian from the Yemen?
So how many journalists from the world’s mainstream media have applied for accreditation to this global event?”
“Around 10,” according to Solana Larsen who is writing one of the only blogs from the CSW for openDemocracy.net. In previous years, she reports, they had to park a trailer outside just to handle the many requests. This year, a search on Google news reveals an empty landscape. Back in the 90s it was a big media story – Beijing 1995, for instance was a global media event. Today millions of women suffer injustices because of their gender, are murdered, raped and sold because they are women, and the mainstream media are ignoring the biggest global forum for such issues.
During his term as the UN Secretary General, Kofi Anan repeatedly pointed out that violence against women is perhaps the most pervasive of human rights violations, and real progress towards equality, development, and peace cannot be made without gender equality: it is now widely acknowledged that women’s empowerment is crucial to eradicate persistent global poverty.
The CSW is not just a talking shop. It was this forum that secured the legal foundations of gender equality and pressured the UN into adopting a resolution that affirmed that women and girls also had human rights. It gave their legal status recognition and protection. Now these gains are under attack all over the world. According to the commission, as many as 55 million girls are shut out of formal schooling, millions of school-aged girls work in domestic service and an estimated 40 percent of child soldiers are girls. Of young people aged 15-25 living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, more than 60 percent are female. Access to propaganda-free sexual education worldwide is systematically undermined by religious conservative groups, and in the UK mothers of young children are more discriminated against than any one else in the workplace.
There is one group, though, that is not ignoring the CSW: one of the bigger presences in New York is of the Christian women’s groups of the right, there to lobby against abortion and sex education. Well organized as ever, they know a significant gathering when they see one.
According to Status of Women, guess who the U.S. chose as its delegates?
The US Department of State announced the appointment of three individuals to their delegation for the CSW. Who are they? Lisa Guillermin Gable of Upperville, Virginia, Darlene Bramon of Hailey, Idaho, and Pia Francesca de Solenni of Washington, D.C.
Bramon is a major fundraiser for Bush, and so is Guillermin Gable. Both are succesful business women, and Guillermin Gable is a member of Women Corporate Directors. Ooh well, that should make them qualified to take democratic global decisions on women in poverty, shouldn’t it?
The real star is Pia Francesca de Solenni. She won an award from the Vatican for her pHD thesis. Guess what it’s about.