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Pre-2008 Posts

Media Doesn’t Care About UN Conference on the Status of Women; Conservative Christian Lobbyists Attend in Spades


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 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.




7 thoughts on “Media Doesn’t Care About UN Conference on the Status of Women; Conservative Christian Lobbyists Attend in Spades

  1. This is appalling! The ‘United Nations’ are a fallacy – or should I say, phallacy?

    Posted by morgan | March 5, 2007, 5:11 pm
  2. I just watched an all too brief interview with Stephen Lewis on some CBC daytime talk show (“Gill”?) where he talked excitedly about creating a UN agency specifically to improve/protect women worldwide. Not the CSW but something additional to it, I think. It sounded like he had come from this Conference. And he actually mentioned what men do, not just generic gender-neutral language (tho there was that- “women worldwide face a great deal of economic crises and sexual violence” sort of thing) but also “the extremes of male behaviour.”

    I would have preferred he go further, and his responses to why after 40 years of modern feminism there is still this problem was kind of weak… he talked about how great feminism was, how much it has done for women, then said that there are always ebbs and flows, and there had been a ebb. now it’s flowing back and he felt that another ‘wave’ was coming and the proposal for a UN Agency on Women would be a help in that.

    So not enough talk about male resistance to change, both individually and institutionally (and you can’t really have much in the latter without having the former), no talk of backlash, so not getting to the heart of the matter. (tho, to his credit, he did talk about government resistance to dealing with what happens to women, about governments not caring, but the word “sexism” was never uttered, I don’t think). but still, I’m happy to see feminism spoken of with high regard, and conditions for women worldwide recognized as a huge problem, and not just “oh those brown people are misogynists” racist crap, but “no country has gender equality, not Canada, no where” (paraphrasing). and in mainstream daytime tv. so, some fresh air.

    From what I recall, Stephen Lewis has been doing and saying some really good things lately, sounding like a good ally for women. But in light of the pathetic MSM interest in this event (MSM= MainStream Media?), I feel far too grateful for little things, you know?

    “Oh looky! Crumbs! So yummy, such nice little crumbs”

    Posted by Cinder | March 7, 2007, 8:10 pm
  3. Knowing our media the way I do, this is hardly surprising. As I recall, Beijing did get a lot of attention. I wonder how much of that attention was generated by HRC’s appearance and speech?

    The conservatives have been pressuring the UN against women’s and children’s rights for years now–and quite successfully. They succeed at working under the radar mainly because those who run the media – particularly TV media – don’t give a damn about women’s rights. It’s damn depressing.

    PS: I’ve capitalized my name due to R!ch’s previous astute critiques. I believe (hope) my use of the the little g is/was more indicative of my laziness than anything else, but I don’t want to get lumped in with those to use it to make themselves appear fragile or “harmless.”

    Posted by Gayle | March 9, 2007, 12:28 am
  4. Well any tv interview will be determined by what the producer wants the host to ask, and what the show’s mandate is. In other words, don’t expect anything. If Lewis was to write something it might be more candidly him, but even then, he’d have to shape it to what the publication or zine requested or it wouldn’t see light of day.

    He is surrounded by feminists though, so we can only hope for better and more. His wife is noted second-wave Canadian feminist, journalist and Vancouver Rape Crisis centre supporter Michele Landsberg, and his son is married to Naomi Klein, leftist, who wrote the book No Logo (website of same name). Naomi is the daughter of film producer Bonnie Klein who made the ground-breaking anti-pornography National Film Board of Canada film “Not a Love Story”.

    C’mon Stephen. All that high-watt feminist power must have some effect on you sooner or later. We’re waiting.

    Posted by Pony | March 9, 2007, 1:49 am
  5. Ooops. Meant to give you this:

    Stephen Lewis’ wife:

    Posted by Pony | March 9, 2007, 1:51 am


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