The UN Commission on the
Status of Women held its annual deliberations in NY from February 27 to March
9, 2012. Government officials, representatives
of the United Nations, and rural women convened at the UN Headquarters in New
York for the 56th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
(CSW56). The focus of this year’s session was on improving the situation of
rural women and the elimination of hunger and poverty, as well as current
challenges to development.
Over 2,000 NGO civil
society delegates were in town to attend official UN, member state and NGO
events, to network, and to advocate before government representatives on
women’s empowerment issues for the CSW Outcome Document on rural women. ICJW’s
UN team in NY was joined by several of our ICJW colleagues from across the US
and from abroad including a group of NCJW/USA participants who were part of our
The NGO Committee on the
Status of Women, New York hosted 11 days of activities for NGOs as part of
their NGO CSW Forum. The kickoff began on February 26 with the annual
Over 1,000 global NGO
delegates gathered to attend orientation sessions on the coming CSW priority
issues; hear from important speakers including Michelle Bachelet,
Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women and Leymah Gbowee,
2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; listen to two exciting panels on regional
perspectives and issues facing rural woman; engage in training and, of course,
spend some quality bonding time.
As Communications Secretary of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, I helped to organize the NGO Consultation Day in advance of CSW56. 1000 attendees were addressed by 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee from Liberia, who is pictured here with members of the NGO CSW Executive Committee, including me(Madeleine, 4th from the left).
Twenty five hundred copies of the free, very professional
and useful NGO CSW Forum Handbook were grabbed up and included two ICJW full
page ads. ICJW is represented in NGO/ CSW/NY’s top leadership, and was also
there on the Planning Committee for CSW56 and on the Handbook editorial board.
opening CSW ceremonial event was held on February 27th in the General Assembly
Hall. President Sharon Gustafson was in
attendance. At noon, eleven of the 14 ICJW delegates gathered for a lovely
luncheon at a local restaurant to discuss coverage for the 2-week session. It
was a wonderful occasion to connect, reminisce and discuss issues. After lunch
and for the next 10 days, NGO representatives selected UN official events,
government sessions or NGO parallel events to attend on any and all topics
related to the themes of CSW56. There were hundreds of choices to cover.
busy days and nights included the following activities:
February 28th, the Israeli government held an excellent session with
Italy and Senegal entitled "Rural Women: From Vulnerability to
Sustainability". It brought attention to the challenges faced by rural women,
highlighting capacity building programs that promote their empowerment and
economic development. Many ICJW delegates attended this event and were thrilled
with the outstanding opportunity it presented for Israel to shine!
official NGO CSW Forum Reception was held that evening. It was sold out months
before and was an excellent time to network with women from all over the globe
who were encouraged to come in national dress. The costumes were a colorful joy
to behold, hors d’oeuvres were in abundance and wine was flowing. All 400
guests seemed to be having a lovely evening. I was honored to have been the co-chair
of this event.
(l-r): Marge Weiser, ICJW Vice-Chair of Financial
Development; Sharon Gustafson, ICJW President; Nancy Kaufman, CEO of NCJW-USA; Joan
Goldberg, ICJW Representative UN-NYC; Madeleine Brecher, ICJW Representative
UN-NYC; Judy Mintz, ICJW Representative UN-NYC
Next day, many of us attended an interactive panel and workshop on Funding the Rural Future. June Jacobs welcomed participants as a representative of the National Alliance of Women’s Organizations and ICJW. It was a very eclectic session covering a multitude of issues in many countries, i.e. the Iraqi experience of empowering rural women, rural girls in Zimbabwe and Colombia, and financing education for rural girls.
Wednesday evening, H.E. Mr. Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel at the UN, held a dinner reception at his residence in honor of the Israeli Delegation to the CSW. Our own former ICJW President Leah Aharanov was a member of the Israeli team, and three ICJW CSW representatives were delighted to have been invited. It was a wonderful evening and we were able to discuss the issues of gender equity and the empowerment of women with the Israeli experts, and to meet and talk about UNESCO with Israel’s Ambassador Ron Prosor, Deputy Israeli Ambassador Haim Waxman, and U.S. Deputy Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo.
ICJW’s event co-sponsored with Anglican Women’s Empowerment entitled EMPOWERED:
Rural Women ‘Shout Out’ was held on Thursday, March 1st. Click here to read Judy's report on this event.
morning briefings for NGOs were held daily with updates from the official UN
CSW Bureau, UN Women and of course NGO CSW. Then of course there were updates by
member state delegates, civil society caucuses and a new innovation this year,
conversation circles addressing specific topics, i.e. trafficking, climate
Thursday March 8th, in celebration of International Women’s Day, the NGO CSW
Forum held a march entitled GLOBAL WOMEN FOR EQUALITY, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE.
It was a glorious warm, sunny day in NY as over 500 women walked together to
pay tribute…well, to ourselves. We marched, we chanted and we sang a song about
how “we’re gonna keep on moving forward!!!”
Each marcher was given a sash and had the option of selecting her or his
own “priority cause” for women which they inscribed on their sash. I wrote JAIL
TRAFFICKERS! We were accompanied by a grouof drummers and marchers were also
encouraged to bring pots, pans or anything to make noise in the drum circle.
ICJW women at the Celebration March: Judy Mintz (2nd on the
right), Madeleine Brecher (4th on the right) and Fran Butensky (5th on the
so the two exhausting weeks came to a close. Our ICJW team was well-organized,
covered many sessions and we are now awaiting word on the Outcome Document,
otherwise known as Agreed Conclusions. These are still being negotiated by the UN
Commission on the Status of Women, chaired by Marjon Kamara, the committed and
dynamic Ambassador from Liberia. It was a pleasure to see a woman as chair. The
buzz among the delegates was that this was the very best CSW in a long time
and, in addition to all the hard work, everyone seemed to have a fabulous time!!!
Reported by Madeleine Brecher, ICJW representative to the UN in NY
and Communications Secretary, NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY.