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Carole Shaw
JERA International

Today as the crux of the work at the UN begins – the negotiation of the CSW conclusions on this year’s priority theme, I am once again reminded most brutally of the shrinking political spaces for women… especially at the United Nations. The lock down begins as governments negotiate a document that will impact on women’s lives all around the world. But where is the transparency and accountability that the UN is so insistent upon…. Where are the opportunities for NGO’s to listen to the discussions? Who , when access to the physical building is so challenging (2 passes required) can actually get near the government delegations who remain to negotiate the document to share language for the document… the immediate answer is – very few… most of the NGO’s here are locked out. Locked out of both the negotiation rooms and the building.

Carole Shaw
APWW / JERA International

It is Day 4 of CSW and the end of the week.  Many of the participants return home to their countries this weekend, so the last minute dash to Macy’s sale is on and government delegates, dazed and brain dead after the afternoon of the first run  through the text of the outcomes document head out into the cold evening to relieve the stress for a few hours.

Carole Shaw
APWW / JERA International

Trying to decide….

Today was full on at CSW with a number of events all happening at once.  The morning was filled with activity of people trying to get into briefings in the ‘North Lawn Building’ which is where most of the meeting has been moved to while renovations are happening at the main tower block.  This has resulted in losing the ‘NGO hub’ around the Vienna Café and corridors.  The new building has lounge areas and a small, more temporary (5 years) Vienna Café which is not as comfortable, as the old one, although the smokers must now go somewhere else as for those of you who had experienced the old Vienna café it was where the smokers gathered to have coffee.  It was always a great place to meet people and to lobby government delegates to insert language into the outcomes document.

Carole Shaw
APWW / JERA International
23 February 2011

What a day…

Today started wonderfully….  Cold as ice outside,  and a warm Fijian welcome inside from Tara Chetty who was presenting in the Pacific Women’s Watch “Claiming Space for Pacific Women in the International Arena” workshop.  The workshop was well attended by women from all around the world.  The aim of the interactive workshop was to develop strategies for supporting and promoting opportunities for pacific women in political representation internationally.  Roslyn Noonan, Chair of the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions, both acknowledged and recognized the prominent role of many Pacific women who have challenged governments and former colonial leaders in the struggle for equality and peace.  Of particular note was her acknowledgement of recent Fiji activists Imrana Jalal and Shamima Ali who have continuously worked to improve the situation for women in their country.  She spoke of the 2004 vision for the region which resulted in the Pacific Plan in 2005 and ways to strengthen this through use of a human rights framework.  Following Roslyn was Emmy Galama from the Hairou Commission and permanent representative to UN Habitat, and Tara Chetty.  Tara was standing in for Lisa Lahari Williams (Pacific WAVE), who, due to late receipt of  funding  was literally winging her way on a flight to New York to attend the meeting. Tara talked about her experiences with the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) and experiences of the consequences of lack of representation at the international level.  She also acknowledged the long history of pacific women’s activism.   And noted the particular challenges at the broader global leadership level where pacific women are struggling to be recognized as a specific area with specific challenges.  She noted that obviously, in some Pacific nations, local struggles impact greatly on national and global leadership.  This is when membership of regional and other feminist networks can support in getting some of the messages out to support particular issues.  It was reiterated that finding space, and promoting voice of women in a specific parts of the world has multiple challenges and a strategic approach is often needed.

Carole Shaw
APWW / JERA International
22 February, 2011

Brown eyes, blue eyes definition by the colour of your UN pass….

After the chaos and debacle of last year’s NGO access to CSW this year has proved to be NO different.   While the queues were greatly improved to collect passes, mainly due to the much lower number of women attending CSW 55th session, access to the UN conference rooms to hear government’s speak, was limited to one pass per organization.  For some,  this means sharing 1 pass between 20 women wishing to attend the briefing.   Cunning and audacity were implemented to achieve access to even the remotest areas of the UN.  What was once a short trip to get a coffee turns into a walk in the park as visitors are directed to walk around the UN building, along the riverside, past the statues, into the back entrance by the garage, along the corridor to the library, up the stairs to the old entrance and then finally into a much downsized canteen where the coffee barrister closes at 11am!   Walking along the way, I find the debris of women, lost, alone, turning in 360 degree circles looking for the way to go… why have I got a pass if I can’t attend the sessions is the question on everyone’s lips….

Audio Recordings from the UN Commission on the Status of Women 55th Session

(Gender, Education, Science & Technology and Employment)

February 22 - March 4, 2011
New York, USA

The Isis Media Team is in active attendance of the 55th UN Commission on the Status of Women, wherein participants include the 45 representatives of UN Member States, as well as UN entities and ECOSOC-accredited NGOs from all over the world.

The theme of this year's two-week conference is, “Access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work.”

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