This month we celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8 and the kick-off of the 59th UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Both of these events happen every year. But this year is special.
2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the landmark framework on women’s health and rights. This is where our rallying cry, “women’s rights are human rights,” originated (though the concept has been around a lot longer than 20 years!). It’s also the basis of our My Body My Rights campaign, which seeks to accelerate progress on comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights, issues that still have a long way to go.
Because this year’s CSW focuses on such a monumental anniversary, and requires the world’s governments to honestly assess how far we’ve come in protecting and promoting women’s rights everywhere, a new Declaration will be issued by the CSW this year, one that will represent the highest levels of political will and that will inform the next phase of global health and human rights efforts for women and girls.
This may seem just another political—and politicized—statement, but this year there may be more to it. That’s because in 2015 the world’s governments will also agree an entirely new consensus framework for addressing global poverty, health and development, and environmental sustainability. Known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the new framework will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as the world’s guidepost for the next 15 years.
While governments have only just begun to negotiate the final content of the SDGs, years’ worth of work has already taken place to provide a starting point for these negotiations. From an online consultation to identify the issues global citizens find most important, to a range of General Assembly debates, from hundreds of proposals from civil society, to a draft framework produced by a high-level panel of eminent persons and experts appointed by the UN Secretary-General, we have lots to go on.The CSW Declaration will be another piece of this puzzle, shaping reactions to the proposals on the table and giving a preview of where the priorities may fall.
Among the Sustainable Development Goals currently under consideration is one on gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.
That’s why we will be advocating for a comprehensive and ambitious agenda for this year’s CSW Declaration and subsequently for the SDGs. From women’s participation in peace-making processes to ending gender-related discrimination, from comprehensive sexual and reproductive health rights and security for women’s human rights defenders, to state protection from gender-based violence, our agenda is at the core of what will be required to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment by 2030.
It sounds daunting because it is. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.
And that’s why we need you. This year all of our governments will agree to a new vision for the world in 2030, beginning this week with the CSW. It’s our job to tell them what we want that world to look like.
In honor of International Women’s Day, the My Body My Rights Campaign has launched a Manifesto. By signing it, you’ll help demonstrate to world leaders how important sexual and reproductive health really is, that it underpins the rights to education, non-discrimination, and so many more, and that it cannot be lost to politics during the CSW or the final SDG negotiations.
This isn’t just another International Women’s Day or another Commission on the Status of Women. This September’s UN General Assembly won’t be just another gathering of the world’s leaders. On January 1, 2016, we will begin a new 15-year journey, one that we hope will result in an end to discrimination, violence and inequalities, better opportunities, more choices, better health, and more justice for all people, in every country of the world.
Will you join us to kick off this momentous year by raising your voice for sexual and reproductive health?