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….

So who can get in..?  Those with a white S, red D and yellow P on their pass (staff, delegate and press)  some brown N passes can get in (these are the NGO annual passes and access appears to be dependant on who is on the gate and how well you know the person on the gate.  Those with a brown T (temporary pass) are at the whim of the guard and even if you have a secondary pass you may or may not be allowed entry to the great halls of international decision making.  Tours of course are allowed escorted access as long as they stay together…!

Anyway, moving on…,….  Chaos reigned as Australian women, notified by text, try to get into the main hall to hear the Hon Minister, Kate Ellis, deliver the Australian statement… “no ma’am you can’t enter this building without a secondary pass”.  As it turned out the Australian statement was rescheduled for Thursday – by which time we hope things will be running much more smoothly.

Outside of the UN the NGO workshops begin .. Using IT to empower women; Investing in  Peace; Our bodies are still trembling – Haitian women’s Fight against Rape and Girls Take the Stage are a few of the workshops running today.   These workshops prove a useful opportunity to share international good practice and explore new ideas.   As women shiver against the freezing temperatures it was good to see some of our Pacific sisters with full mumu’s over their coats entering into the events.  Pacific women are few and far between here at CSW so it is good to  see 6 or 7 beautiful and colourful women walking proudly along the halls of the UN.

A key event held in the afternoon today is the session “How National Human Rights Institutions have contributed to women’s rights, gender equality and empowerment of women in Jordan”.  This workshop, presented by Dr Muhyieddeen Touq, Commissioner General for Human Rights/Jordan, and supported by the Hon Minister Kate Ellis,     Minister for Employment Participation and Childcare; Minister for the Status of Women.  This workshop was a follow on from the paper tabled at last year’s CSW 54th Session on the role of National Human Rights Institutions within CSW and the push for National Human Rights Institutions to have independent reporting status at CSW.

Tonight is the NGO reception, a networking event which occurs each session on the first Tuesday of CSW.  More on that later…

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