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Day 3 - CSW 55 a time to reflect

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.

Now all this has changed, and with the complications of entering the building in the first place, lobbying has to be much smarter and targeted.  All around the building and in the Church Centre are small groups drafting language to be inserted into the draft outcomes document.  The first draft is a fairly simple text with some good language to begin with.  At the moment it is 4 pages long – this is bound to change overnight as delegations begin the process of seeing where they can insert their language into the document.  The first read through is tomorrow and will be done in open forum – after this, all negotiations will be held in closed areas with various governments heading sections of the text.  Australia has draft text ready and will be active in the negotiations.  Many of the Pacific government delegations are leaving at the end of this week, so they may not have such a strong voice in this outcomes document.

The Pacific side event held today, supported by the Australia highlighted some of the key issues for the Pacific islands in retention and access to education for girls and women.  There was a packed room for the workshop and this once more allowed Pacific voice and Pacific issues to be raised at CSW.

After a short lunch (well a cup of coffee really).  It was into the high level panel on next year’s theme – rural women’s empowerment.  Michelle Bachelet spoke in this panel and talked about the need for gender disaggregated data to support work on the ground.

Country statements followed the panel and it was time to snooze gently at the back of the room waiting for the key words you are interested in to suddenly break into your consciousness and make you take note of what is being said.  Australia delivered its statement today and copies are on the FAHCSIA website.

The main event of today was the launch of UN Women the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women, formed at the UN out of recommendations from Kofi Annan, former Secretary General and followed through by Ban Ki-Moon, current Secretary General of the UN.  Over the course of 4 years,  a massive campaign has taken place at the UN and in the NGO sector.  Over a million signatures were collected from South Asia alone through the GEAR Campaign and the ardent activists who supported the new UN vision.  As a long list of dignitaries spoke at the launch event, the key message was that the new agency, under the leadership of Ms Michelle Bachelet, Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women, would be key to moving the status of women into a new dimension.  UN Women is currently preparing its strategic plan for 2012 – 2013 and Ms Bachelet will be looking at ways to engage NGO’s and CBO’s in informing the direction of the agency.   A cheer was raised when Ban Kip- Moon stated he was fully supportive of the agency and would search for funding to support it.  This is a wait and see moment…. As I stood in the General Assembly with the hundreds of other women and men attending this event it was a moment to reflect back on my own journey which brought me to the UN that day, a moment for honouring the past and envisioning the future for women and girls.

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