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Political empowerment & support for standalone MDG on gender key CSW58 outcomes

As a delegate from the BGIPU access was easier and broader than my past experiences of representing the UK NGO’s at CSW. Our evening sessions at the UK mission were valuable, informative and friendly enabling the UK group to both come together and to get to know each other and also of course to catch up with old friends and acquaintances.

Given the size of the conference, its breadth and multi layered offerings decisions have to be made and priorities determined. Obviously the IPU day was a priority as were events at which our own ministers were speaking.

The side event at which Lynn Featherstone spoke, held that lunch time was, I thought, slightly ironic in that Professor Kimmel, author of a book entitled “Angry White Man” spoke for so long that contributions from other women on the platform were rather curtailed !!

The IPU event on Tuesday was very worthwhile. Discussion not only on numbers of women involved in decision making bodies but around what they actually get to do when they are elected and equally importantly what difference, if any their presence in government may make to the lives of ordinary women in the country. There was also a very clear explanation of the planned content of the stand alone gender goal:

A UN policy adviser set out the hoped for framework for the stand alone goal on gender equality. She stressed that this would be in the context of the MDG’s becoming MSG’s i.e. “sustainable”. And that this work needed to be conducted and viewed in conjunction with the role of CEDAW and recognition of qualitative as well as quantitative data. It has been described as the 3 pronged approach:

A. Freedom from Violence…. Empowerment

B. Equality and capability…. access to knowledge and resources, removal of systemic barriers.

C. Equality in private and public institutions….decision making power.

A side meeting on getting more girls into STEM areas, and addressed by Maria Miller, was very well attended. I did think the presentation did not quite sum up the energy being brought to bear by many organisations in the UK to try to improve the situation. The contribution from Tanzania was interesting describing as it did the determination to put more resources into girls’ education in these areas.

Tackling Social Norms, a side event addressed by Justine Greening, was interesting and brought out a lot of information from Ethiopia and its attempts to reduce/eliminate the practise of FGM. The same meeting had a presentation from the ODI and the OECD with evidence-based work on a growing acceptance that “social norms” cannot be used to undermine the rights of women. They also had data on “time use” showing the gender divisions of paid and unpaid work.

I was very pleased to be selected to attend CSW on behalf of the BGIPU and I hope I was able to bring some experience to bear on the general proceedings.

Baroness Prosser OBE