18 Mar Why did we come to UN this week?
March 18, 2016
Why Did We Come to the UN this Week?
Squishing into crowded subways and dodging honking taxis, 21 members of our United Families International team have been in New York at the United Nations “Commission on the Status of Women” (CSW) this week. Under the umbrella of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), CSW is the major UN conference of the year focused on empowering women and girls throughout the world. The theme for this year’s CSW60 is “Women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development.”
Year after year, many of the most powerful voices at the UN insist that the key to women’s empowerment lies in increased comprehensive sexuality education/contraception, and “sexual and reproductive health and rights” (SRHR), which is interpreted to mean abortion on demand.
And year after year, they are frustrated when these demands are not fully included in the outcome documents. We heard one woman from Denmark say that she had been at the UN for decades and “we are still dealing with the language that is holding women back.”
Radical feminist frustration with pro-family efforts was distributed in print, too. The official 2016 “NGO-CSW” guidebook that we — and all nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) — were handed at an official UN training, explicitly states the following:
“…at CSW 56 in 2012. . . governments could not reach consensus on an outcome document. The session was marked by:
• Traditional patriarchal values and practices vs. human rights and fundamental freedoms
• SRHR placement not agreed; governments evoked so-called “moral values” to deny women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (p. 22)
The authors of the guide continued to reveal their disdain for pro-family values when they included this section in the training book:
“Below are some of the negative trends that have impeded progress: Narrowing the concept of gender to only refer to women and men
- Narrowing the concept of gender to only refer to women and men
- Dissent between pro-life and pro-choice groups
- Opposition to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, in particular sexual rights
- Opposition to “sexual orientation and gender identity” or SOGI
- Opposition to “diverse forms of families” (p 23)
This official “NGO-CSW” guidebook also gives us helpful definitions such as:
“Sex work: A form of employment or income-generating activity for women, men and transgendered persons who negotiate and perform sexual services for remuneration. . . . Sex work is recognizes as real work, which therefore should be linked to worker’s protections and benefits.” (p. 20)
“Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR): . . . recognizes the autonomy and bodily integrity of all persons to control all aspects of one’s sexuality. . . which can include access to safe and legal abortion.” (p. 21)
As you can see, we and the pro-family coalition have our work cut out for us!
While we all agree that we want a world where every person is safe and free to work toward their dreams, we believe that increased access to contraception, abortion, and “sex work” will only hurt women and girls more.
We are not alone. The vast majority of UN member states share our values, including a belief in the sanctity of life and in the natural family founded upon marriage between a man and a woman. That is why we come to the UN — to give them the tools and resources they need to help them continue to uphold pro-family language and policies.
This week we were thrilled to hear Katalin Novak, a government minister from Hungary boldly declare to a room full of international leaders, “Women’s policy and family policy go hand in hand. They strengthen each other!” Later we met with her privately and thanked her for her courage. She said, “Hungary is strongly pro-family. We are surrounded by countries who are trying to change us, but we don’t give in. A country can only be as strong as its families. It’s the only thing that makes sense.”
The UN Delegate from Sierra Leone echoed the sentiment: “Here at the UN, I would say 80% of the countries believe as we do, that the family should be based on a married mother and father, but it is the very powerful 20% that put a great deal of pressure on us to change the documents.”
Side Events All Around
As we attended the CSW events, we heard presenters make statements such as: “We can’t talk about combating violence against women without talking about abortion rights and reproductive rights. It’s because we care about life that we support abortion! Abortion is not taking something away, but giving something to a woman. Governments have to find consensus on this. We can be impolite and offend people to get support for this. We don’t have to be nice! This is too important.”
Other presenters have been claiming that traditional roles for women are oppressive. During the Q & A, our brave UFI team has been asking questions that have are having an impact on the discussions. One member of our team who is a mother of four children stood up and asked, “How are you going to ensure that all women’s voices are heard? The squeaky wheel often gets the grease, but how can we ensure that the other three wheels on this vehicle are getting grease, too?” One of our amazing student interns then asked a follow-up question about not leaving out the needs and concerns of homemakers. These two comments changed the direction of the rest of the conversation.
UFI also had the opportunity to host some presentations. We sponsored two events with Fight the New Drug, who gave compelling presentations on the destructive nature of pornography and how it is linked to trafficking. Every seat was filled and there were people lining the walls, sitting on the floor, and we even had to turn some away. One attendee from Bangladesh responded in an email, “I am really grateful to you and your team as a lucky participant of your sensational program to Fight the new Drug Pornography. My fight will go with you all the time.”
In addition to the presentations, our UFI team has met personally with UN Delegates and Ambassadors from more than 20 countries.
We met with the country of Tuvalu, and when we gave the Delegate our UFI Negotiating Guide, cataloguing the pro-family language in past UN documents, she nearly cried for joy. She said, “This is the most valuable gift I’ve ever been given at the UN!” She was excited about how useful it will be at both at the UN and at home in her country.
When we met with Morocco, the Delegate was so thrilled to hear our message and meet our team that she Face-timed her daughter in Morocco to introduce her to us.
After our visit with Benin, the Ambassador heartily shook our hands and said, “Thank you for all you are doing! Your work is so very important, and the Negotiating Guide is an important tool. Family is the core of humanity. We must preserve it for our children and their children.”
We couldn’t agree more. And that’s why we brave the subways and traffic, and come to the UN every year.
United Families International, President
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