What happened at the UN conference on women?

What happened at the UN conference on women?

Carol Soelberg

What do phrases like “gender transformers,” “comprehensive sex education,” or endless references to “contraceptive commodities” have to do with a priority theme of: “The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication?”  Those are the questions that our UFI team asked themselves for the last two weeks (Feb. 27-March 9) as they engaged in the spectacle known as the UN “Commission on the Status of Women” (CSW).

Most of the world’s poor do live in rural areas and most of the poor are women.  All steps that actually do work in regarding to alleviating their economic plight should be welcomed. But once again, CSW did not stay true to its stated agenda and our United Families team in New York had their hands full trying to stop an obvious anti-family agenda from gaining ground.

There were at least six draft resolutions, three of which dealt most directly with pro-family issues.  Our UFI team followed them very closely and worked with delegates on the various resolutions to not only keep out the bad stuff, but to include some very positive language on family, parental rights, and the importance of religious and cultural values of each member state.  The negotiations included:

1)  A resolution on the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication (Agreed Conclusions)
2) A resolution on eliminating maternal mortality & morbidity
3) A resolution on women, the girl child and HIV and AIDS

Gender, gender, gender….

During the negotiations on the priority theme resolution, a suggestion to include a positive reference to “wives and mothers” and a reference to the “vital role of the family in society” met with stiff resistance while the same resolution included 15 references to “gender” (gender mainstreaming, gender sensitive, gender dimensions, gender equality, gender perspective, gender inequality, gender-stereotypes, gender transformers, and on and on).  The resolution on maternal mortality at one point had 18 similar references to “gender”, and the HIV resolution had 29!

This alone serves as a reminder that the UN as a whole and the Commission on the Status of Women in particular is focused on the promotion of radical feminism and that the intentional overuse of “gender” also lays the framework for the promotion of the idea that a person’s gender is “fluid”- tying it directly to the homosexual agenda.  Even though in prior UN documents, the definition of “gender” has been clarified as meaning male or female, the United States, the European Union, Canada, and their anti-family allies refused to allow that definition to be added to any of the current resolutions.  That speaks volumes.

Comprehensive Sex Education

What does “Comprehensive Sex Education” have to do with reducing the number of women who will die during childbirth because of lack of pre-natal and post-natal medical care and the presence of skilled birth attendants during delivery?   We wondered that also as the U.S. and E.U. delegations insisted that that phrase remain in the resolution on reducing maternal mortality.  The U.S. delegation then shut down any effort to immediately qualify the phrase with the addition of consensus parental rights language such as: “recognizing the rights, duties, and responsibilities of parents to direct the education of their children.”

Later at a U.S. Briefing, Laurie Phipps, a senior negotiator for the U.S. State Department, gave us the reason for the push.  Phipps stated:  “Here at CSW, we are taking the opportunity to talk about Comprehensive Sex Education because that is something that is a priority for the U.S. government…”  When the briefing ended Laurie Phipps privately acknowledged to an associate that she had “rambled too much” during the briefing and that she was “going to be in trouble” for her statements and that what she had said “would probably end up all over the internet.”   We are working to make sure Laurie’s prediction comes true and we want to warn you about the inclusion of the adjective “comprehensive” before sex education.

What exactly is “Comprehensive Sex Education?”  The shortest answer is probably this:  Comprehensive Sex Education is pornography for children.  Those who promote it are seeking to change society by changing sexual and gender norms and that includes training young people to advocate for “sexual rights.”  The pro-family coalition actively worked against the U.S. delegation who repeatedly tried to strong-arm and deceive the other delegations into including the phrase “Comprehensive Sex Education.”  It was our task to inform and convince these countries of what they would be signing on to if that language were included.  To see an explanation of what is included in “Comprehensive Sex Ed” programs go here(warning:  contains graphic content)   

Contraception, contraception and more contraception

To the amazement of some long-time UN observers, the delegates from the U.S. attempted to insert “access to contraceptives” at every opportunity – at one point inserting it so many times in the proposed resolution on HIV/AIDS that the representative of the Holy See wryly asked:  “Are we trying to prevent births or HIV?  Contraceptives are for the purpose of preventing conception – not preventing the transmission of HIV.”

It became increasingly clear that the pushing of so much “contraceptive” language may well be an attempt to shore up the Obama administration’s highly controversial “contraception mandate” by inserting it into international documents in an attempt to justify it not only to citizens of the U.S., but to the rest of the world.  

Sexual and reproductive health rights and services

It seems no UN conference document or resolution would be complete without the repeated attempts to establish a global “right to abortion” with the ubiquitous inclusion of phrases like “reproductive health services” and “sexual and reproductive rights.”  Once again you will see different versions of these phrases inserted multiples of times in the same resolution while sentences and paragraphs promoting true health care for women are conspicuously absent.
This is a battle that UFI representatives and their pro-family allies fight virtually every UN commission and conference.

An opportunity to showcase real success

This Commission on the Status of Women did give United Families International an opportunity to showcase “Best Practices for Alleviating Poverty of Rural Women and Their Families.”  UFI joined with our colleagues at Reach the Children, The Howard Center, and Care for Life for a “parallel event” where we highlighted the Stay Alive Program (HIV prevention program), Care for Life’s “Family Preservation Program,” sustainable agriculture projects in Kenya, and poverty reduction programs in China.  Many individuals who attended the event commented that it was remarkable to hear about real and effective programs – programs that are actually helping women, children, and their families instead of dealing with the mostly empty rhetoric that is the stock and trade of the UN system.  Thanks to all who helped with this exceptional presentation.

In the end…

After 2+ weeks of pouring over resolutions, inserting and deleting language, monitoring negotiations, and working closely with delegates, we have some good things to report and a not so good thing.  The U.S. sponsored resolution on maternal mortality and morbidity was adopted last Friday – in spite of countless hours of work on the part of the UFI team and other pro-family groups to strip it of some very anti-life and anti-family language.  We will be doing “damage control” from this resolution for years to come.  We found we couldn’t compete effectively with the lack of transparency of the closed negotiations (mostly held within the U.S. Mission complex) and the less-than-honest manipulations of a highly-aggressive U.S. delegation.

On the good news side of the ledger, the resolution on the HIV was “tabled” with a possibility of the topic being revisited next year.   The negotiation of the resolution on rural women and poverty eradication (also referred to as “Agreed Conclusions”) had not been completed by last Friday’s deadline and was continuing into this week.   As of a few hours ago, negotiations ended and this resolution also failed to reach consensus.  A few sources are laying the failure at the feet of the U.S. delegation that refused to budge off their agenda of pushing things like “sexual and reproductive health rights” and “comprehensive sex ed” language.

Although possibly harmful to careers of UN diplomats, for those in the pro-life/pro-family world, the failure of the negotiating delegations to reach agreement on a resolution is not a bad ending.  We express gratitude to those brave delegates who stood firm and refused to bow to the pressure from the anti-family delegations from the European Union, Canada, Australia, U.S. and from a couple of Latin America countries (list is certainly not exhaustive).

We thank our UFI team (Diana Lacey, Esme Weathers, Marcia Barlow, and Mike Lacey) and all of you who generously support our efforts.  We do it for you and can’t do it without you. Together we will continue to secure a future for the family.

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