A Day of Good, Bad and Downright Ugly

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Negotiations intensify as U.N. Commission on the Status of Women nears end.

Thursday’s negotiating session on the draft of Agreed Conclusions for the track on “the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality” at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) had a little bit of the whole range from positive to negative, but it started out very ugly.

Delegates booed and hissed U.S. Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey when she proposed that references to mothers and motherhood be phrased in positive rather than in negative terms and that countries encourage media and other portrayals of mothers and motherhood in the same way.

Further, loud objections resulted each time Mrs. Sauerbrey took a stance against passages in the Beijing Platform for Action document that supported abortion and were overly intrusive (mandating the sharing of household responsibilities, etc). The United States stood alone in principled reservations about the Beijing document. (By forcing blanket approval and affirmation of the document, the Left is seeking to establish precedent for controversial passages, which are in the document with reservations from the more conservative nations, because the United Nations operates on the principle that once language is established it becomes standard operating policy thereafter.)

The assault on the language and issues was unrelenting – the delegates pounded on the same issues paragraph after paragraph, first from this direction and then from that! By 6:00 p.m. on Thursday night, the negotiations stopped for the evening (informal negotiations between delegations will go on long into the night), even though delegates had only worked through page 3 of the 6-page document and the conference ends tomorrow. No doubt, as usual, tonight and tomorrow night will be long ones, and it will be very ugly at the end as tempers flare and arms get twisted – very hard!

Having pointed out the “bad” aspects of the CSW, some positive developments need to be emphasized. Some of the “good” things that happened today include:

The draft document recommends that “consistent with freedom of expression,” the media, advertising and related professionals take effective measures “to combat the growing sexualization and use of pornography in media content” and that “men in the media refrain from presenting women as inferior beings and exploiting them as sexual objects and commodities. The draft encourages the media to avoid using technology for sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and trafficking in women and girls. Further, it encourages using modern technology for positively affecting girls’ lives by empowering them creatively and intellectually. At the outset, the document recognizes that men and boys, too, face discrimination and other barriers to personal, professional and family well-being. The document recognizes the need to “address the undervaluation of many types of work, abilities and roles associated with women.

Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse and Wendy Wright are non-government organization (NGO) representatives to the United Nations from Concerned Women for America. Dr. Crouse is Senior Fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute. Miss Wright is Senior Policy Director responsible for international and life issues. They are in New York attending the 2004 sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women.

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