New York City — The 48th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women opened Monday, March 1, 2004, to focus on the theme of the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality. The expressed purpose of the conference deliberations is to produce “global policies,” as well as a “framework” and “concrete actions” that will emphasize “equal sharing of responsibilities” and “harmonious partnerships” in order to “facilitate a greater role for men and boys in furthering gender equality.”
At first glance this seems an innocuous, rather bland agenda sure to produce a boring conference devoid of the fireworks that characterized last year’s conference where the role of prostitution was at issue. However, this year’s focus when viewed closely can be just as explosive – especially when equality between the sexes is made a matter of social justice, peace and sustainable development and, most especially, when the United Nations begins to meddle in how family responsibilities are divvied up. And, when the U.N. turns to “power relationships” in terms of sexual and reproductive rights and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, you can bet the discussions will heat up.
As with all U.N. meetings, the agenda will be a potpourri of all the Far Left Causes under the new umbrella. One of the most interesting of the results of the “recognition of the significant gains in the advancement of women” (as stated, unbelievably, in the documents of the CSW) is that it has enabled the international community “to now turn its attention to the role of men and boys in gender equality.”
Ironically, the United Nations is advocating that men should “take the lead in fostering gender equality” because of the “numerous ways that they will benefit from it as individuals and as a group.” The U.N. is proposing that male groups outside the family – sports, police, armed forces – be retrained to be more gender-sensitive. Then they can be used to teach young boys the new “manliness” — that boys can cook and show emotion. Ummm. It will get interesting when the United Nations starts meddling with how families socialize their children and advocating the feminization of men!
Then, there are the “deeply entrenched cultures of male privilege” in corporations and organizations. The United Nations is calling on male leaders within these environments to take the lead in bringing about gender equality. Further, men are asked to take on more of family responsibilities – household tasks, child care, care of elderly parents and routine responsibilities — so that “definitions of masculinity can be replaced with a broader vision of the human capacity of men in family life and society in general.” Accomplishing this end, of course, would mean parental leave policies, closing the gender pay gap, and federally funded child care. Obviously, men will have to be supported by women under this plan, but educational programs can alleviate any resulting problems.
In fact, at the top of its recommendations, the United Nations is recommending that elementary schools teach gender equality right along with reading and arithmetic. Further, they recommend that all textbooks from the earliest levels be cleared of “gender stereotypes” so that boys will grow up without the “power” and macho images of the past, and with the gender sensitivities that they need for the future (as envisioned by the United Nations).
Let the substantive discussions begin!
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.