UN CSW57 and Global Violence Against Women; Final Outcome Document Leaves Some Women Unprotected

Whenever a mass of people gather to discuss crucial world issues of international interest there is bound to be high energy, new collaborations, and old ideas transfixed with future promises. The Commission on the Status of Women(CSW) was no exception as thousands met at the UN Headquarters this March to deliberate on the priority theme of worldwide violence against women and girls, arguably one of the world's most unsolved injustices. 

Despite all the positive discussion on this hugely important priority theme of gender violence, not all member states were in agreement on major points for the eradication of violence. Take the New York Times article on the "Unholy Alliance" of Russia, Iran, and the Vatican who opposed certain language in the final outcome document that they believed to threaten their culture and religion. As if, certain forms of violence under specific circumstances were tolerable as long as they did not infringe upon their belief system. This included and ultimately prevented the formal mention of violence that occurs in partnerships outside of marriage, the protection of specific groups of women from violence, most specifically, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender women or sex workers, and single mothers. This begs the question; why are these disagreeable countries at the table to begin with if they do not wholly embrace the protection of all women and girls, if they seek to fulfill and maintain archaic and sexist cultural standards that allow the assault and abuse of select women? 

I see the CSW as an amazing starting point that is necessary to reach a gateway to a more promising future, in this case, a future free from gender violence and hate. Action first begins with thought, dialogue, ideas, and intentions. Discussion is essential but that is not where it ends. Work must never cease, the cause never tire our brains and plague our souls to the point of immobility. Nor should illogical traditions steeped in patriarchal values that protect a corrupted belief system and socio-political institutions be given the space at the United Nations where intentions should be pure and objectives, progressive.

Violence can never be justified or validated towards any group of women and those member states that believe so should be considered as serious blockades to the forward thinking work of the CSW. Although, the risk in excluding or barring countries entirely means there would be even more antagonists and this seems counterproductive to the process of violence elimination. Surely it requires global cooperation and partnership. Is it better to have partial inclusion and participation from certain conservative countries clinging to sexist values than no support at all and an empty seat at the panel? 

I will continue to hold the belief that having the CSW is better than it not existing. My only critique is to be wary of who we are allowing to speak on behalf of the world's women. I envision a future CSW where all in attendance are fully vested in the interests of all women in their varying forms; wherein diplomats and NGO representatives share a genuine compassion that begins in the heart, with brainpower trailing shortly behind. 

By Danielle Craig. All Rights Reserved.


Butler, Maria. "Reflecting on the CSW57: The Good & Bad." Peacewomen.org/publications_enews. PeaceWomen ENews, 22 March 2013. Web.

"Unholy Alliance." Nytimes.com/2013/03/12/opinion. The New York Times Opinion Pages, 11 March 2013. Web.

"#CSW Agreed Conclusions-What Do they Mean for Women's Rights?" http://www.soroptimistinternational.org/who-we-are/news/post/467-csw57-agreed-conclusions--what-do-they-mean-for-womens-rights. Soroptimist International, 28 April 2013. Web.