Photo: Emma K. Lydersen/Norway Mission.Photo: Emma K. Lydersen/Norway Mission

Norway in focus under the Commission on the Status of Women

3/16/2010 // UN’s Commission on the Status of Women - CSW - ended this year's session Friday 12 March by adopting a series of resolutions in areas of priority to Norway. Norway played an active role in the very complicated final negotiations.

Norway had a reason to be pleased with the results from the session - both in form and content. UN reform, gender equality, maternal mortality, women's economic power and rights, HIV and AIDS, and female genital mutilation stood out as the key topics.

UN Gender equality reform
The Commission passed - through a Norwegian initiative - a separate resolution that underlines its expectations on UN’s new gender entity. This came after ten days of intense informal consultations, when the Commission approved Norway’s suggestion for the Commission to speak positively about the establishment of the entity.

The initiative for the resolution was made during Minister for Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Mr. Audun Lysbakken’s stay in New York 1 - 4 March. Lysbakken’s meeting with the leader of the Egyptian delegation to the Commission was undoubtedly decisive in the process to engage Egypt to promote the draft resolution. The resolution was unanimously adopted at the Commission's last day.

Norway made clear in a short statement  its expectations for the resolution to help promote the establishment of the entity within September. The Secretary General's adviser on gender equality, Ms. Rachel Mayanja, addressed in her closing remarks that the resolution sends a clear message to the ongoing negotiations on the establishment of gender equality unit.

Maternal mortality
The resolution on maternal mortality introduced by the United States was co-sponsored by 44 member countries - including Norway. The resolution maintained a subtle discussion on abortion, and also mentioned language rights. Additionally, it referred to the full implementation of the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (1994) and the Beijing Plan of Action (1995) several places.

Towards the end it looked as if a united EU would refrain from co-sponsoring. The source of the unwillingness was due to disappointment over a lack of ambition on sexual and reproductive rights. Norway shared the European disappointment of not being able to include a more ambitious language. However, from Norway’s point of view, the resolution was in general satisfactory. Norway thus thought it to be more important to show visible support for the U.S. initiative, which was anchored at the highest political level.
The importance that the United States put into this was also underlined when the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the CSW and gave a passionate speech the last day. United Kingdom chose to break away with the other EU-countries and joined as a co-sponsor. Norway gave a brief explanation of vote that the UK supported.

Women's economic power and privileges
Norway also participated actively in the intensive negotiations on women's economic power and rights - "Women's Economic Empowerment". Norway fronted and got approval for a range of issues, including gender perspective in public administration and budgets (in line with the Doha Declaration on financing for development), kindergartens, the rights of indigenous people, sexual and reproductive health. 

Equally important, the delegation signed up as a co-sponsor as the first western country, visibly supporting Colombia's initiative.

For a while it seemed that Colombia had to withdraw the resolution because Syria insisted the mentioning of "women living under foreign occupation", something that was unacceptable for the United States and Israel. From the Syrian side this was held up against the discussion of the harmonization of work and family, and sharing of child care responsibilities between women and men - key issues for both the EU, Norway and Latin American countries including Cuba and Venezuela.

During the last hour the negotiation leader presented an ultimatum that isolated Syria. The result was a strong resolution text adopted in overtime with dozens of countries, mostly European, as co-sponsors.

A series of resolutions was also adopted on subjects that had been handled in previous years, including HIV / AIDS, Palestinian women's situation, female genital mutilation and female hostages. Norway contributed actively to secure a good result on the HIV / AIDS resolution, but didn’t have enough resources to follow closely on the others. 

Click here to find Focus's brief and illustrative reports from a sample of the many side events during the session.  

Norway was co-organizing several side-events in the first week of the session, including an event on the mobilization of men and boys to advocate women's rights and gender equality, and another event on female entrepreneurship, organized by the World Bank and UNIFEM. 

Audun Lysbakken, State Secretary of International Development Ms. Ingrid Fiskaa, UN Ambassadors Wetland and Juul, Arni Hole from the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion and other representatives of Norway also contributed in a number of other side events. Nordic Council of Ministers organized two side events, one at ministerial level and one with experts on gender equality. The Nordic countries have a tradition of working closely on the Commission, and shared time giving statements to the thematic panel debates. Norway made a statement on behalf of the Nordic countries on the links between the MDGs and the Plan of Action from Beijing.

Click here to see photos from Norway's participation in CSW on Flickr. 


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