Reports and impressions from CSW66
1. “Women, Peace and Climate Change in a ‘divided’ Cyprus” was held on March 16, 2022 in cooperation with the Cyprus-based NGO Hands Across the Divide (HAD) with 114 participants. The Peace Commission’s Convener Heide Schütz had established the contact between IAW and HAD years ago. The bond was strengthened during our 2017 Congress in Cyprus. Already in the International Seminar hosted by the DFR, FNF with IAW in Berlin 2018 we cooperated on exploring together with HAD the contributions of women peacemakers in the framework of the UNSCR 1325 and its gains and gaps. We learned that often this, as other lasting conflicts, has left people targeted or women fighting for resolution in isolation, since the international attendance too often creates ‘crisis or conflict hoping’, following the media’s logic. We wanted to counter this.
In Cyprus HAD and other women and stakeholders of the Civil Society are struggling against a long term conflict which arms to divide: they bridge for reconciliation and a future peace. Climate Change seems to become a driving force, because as is globally true, one cannot stop Climate Change on one part of a territory alone and one cannot survive if only one part of the planet’s leadership and populations are active. Those who ignore Climate Change will loose the planet, all life and the others who do not are their collateral damage.
The large number of experts HAD had invited from both parts of Cyprus demonstrated in their presentations the many interrelated elements you need to know about Climate Change and conflict solution which urgently need to be addressed for achieving change and, as it was confirmed by the experts from India, Kashmir, Ukraine and Georgia – similar to experts in our and many other NGO Parallel Events – which are accumulating already with increasing dangerous economic and social impacts, especially worsening the lives of women. However, as their projects and action show, there is hope, there are ways to create dialogues for peace, change and mere survival when women lead, do not accept the status quo, and invest and invent new sharing technologies of farming, consuming, and producing human security.
We invite you to take time and stream our recorded Parallel Event which is now accessible at the IAW YouTube channel at WOMEN, PEACE & CLIMATE CHANGE IN A ‘DIVIDED’ CYPRUS – YouTube You will also find the program flier with the speakers’ names and functions.
A follow-up is planned to be discussed in the IAW Peace Commission which wishes to support concrete approaches of HAD, but work as well in broader networks, in other countries and regions of our members. One of our intentions would be to open windows of access for women to be heard at the UN and other international venues and institutions where needed.
2. ”Climate Change: Women’s Wisdom versus Military Contribution to Disaster” was held on March 17, 2022 with 93 participants.
Our intent was to allow women to be heard here who elaborate on the contribution of the military to climate change. We need to share their experience of war and armed conflict in societies in which they work daily on the grass roots level to bring back peace and deal with the deep rooted impact of war and military.
We reflected on the immensely disastrous role of the military in CO² pollution and the green house effect The Peace Commission wanted to bring this to the attention of our membership and the wider public especially since the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement do not address the role of the military as a prominent spoiler of any eager attempts to mitigate the disaster of climate change. Moreover, the intention was to lobby for an inclusion of this information in the final document of the Agreed Conclusions of the CSW66. This was not successful because the military as an issue was a no-go for many states’ representatives before and still is now in the face of a new war and its warring parties. Military expenses and the increase of arsenals had become a top priority during the CSW66 as a consequence of the war against Ukraine and of a happily producing re-emerging war industry. The pressure was coming from the UNSC which controls the UN and weakens any other logic than its own – which is stuck in the past.
Within days, or two weeks, the global states took immense budget investments from us, using the people’s tax money for weapons. While funding of weapons, the weapons trade had already increased in the years 2017-2021, now the military industry was flourishing and the world will transfer women’s and men’s hard gained taxes into weapons to kill and all previous efforts to invest in health, care, and other sectors for well-being of people and more justice is in danger and seems to be outdated. The ordeal of war, its rhetoric and its devastating impact on the long run was visible while we were listening to our excellent speakers in our Parallel Event and in the other fora of the CSW66.
“Women’s Wisdom versus Military Contribution to Disaster” was explored by a great number of experts: Anne Pelagie, Coordinator Ladies Circle Cameroon and board member of IAW, Prof. Dr. Asha Hans, Emerita at Utkal University and peace researcher, India, Jaqueline Andres, Board member of the Information Centre on Militarization (IMI), Germany, Rosa Logar, founding member of WILPF Austria and former Expert of the GREVIO Treaty body. The webinar was introduced by Rosy Weiss, Honorary IAW president, moderated by Manju Kak, IAW Vice-President. See the recording on IAW’s YouTube anytime here and share and refer to it: Climate change: Women’s Wisdom vs Military Contribution to Disaster – YouTube You will find the program flier uploaded in our YouTube channel’s description.
 The military’s contribution to climate change – CEOBS , Blog of Linsey Cottrell, CEOBS’ Environmental Policy Officer and Eoghan Darbyshire, CEOBS‘ Researcher , June 16, 2021 (Data of 2021 by projections due to Covid-19).
If you have ever attended one of the yearly CSW women’s conferences organized by the UN at New York you will never forget it. So much knowledge, wisdom and experience are concentrated here and well presented on an official agenda. Of course, all the personal contacts are also very important with many casual exchanges of ideas.
Due to the pandemic CSW again had to rely partially on virtual conferences and very restricted physical attendance.
Therefore IAW like most other non-governmental organisations had to organize its parallel events virtually. This was a big challenge: How can one create highly interesting and motivating platforms with a lot of interactions, spontaneous discussions and a source of new ideas?
IAW did tackle all these challenges perfectly well when organising a whole bunch of parallel events. It goes without saying that this year’s main theme about climate change and disaster reduction would be of great concern for all IAW members wherever they live. But wouldn’t this particularly affect our IAW colleagues in Africa or Asia? Do not all of them face exactly these problems when they are implementing the IAW “Water and Pads” WP project at schools in poor rural areas? We have always known that most IAW member organisations also worked very closely on other issues whenever they met with rural women. So probably they might also have experience with climate change and disaster relief and maybe they might be highly interested to talk about it.
So when Antonia Lavine, IAW treasurer and among other things also Director of the San Francisco Collective Against Human Trafficking, asked me whether IAW members active in the WP project were working with displaced women and children due to the climatic changes. It right away turned out that they are facing the negative impacts of climate changes and disaster even in their daily lives.
Anne Yotchou from CEFAP Cameroon and Anuarite Siirewabo from SOFEDEC DR Congo, both members of the IAW Board were very happy to participate as speakers. Unfortunately our IAW colleagues from RUWON Nepal are still too busy struggling against starvation.
From Anne I heard that they are building shelters for internally displaced refugees. These are rural women with children living near the borders in the north and northwest of the country. By tradition usually the men own the land. When there are bad harvests or other threats the women and their children have to flee from their homes. This situation has worsened due to climate change. CEFAP and other NGOs are trying to build shelters for them and are helping local schools with the integration of the children at Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon.
Camilla Wagner, IAW (interim) Secretary General, was preparing a parallel event about land ownership. When I talked to Anuarite I heard similar explanations like Anne’s about the tough life of rural women. They are the main producers of agricultural products but with bad harvests it is they who have to flee from their land. In the south-east region not far away from Bukavu, where Anuarite lives, the problems for rural women are especially serious due to huge profit- making mining companies which are grabbing land to access precious raw materials. For Anuarite it is obvious that only by implementing equal rights laws also in very traditional communities things may change positively for the women.
Anne Yotchou fortunately had no technical problems for the participation in the CSW parallel events. Anuarite had no reliable access to any internet-communication. But she was eager to speak. So together with Camilla we decided that Anuarite should prepare a video beforehand. After some unsuccessful attempts Anuarite finally found a professional camera person who recorded the video. We got it by Whatsapp just in time to translate it. Later Camilla showed it at the parallel event she had organized.
When finally I was watching the IAW parallel events presented on Zoom I was absolutely overwhelmed!
Presumably without too much prior mutual consultation, throughout all events dealing with climatic change one could find a very important common thread! Loneliness and belonging, cooperation and peace in a divided country, struggle against military, migration and human trafficking plus ownership of the world…
Peace might start with everyday actions, such as the collection of plastic waste by Cyprian women of both nations, Indian and Pakistani groups sheltering women refugees coming from the borders, San Francisco communities working on trauma relief etc. So much wonderful work is done within IAW and all its networks! It is so important, and I really wish we would know more about all this.
Yes here is the great chance of virtual conferences! Let us go on learning more about the innumerable activities among IAW members!
I was most impressed by the presentation of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime which presented a timely report on the gender dimensions of Corruption. During my time as Representative to the UN in Vienna and my attendance at annual meetings of the signatories of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Crime, I wrote to IAW members about the deleterious effects of corruption on the every day lives of women, including the use of sex as a currency in corruption. In the new report “THE TIME IS NOW” (2020, new because of the pandemic) the networks are explained and also the beneficial effect of introducing women into the largely male networks carrying out corruption, breaking their cohesiveness and secrecy. Three case studies are offered, none of which were carried out in a country with an IAW Affiliate or Associate, but they are surely transferable. Chapter 4 especially offers suggestions that our activists could urge their own governments to apply. https://www.unodc.org/documents/corruption/Publications/2020/THE_TIME_IS_NOW_2020_12_08.pdf
The review theme of CSW66 was women’s economic empowerment and I attended a very useful event hosted by Empowerment – Self Defense / Global in which self confidence and self defense capabilities were shown to be essential for the advancement of women (no surprises there). I believe them implicitly, because beatings and rape are classic methods for keeping women “in their place”. ESD Global is dedicated to making Empowerment Self Defense (ESD) accessible around the world through increasing public awareness of its profound benefits, providing instructor training to leaders to teach ESD in their communities. https://esdglobalselfdefense.org/ They offer training for women’s groups and multipliers on every continent. PAVE Prevention https://www.paveprevention.com/ provides training and consulting services to individuals and organizations – and the communities in which they operate – on proactively preventing, responding and healing from violent events. This serves to enhance productivity and creativity through safe workspaces.
I personally have benefited from self-defense training. Anyone can and a clever collection of women has designed an app to get one on her way: MyPwr https://www.mypwr.co.il/
Following my personal preference, I attended the event “Neither sex nor work: abolishing prostitution to promote decent work” organized by CAP International https://www.cap-international.org/ https://drive.google.com/file/d/1L3VOlyrEcQ7kIkhR-e8eieCQt_6jmfgL/view
and “Green Tent Circles: Caring for One Another and Mother Earth” which was very soul-satisfying. I was especially moved by the statement of Dr. Karambu Ringera of Kenya. The recording of the event is to be posted at http://www.greententcircle.com/csw-event.html
Conclusions on the theme of Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes by Irene Smeraidou
Climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. The climate crisis is not “gender neutral”. Women and girls experience the greatest impacts of climate change, which amplifies existing gender inequalities and poses unique threats to their livelihoods, health, and safety. As climate change drives conflict across the world, women and girls face increased vulnerabilities to all forms of gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, human trafficking, child marriage, and other forms of violence.
Opening the summit, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the climate crisis was one of the “defining issues of our time” and that around the world, “women and girls face the greatest threats and the deepest harm” from environmental disaster.
The UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the Member States (MS) have adopted intergovernmental Conclusions on the theme of Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes. The agreement will establish norms for how MS should respond to the climate crisis in more gender-conscious way. Through the agreement, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights are recognized as critical to ensuring women’s resilience and adaptation to climate and humanitarian crises. The adverse impacts of climate change, environmental degradation and disasters on menstrual hygiene and management, as well as the need to expand women’s and girls’ access to adequate, safe and clean water and sanitation facilities were also recognized, together with a commitment to promote a gender-responsive approach in this regard in the context of climate change.
CSW66 agreed that achieving gender equality and ensuring that women and girls are able to fully participate in decision-making around climate issues were “essential for achieving sustainable development, promoting peaceful, just and inclusive societies, enhancing inclusive and sustainable economic growth and productivity, ending poverty in all its forms and dimensions everywhere and ensuring the well-being of all”.
Main message of CSW66 and what is lacking for women’s participation in the context of climate change, environment and disaster risk reduction
The main message from all participants of the Sixty-Sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66) (officials, civil society representatives and other practitioners) was that women need to be engaged as leaders and agents of change in addressing challenges linked to climate change, the environment and disaster risk reduction. Women and girls need to be better represented in all aspects of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policy and programme processes, from the leadership and decision-making spaces, to policy formulation, programme design, and all the way through to implementation on the ground. Women in all their diversity have a key role to play in the design and implementation of any such programmes. It is recognizable that women are amongst the groups most impacted by climate change and disasters. Some of the reasons for this vulnerability highlighted during CSW66 by representatives included, high rates of poverty, high participation in agriculture, and responsibilities for unpaid care and domestic work. Also, it is noted, the increase of gender-based violence and the lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services following disasters, the women’s lack of access, control and ownership of land as further increasing their vulnerability to climate change and disasters. Women’s role as agents of change was emphasized, noting the significance of the role of women in biodiversity conservation and the need to increase women’s participation in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics
Highlights and lessons learned in the Commission and on the NGOCSW platform.
- The importance of women’s advancement and participation in the workforce in science, technology, engineering and mathematics sectors, to have meaningful participation in design and implementation of solutions for climate change, environmental degradation, and disaster risk reduction interventions.
- The meaningful representation of women in all their diversity in policy and decision-making processes.
- The impact of climate change and disasters on women’s health and well-being
- The collaboration between women’s and youth organizations, organizations representing persons with disabilities and older persons, indigenous groups and environmental rights groups, including those at the grass-roots and community level, to work with States in policy design and monitoring.
- The engagement with women’s organizations in climate change adaptation, work with local women’s organizations and networks to empower and strengthen their capacities as advocates and innovators, forging common spaces for interaction, dialogue, and building alliances for feminist collective action
- The promotion of lifelong learning, training and education, including in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, for women and girls, and the creation of pathways and opportunities for them in the energy sector
- A sense of online community was created, as all participants worked and communicated with other civil society organisations (CSOs), which allowed for a broader range of co-operation with people we may not have met
At national level, the agreement can be used by advocates, civil society organizations, especially women’s, girls’, youth-led, grass-roots, and community-based organizations to encourage implementation of and accountability for commitments made by Member States.
What was left of CSW66 – some personal observations by Rosy Weiss
E/CN.6/2022/L.4. Resolution “Release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts”, adopted without a vote.
Issue: It contains wording on SCRes. 1325 (2000) and its subsequent resolutions on WPS in the preambular part. In operative part (15) it requests the SG, in the context of the present resolution, to continue to widely disseminate information, in particular relating to SCRes 1325 (2000).
Action: This resolution creates the link, very much needed, between the CSW and the UNSC. This might provide us with an opportunity to call for inclusion of the WPS Agenda into the reporting to CSW similar to the one established under CEDAW Res. 30.
E/CN.6/2022/L.5. Resolution on “Future organization and methods of work of the Commission” for action by ECOSOC.
- Issue: Contains wording in the preambular part on “coordinated follow-up and implementation of the outcomes of other major UN conferences and summits in the economic, environmental and related fields”. In the operational part this is confirmed as follows: “the need for a coordinated follow-up of all major conferences and summits by Governments, regional organizations and all of the bodies and organizations of the United Nations system, within their respective mandates”.
Action: IAW might argue with the relevance of the whole complex of war and militarization to social, economic and environmental fields. This is also to be treated as an emerging issue (13) and could be the topic of one parallel event of IAW during CSW67, e.g. food production versus military damage and climate change.
- Issue: contains wording concerning the cooperation with NGOs in OP 10, 17 (national level!), 24 and 25.
Besides the fact that para. 13 addresses women and persons with disabilities on the same level when it comes to empowerment, the Commission recalls that the Sendai Framework recognizes women’s participation and leadership as critical for disaster risk reduction, reiterates in para. 27 the importance of mainstreaming a gender perspective in disaster risk management, and emphasizes in para. 29 the critical role of women in disaster response and COVID-19 recovery efforts – without, however, reflecting on adequate funding at national level. In para. 30 the Commission recognizes women’s and girl’s knowledge of their communities and environment, enabling them to develop meaningful, effective solutions. (exactly one of the issues of IAW’s parallel event!).
Para. 15 recalls the WPS agenda and calls for the full, equal, effective and meaningful participation of women in peace processes. Nothing new, except the link to environmental degradation (without specification), climate change and disasters. Recognition in para. 20 of the importance of relevant ILO standards, in accordance with nationally defined development priorities – a vast playing field for our constituency.
How can we talk about environmental degradation leaving out devastation by military actions? How can we talk about women’s economic empowerment without providing financially sound solutions for “system relevant” care work in family and society? Who is feeding the world without land rights? Etc. etc.
Again, one of these CSW sessions, with only marginal impact on the reality of women’s lives.
CSW66: Action plans for more equitable access to land and for promoting the climate-environment, conflict resolution/peace building and gender nexus. by Dr Sibylle von Heydebrand
While I focused on best practices in my report on CSW65 in March 2021, this year, I will highlight below on the one side the action plan that promotes more equitable access to land and on the other side what actions women from Colombia, Yemen, and Mali recommend in order to promote the climate-environment nexus, conflict resolution/peace building, and gender equality. At the same time, I place the Swiss Confederation’s commitment and contribution to the Commission on the Status of Women CSW66 at the center of my report – both events were organized by Switzerland in cooperation with the missions of other countries and international organizations
- Side Event: March 16, 2022 “Securing Women’s and Girls’ Land Rights for a Climate Just and Economically Sustainable Future”
This Side Event brought attention to the importance of Securing Women’s Land Rights as a prerequisite for dealing with impacts of climate change, close gender inequality gaps and achieve sustainable development. What actions can help overcome growing land inequality and instead create more equitable access to land as a foundation for a sustainable and inclusive future?
The following nine actions will lead to more equitable access to land for women and girls:
- Democratization of land administration: Land management should be based on broad representation. Decision-making should involve representatives of the state and organizations of producers and other local land users.
- Strengthen land-based regulation: Governments should develop policies and institutions for land tenure, land use, and land distribution to address patterns of land inequality and its causes.
- Invest in well-functioning land registries: Governments and their partners should invest in institutions and technologies for efficient and fully transparent land registries, including at the local level.
- Strengthen transparency and monitoring of land tenure: Governments should ensure that the public has access to information on all transfers of land use rights, whether through purchase, lease, use, or share ownership. Access to information on the transfer of land use rights through inheritance should also be ensured by governments.
- Legal enforcement of responsible corporate practices: Governments should require companies to report on the principles of key international frameworks, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,
- Protection of universal and customary rights: Governments should recognize and protect customary land claims. Recognition of indigenous peoples’ territorial rights and governance systems is an urgent task.
- Recognize and protect women’s land rights: Governments should ensure gender equality in land rights in law and practice.
- Respect and strengthen civil society institutions and capacities: Strong civil society organizations play a key role in monitoring, promoting accountability, and challenging power relations. Strong and representative organizations based on individual populations – farmers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, women, and fishers – can ensure that land users’ voices and priorities are heard.
- Build more sustainable and equitable production models and food systems: Governments should support the more resilient and sustainable production models of small-scale and family farmers.
- Side Event: March 21, 2022, “Women leaders dealing with climate-related security risks”
Networks of women activists and women-led organizations have been formed in Colombia, Yemen and Mali. At this event, women leaders of these three countries have reported on their work on climate, security and gender issues. They reported on the development of advocacy action plans on the nexus between climate and environment, conflict resolution/peace-building and gender. They recommend the following actions:
- Apply an intersectional human security lens to the conflict/climate nexus: International and national policy need to apply a broad, human security concept of the connections between (in)security, conflict, gender, climate change and environmental damage. In so doing, an intersectional lens should be utilized, recognizing the different experiences of communities, depending upon factors such as ethnicity, rural versus urban life, social class and wealth, etc.
- Address environmental damage alongside climate change: International and national policy and strategies need to commit to preventing and reversing environmental damage, just as actively as they engage with the issue of climate change. This demands the ambition to protect environmental and ecosystem integrity. It requires commitment and action to halt environmental damage caused, in particular, by mining, large-scale agro-industrial activities and fossil-fuel extraction.
- Prioritize gender equality goals in all action on climate and environment: International and national policy and action related to climate and environment, including environmental peace-building, should prioritize supporting gender equality, recognizing gender equality as essential for climate change resilience and adaptive capacity. This requires dedicating funding to gender equality measures and ensuring that women lead and benefit from climate and environmental programs at every step and every level.
- Address the linkages between climate and environment, peace-building and gender equality: Peace-building policy and programs, by both national and international actors, should expressly consider and seek to address the linkages between climate and environment, conflict and stability, and how these are gendered at every level. The concept of “environmental peace-building” can be useful, but must be actively responsive to gendered needs and roles, and include a focus on women’s participation.
- Avoid securitizing responses to the climate and environmental crisis: Securitization or militarization of climate policy and response should be avoided.
- Mitigate the security sector’s own climate and environmental impact: The security sector should be required to take steps to reduce or eliminate its impact on climate and the environment.
- Ensure women’s meaningful participation and women’s leadership: In fragile and conflict-affected countries, measures should be taken to ensure the full and meaningful participation and leadership of women in climate policies, environmental management, as well as disaster preparedness and response mechanisms.
- Earmark resources for women in fragile and conflict-affected countries: Multilateral climate funds, other international climate-related development finance, UN peacekeeping missions and all related climate and environmental programming should earmark substantial funding for women’s climate leadership and action in fragile and conflict-affected countries.