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  • Monday, March 31, 2014 3:28 PM | Anonymous
    Catholic church finally weighs in with its usual list of demands, but campaigners sense that the Holy See is losing influence 
    Before the start of the commission on the status of women (CSW) – the annual two-week gathering of member states at the UN to discuss progress towards gender equality and women's empowerment – there was disquiet at the Vatican's apparent silence over the wording of the conference's outcome document. 
    Had the Holy See, which has a seat on the UN as a non-member permanent observer state, and which in 2013 proposed more amendments to the outcome text than any other member, decided to stay out of the discussions this year? Was it quietly influencing the actions of countries with a strong Catholic population without putting its head above water? Would it come into the negotiations late? It appears to have opted for the latter. 
    This week, the Holy See weighed into the discussions with demands to remove from the CSW outcome document references to sex workers, lesbian, gay, transsexual and bisexual rights, and some of the wording around sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) – specifically those related to abortion and sex education. It is also understood to want the document to include explicit references to the importance of the family – and when the Vatican talks about family, it means in the traditional, nuclear sense: a man, woman and their children.
    Although there is no reason to believe these demands will derail the negotiations – the Vatican issued similar statements around SRHR last year, but, after a battle, a strong document still emerged from CSW – the particular reference to the "family" has set off some alarm bells.
    Women's rights campaigners argue that the wording used when talking about family can reinforce gender roles and stereotypes: women as wives, mothers and homemakers. And it can also ignore the diversity of families: single-parent families, child- or female-headed households or same-sex families.
    Campaigners are pushing back, arguing that no more than a single paragraph related to the role of family should be included in the CSW document, and that paragraph should recognise the diversity of families.
    Women's rights campaigners are used to a fight, particularly against the Vatican, other religious groups and more conservative governments. But there is a sense, this year, that the Vatican is beginning to lose some of its influence.
    Shannon Kowalski, director of advocacy and policy at the International Women's Health Coalition, says a positive outcome from a conference of Latin American and Caribbean states, which agreed to strengthen pro-women policies around population and development, has isolated the Holy See from its traditional support base.
    Kowalski says she is unfazed by the Vatican's exhortations on SRHR, but fears trouble could come from another quarter. The EU and the US are unhappy with wording around trade, women's economic justice and climate change.
    "We're starting to see a lot of the traditional north-south debates about trade, about climate change and other issues," she says. "These have more potential to bring negotiations down."
    Other pushbacks are coming from the African bloc of countries, which has once again thrown in a sovereignty clause, which is in effect a get-out-of-jail-free card for governments, allowing them to sign the outcome document, but ignore the bits they don't like – usually the points that could potentially restrict cultural and religious practices. It is understood, though, that South Africa has broken away from the African negotiating group.
    A similar sovereignty paragraph was included in last year's document, but was removed in the end on the condition that references to sex workers and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights were also erased. A similar trade-off is expected this year.
    There is also a battle over references to more funding for women's rights organisations. The UK is understood to be making the case for strong wording on this, in the face of countries – including the US, Russia and the Caribbean states – that want the language watered down.
    There are, of course, plenty of positives in the draft text that is largely agreed upon: a standalone goal on gender equality to be included in the next development goals after 2015; clear references to protection of women and girls from violence, including an end to harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, child marriage and "honour" crimes; protection for women's rights activists in their work and enforcement of the crucial role women play in peace and security negotiations. The outcome document is due to be signed on 21 March.
    Although no one will be complacent, the small signs that those who want to roll back the hard-fought rights of women are beginning to lose some ground will be encouraging for activists. It could mean in future that less time spent arguing over wording will mean more time discussing policy implementation and ensuring governments are held to account, which will be good news for women all over the word.

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 3:13 PM | Anonymous

    By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, March 20, 9:06 PM

    UNITED NATIONS undefined A year ago, Egyptian politician and women’s rights activist Mervat Tallawy defied the Muslim Brotherhood to spearhead the adoption of a U.N. blueprint to combat violence against women. Now she’s back campaigning against conservatives to ensure that equality for women remains at the top of the U.N. agenda.

    As head of the Egyptian delegation to the two-week meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, which ends Friday, Tallawy said she has been working hard to prevent any rollback on hard-fought gains including international recognition of women’s reproductive and sexual health and rights.

    “We are saying the gains that we have reached during the 1990s, we should not lose it now, or take a step backwards,” Tallawy said in an interview on Wednesday between negotiating sessions. “Why are we saying so? Because there is a conservative mood in the world, not only the Islamists, the developing countries, but also in the developed countries.”

    Last March, Tallawy, who is a minister and president of the National Council for Women-Egypt, surprised and delighted delegates from more than 130 countries when she ignored the Brotherhood and announced that Egypt would join consensus on a 17-page document that sets global standards for action to prevent and end violence against women.

    This year, the Commission on the Status of Women is focusing on how women and girls have fared in achieving the U.N. Millennium Development Goals adopted by world leaders in 2000 as the 2015 target date approaches undefined and what should be included in new goals expected to be adopted next year.

    The current goals include promoting gender equality and empowerment of women, cutting extreme poverty by half, ensuring every child has a primary school education, reducing maternal and child mortality, and halting and reversing the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

    The commission produced a proposed seven-page final document, which ballooned to 45 pages with suggested additions from many countries.

    Delegates were still working Thursday night to reduce the text and come up with a final draft. To be approved, it needs all delegates to agree before the conference ends Friday.

    Tallawy said she is in a better position this year because the Muslim Brotherhood, which was “a nightmare” on many fronts including on women’s rights, has been removed from power.

    Compared to last year, she said, extremist conservative positions taken by Iran, Cuba and Russia have softened, “but not totally.”

    This year, Tallawy said, there is also a group of young conservative diplomats “who get together thinking they can change the world.”

    Their inclination in the post-2015 agenda is not to mention gender equality or women’s issues and focus instead on the environment, sustainable development, climate change and other issues, she said.

    The reality is that millions of women are poor, discriminated against, and victims of violence, she said, and the unfinished goals must be carried over into the new goals along with a separate goal on women’s equality and empowerment.

    “We fought hard to get the rights,” Tallawy said. “They got it free.”

    “That’s why a person like me is obliged to stay until the end of the session, so these youngsters will not upside-down the whole situation,” she said.

    Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/ap-interview-egyptian-fights-for-womens-equality/2014/03/20/b3c5c022-b090-11e3-b8b3-44b1d1cd4c1f_story.html

  • Monday, February 03, 2014 2:42 PM | Anonymous
    Posted on January 29, 2014 | SFGate | City Insider
    By hknight@sfchronicle.com (Heather Knight)

    Women are finally making some strides in city government. We’ve got four women supervisors and a female assessor, city administrator, fire chief, director of public health and director of the port to name a few. (No woman mayor in more than a quarter century, however. Harumph.)

    But when it comes to San Francisco’s private companies, there’s not much female representation at the top. According to a study last year from UC Davis, women make up just 11.9 percent of San Francisco private companies’ highest-paid executives and just 11.2 percent of their corporate directors. Studies also show that when women are among the leaders, the companies respond better to customers and make more money.

    The city’s Department on the Status of Women wants to remedy the gender inequity, but isn’t going the usual route of mandating changes in the private sector. (A tax on each man hired, perhaps? Save your angry e-mails. We’re joking.) Instead, the department has challenged the city’s large companies to come up with an innovative way to remedy the inequity – and several will share their results at an invitation-only roundtable at SPUR Thursday morning.

    The event has been a long undefined and we do mean, long undefined time coming. After the United States refused to join more than 180 other countries in signing the Human Rights Treaty for Women back in the 1990s, the city stepped in and signed on itself in 1998.

    At first, it concentrated mostly on improving the lot of women in city government but recently expanded its focus to the private sector, as well.

    “City government does better than the private sector in the sense that this is such a priority for us,” said Ann Lehman, the department’s senior gender adviser (now there’s a title!). “If you look across the board at who runs the city departments, we’ve done a fairly decent job. You can always say we could do better, but the numbers are higher for government than they are for the private sector.”

    Last year, the Department on the Status of Women launched a Gender Equity Challenge, and many companies agreed to select one practice to promote gender equity and report back on whether it was successful. Companies that will present their results Thursday include Levi’s, Twitter and AT&T.

    Lehman particularly praised Symantec, a security software maker located on Second Street. It met its own pledge of having the percentage of women in leadership positions and on its board of directors match the 27 percent level of women in the company at large.

    Cecily Joseph, vice president of corporate responsibility at Symantec, said its board found top-notch new female members by tweaking its criteria. For example, it used to require that new members have been CEOs or have reported directly to CEOs, which eliminates most women.

    “It really invigorates us and makes us want to do better,” she said of the city’s challenge. “Companies by their nature are competitive, and when we see what other companies are doing, we think, ‘Oh gosh, we can do that too.’”

    That’s Lehman’s hope.

    “I’d love to see it grow and that it become a little bit of the keeping up with the Jones so that each year companies want to outdo themselves with better programs and better practices and that things begin to change because it just becomes de rigueur that you have to comply with these kinds of social pressures,” she said.

    – Heather Knight
  • Thursday, February 07, 2013 3:29 PM | SF Women (Administrator)

    From KTVU.com:
    SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution to declare Valentine's Day in San Francisco this year as "One Billion Rising Day" as part of a global movement to end violence against women.

    One Billion Rising is an effort to raise awareness about the continuing abuse and rape of women across the world, which on Feb. 14 will be acknowledged at events in 197 countries, including an event at San Francisco City Hall.
    Read more:
    http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/sf-supes-back-anti-domestic-violence-groups-valent/nWGyg/
  • Thursday, February 07, 2013 3:25 PM | SF Women (Administrator)

    From Sasha Lekach (Bay City News) for the SF Appeal:

    The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution to declare Valentine's Day in San Francisco this year as "One Billion Rising Day" as part of a global movement to end violence against women.

    One Billion Rising is an effort to raise awareness about the continuing abuse and rape of women across the world, which on Feb. 14 will be acknowledged at events in 197 countries, including an event at San Francisco City Hall.

    The event--open to the public and expected to draw thousands of participants--will feature music, dancing and city officials making a public pledge to end violence.

    Read more: http://sfappeal.com/news/2013/02/da-gascon-real-men-do-not-abuse-women.php
  • Thursday, February 07, 2013 3:23 PM | SF Women (Administrator)

    From the City Insider blog by Heather Knight for SFGate.com:
    "Take heed, San Franciscans. Anybody walking in or around City Hall  on the afternoon of Valentine’s Day risks the sure-to-be awkward sight of seeing our city officials dancing. There’s even talk of a flash mob."

    Read more:
    http://blog.sfgate.com/cityinsider/2013/02/05/city-officials-to-raise-domestic-violence-awareness-by-dancing/

  • Thursday, February 07, 2013 3:15 PM | SF Women (Administrator)

    FRIENDS President Marily Mondejar and Julie Soo, president of the Commission on the Status of Women talk about One Billion Rising in this article by Christian Watjen for The Epoch Times.
    "I will dance for every victim and survivor of social violence in San Francisco and to raise awareness that every woman and girl can live free of fear and violence."
    —Marily Mondejar, president, Filipina Women’s Network
    Read more:
    http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/united-states/san-francisco-supports-one-billion-rising-to-end-domestic-violence-344461.html


    San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón speaks (L), while Marily Mondejar, president of the Fi
    San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón speaks (L), while Marily Mondejar, president of the Filipina Women’s Network, and David Chiu, president of the Board of Supervisors, look on, at a press conference at San Francisco City Hall on Feb. 5, 2013, for "One Billion Rising," a global awareness event on Feb. 14 that demands an end to violence against women. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)
  • Friday, August 24, 2012 5:02 PM | Deleted user
    The heated debate on Ross Mirkarimi from this Wednesday's Commission Hearing made the news this morning! Check out the SFGate article here.
  • Wednesday, August 22, 2012 2:51 PM | Deleted user
    For the first time, two women (Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore) are admitted to the Augusta National Golf Club. Is this progressive, or a little behind the times? Read here to find out more:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/opinion/women-at-the-augusta-golf-club.html?_r=1&emc=eta1
  • Wednesday, August 22, 2012 2:49 PM | Deleted user

    Huge congratulations to Marissa Mayer, a Friends 2011 CEDAW Women's Human Rights Awardee, for her appointment as CEO of Yahoo! To learn more about the leadership roles of women in the corporate sector, read Ann Lehman's statement here.

    Click here to register for the 2012 CEDAW Awards. 

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