Ukrainians participate in session of U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women
by Nadia Shmigel
UNITED NATIONS - The 47th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) took place on March 3-14 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
The Commission on the Status of Women was established as a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council by Council Resolution 11(II) of June 21, 1946, to prepare recommendations and reports to the council on promoting women's rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields. The commission's 47th session was preceded by two days of NGO meetings, panels and discussion at Barnard College at Columbia University.
Every year the World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations (WFUWO), a non-governmental organization in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council since 1993, participates in the sessions of CSW as an observer. It takes an active part in all NGO activities, the program for NGOs prior to the beginning of the CSW session and NGO side events. The WFUWO prepared a statement on violence against women, which was translated into all official languages of the United Nations and was available, as a U.N. document, (E/CN.6/2003/NGO/8) to state delegations and NGO representatives.
This year the Commission on the Status of Women focused on two thematic issues: participation and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women; and women's human rights and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls as defined in the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome document of the Special Session of the General Assembly titled "Women: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century."
There were over 100 NGO side events, which reflected the two thematic issues of the commission. For example, "A Mental Health Perspective: Violence against Women and Human Rights, and the Role of the Media - a Panel Discussion with Audience Participation," sponsored by the NGO Committee on Mental Health, New York; and "Women and Human Rights - Trafficking and Prostitution - Panel Discussion" presented by the European Women's Lobby were among the many panels and presentations.
The presenters in all side events reflected the international participation of women in the CSW, as they came from many countries and continents. In the corridors of the U.N. you could meet women in exotic dresses from Africa, among them a woman from Palestine in an unusually beautiful embroidered scarf, which by its geometric design in cross-stitch resembled Ukrainian embroidery. Among the participants were many women with doctorates, professors, journalists and community leaders.
The struggle to achieve equal rights for women in the world, and thus eliminate violence against women, has a long history. Its beginnings date to the establishment of the Commission on Status of Women in 1946; and its roots go back to the U.N. Declaration Against Violence Against Women (1993) and the Beijing Platform for Action (1995).
The following statement is found on the Internet page of the Division for the Advancement of Women. "In 2000, a comprehensive review and appraisal of progress made in the implementation of the Platform for Action was undertaken by the 23rd Special Session of the General Assembly (Beijing + 5) titled "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century." The assembly adopted a Political Declaration and Further Actions and Initiatives to Implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (the Outcome Document)."
Participating in select parts of the CSW and NGO side events were Maria Szkambara, president of the WFUWO, Luba Silecky, president of the Women's Association for the Defense of Four Freedoms for Ukraine, and the following WFUWO representatives: Iryna Kurowycky, (president of the Ukrainian National Women's League of America), Hanya Krill, (webmaster for the WFUWO.org website and certified United Nations journalist), Nadia Shmigel, Daria Dykyj, Olha Stawnychy, Marta Kichurowska-Kebalo, Slava Rubel president of the World Plast Command, Plaar Ukrainian Scouting Organization), and Ulana Kekish-Solodenko.
The women also participated in an evening reception arranged by the UNWLA New York Regional Council and the Women's Association for the Defense of the Four Freedoms for Ukraine, New York. Nadia Sawchuk, president of the UNWLA, New York Region, was master of ceremonies for the evening.
The WFUWO was joined by Olha Kobets, president of the Olena Teliha Society in Kyiv and vice-president of the National League of Women of Ukraine. Ms. Kobets came to the CSW session on the recommendation of WFUWO and the invitation of the U.N. Division for the Advancement of Women. One of her tasks on returning to Kyiv is to publicize the work of CSW and the struggle to attain equality for women. She is planning to use her journal Women's World and her radio program, as well as a press conference with the Kyiv news media, to heighten awareness of the issues discussed during the session. The NGO representatives of WFUWO held a working session at Mrs. Rubel's home on March 4 in order to exchange views and to plan our work for the future.
Mmes. Szkambara and Kobets had an opportunity to meet with Valery Kuchinsky, Ukraine's permanent representative to the United Nations, and his wife, Alla. During the luncheon, the group learned about plans for the future of Ukraine's Mission to the United Nations. They also had an opportunity to ask questions regarding the Great Famine of 1932-1933 and the possibility of this tragedy being recognized by the United Nations as genocide.
The WFUWO's future plans include close cooperation and support of all endeavors on behalf of Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora, as well as participation in all efforts to fulfill the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which are: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.
Nadia Shmigel, is NGO representative of the World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, April 6, 2003, No. 14, Vol. LXXI
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