The UN Commission on the Status of Women was … a serious learning curve; getting to grips with the logistics an education in itself. As well as the thousands of Member States Representatives, UN entities and invited speakers, there were over 6000 accredited civil society actors, or representatives NGOs. A couple hundred of those were the GUFs (Global Union Federations), including the IFJ (as part of the ITUC delegation). There were 135 UN main and side events, and over 300 parallel events hosted by the NGOs.
Each year there is main focus, this years was how well (or not) the Millennium Development goals had been met, as they expire in 2015. This is important as next years event, the 20th Anniversary of Beijing, is another major focus. So there will be a post-2015 agenda set and 20 years of Beijing, both next year. Known as the most liberal of the declarations, the Beijing declaration had the most comprehensive aspects in terms of media, and will be important for the IFJ to attend and prepare well in advance.
This year, looking at the Millennium Goals, there was little specific focus on media, except in a few places. There was a UN side meeting on Hate Speech (including online abuse) and another on access to communication technology, which included included the issues of attacks and abuse of female journalists (based on the INSI report). Sadly, they confused this issue with the IFJ campaign on Impunity (see blog: “On Being Visible ...”), missing the point that many of those who replied to the INSI survey refereed to abuse occurring at work.
However, the media did come up often, within wildly divergent contexts in many of the social justice meetings organised by various NGO's. Often with the same message: traditional media is failing many rural and developing country women. This was as true in a meeting looking at widows rights in Asia and Africa as it was in a meeting on post-disaster programmes in Asia. Traditional media was simply not providing essential information, so the women were doing it for themselves through creating podcasts that were then sent directly to mobile phones in villages.
As mentioned above, Trade Unions were a very small proportion of the total population attending the UNCSW58. However, by collectively working with other NGOs that aligned with our goals we were able to make an impact on important issues like the Agreed conclusions for the session. In fact, it was perhaps one of the most important meetings was in looking at how NGOs and Trade Unions could better support each other to send on coherent message to the next session, setting the agenda for the next several years.
co-Chair IFJ Gender Council