UNI welcomes bold UN agreement on women’s rights

An important step to end violence against women and girls has been reached with an unprecedented agreement.
Following months of lobbying and two weeks of difficult negotiations, UN member States sign off strong agreements to promote gender equality, women’s empowerment, and ensure women’s reproductive rights and access to sexual and reproductive health services. The latter adopted despite fierce controversy. “Not all UN member states are happy though with the outcome. Iran, Russia, Syria and the Vatican were all pretty much against the language of the text and wanted to refer us back to where we were decades ago as far as women’s rights are concerned. We cannot allow this to happen.” Says Veronica Mendez Fernandez, head of UNI Equal Opportunity.
UNI welcomes in particular the explicit call for accessible and affordable healthcare services, including sexual and reproductive health services. These include emergency contraception and safe abortion for victims of violence – another highly contested issue over the past two weeks. A first ever, the Commission on the Status of Women has urged governments to procure and supply female condoms.

Another important outcome was the need to end armful traditional practices, including child marriage. Special focus was to ensure services for marginalised groups, such as indigenous women, older women, female migrant workers, women with disabilities, women living with HIV, and women held in custody. The link between HIV and violence against women were also noted. The agreement condemned and called for action to prevent violence against women in healthcare settings, including forced sterilisation.

Another major development, Bachelet, announced her resignation as head of UN Women. The outcome of UNCSW57 sends a clear-cut message to the world that violence against girls and women are inacceptable everywhere. Unions worldwide must now use this momentum to help push for local, national, regional and international action on preventing and eliminating these appalling crimes against women and girls.

For detailed information, you can access the agreed conclusions here

Denise McGuire – with UNI Global Union at the UN CSW.