UN to hold shortened session on women's rights

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres makes a special talk on sustainable development and climate change in Islamabad, Pakistan, on February 16. File photo: Xinhua

The United Nations is expected Monday to adopt a stripped-down political declaration on women’s rights that seeks to preserve gains under threat but does not advocate new ways to ensure progress toward equality.

The matter is to be taken up during the 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which has been drastically reduced from a two-week affair to a single hours-long meeting because of the global coronavirus outbreak. 

Twelve thousand participants were originally set to take part. But Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged member states not to send delegations to New York, and to cancel debates and other events surrounding the meeting – the UN’s second-largest each year after the General Assembly. 

The text set to be adopted follows the main lines of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995, which sought to promote women’s emancipation and advancement around the world.

France plans to host a follow-up conference in July to be titled “Beijing+25” aimed at helping protect and ensure the gains women have made over the past quarter-century.

“The situation [of women] is actually not at all where we should be so many years after the Beijing meeting,” said Olof Skoog, the European Union ambassador to the UN.

“This is not because there is a lack of focus,” Skoog, who is Swedish, told journalists. “It’s actually because there is an active political pushback in many countries.”

To ensure the declaration’s success, negotiators eliminated any reference to reproductive health, opposed by US officials, diplomats said.

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