By Amy DeRosa
NEW YORK, February 27, 2009 (C-FAM) – The 53rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will meet next week at the United Nations (UN) to discuss this year’s theme, “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS.” Pro-life and pro-family non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are concerned that, as usually happens, the two-week gathering will be used to advance a pro-abortion agenda.
The annual CSW meetings routinely see efforts to incorporate terms such as “sexual and reproductive health services”– recognized as a euphemism for abortion – in the concluding outcome document. Though this year’s theme focuses on HIV/AIDS, it is anticipated that abortion language will be offered under the guise of promoting “comprehensive prevention” programs and health services.
Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), cautioned that “with the new US administration, radicals at the UN will be even more aggressive in attacking parental rights and pushing abortion-on-demand globally.”
As in past years, Scandinavian countries can be expected to take the lead in pushing “reproductive rights” language. This year, the governments of Norway and Sweden, as well as the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), are sponsoring panels on various aspects of “sexual and reproductive health.”
Though the nations of the European Union (EU) generally support the proposed language, last year’s CSW meeting saw a breakdown in consensus as Ireland, Malta and Poland broke from other EU member states on abortion.
A number of NGOs have submitted statements with recommendations on how they would advance the conference theme. The International Planned Parenthood Federation took the opportunity to lobby for “mandatory comprehensive sexuality education programmes in schools.” Action Canada for Population and Development, along with the Center for Health and Gender Equity, urges that “male groups” promote “reproductive rights,” including “safe abortion.”
As in previous years, a number of “side events” troubling to pro-life and pro-family advocates are scheduled. The pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights will lead a session on “HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Justice.” Human Rights Watch will use the HIV/AIDS theme as a pretext for promoting last December’s French-led “General Assembly Statement on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Human Rights.” A Dutch group, the Netherlands Organization for International Development, will sponsor a panel on ‘Strategic Funding to Challenge Gender Roles.’
Conservative groups such as CWA, United Families International, Endeavour Forum and the Catholic Women’s League of Australia plan to have a number of side events on subjects such as children and the family, prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases, and the detrimental effects of abortion on women.
Since its inception in 1946, the Commission on the Status of Women has been the UN’s premier body for policy making on “gender equality” and women’s rights issues. It meets every March at the UN headquarters in New York, and its annual sessions are consistently the UN’s largest. This year, more than 5,000 individuals representing nearly 500 NGOs are expected to participate in the conference, along with representatives from the Commission’s forty-five member nations and delegates from UN member states at large.