NEW YORK, March 3, 2008 ( – The UN headquarters in New York was flooded with delegates and NGO representatives for the opening of the 52nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The website of the Division for the Advancement of Women defines the mandate of the CSW as followed:

“Following the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, the General Assembly mandated the Commission to integrate into its programme a follow-up process to the Conference, regularly reviewing the critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action and to develop its catalytic role in mainstreaming a gender perspective in United Nations activities. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) again modified the Commission’s terms of reference in 1996, in its resolution 1996/6, to include, inter alia, identifying emerging issues, trends and new approaches to issues affecting equality between women and men.” (
  The CSW is one of the crucial lobbying opportunities for pro-life, pro-family organizations.

  This year, the two week event is centered on Financing for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Financing family planning and abortion, as opposed to allocating resources to far more needed basic services for women, has some severe social repercussions. This year’s theme provided an opportunity to emphasize the real health needs of women as well as the negative financial impact of abortions on families and nations.

  In his opening statement last Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated “Through the practice of prenatal sex selection, countless others are denied the right even to exist. No country, no culture, no woman young or old is immune to this scourge.” Pro-life pro-family lobbyists hoped that the declaration of the Secretary General would help place the issue of sex selective abortion at the center of discussions.

  Last week, representatives from various pro-life, pro-family organizations, including a representative from Campaign Life Coalition, attempted to highlight the financial impacts of sex selective abortion and abortion in general. With the help of young women from the Overbrook Academy in Rhode Island, they distributed flyers and spoke to delegates about the potentially dramatic consequences of a nation killing its daughters.

Delegates were asked to imagine what would happen to a country 20 years down the road if its citizens engaged in the practice of sex selective abortion. The lack of young woman would mean a lack of future wives and mothers which may lead to trafficking and to many other devastating societal problems. Other topics discussed during the week included the effects of an “abortion-first” agenda and financing for the real health needs of women and girls.

  Very few delegations took a firm stand on sexual and reproductive rights. However, as reported by Samantha Singson of Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), observers were shocked when the missions of Poland and Malta, opposed the mainstream European Union position. In C-FAM’s latest Friday Fax, Miss Singson stated that “The split in the European Union is significant because the EU hardly ever splits on questions of social policy at the UN” (

In his statement, Ambassador Saviour F. Borg said, “Malta firmly continues to maintain that any position taken or recommendations made regarding women’s empowerment and gender equality should not in any way create an obligation on any party to consider abortion as a legitimate form of reproductive health rights, services or commodities.”

  This dissent from the EU’s position is important because it demonstrates to developing countries, some of which are often pressured to liberalize their views on family planning and abortion in order to receive funding, that they do not have to compromise on issues related to life and the family.

  Pro-life pro-family lobbyists also encouraged delegations to include supportive pro-life, pro-family language in the agreed upon conclusion, a document which will be adopted at the close of the session next Friday. Country delegations started to negotiate the current version of the document late last week ( ). More details will be provided on the outcome of the Commission next week.