By Mary Scott
The meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women (March 14 – March 26) this year were mainly done remotely, so it was definitely a different way of connecting. There were 25,000 folks registered from all over the world on the NGO platform. There were over 700 Parallel Events, including one presented by the Manitoba Coalition MMIWG2S and IIWR-MB. You can re-watch the event – 231 MMIWG2S Calls for Action: Implementing Actions and Moving Forward – here.
I made an attempt to attend events (parallel events and side events) focused on hearing women speak from different parts of the world about their lives and challenges, in particular, those working for peace in situations of conflict. Many spoke about patriarchy, the culture where men have significant power. When peace talks are held, it’s not that women have a place at the peace table, but they have to bring their own chair, reported Lydia from Northern Uganda. The men who are the perpetrators of the violence are the ones at the table.
There were several sessions about feminist foreign policy and Canada participated in at least one such session. It was interesting to hear the ADM for Global Affairs Canada, Elissa Golberg, speak about the ongoing coordination across many Canadian government departments, with a focus on women’s equality. Canada now has an Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security, Jacqueline O’Neill, who spoke at the recent IIWR-MB AGM.
One of the most striking sessions I heard was about the impact of COVID-19 on women in Iran. In the last year, violence against women has increased substantially. It is common, it is harsh, it is disfiguring (such as acid thrown in women’s faces), it is deadly. The number of honour killings are increasing. The law doesn’t protect women – a woman, for example, cannot get a divorce no matter the situation. A similar theme was shared from several guests who spoke from Turkey about the repression of women. The number of women held in prison, with children, is growing. Hollie McKay, a journalist, spoke about the conditions, and I look forward to reading her book, Only Cry for the Living: Memos from Inside the ISIS Battlefield. You can re-watch this session here.
Following the meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women, the Gender Equality Forum was held in Mexico City, Mexico, from March 29 to March 31st. There was considerable discussion and energy, with organizing work around six Action Coalitions and the Women, Peace & Security and Humanitarian Action Compact.
IIWR-MB will be sharing news about the work going on locally, nationally and globally, leading up to the Gender Equality Forum to be held in Paris, France from June 30-July 2. Attended by Heads of State, the Paris Forum will convene governments, international organizations, civil society, youth, the private sector and activists from the entire world to make concrete, ambitious and sustainable commitments towards achieving gender equality. Stay tuned!