From 8:30am to 9:30am on November 2nd, 2018 Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), participated in a conference call session led by the NGO Commission on the Status of Women, New York (NGO CSW/NY) (see https://www.ngocsw.org/about-ngocswny), to prepare the Zero Draft Outcome Document for the 63rd Session of the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) in 2019. Around twenty-five civil society participants from around the world gathered via video call to discuss topics, concerns, and groups of people that will be included in the Zero Draft. The Zero Draft consists of policy recommendations relating to the priority theme of CSW63 (social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls) that member states agree to support (see http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw63-2019), and is the foundation for member state negotiations on agreed conclusions at Commissions on the Status of Women.
Michael Hinatsu during online session to discuss Zero Draft Outcome Document for CSW63
The session agenda consisted of participant introductions, reviewing prior work, a review of current work, and a discussion period for participants to advocate for specific topics or issues to be added to the Zero Draft by adding them directly to a working document. Led by Winifred Doherty, Main NGO Representative to the United Nations, and Jourdan Williams, Youth Representative to the United Nations for the International Health Awareness Network, the session was a continuation of efforts in September, when an Expert Group Meeting was held by NGO CSW/NY to discuss current research related to the CSW63 priority theme, as well as to hear presentations by experts and researchers on a number of aspects of the priority theme as well as case studies of social protection and public services from around the world (see http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw63-2019/preparations/expert-group-meeting#background-papers).
After introductions by participants, some of which were calling from overseas, and a brief review of the Expert Group Meeting, the session focused on the current version of the Zero Draft, which currently is designed to identify how the UN and other international organizations have addressed social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and empowering women and girls. The working document also is a place to list areas neglected by the international community that need to be addressed in the Zero Draft and, ultimately, in the agreed conclusions of CSW63. Thus, our participation was not only relevant because of mountain women concerns, but necessary to laying groundwork for advocating mountain targets and mountain women and girls in the Zero Draft and in implementation of mountain targets in the UN 2030 Development agenda. We mentioned as UIMF priority to repeat our effort to include a language about mountain women in the final document of the CSW63. Then it was interesting to hear from Winifred Doherty, that she remembers that they included relevant language to the CSW62 draft of the final document and after that were disappointed when it was removed during negotiations of the member states.
During the discussion period, every participant gave recommendations and contributed specific language according to the specific work they do for advocating gender issues, with issues such as food security, xenophobia, indigenous education, and other added to the working document. The process itself was simple, as a Google Doc was open to all for inspection and adding recommendations, but was also very detailed, as participants advocated for many diverse issues affecting women. Along with Professor Baktybek Abdrisaev, UIMF mentor, I added specific language about mountain communities, women, and girls, as well as Utah Valley University’s student engaged learning model, to relevant working sections of the document such as the Education and Infrastructure sections. These working sections are places where individuals can add specific language and citations of official documents and studies that will eventually become part of the Zero Draft Outcome Document. We also became team members with others who will directly contribute to the specific issues in the Education and Infrastructure segments, which furthers our chances of implementing language about mountain women and girls into the actual Zero Draft Outcome Document. The discussion period was not only interesting because of the diverse topics brought forth, but also because it gave valuable insights into how civil society contributes to the agenda of the CSW, and how UIMF can better implement language about mountain women into documents that will be seen by member state representatives who have a say in the outcomes of CSW63.
In sum, the session was an important step in advocating for mountain women and implementing mountain targets into the 2030 Development agenda, because it allowed UIMF to get a say in the formation of the Zero Draft Outcome Document which will eventually inform member states on policy proposals for global sustainable development and put mountain targets and mountain women and girls into their focus. We will continue to attend similar sessions in the future to contribute to the Zero Draft, which will be crucial in making sure that mountain women are included in the negotiations for both the agreed conclusions of CSW63 and global sustainability efforts.
We have provided to NGO-CSW/ NY members copies of UIMF letters recently sent to UN Secretary General , President of ECOSOC, and 46 member states who gave Voluntary National Reviews at the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development. It included also a copy of UIMF’s statement submitted to CSW63. We notified these high-level officials of our concern about the lack of transparency in negotiations of final documents for CSW and ECOSOC forums by member states, as well as the lack of implementation of mountain women and girls into the global sustainability agenda. UIMF is planning to attend CSW63 to lobby high-level officials on mountain issues and host a parallel event advocating for student engaged learning to advocate for sustainable development, in particular for mountain women and girls.
Michael Hinatsu, member, UIMF; member, Model UN Club at Utah Valley University