Every year the UN's Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) holds a session in New York in March on issues pertaining to women's equality and empowerment. The theme this year - the 56th such meeting - was "The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges".
At CSW the theme is irrelevant - negotiations inevitably focus on "reproductive rights" or some variation on this perennial "elephant in the drawing room". Whilst at most conferences an attempt is made to ignore embarrassing "elephants", at CSW the highlight is the "elephant". This year the negotiations for the final outcome document focused on "comprehensive sex education", with the emphasis on "comprehensive". I leave details to the imagination of readers, keeping in mind that the UN bureaucracy, aided by US President Obama's delegation, just love homosexual rights, population control and transgender issues like suggesting to a six-year-old that it is okay for him to feel he is really a girl trapped in a boy's body.
The negotiations on the final CSW 56 document broke down on the wording of the resolution on maternal mortality. The US version contained paragraphs calling for "sexuality education" for children and "reproductive rights" for both women and girls, but removed key provisions recognising parental rights, respect for national sovereignty and religious and cultural values. The US paragraphs had little to do with maternal mortality but appeared to be playing to Obama's home constituency of radical feminist supporters.
Many delegations were upset by US manipulation and strong-arm tactics, and a number of African countries subsequently withdrew their co-sponsorship from the resolution.
The Holy See delegate, speaking on the US resolution, said: "My delegation notes with grave concern various agendas which were being advanced during the negotiations regarding so-called 'reproductive rights' ...
"Language contained in the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action affirms respect for religious and ethical values. Regrettably, the main sponsor failed to allow a paragraph to affirm these principles which respect conscience and the freedom of religion ...
"It is the sacred and solemn responsibility of parents to care for their children and no one - including the state - has a right to advance an agenda which does not respect the natural moral law. The attempt on the part of the main sponsor [the US] of the text to not recognise the prior and primary responsibilities, rights, and duties of parents regarding their children, is disrespectful of the nature of marriage and the family and undermines international law ...
"The advancement of an agenda which promotes 'sex education' and artificial contraception to children, and completely disregards their parents' involvement, is antithetical to the role of the state which has the responsibility to promote the common good of the family and society ...
"It is tragic that the present resolution is clouded by various attempts to advance the aforementioned agendas which are contrary to respect for human life."
Concerns also arose over the US and EU attempts to exploit the AIDS pandemic by promoting the controversial International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights. This document says that to combat AIDS, nations must legalise same-sex marriage, abortion, prostitution, comprehensive sexuality education for children, access to contraceptives and modern contraceptive methods. The African and Islamic delegates were so concerned with the way the US handled the maternal mortality resolution that they stood up to the US and the EU and refused to come to consensus.
Then in a diplomatically questionable move, the US held negotiations at the US Mission rather than at the UN, sending a clear message to all parties that the process belonged to the US. The last negotiation was held within the UN but was ended abruptly by the US before agreement was reached. On the final day of the conference, delegates voted for the resolution with the understanding the US had met their concerns. Only after the vote did delegates realise the US had submitted what's known as a "Chairman's text," which was full of the objectionable contraception language.
The use of Chairman's texts is a new and to many delegations a troubling development. It means that all the negotiations done by governments come to naught, and the final decision is made by one country. So Obama succeeded in imposing his "contraception mandate" internationally as well as on the US.
Endeavour Forum initiatives
Although we could not prevent this unwholesome outcome, Endeavour Forum Inc. held two NGO educational "parallel events" during CSW 56. We were blessed that the Holy See sponsored one of our events so that it was held at the UN itself and not at a venue off-campus. This meant the event was attended by national delegates and not only NGO observers.
Our theme was publicising the horrific billion-dollar trade in sex trafficking by showing the award-winning documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls produced by Exodus Cry, an international anti-trafficking organisation committed to abolishing modern day sex slavery through prayer, awareness, and assisting victims.
Endeavour Forum's other NGO event was a discussion on the increased risk of breast cancer caused by induced abortion. Both events were very well attended and the Holy See was pleased with our efforts.