Empower women but don’t let them have rights

The UN Women’s Conference is on.

The Trump administration is lining up with less liberal nations such as Saudi Arabia and Malaysia at a major United Nations conference on women this month to roll back international consensus on climate change and migration, while seeking to prevent the expansion of rights for girls, women, and LGBT people.

The U.N. women’s conference, focused on empowering women and girls through social protection programs and promoting access to public services, runs from March 11 to March 22. Negotiations on the final outcome document are expected to resume on Thursday.

The U.S. delegation, which includes anti-abortion conservatives in line with the Trump administration’s broad policy stances, is seeking to weaken international support for the Beijing Declaration, a landmark 1995 agreement that stands as an internationally recognized progressive blueprint for women’s rights.

“Their efforts to undermine global commitments to gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights should lay to rest any notion that the Trump Administration cares about women or their human rights,” said Shannon Kowalski, the director of advocacy and policy for the International Women’s Health Coalition. “Instead they are trying to use the Commission to strip women and girls of their ability to exercise control over their lives.”

Does it matter? Yes.

For civil society advocates and smaller U.N. member countries, these changes to U.N. documents are more than just words on paper. “A lot of other countries look to these agreements as a framework. They are using these agreements and outcomes to advance national laws and policies,” said one source familiar with internal CSW negotiations, who declined to speak on record.

The U.S. delegation is also seeking to chip away efforts by other states to elevate international issues anathema to the Trump administration, including language on climate change and collective bargaining as well as sexual and reproductive health, in the final outcome documents.

For instance, the United States proposed that references to “sexual reproductive health and rights” be removed from a section addressing human rights. Social conservative advocates who follow these international negotiations have long viewed such language as implicitly condoning abortion.

If women don’t have the right to stop being pregnant, they don’t have reproductive rights.

One Response to “Empower women but don’t let them have rights”