What happened at the UN last week?
The annual UN Commission on the Status of women is winding to a close and we wish you’d been there with us to experience some of the high moments and some outrageous and unnerving, yet revealing moments. Close to 7,000 women from around the world gathered for the two-week commission. They came to hear, and to contribute to, an international dialogue about women’s needs – and as many emphasize – women’s rights.
Let’s start by stating that the controversial outcome documents that we have grown to expect from each UN conference did not materialize; in spite of the fact that this was the important 20-year-revew of the foundational women’s right document known as the Beijing platform. So little time was spent on monitoring an outcome document and crafting language. It seems that radical women’s rights groups would rather not have the traditional outcome document (“agreed conclusions”) than take a risk that they lose ground during such an important review year. Why would they make that decision? It is in large part due to the fact that the pro-family/pro-life voice has grown so strong and so organized. So we express thanks to all who participated in CSW 2015! Once again, radical feminists were not able to advance their agenda.
The United Families team consisted of five experienced staff members, six college students and their three professors. We were also given marvelous support by a very large group of moms and professional women from around the U.S. and Canada.
So what did we do?
The best way to explain the last two weeks is to tell you some of the concrete things that our team did, and let you hear some of the comments that came as a result of those efforts. Finally we want to end with one of the most outrageous quotes that we might have ever heard coming from a podium at the UN. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom to see it because this one shocked even UFI’s long-time UN experts.
The UFI team was able to visit with ambassadors and diplomats from 16 UN missions. We delivered UFI’s UN Negotiating Guide, both the printed book and the CD, as well as a book on how families can help the world meet the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Most importantly, we laid the foundation for further interaction on issues related to family, parents, and life. After receiving our Negotiating Guide, one delegate responded:
“I am very excited about this book! Since I began my position I have been looking up references on my own, and it is so much work. So to have everything available and organized in this book is wonderful! I don’t want to be greedy, but I may I have another book to give to my colleague? I can see that we will both need one, and I would be willing to pay for it if needed.”
UFI hosted two parallel events. These are 1 ½ hr. presentations on a topic of the organization’s choice. We repeated a very successful and well-received presentation that UFI presented at last year’s CSW on the “Sequence of Success” for women and girls. The other event was a reader’s-theater-type, music-filled, presentation with a theme centered on the importance of knowing your ancestors and your family’s history. With the help of women from the group Big Ocean Women, along with a student from BYU-I, as “letter readers” and singers, the program touched hearts while re-enforcing some important social science data on the importance of family history.
- (Hungary) This was a wonderful presentation tonight. I brought my friends with me because I remembered how good it was last year. We wish you could bring your presentation to Hungary.
- (African country) Awesome presentation, it’s like you used a multi-dimensional approach to support women
- (African Country) I never thought about it before, but tonight I am very proud to be a mother.
- (Asian country) The hands that rock the cradle are the hands that rule the world, but for the most part the world has forgotten that. They have forgotten the influence that women have in their homes.
- (USA) That was the best parallel event I’ve ever attended in all my years at the UN.
Did she really say that?
One of the more stunning moments at this year’s CSW occurred at a side event where Kate Gilmore, Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA, sat on a panel and at the end of the presentation, responded to question from a pro-family mom who was in attendance. Kate Gilmore presents herself as a polished professional and diplomat, which was why her comment was all the more shocking to any person who values parental rights, family and marriage – most shocking of all when one realizes that this is the ideological position of one of the most powerful agencies within the UN system. UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) has a $976.8 million annual budget and operations around the world.
The topic for this UNFPA sponsored side event was: “Using data to promote policy change and advance sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.” (Note that the term “reproductive rights” is a euphemism for abortion.) Below is the question asked by a mom trying to emphasize her parental rights regarding data collection, and beneath it, Kate Gilmore’s response back to her.
Question from woman in the audience:
“You talked about data as retail. I am just wondering: How will you protect that data and be able to assure us, as mothers, that our children will not be turned into ‘commodities’ and that we as parents won’t be referred to as ‘stake holders’?”
Kate Gilmore’s response:
“[H]uman rights are as important in the bedroom as they are in the courtroom. We can’t afford, unfortunately, to only preserve privacy when it comes to the family. For millions upon millions of women, through their voices and then finally the attention of statisticians and demographers to aggregate their voices, but first and foremost with the courage of their voices, we discovered that for millions and millions of women that marriage is not much better than an arbitrary detention cell; that the kitchen is a torture chamber; that the bedroom is a site for the gravest of human rights violations. As much as we wish to uphold the responsibility and the burden of parenting to sustain people in that and to preserve the privacy, I am afraid by performance alone, we can neither trust nor leave alone the care of the most vulnerable to anybody who has power over them, whether it be the state, whether it be the church, whether it be the mosque, or the synagogue or unfortunately the family or the marriage.” [emphasis added]
Citizens of the world now should have no doubt what the leadership of UNFPA thinks about marriage and family. It helps us to understand why there is such a direct and consistent attack upon family and parental rights emanating from the UN.
This very real threat to the family is the reason why delegations from United Families International continue to return to the UN, to be a clear voice for marriage, family, women, and children all over the world. We ask you to add your voice to ours: “Families matter!”
Laura Bunker, President
United Families International