Bahá’ís of Canada Français

Canadian Bahá’í Delegates at the Commission on the Status of Women

Three Canadian Bahá’ís joined an international Bahá’í delegation to participate in the 53rd UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), held in New York from 2 to 13 March 2009. The CSW is a technical commission of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. Its function is to promote women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields and to make recommendations and present reports on the development of women’s rights and on new urgent issues. In addition to the representatives of Member States, and the various branches of the UN and ECOSOC, the CSW welcomed representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world. The Bahá’í International Community, which in 1970 obtained a consultative status with ECOSOC, was among those NGOs. In this capacity the BIC was able to provide input into the agreed conclusions which were ratified by member states at the end of the session on 13 March. The priority theme of the 53rd session of the Commission was “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS”. Although some governments have made efforts for the promotion of women and have amended some laws that discriminated against women and girls, there is still much to be done before there is an equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men. Among other things, we have to eliminate violence against women, address gender stereotypes and sexist behaviours, ensure equal participation of women and men in decision-making at home as well as in society, we have to fight poverty and offer women and girls equal access to education and training. Another very current and urgent theme was a serious cause of concern for Member States: the consequences of the financial crisis on gender equality. Many official representatives of governments have expressed their worry that the Millennium Goals for development, and particularly those that have to do with the reduction of poverty and the promotion of gender equality, will be gravely threatened by the world financial crisis. Once again this year, the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations collaborated with the Bahá’í International Community to organize a panel discussion on the theme “Learning to be a girl: Care giving in the context of HIV/AIDS”. The UNICEF Working Group on Girls and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues also contributed to the organization of this session. The five panel participants addressed a room filled to capacity. A very interesting contribution was made by a member of the Bahá’í delegation from Tanzania, Mitra Deliri, who described the work done at the Chipua Institute for girls that she manages in that country. The Commission gave the three Canadian Bahá’í delegates an opportunity to meet members of other Canadian NGOs, official government representatives and Bahá’í delegates from approximately twenty other countries. Immediately after her return, the Director of the Office for the advancement of women of the Bahá’í Community of Canada, Elizabeth Wright, took part in public meetings in Quebec and Ontario where she was able to share the Commission’s conclusions. She stressed the importance of supporting the “Unite to end violence violence against women” campaign sponsored by the United Nations’ Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls everywhere in the world. Launched in February 2008, this campaign will continue until 2015. Governments, civil society, women’s organizations, youth, the private sector, the media and all the United Nations organizations are invited to unite to fight this world pandemic which will remain a priority for the Commission on the status of women as long as women and girls continue to be the victims of sex-based violence.