Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Roman Catholic Womenpriest Janice Sevre Duszynska will attend U N Session


Janice Sevre Duszynska at her ordination
on Aug. 9, 2008 in Lexington, Kentucky

My friend, archaeologist and theologian Dorothy Irvin of St. Paul, MN, has invited me to be a designated representative of St. Joan's International Alliance, the world's oldest Catholic feminist group and longstanding Non-governmental Organization (NGO). We will participate in the 53rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW53) to be held from 2 to 13 March 2009 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The session will be attended by 2,000 representatives of Member States, UN entities and of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world.

Originally founded in 1911 in London as a Catholic Woman's Suffragist group, St. Joan's International Alliance expanded its objectives to secure legal and de facto equality between women and men in society. It has worked with the United Nations (and earlier with the League of Nations) for: the abolition of child and forced marriages and slavery traffic and traffic in persons; the political rights of women; equal access to education and vocational training and economic opportunities; family law; elimination of discrimination against women.

In the Roman Catholic church, the Alliance has petitioned for lay men and women observers and women auditors at the Second Vatican Council, for the revision of the nuptial liturgy, revision of those canons of the code that adversely affect women, and admission of women to the diaconate and priesthood on the same terms and under the same conditions as men.

In 1937, the Alliance presented a paper to the League of Nations on the Condition of Women in colonized countries of Africa and Asia. Since then, the Alliance has campaigned against the ritual sexual mutilatation of young girls and adolescents, the first organization to do so, according to historian Anne Marie Pelzer. In 1952, a representative of the Alliance presented the first official intervention on this issue to the UN Economic and Social Council. The Alliance has been represented as a Non-governmental Organization at all sessions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council in New York and Geneva since 1951.

The active participation of NGOs is a critical element in the work of the CSW. NGOs have been influential in shaping the current global policy framework on women's empowerment and gender equality - the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. They continue to play an important role in holding international and national leaders accountable for the commitments they made in the Platform for Action.

The themes that will be considered at the CSW53 are the following:

Priority theme:"The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS."

Review theme:"Equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels" adopted at the 50th CSW.

Emerging Issue:"The gender perspectives of the financial crisis.

"The Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. It is the principal global policy-making body. Every year for 10 days, representatives of Member States gather at UN Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.

The Commission consists of one representative from each of the 45 Member States elected by the Council on the basis of equitable geographical distribution: thirteen members from Africa; eleven from Asia; nine from Latin American and Caribbean; eight from Western Europe and other States and four from Eastern Europe. Members are elected for a period of four years.

The Commission was established in June 1946 with the aim to prepare recommendations and reports to the Council on promoting women's rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields. It also makes recommendations to the Council on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women's rights.

The principal output of the CSW is the so-called agreed conclusions on priority themes set for each year. Agreed conclusions, contain an anlysis of the priority theme of concern and a set of concrete recommendations for Goverments, intergovernmental bodies and other institutions, civil society actors and other relevant stakeholders, to be implemented at the international, national, regional and local level.

In addition to the agreed conclusions, the Commission also adopts a number of resolutions on a range of issues, including the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women; and women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS. The final report of the Commission is submitted to the Economic and Social Council for adoption.

Janice Sevre-Duszynska
Roman Catholic Womanpriest

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