Conference Reports

UN Liaison Annual Report 2015

2015 was a very busy year for the FAWCO UN NGO Rep Team, a year of milestones for the United Nations, and a year of challenges for the world. In 2015, the UN celebrated 70 years since its founding in the aftermath of World War II, adopted a new sustainable development agenda, and convened a major global conference on climate change.

In September 2015, the UN adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), successors to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). FAWCO UN Reps and Youth Rep attended briefings and meetings in New York on the transition from MDGs to SDGs and posted reports and blogs on FAWCO's website.

At the FAWCO Biennial Conference in Rome in March 2015, FAWCO members adopted R&Rs for 2015 – 2017 which reinforced our commitment to support the UN’s mission and goals, particularly those that address women and girls. Our R&Rs recommend that we “increase FAWCO's engagement as an accredited UN NGO by working on global women’s issues with UN Women and the UN Committee on the Status of Women, sponsoring UN events and actively seeking partnerships with like-minded NGOs.”

In 2015, FAWCO's UN Reps took on increasingly important leadership roles on NGO Committees in NY, Geneva and Vienna. Erica Higbie (FAUSA), FAWCO's Main Representative at the UN in New York, serves as a Director on the UN Department of Public Information NGO Executive Committee, and is Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee of the Working Group on Girls. Erica also serves as Treasurer of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women (NGO CSW) in New York. Jane Politi (AWA Rome) is Member at Large of the NGO Committee on Migration in New York. Anne Riz (AWC Bern) is Treasurer of the NGO CSW in Geneva, and FAWCO's UN Liaison Laurie Richardson (AWA Vienna) is Secretary, NGO CSW in Vienna.

In March, a delegation of 17 FAWCO women from around the world gathered at the 59th session of the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59). Our delegates wrote reports and posted blogs on FAWCO's website and Facebook groups about issues of gender equality, women's empowerment and the CSW59 Political Declaration. FAWCO’s UN Youth Rep took part in the Young Women and Girls Forum connected to the CSW.

We place high priority on raising awareness among FAWCO members about the UN development agenda, demonstrating our commitment to empowering women and girls, and creating a better and more peaceful world. FAWCO publishes UN Liaison Bulletins four times a year and the FAWCO FORUM twice a year, highlighting UN NGO Program activities and promoting the UN development goals. We post articles and links on our website and Facebook groups. The UN NGO Rep Team collaborates with FAWCO's Global Issues Task Forces and Target Program Chair to inform and enhance our global issues efforts.

Together with the Human Rights Task Force and member clubs, we continued to support refugees fleeing conflict zones in unprecedented numbers. We collaborated with the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR in Athens; partnered with a grassroots NGO in Jordan; and joined local refugee assistance initiatives in FAWCO communities across Europe. FAWCO joined in advocacy on behalf of refugee women and children through our involvement with the NGO Committee on Migration. Our UN Representative in Athens worked with local UNHCR contacts to promote their work and raise awareness of the needs of refugees.

FAWCO's Environment Task Force and UN Reps Team worked together to inform members about the ground-breaking UN conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris.

Pam Perraud (AAWE Paris, FAUSA) collaborated with FAWCO's Education Task Force, laying the groundwork for applying to be an official partner at the UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris. Pam joined the Education Task Force to prepare for the upcoming Target Program on Education, making plans for the issue awareness phase of the program.

Jane McCall Politi, PhD (AWA Rome) is a Member at Large of the NGO Committee on Migration (COM) in NY, focusing on research and advocacy on meeting the needs of refugee women and children. She attended meetings including Addressing the Global Refugee Crisis, Refugee Children and The Right to Education in Emergencies, Migration and Development, and Immigration Reform. Under Advocacy, below, you will find the titles of three COM position papers FAWCO co-signed.

Vali Mitsakis (AWO Greece), FAWCO UN Youth Rep in NY, attended CSW59 and related events for young women and girls, the UN Youth Assembly, and numerous meetings and briefings on education, refugees, and the UN's new sustainable development agenda.

Stacy Lara (AWC Bern), FAWCO's Rep to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), attended the three 2015 sessions of the HRC in March, June and September. Stacy reported tragic stories about violence, inequality and discrimination against women and girls, and shared stories of hope in blogs such as “I Will No Longer Serve on a Panel Without Women,” “Combatting Violence Against Indigenous Women” and “Queen Mathilde of Belgium Speaks for Women’s Rights.” Stacy attends meetings of the NGO CSW Geneva and several sub-committees, and is a member of the NGO Human Rights Committee.

Stacy summed up FAWCO's UN NGO Reps program and goals: “The United Nations provides tools to deliver information that concerns FAWCO’s core values, our four pillars – human rights, education, environment and health. Every year is full of highlights and with the new Global Goals approved, 2016 promises even more opportunities for FAWCO to play a key role in impacting the lives of women and children.”

Paula Daeppen (AWC Zurich) worked with Geneva colleagues to improve the leadership and direction of the NGO CSW Geneva. Paula chaired the nominations committee to find qualified leaders to move the Geneva NGO CSW forward. The candidates proposed by the nominations committee were elected and the newly elected executive committee appointed Paula as an advisor. Paula drafted procedures for meetings, was part of the Task Force on Bylaws, and continues to work on a Code of Conduct. Paula also attended the NGO Forum on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Women and the Annual Forum of the NGO Alliance for Health Promotion. Paula helped to organize the FAWCO Region 6 Regional Meeting in Zurich in October, and made a presentation with Anne Riz on FAWCO and the United Nations.

Anne Riz (AWC Bern) became more involved with the NGO CSW Geneva, joining the Task Force to revise the Statutes and Bylaws. Anne was elected Treasurer and has focused on the financial affairs of the Committee, as well as working with the new board to help reinvigorate the Committee. Anne's focus is on women's health issues, and she attended UN events including Does the World Have Enough Midwives? The role of the midwifery workforce to ensure women’s and newborns’ right to quality care; FGM and Alternative Rites of Passage; Maternal Mortality and Morbidity and Unsafe Abortions; and Connecting CEDAW and the Women Peace and Security Agenda.

Grace Christovasilis (AWO Greece) has been actively engaged with UNHCR in Athens, following and reporting on developments in the refugee crisis. When Grace was in New York, she joined FAWCO's Jane Frankfurt 2016 Annual Report 2015 35 Politi and Vali Mitsakis to attend meetings of the NGO Committee on Migration. Recently, Grace has been invited to discuss a potential partnership between UNHCR and FAWCO, with FAWCO offering a platform to disseminate UNHCR information and advocate on behalf of refugee issues among our worldwide membership. Grace also collaborated with the UNHCR office in Athens on planning for UN@70 events.

Though FAWCO's UN NGO Reps are by necessity a mostly virtual team, we take advantage of opportunities to work together when our travels bring us to other UN cities. Jane Politi from NY attended hearings of the UN Committee on Human Rights, UNHCR Hearings with NGOs and consultations with the International Organization for Migration in Geneva, and Grace Christovasilis of Athens joined Meetings of the NGO Committee on Migration in NY and a panel discussion on The Future of Migration at the City University of NY.

FAWCO was a signatory to several NGO statements and joined in advocacy efforts; these statements are posted on FAWCO's website. FAWCO signed on to statements and position papers by the NGO Committee on Migration: Providing Education and Care to Syria’s Littlest Refugees, Protection at Sea, and Giving Childhood Back to Refugee Children. FAWCO supported a written statement and an oral statement presented to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in 2015 (CSW59) by the member organizations of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women in Vienna. FAWCO signed a Statement on Women's Rights and Non-State Terror that was presented to the UN by a group of NGOs led by Zonta International.

In 2015, we continued to advocate in the US for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). FAWCO's UN NGO Rep Team worked with our US Liaison and encouraged US citizens to join the campaign. Paula Daeppen and US Liaison Lucy Laederich drafted a letter advocating US ratification sent to President Obama and Senate leaders, distributed in the US and UN Liaisons’ Bulletins, posted on FAWCO and club websites, Facebook, Linked-In, Child Rights Interest Group and other social networks.

We mobilized our US-based members to join the UN Women and NGO CSW NY Cities for CEDAW Campaign. UN Liaison Laurie Richardson attended meetings at the Washington, DC city council to promote the Cities for CEDAW campaign. We published articles on CEDAW in the UN Liaison Bulletin and on our website.

FAWCO signed a statement of support for continued funding of Planned Parenthood in the US. The letter was drafted by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, signed by 95 civil and human rights organizations, and delivered to the US Senate. 

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