Communications

UN Liaison Annual Report 2014

UN Liaison Report 2014

2014 was an outstanding year for FAWCO at the UN. The UN Team grew in size and scope, reaching a new level of involvement at the UN and also achieving several ‘firsts’ for FAWCO: our first UN Youth Rep, our first UN Rep to a UN agency, two executive bureau appointments to NGO CSW committees, and our first time organizing a major event at the UN.

As a primary responsibility, the FAWCO UN Team, a corps which now totals 10, collectively attended hundreds of UN meetings in New York, Geneva, Vienna & Athens, and regularly reported on outcomes to the FAWCO membership via blogs, articles on the FAWCO website, in the FAWCO Forum, FAWCO UN and Global Team Bulletins, and local Club newsletters, as well as posting regular entries on FAWCO’s UN Friends Facebook page.

Additionally, the FAWCO UN Team stepped up its level of commitment to issues and involvement in UN committees, working groups, and initiatives, all of which led to raising FAWCO’s profile at the UN to an unprecedented level. Below find highlights of the UN Team’s 2014 commendable activities.

New York

As FAWCO’s Main UN Representative in New York, Erica Higbie (AWC Perth / FAUSA) attended meetings at UN headquarters and participated in NGO committee work throughout the year.

Some of the outstanding 2014 events included the DPI/NGO Annual Conference in August, a High Level Thematic Debate on Closing the Inequality Gap, the CoNGO Membership Meeting, Open Working Group Meetings that will impact the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, an interview with Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, a Panel Discussion with the 5 Women Security Council Ambassadors including Samantha Powers, and an International Women’s Day Event on Turning Inspiration into Action with Chelsea Clinton, Melanne Verveer and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and the 58th Commission on the Status of Women: Implementing the MDGs for Women and Girls.

Other sessions on topics important to FAWCO were Women Peace and Security, The Private Sector: Empowering Women Globally, Education for Global Citizens, Migration Law, CEDAW, and the 25th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Erica disseminates information on these and other important developments at the UN in reports, presentations and through the FAWCO Human Rights Team, which she chairs.

Erica continues to represent FAWCO as the Chair of the Advocacy Committee for the Working Group on Girls. In 2014, she organized meetings with over 25 Permanent Missions to the United Nations to discuss pressing issues, such as Female Genital Mutilation, Child Marriage, Trafficking, Girls' Education, and Sexual and Reproductive Rights with government representatives. 

Pam Perraud (AAWE Paris / FAUSA), who retired as UN Liaison in 2013, stayed on as UN Rep for New York and Geneva and continued to provide invaluable guidance to the UN Team. Pam became the UN Team’s focal point for CEDAW and took on the task of exploring potential partnerships for FAWCO. In NY, Pam joined Erica for the 3-day Annual DPI/NGO conference and attended sessions such as Global Partnerships for Sustainable Development, Fostering Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Post-2015 Agenda, and Social Media, Surveillance and Information Wars. While in Geneva, she attended the First Observation of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, convened by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Pam also served on FAWCO’s Resolutions & Recommendations Committee, providing a UN perspective in the review and realignment of the R&Rs with FAWCO’s current mission and objectives.

One of the year’s highlights was Gavin Higbie (son of Erica Higbie, AWC Perth & FAUSA) joining the UN Team as our first UN Youth Rep. Gavin brought a fresh perspective to issues, a quality which shone through in his informative yet entertaining blogs. He attended both the winter and summer Youth Assemblies in NY, together with thousands of youths from around the world, to discuss the role of young people as the UN moves towards the sustainable development agenda. Gavin joined the team when the conflict in Syria became critical and was thus able to witness and report on some of the negotiations brokered at the UN, including important interventions made by the women of Syria on their participation in the peace process and recommendations for a peaceful way forward. Gavin also attended UN youth events, panel discussions on a variety of topics and the General Assembly’s Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The addition of a UN Youth Rep to the UN Team created a positive synergy with FAWCO’s growing Youth Program, who received and read Gavin’s blogs, so a second FAWCO youth, Valia Mitsakis (AWO Greece), was selected to join the UN Team in 2015. Valia’s experience includes attending the Eleanor Roosevelt Girls Leadership Worldwide, the Global Youth Leadership Conference, representing the USA at a Youth Parliament Session in Greece and founding a Model UN Club at her high school in New York.

Geneva

In 2014, the spotlight was put on Geneva where planning was already underway for the NGO Committee on the Status of Women Geneva (NGO CSW Geneva) to host the Beijing+20 Geneva NGO Forum for the UNECE Region, possibly the biggest civil society gathering ever at the UN Geneva to review the progress of the Beijing Platform for Action, on 3-5 November.

In February, FAWCO, as represented by UN Liaison, Sara von Moos (AWC Bern), was elected Vice-President of the NGO CSW Geneva – a network of about 40 NGOs working to advance women’s human rights and empowerment through engagement with the UN. Previously, in Nov. 2013, Sara had been appointed one of the Forum’s four Team Chairs. These two appointments put FAWCO in the center ring of this momentous event. UN Reps Anne Riz (AWC Bern) and Stacy Lara (AWC Bern) joined Sara, employing their expertise and devoting much time and energy to the organization of the Forum, Anne with a focus on finances and Stacy on communications. FAWCO Youth Ambassador, Julia Goldsby (daughter of Robin Goldsby, AIWC Cologne), joined the team as an intern during the Forum, helping with a multitude of tasks both behind the scenes and during the plenaries with great ease, ability and poise.

Among the Forum’s 700 delegates, 16 FAWCO members were in attendance, with several playing important roles during the Forum: Paula Daeppen (AWC Zurich), Laurie Richardson (AWA Vienna) and Sallie Chaballier (AAWE Paris) served as Rapporteurs for plenaries and round tables and Robin Goldsby (AIWC Cologne) and daughter Julia Goldsby composed and performed the Forum theme song, Maybe It’s You, during the closing ceremony.

The Forum, which was a major success and was said to have re-energized the women’s movement in the UNECE region, resulted in a declaration and its recommendations, which were presented to and accepted by UNECE Member States during their Beijing+20 review meeting on 6-7 November. It is hoped that the content and language of this important document will continue to be incorporated as the global Beijing+20 review process continues, leading up to CSW59 and ultimately, the Post-2015 agenda.

While UN Liaison, Sara von Moos focused her attention on the organization of the Beijing+20 Forum and leadership of the NGO CSW Geneva, UN-Geneva Reps, Stacy Lara, Anne Riz, Enid Burki and Paula Daeppen covered UN happenings, attending major events and any meetings pertaining to their individual focus areas.

Stacy Lara (AWC Bern), UN Team focal point for the Human Rights Council ensured that FAWCO members received complete and thorough coverage of Geneva’s most important UN body which meets three times yearly for a month in March, June and September. Stacy was present during all three sessions and reported on every briefing, panel discussion and meeting that she attended and blogged weekly. To read Stacy’s blog and reports on the many interesting human rights issues that were on the HRC agenda in 2014, such as contemporary slavery, right to privacy in the digital age, combating violence against journalists, female genital mutilation, the global ageing population, and the death penalty go to http://www.fawco.org/fawco-the-un/what-we-do/current-initiatives/human-rights/human-rights-council. Stacy will continue to cover the HRC in 2015 and deepen her involvement, a first step which she has already taken by joining the Gender Issues Network, a group made up of Member States, UN agencies and NGOs which meets before every HRC session to draft resolutions on women’s human rights issues that will be on the agenda during the upcoming HRC session, and then lobby Member States on these issues during the HRC with the objective of getting the resolutions passed by the closing of the 3-4 week session.

Anne Riz (AWC Bern), UN Team focal point for Women’s Health, attended monthly NGO CSW Geneva meetings and also sought out health related networks in Geneva. She joined a WHO working group and networked with other NGOs with health interests. Anne, who is very active in AWC Bern, organized several talks on topics such as trafficking and violence against women for club members interested in global issues, as well as a One Billion Rising V-Day flash mob event. Anne also promotes the White Ribbon Campaign aimed at men to end violence against women.

Enid Burki (AWC Bern) joined the UN Team in 2014 as the focal point for Women’s Education. A passionate advocate of education as a fundamental human right, Enid regularly followed and reported on education trends and the activities of UN agencies taking the lead on education, such as UNICEF and the World Bank. Enid shared whatever information she came across with the UN Team, FAWCO’s Education Team and on FAWCO’s Facebook UN Friends Page. Enid also attended the Beijing+20 NGO Forum.

Covering issues that go hand-in-hand, Anne and Enid often attended the same UN events, such as Too Young To Wed – a high-level debate on child, early & forced marriage; The Power of Empowered Women – an interactive dialogue on the link between women’s empowerment and economic development; and the Future Policy Award – celebrating laws and policies that contribute to ending violence against women.

Paula Daeppen (AWC Zurich), served as FAWCO UN Director for 8 years and continues to contribute her time, knowledge and experience as the UN Team focal point for the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and for Women & Food Security. As the CRC is yet to be ratified by the US, Paula strives to educate people, especially Americans about this convention, writing articles and giving presentations on the Int’l Day of the Child, on Int’l Women’s Day, at the annual FAWCO conference, at AWC Zurich and other international women’s associations, always emphasizing the importance of writing to one’s congressperson.

As a board member of Biovision, Paula attends and organizes symposia on sustainable agriculture. She shares her knowledge on the subject as relevant to FAWCO members by writing articles and giving presentations on topics such reducing food waste, sustainable shopping and environmental protection.

Paula also attended the Beijing+20 NGO Forum, serving as Rapporteur for the Opening Ceremony.

Vienna

Laurie Richardson (AWA Vienna) is FAWCO’s Representative to the UN’s Vienna Office, which houses the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Commission on Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention (CCPCJ) and thus, deals primarily with issues related to drugs, crime and trafficking.

In 2014, Laurie was elected to the Executive Committee of the NGO CSW Vienna and serves as Deputy-Secretary representing FAWCO. In her capacity, Laurie attends monthly CSW meetings, assists in the development of CSW co-sponsored side events pertaining to NGO CSW Vienna’s focus areas of violence against women and human trafficking, and takes part in the drafting of CSW Statements which are presented to the UN Commission on the Status of Women with copies sent to the Austrian Foreign Ministry and relevant embassies in Austria.

In 2014, Laurie attended symposia, panel discussions and other awareness-raising events including The Situation of Women in Afghanistan, A Safe Place for Victims of Violence in Armed Conflicts, The Evolution of UN Policies, Report on Violence Against Women in Europe, Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, Preventing & Combating Labor Trafficking and Exploitation, Organized Crime and Sustainable Development, and Targeting Women in War.

Laurie also serves as 3rd VP for FAWCO, overseeing the Global Teams. She regularly attends and presents at Regional Meetings, and attended the Beijing+20 NGO Forum in Geneva where she served as Rapporteur for the Women and Economy Round Table.

Athens

Grace Christovasilis (AWC Athens), who, for years, has volunteered as a FAWCO UN Advocate in Athens with tremendous energy and enthusiasm, became FAWCO’s first representative to a UN Agency. Due to her engagement in social issues and Greece’s strategic location as a pathway for migrants and refugees, Grace was assigned to the UNHCR office in Greece and became the UN Team’s focal point for Refugees and Migration.

Grace immediately established relations with the UNHCR office in Athens to explore possibilities for collaboration. Amongst other initiatives in the works, Grace orchestrated an inspiring collaboration between the Martha Graham Dance Company and UNHCR, inviting an Afghan refugee to take part in a World Tour MasterClass. The result was a big success and this otherwise unlikely collaboration will continue, giving more refugees hope and a chance to realize their dreams. To read the full story, go to http://stories.unhcr.org/abduols-story-greece-p31966.html

Thanks to Grace’s UNHCR contact in Athens, it was possible to secure a speaker on the topic of human rights for the Brussels FAWCO Conference from the Brussels UNHCR office, who, in turn, inspired and galvanized Region 9 conference delegates, led by Therese Hartwell (AWEP), to get involved in the refugee crisis being spurred by the conflict in Syria. Therese went on to do volunteer work with Iraqi refugees in Jordan and then visit the UNHCR office in Athens together with Grace. Grace’s contact was once again able to arrange for a UNHCR speaker for a Region 9 meeting to be held in Amman, on the topic of displacement and which would offer FAWCO members the opportunity to do volunteer work with refugees.

Building on the success of FAWCO’s collaboration with UNHCR, it is an objective for 2015 to explore similar opportunities in other cities where there are UN Offices and FAWCO clubs, such as Paris (UNICEF), Rome (FAO) and Bonn (UNFCCC) - an ideal way to grow the UN Team and get more FAWCO members involved. The UN Team also looks forward to CSW59 next March, when the spotlight will be put on NY, with a record 20 FAWCO delegates in attendance.

Respectfully submitted,

Sara von Moos (AWC Bern)

UN Liaison

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