March 9, 2017

The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) is deeply saddened that its partner, the South African organization, Masimanyane Women’s Rights International, has canceled its participation in the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This annual meeting is an important global gathering of diplomats, international delegates, and women’s rights advocates that plays a crucial role in determining the focus of the global women’s agenda and its progress.

Masimanyane, an international advocacy organization working to strengthen women’s rights, reduce HIV/AIDS, and eradicate violence against women, has made this decision in response to the Trump Administration’s executive orders targeting women, refugees, travelers, and immigrants. In a statement, the organization denounced the US travel ban targeting predominantly Muslim countries, for denying the right of women from United Nations member states to participate in the global forum. As such, Masimanyane’s decision is an expression of solidarity with the women and advocates of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

IWHC believes that the Trump Administration’s executive orders display a fundamental disrespect for women, racial justice, equality, religious tolerance, and human rights. Women migrants and refugees, women of color, women living in poverty, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, and other marginalized groups will bear the brunt of this Administration’s callous policies.

As a global organization committed to ensuring that women can control their own their bodies and determine their own futures, IWHC is working to oppose policies by the Trump Administration that violate human rights and roll back progress for women and girls. IWHC is participating in CSW deliberations to ensure that access to sexual and reproductive health remains on the agenda. Family planning is essential for women’s participation in the workforce, which is the special focus of this year’s gathering. The 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women, is the second held since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, which puts women at the core of a globally agreed set of development goals and targets.

Separately, IWHC has learned that a number of advocates from various countries have been denied visas to participate in the multilateral meetings held at CSW. Each year, IWHC trains advocates from various countries ahead of the negotiations at CSW. The organization is closely monitoring problems involving visas and entry to the United States.

Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown