Find in Blog
Justice, Evidence, and Reason are On Our Side
Having a voice at the United Nations can be a very complicated affair for countries, non-governmental organizations, and—most of all—individuals. Even though I am a law professor and teach a course on international human rights, nothing has better prepared me for understanding the true meaning of the freedoms embedded in human rights than being part of the movement that shapes the priorities for the new global development agenda.
My participation in the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) and the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meetings at the UN has been invaluable. The opportunity to meet with, listen to, and learn from IPPF colleagues and activists from sister organizations is inspiring. But more than anything else, it is necessary.
Like sexual and reproductive health and rights advocates, conservatives who oppose sexual rights and gender equality are also present at UN negotiations. Their impact is a strong reminder of why it's so important to have a global network of service providers and advocates for human rights at the national, regional, and international levels.
I witnessed this impact at an event I attended on Wednesday, "Inequality, Rights and Development." It featured a strong panel of women’s rights champions, including Professor Fred Sai and IPPF Director General Tewodros Melesse. The panel provided an impressive picture of what is being done in African to further human rights, and I felt it should have been required listening for all Delegation and Mission members in preparation for the CPD.
Professor Khadija Mosleh, a board member for IPPF’s Moroccan Member Association, presented an extraordinary analysis of how false representations of Islam are used to oppose to the human rights agenda. She explained that Islam is rooted in equality, not oppression. Ambassador Mervat Tallawy, Chairperson of the National Council on Women in Egypt, underscored the important role women have historically played in Arab and African countries and described the current struggle to incorporate gender equality into the Egyptian Constitution.
The Special Advisor to the Minister of Social Development in South Africa, Zane Dangor, pointed out that many of the oppressive laws being used to criminalize sexual activity and abortion are not part of the native cultures of our countries, but relics of their colonial pasts. He questioned the way conservative organizations from developed countries are using their financial clout to export ideologies opposed to sexual and reproductive health and rights to the countries in the Global South.
I have witnessed firsthand the great struggles being carried out by brave individuals around the world who come from places as geographically distant and ideologically diverse as Iran and Sweden. And while we may live in different places, our fight is the same: the inclusion of a more humane perspective in the post-2015 development agenda.
Justice, evidence, and reason are on our side. And I am certain we are making a difference.