Co-written by Sarah Kepins and Ruth Rosa
This year we had the privilege of attending the annual Commission on the Status of Women [CSW61] at the United Nations, as C-Fam interns. CSW tries to promote gender equality and empowerment for women. It is important to attend these conferences, as well as the side events, to have a better understanding of what agendas the several UN agencies, international organizations, civil society and UN member states have for women. This year, as well as past years, one of the big topics panelists are eager to discuss is abortion, or as they like to call it women’s reproductive health and rights.
March 13th was the first day of CSW61. We went to a parallel event on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Humanitarian Settings organized by Reproductive Health Matters, International Rescue Committee, World Health Organization [WHO], Women’s Refugee Committee, Columbia University and Ipas (an international abortion advocacy group).
This event was about women and girls in crisis settings who have experienced exploitation, sexual violence, and transactional sex. When it comes to women’s health abortion seems to be the first thing on everyone’s mind, including in humanitarian settings.
Ashley Wolfington, of the International Response Committee, said “Women are able to have control of their family. Family Planning is an essential service in humanitarian crisis.” She also mentioned that access to contraception helps infant mortality, education, empowerment for women, and reduces healthcare cost. Contraception, however, does not save a life: it prevents it.
Following the main presentations, there was a question and answer period. One man from Nigeria, commented that more people and CSW panelists should talk about abortion. At the end of his short speech, he yelled “Abortion makes a woman complete.”
As two young ladies, we believe abortion does not make a woman complete, since it kills an offspring, a child, who is part of a woman. In addition, many women have experienced traumatic events after the abortion. Abortion tears women apart and does not complete them.
This event was our first direct experience of CSW61. We will be attending many more similar events in the next few days. We truly hope there will be events where we can witness a positive progression for both born and unborn women.