Feminists should condemn the UN's Status of Women Commission

By Kevin Budning on April 4, 2016

Usually I would say sit back, relax, and enjoy this piece. But instead, I must urge you to sit forward, tense up, and worry about the blatant hypocrisy, anti-Semitism, and double standards the United Nations has now placed on the state of Israel.  

On March 24, 2016, the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) concluded its annual meeting by labelling Israel as the worst violator of women’s rights in the entire world. Despite pronouncing themselves as an intergovernmental organization that is “instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women,” one clearly should not judge an IO based on its mission statement. 

This UN subsidiary boasts about its elected, 3-year term, 41-country membership, which includes contributing members as well. Through its professional sounding methodology, which consists of member meetings, discussions, and implementing policy, one would assume this is an important and impactful organization. However, after further investigation, it is clear that by any standards, having countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Guinea, Togo, Liberia, and Somalia, condemning others for human rights abuses is borderline comical. 

In light of this incomprehensible paradox, I call on all feminists, human rights activists, and decent people all over to condemn the CSW for singling out Israel. Not only is the motion unsupportable due to the fact Israel has a far superior human rights record than most of the countries sitting on the commission, but it also exposes the hidden anti-Semitism that riddles these international bodies. Furthermore, this report is important as it exemplified how intergovernmental organizations such as the CSW are not objective, not impartial, not rational, and clearly not credible.  

In case you are not clear on the immense discrepancy between Israel, the “worst violator of women’s rights in the entire world” and some of the countries currently sitting on this commission, here are the facts.

Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, one where the rights of women are guaranteed, where gender equality is nationally promoted, and where it is protected by the rule of law. In Israel, gender discrimination is strictly prohibited and deemed illegal. Furthermore, Israel was the third country in the world to be led by a woman head of government, 26.7% of the Israeli government are women, three judges on the supreme court are women, and Israel was ranked 11th out of 59 developed nations for having women in the workforce. 

Still support Israel’s “atrocious violations?” If so, take into account that Israel is one of the only countries in the world that requires both male and female military conscription, has 800,000 women who are part of an organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of Jewish, Arab, Druze, and Circassians women, has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world, and punishes rape, including spousal rape as a felony subject to 16 years in prison.  

By drawing comparisons with some of the UNCSW member countries, perhaps it will better expose the blasphemous hypocrisy that this intergovernmental organization is partaking in.  For example, in Saudi Arabia, women are prohibiting from driving, they are required to have a male guardian who must grant them permission for opening a bank account, applying for a job, travelling, receiving an education, and marrying and divorcing. Most Saudi institutions have one entrance for the males and one for the females, women are not allowed to participate in sports, and their political involvement is heavily restricted. 

 In Iran, women cannot leave the country without the permission from their guardian, a Hijab must be worn at all times, a women’s testimony is worth half that of a man, polygamy is permitted for men but not for women, and women are often subject to honour killings, where the father kills the daughter if they for some reason have shamed the family. 

In Pakistan, the female literacy rate is near 40%, many females are married as children, females only make up 15% of the workforce, they are paid below minimum wage, women are punished for men’s crimes, females are consistently gang raped, and honour killings are widespread. 

Despite being well documented, the UNCSW has decided to overlook even worse woman’s rights abusers, such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Nepal, and Sudan, instead single handily targeting Israel, the one and only Jewish state. 

For whoever truly cares about human rights, gender equality, and who wish to see redemptive change, I urge you to condemn this blatantly hypocritical report. By placing a double standard on the Jewish state, intergovernmental organizations such as the UNCSW undermine their credibility and quickly lose any form of legitimacy they once may have had. 


Kevin Budning is a student at the University of Ottawa majoring in Conflict Studies and Human Rights  


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