Written by China Global Television Network
The Healthcare, Education, Accountability, Data, Suffrage, and Social Media (HEADSS) working paper presented in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) Friday afternoon came under fire for impracticality, cultural infringement, and bureaucracy, but HEADSS stood strong against fellow delegates’ criticism.
As previously reported by China Global Television Network (CGTN), HEADSS seeks to utilize existing UN data in assessing member states’ statuses on the inclusion and empowerment of women as depicted in their macro policy. This requires a great deal of effort and collaboration from participating states, and HEADSS plans to implement 16 committees to collect and study the data.
The working paper was criticized for its vast utilization of professional bodies. The delegate representing Ireland questioned the feasibility of the entities and asserted, “Bureaucracy is the enemy of democracy.” In response, delegates proposing HEADSS, specifically Israel and Turkmenistan, offered a commendable compromise to the issue, explaining that the committees will be temporary and as needed. The delegates elaborated that some committees will be constructed on a volunteer basis, partially eliminating concern for funding the project.
We believe that utilizing the resources in these committees is essential to the Commission on the Status of Women to be able to receive the most diverse, comprehensive data on the issue at hand. Contrary to the criticism posed by Ireland, CGTN feels that a task of this magnitude should be delegated to qualified, extensive agents, and some bureaucracy is necessary for effectiveness.
Furthermore, the delegation of Japan raised concerns for the openness of the data to member states without wide accessibility to public information, especially via the internet. HEADSS delegates responded to this question with the explanation that the health data gathered by the commission will be for medical professionals rather than entire populations, an approach that CGTN feels is in the best interest of the UNCSW.
Protecting the sensitivity of the data by not allowing it to be public will ensure that it cannot be abused by other organizations with their own political agendas. In the interest of empowering women, the UNCSW should make every effort to remain accountable within its bodies but need not raise undue concern and risk by its constituents.
CGTN also finds issue in the approach of a competing working paper, Wonder Women Making Herstory, which makes blanket promises without solid commitments. Repeatedly throughout their presentation, delegates affirmed their promise to protect political and cultural sovereignty of state interests who maintain unique ideologies on the place of women in society.
If the UNCSW is to progress in its efforts, it must take decisive action. Wonder Women Making Herstory recommends 30% female representation in member state legislative bodies and throughout their societies at large, “simultaneously implementing gender quotas in education-based and in leadership positions.” The delegation of Niger further posited “the future is female,” abusing a term loaded with promise but not delivering on action. Additionally, the delegation of Iraq claimed, “Every clause in this resolution is completely voluntary and easy to implement for any country that voluntarily wants to implement it. That’s what separates this resolution from other resolutions.”
There is a clear problem with taking this liberal approach; investing time, money and member interests into an ultimately voluntary measure is pointless. Wonder Women Making Herstory is separated from other resolutions not by the voluntary approach, but by the inefficient effect.
Ultimately, the HEADSS working paper is a significantly more promising and relevant resolution to empowering women’s rights. It stands above competing working papers with efficiency and appropriate prioritization. The UNCSW must act to implement its clauses and goals for the betterment of women globally.