Wednesday, February 15th was the last day of the 61st session of the Commission on Social Development. The theme of the session was “Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Eight of WYA’s trained advocates assisted in monitoring and writing reports on main- and side events. WYA and FEMM submitted written statements. WYA delivered an oral statement on February 13th, focusing on the need to invest in human dignity education to build sufficient human capital for workers to thrive at their jobs. FEMM’s statement highlighted that the ability to perform one’s best in any area of life, including work, is intrinsically linked to one’s health. That is one of the reasons why women’s endocrine health must no longer be overlooked as we look to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Commission adopted 5 resolutions: the fourth review of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, the methods of work, policies and programmes involving youth, and social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, and a resolution on the priority theme. This last document mentioned the need for “family-oriented” policies and stated that “family plays an important role in social protection.” However, the document failed to give the proper recognition to the essential nature of families, with the Holy See noting its disappointment to the Commission that there was no mention of “family as the basic unit of society under the Copenhagen Declaration.” Senegal, Malaysia, Nigeria, Libya and the Holy See disassociated themselves from the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination,” which was used twice in the text but is a vague term lacking a consensus. Indonesia proposed “multiple challenges” as an alternative term during the negotiations, however this failed to gain sufficient support.
WYA wishes to uplift several parts of the outcome document. Operative paragraph (OP) 3 states that the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda needs to be tied to “recognizing human rights and that the dignity of the human person is fundamental.” Additionally, OP 9 calls for “…access to basic services, in particular quality formal and non-formal education, at all levels, including programmes that promote equality and inclusion through the affirmation of the fundamental dignity of the human person.” OP22 states that the labor of all workers has dignity.
WYA expressed caution in regards to “recognize, reduce and redistribute women’s and girls’ disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work”used in OP 46 and 47, which is an increasingly popular phrasing in UN documents. We argue that instead of pushing for parity between men and women in care responsibilities and workforce representation, documents like this one should value women’s free choice to make the decision that is best for them and their families. While it is good to call for unpaid care and domestic work to be valued (the phrasing “recognize, value and redistribute” has been used in other UN documents”), it is dangerous to give the most legitimacy and desirability to the care work that has a market value. Receiving care is essential for the flourishing of every human being. While private and government institutions can intervene to provide care where it is lacking, families act with persons’ best interests in mind, are the best equipped and the most willing to provide this care.
The theme of the 62nd session will be on “Fostering social development and social justice through social policies to accelerate progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to achieve the overarching goal of poverty eradication.” WYA and FEMM plan to present interventions and inputs, as we do every year.