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Celebrate women in all their rich cultures, values, and customs 

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:13-14 

From March 6-20, 2023, the corridors of the United Nations in New York, will be filled to the capacity of women from around the world at the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67). Of all the meetings of the UN, CSW is the most well-attended and consequential session as the Agreed Conclusions (the outcome document) feed into the Economic and Social Council and later in September guide the deliberations of the General Assembly.

The first week kicked off the session with a celebration of International Women’s Day. It is truly a time for women around the world to celebrate. Out of the deliberations that have come out of CSW since the 1970’s the quality of life of women around the world has dramatically improved through advancements in numerous sectors. The list of the improvements are such groundbreaking resolutions as the global end to child marriage, focused floodlight on the campaign to end violence against women, devised strategies to increase the roles of women in decision-making positions in all sectors, and improved health services.

However, with all these advances, the platform is witnessing the rise of a multi-headed monster that is threatening to circumvent the advances by encroaching on the right of nations to determine the policies, laws, and values systems. Under the guise of human rights, the multi-headed monster is steered by western countries and UN agencies. The western allies (the US, European Union, the UK) are enforcing their value systems on the predominantly poorer nations from Africa and the Caribbean and Pacific countries.

Through manipulation, blackmail, threats to withhold aid, and divisive strategies, the rich nations’ actions such as the ACP-EU agreement that have elements that would with signatures of ACP leaders, recolonize 79 countries robbed of their vote at international forums, plus the added bad-taste-in-the-mouth of a cultural invasion. The cultural invasion is in the version of comprehensive sexuality education, threatening to withhold IMF aid to Uganda (this week, the Uganda Parliament passed the anti-homosexual bill), and promotion of abortion. These are being wrapped as human rights.

On Thursday this week the Mission of Nigeria to the UN highlighted in a CSW side event entitled “Safeguarding Children, Culture, and the Family in International Laws, Policies, and Programs” focused on the strategies of countries and UN agencies. The side event featured the way in which the European Union and the UN agencies use technology to sexualize and radicalize African children. Secondly, the event also showcased how these use sexual and reproductive health education to advance the LGBT agenda and promote abortion among African youth. Lastly, the event highlighted the fact that CSW Agreed Conclusions and the pending ACP-EU Agreement are being used to advance harmful agendas that contravene progress in Africa.

It is a great development to see at this moment, African governments, and civil societies in the ACP countries come together in unity to counter the agendas, pushing back, and vowing to work collaboratively with religious and pro-family organizations to put an end to the attempts to change the values, cultures, and laws of sovereign nations.

Hon. Ashems, who attends the ACP-EU JPA in Brussels, shared that the ACP delegations are increasingly aware of the concerning provisions inside the EU-ACP Agreement that jeopardize the national sovereignty and the cultural, social, and religious values of individual States under this Agreement. For that reason, Hon. Ashems tried to put forward a motion on behalf of the Malawian Parliament arguing for the Agreement to be critically reviewed by the national parliaments before the Heads of State will sign the Agreement. However, even though the Malawian motion has been supported by the Malawian Parliament, the OACPS Secretariat said that the motion first needs permission from the Executive (Foreign Affairs of Malawi). The Malawian motion, therefore, did not pass through in time for this JPA in Brussels. Family Watch and CCI then supported Uganda to put forward a motion asking for the postponement of the signing of the EU-ACP Agreement until the ACP countries have reached a consensus on its concerns on contentious and controversial provisions.

Another topic raised by the ACP delegations during the JPA was that the ACP delegations would like to have the OACPS Council of Ministers be accountable to the JPA, just as the EU Council of Ministers is accountable to the European Parliament. Also raised by the ACP delegations was the possibility to move the OACPS Office out of Brussels and inside an African, Caribbean, or Pacific country.

This JPA in Brussels was initially organized to discuss and vote on the Agreement’s Rules of Procedure regarding the Regional Protocols (EU-Africa, EU-Caribbean, and EU-Pacific). However, due to the many concerns shared by the ACP delegations (in part because of all the lobby work from Hon. Ashems, FWI, CCI, and partners), the voting on these Rules of Procedures did not happen; once again, since the voting also did not happen during the JPA in Mozambique last year. The next JPA will be held in June in Samoa (the Pacific) or Brussels because Sweden declined to host the JPA.

The ACP aspire to use the CSW session to reach Ministers and especially Ambassadors from different African countries and brief them about the EU-ACP Agreement and Hon. Ashem’s motion. Malawi’s Hon. Ashems Songwe will also attend on behalf of CCI. As part of the awareness raising the side-event on the EU-ACP Agreement in the Nigerian House in New York. The keynote speakers were Hon. Tayebwa (Ugandan Deputy Speaker of Parliament), Hon. Ashems Songwe, and Ms. Sharon (Family Watch).

Unity is the best strategy for the ACP nations. The African, Caribbean, and Pacific states working collaboratively are reaping great results in pushing back the attempts by western nations in their manipulative, threatening, and neocolonial agendas. As women celebrate their day, let it be known that sovereign nations must continue promoting and defending the human rights of their countries, protecting the rights of their children and youth.

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