By Brigid O’Farrell, National Writers Union, UAW and Jill Christianson, National Education Association
The March 16 briefing by the US Mission at the UN presented the US position regarding CSW61. Several members of the US trade union delegation joined over 60 NGO representatives at a tension filled session led by Stephanie Amadeo, Deputy US Representative, ECOSOC. She assured the group that Ambassador Nikki Haley was committed to improving women’s participation in the labor force, leaving no woman behind. But, as one trade unionist observed, the Trump Administration’s actions speak louder than words.
Amadeo referred the group to the Ambassador’s statement to the CSW61 earlier that morning when she called for every country to support basic rights for women, but also cautioned “we’re going to see many divisions between us.” These “divisions” were on full display at the briefing. When challenged about the public delegates Amadeo referred the group to a recent press release on-line showing that in addition to Ambassador Haley, Deputy Permanent Representative Michele Sison, and four government experts, there are only two public delegates. Both are from conservative organizations: Lisa Correnti, Executive Vice President, Centre for Family & Human Rights (C-FAM) and Grace Melton, Associate for Social Issues at the United Nations, the Heritage Foundation.
Both groups have strong histories of criticizing the United Nations, as well as speaking out against progressive women’s agendas and standing in opposition to the protection of human rights. C-Fam has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which investigates hate groups in the US. Questions posed to Amadeo about how the delegation would negotiate for women’s reproductive health and LGBTQ rights were left unanswered. Those who asked questions about the administrations new Muslim and refugee travel ban, which kept many women from attending the CSW61, were told to contact her office later.
In sharp contrast, she underscored the importance of issues such as equal pay, paid family leave, and conflict prevention. She also emphasized that one of the four pillars of the State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues is opposing gender based violence in the workplace, a key priority of trade unions. Finally, she acknowledged the importance of women’s economic empowerment in nations across the globe.
US NGO representatives were told that while no meeting with the US delegation would be held, the delegates were participating in numerous CSW events and could be found (amongst the 8,000 women in attendance at CSW61) to ask how much priority they would give to these issues. The photo tells a compelling visual story of Thursday morning’s briefing.
Some union discussions are underway about writing directly to Ambassador Haley to protest the appointment of these delegates as our sole public representatives to CSW61. Clearly, they do not reflect Amadeo’s “diverse points of view” that the United States is seeking.