Radical Agenda Eclipses Women at the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women

While the United Nations is in the midst of its annual meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, as usual, abortion and gender ideology are corrupting what should be a conversation about women’s rights. Many of the activists at this feminist fest seem confused about who women are and what they need.

Two dangerous ideas are at play at CSW. First, ideologues seek to displace “sex” with an amorphous notion of “gender identity,” which is independent of the body. In their view, anyone can identify as—and ipso facto be—a woman. Second, they pit women’s empowerment against a basic biological aspect of what it means to be a woman—the capacity to conceive and bear a child. Together, these related ideas are a two-pronged, frontal assault on the dignity of women.

The governments driving the agenda at CSW are from the West; leading the way are the U.S., European Union, and Nordic countries. These countries contribute the most funding to U.N. agencies and programs, which lends their voices extra weight. They are pushing for a CSW outcome document that reflects this sexual agenda. This would be another step toward their goal of giving the U.N. system itself a mandate to promote abortion and gender ideology.

The outcome document under negotiation is replete with euphemisms. “Sexual and reproductive health” is used to encompass “safe abortion.” “Comprehensive information about sexual and reproductive health” is the new lingo for “comprehensive sexuality education.” (That term has been exposed as containing explicit sexual material.) Newer phrases such as “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” are supposed to be more palatable to critics of “sexual orientation and gender identity.” But these are just new words to disguise the same old agenda.

Don’t expect the U.S. government to object. Under President Joe Biden, it has gone all-in on gender ideology. The State Department recently honored a man who masquerades as a woman with the International Women of Courage Award.


In public, U.S. officials use popular language about “women and girls” and “gender equality.” But in closed negotiations, they press for “women in all their diversity” and refer to “gender equity.” These terms are much less popular—both at home and abroad.

The Left often disguises its support for gender ideology, but it makes no secret of its advocacy of abortion. In her national statement to the commission, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield referred to the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. “I have traveled the globe advocating for women’s rights,” she said, “and it pains me to know that so many in my own country want to undo fundamental rights.”

In fact, abortion is not a fundamental right, nor is it guaranteed by any international human rights treaty. But abortion advocates such as Thomas-Greenfield gloss over that crucial detail.

At the opening of the CSW, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “women’s sexual and reproductive rights are being rolled back.” He urged delegates to “push back against the pushback on women’s rights.”

For years, abortion proponents at the U.N. have been talking about “pushing back against the pushback” to their gender goals. Last week, the Nordic countries hosted an event titled “Pushing back the pushback” and handed out tote bags to attendees emblazoned with that slogan. The speakers railed against “toxic masculinity” and called for upending “the patriarchy.”

The sexual Left may seem to be everywhere. But its opponents—whom it calls “the pushback”—are the quiet majority. While lacking the resources and clout of Europe and the U.S., most countries in the world are pro-life and pro-family. They value religious belief and tradition. They want solutions that respect the unique differences and capabilities of women and girls.

Gender and abortion activists, in contrast, seek to erase biology from womanhood and motherhood. These goals serve neither women nor girls. As the commission comes to a close this week, delegates should reject both prongs of the sex agenda of the West. It doesn’t represent the globe, and it shouldn’t represent the U.S. and its allies.

Courtesy of The Heritage Foundation.


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