April 8, 2013

The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

On behalf of more than 60 organizations that promote women’s and girls’ empowerment, gender equality, development, health and human rights globally, we would like to thank you and the U.S. delegation for the strong leadership role that the United States played in achieving a positive and forward-looking outcome document at the 57th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

The Agreed Conclusions that resulted from the sometimes difficult negotiations proved a strong and welcomed statement on the elimination of violence against women and girls worldwide. We greatly appreciate the support of the U.S. delegation in ensuring this result. We want to applaud the delegation for achieving another important step forward, building on the global momentum of the past twenty years, which has created a strong framework to end all forms of violence against women, young women and girls.

The Agreed Conclusions reaffirmed previous commitments made in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, in the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action and its Key Actions for Further Implementation, and other important international agreements, including the UN Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security. Progress on a number of issues related to sexual and reproductive health and human rights was achieved, including clearly stating that religion, culture and tradition cannot be used to excuse violations of the human rights of women and girls. The Agreed Conclusions also recognize the importance of investing in comprehensive sexuality education and providing essential health services for survivors of sexual violence, including emergency contraception and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV — two important tools to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. Furthermore, the recognition that illicit use and trade in small arms and light weapons actually aggravates violence against women and girls is a major achievement for the women, peace and security agenda. We also thank the U.S. for its leadership on strong language pertaining to both women’s human rights defenders and to child, early and forced marriage, which were included in the Agreed Conclusions, and on intimate partner violence and sexual orientation and gender identity, which unfortunately were not.

As your delegation rightly noted, the Agreed Conclusions were only a beginning, and it is imperative that we all “continue the vital work … to ensure that women and girls around the world have the safety and dignity they deserve.” We are aware that you face a tremendous depth and breadth of responsibilities in your new role and we are grateful to know that we can count on your continued leadership on issues related to women and girls’ health and human rights globally. We also want you to know that we are here to support your continued leadership and prioritization of issues related to women, girls and gender equality across U.S. foreign policy and assistance.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Advocates for Youth
African Solutions to African Problems (ASAP)
American Jewish World Service
Amnesty International USA
CARE USA
Catholics for Choice
Center for Environment and Population (CEP)
Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
Center for Reproductive Rights
Center for Women Policy Studies
EngenderHealth
Equality Now
Family Care International
Feminist Majority Foundation
FHI 360
Fistula Foundation
Friends of UNFPA
Futures Without Violence
Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security
Girls Learn International
Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS
GreeneWorks
IDSA Center for Global Health Policy
Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy
Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University
International Center for Research on Women
International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
International Medical Corps
International Women’s Health Coalition
International Youth Foundation
IPAS
IREX
Management Sciences for Health
mothers2mothers
MSI-US
National Council of Jewish Women
One By One
Pathfinder International
Peace X Peace
Plan International USA
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA)
Population Action International
Population Council
Population Institute
Population Media Center
Protect the People (PTP)
PSI (Population Services International)
Public Health Institute
Religious Institute
Sauti Yetu Center for African Women, Inc.
Solidarity Center
Tostan
UN Foundation
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church & Society
United Nations Associations of the National Capital Area
United Nations Association of the USA
US National Committee for UN Women
Vital Voices Global Partnership
Winrock International
Women, Peace and Security Resources
Women Thrive Worldwide
Women’s Refugee Commission
World Learning
cc:
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan E. RiceU.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv ShahU.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council Elizabeth M. CousensAssistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Esther BrimmerAssistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Anne C. RichardWhite House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn RosenthalActing Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Sharon WienerU.S. Agency for International Development Assistant Administrator for Global Health Ariel Pablos-MendezU.S. Agency for International Development Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Carla Koppel

+1 202 986 0952

info@icanpeacework.org

media@icanpeacework.org

Suite 524, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036

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