In the middle of the night on April 2, 2020, buried in a 400-page state budget, a provision to make commercial surrogacy legal in New York was adopted despite a campaign against the move by leading advocates of women’s reproductive health and rights.
Addressing a mostly virtual annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women, the U.N.’s key advocate and protector of women’s rights since 1947, Harris—the first woman to rise to the vice presidency—presented a broad view of rights and freedoms held by the Biden administration.
It was a tough and discouraging year, 2020, for women around the world as they prepare for the 12-day annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Peg Snyder, the founding director of Unifem, now folded into UN Women, died on Jan. 26, 2021, after a brief illness while staying in Syracuse, N.Y., near her relatives and the city where she was born.
“UNFPA’s work is essential to the health and well-being of women around the world and directly supports the safety and prosperity of communities around the globe, especially in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic.”
In 2016, the Feminist U.N. Campaign produced a six-point agenda for the incoming secretary-general that it uses as a base for annual report cards measuring Guterres’s performance since he took office on Jan. 1, 2017.
Overall, Guterres’s cumulative grade for 2017 was C+. In 2018 and 2019, he moved to B- . The report card for 2020 gives him a B.
Biden’s White House staff is falling into place, and Cabinet members are being announced: Antony Blinken will be Biden’s secretary of state; Linda Thomas-Greenfield will become the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Michèle Flournoy will be secretary of defense; John Kerry will focus on climate change; Alejandro Mayorkas has been nominated secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; Avril Haines has been nominated for director of national intelligence; and Jake Sullivan will be the national security adviser.
In the rubble of what’s left of American commitments to international organizations, one survivor is doing well. The United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA, the perennial target of Republican politicians and presidents since the 1980s, is thriving.
Reports of domestic violence are rising as COVID-19 races across the planet and people are ordered to stay home.
In a plea to all nations, UN Secretary-General Guterres said on April 5: “For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest. In their own homes. I urge all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19.”
The two sessions of the Global Equality Forum that had been planned for Mexico City in May and Paris in July will be postponed until next year.