Care and the 53rd Commission on the Status of Women: a transformative policy space?
In March 2009, UN member states met at the 53rd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to discuss the priority theme of "the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS". This meeting focused the international community's attention on care issues and generated Agreed Conclusions that aimed to lay out a roadmap for care policy. I examine how the frame of "care" - a contested concept that has long divided feminist researchers and activists - operated in this site. Research involved a review of documentation related to the meeting and interviews with 18 participants. Using this research I argue that the frame of care united a range of groups, including conservative faith-based actors who have mobilized within the UN to roll back sexual and reproductive rights. This policy alliance led to important advances in the Agreed Conclusions, including strong arguments about the global significance of care, especially in relation to HIV; the need for a strong state role; and the value of caregivers' participation in policy debates. However, the care frame also constrained debate at the CSW, particularly about disability rights and variations in family formation. Those seeking to reassert sexual and reproductive rights are grappling with such limitations in a range of ways, and attention to their efforts and concerns can help us better understand the potentials and dangers for feminist intervention within global policy spaces. Copyright (c) 2010 UNRISD. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.