October 20 2009
IWF in the News: UN Report Says 'Gender Is Not Static, It Is Changeable'
(CNSNews.com) - A counter-terrorism report that has been presented to the United Nations General Assembly would bend the U.N.'s definition of gender.
The report, written by UN Special Rapporteur Martin Scheinin, is titled "Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism." While the main focus of the document is gender-based issues that arise from counter-terrorism efforts, the report's definition of gender that has generated opposition.
"While many of the measures discussed in the report relate to the human rights of women," Scheinin wrote in his report summary, "gender is not synonymous with women, and, instead, encompasses the social constructions that underlie how women's and men's roles, functions and responsibilities, including in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, are understood."
Scheinin further wrote that, "gender is not static; it is changeable over time and across contexts.
"Understanding gender as a social and shifting construct rather than as a biological and fixed category is important because it helps to identify the complex and inter-related gender-based human rights violations caused by counterterrorism measures; to understand the underlying causes of these violations; and to design strategies for countering terrorism that are truly non-discriminatory and inclusive of all actors," he added.
Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), slammed the report in an interview with CNSNews.com.
"If the General Assembly accepts this document, then his definition of gender will enter in, once more, into U.N. debate," said Ruse, "and his definition of gender, this radical definition of gender, will get an added impetus because it's been in a report by a special rapporteur that's been accepted by the General Assembly."
Ruse said that "the issue of what gender is has actually been deliberated and decided by the General Assembly many times. Even though the radicals have tried to get this statement agreed to, that gender is a social construct, the General Assembly has decided not once, not twice, but three times that gender is based in nature."
Julie Gunlock, a senior fellow at the Independent women, also blasted the document.
"It's too bad that the United Nations found it necessary to veer from this report's intended subject - women," she told CNSNews.com.
"By including such broad topics as the social construct of men and women's roles, sexual orientation and gender identity, they dilute the important purpose of this report and have managed to turn this into something that looks more like some politically correct corporate human resources manual," Gunlock continued.
Ruse agreed that Scheinin also went well beyond his assignment in even addressing the subject.
"It's supposed to be on the effect of women's human rights in counterterrorism situations," he said, "well, what he submitted was a highly ideological, radical document that, among other things, says that gender is a social construct."
As for the report's chances of actually be accepted by the General Assembly, Ruse was skeptical.
"There is a growing opposition among the member states of the General Assembly to this report," he said, "this is evolving news, we ultimately don't know what's going to happen, but I fully expect that there's going to be a massive negative reaction to (Scheinin's) report."
Ruse said it would take "several weeks" before the report is voted on by the Third Committee of the General Assembly.
"It's kind of frustrating," Gunlock concluded, "that the U.N. sort of wastes its time on coming up with politically correct definitions for gender, or for women, that encompass all these people besides women."