What a world!: UN elects Saudi Arabia to its Commission on the Status of Women

April 23, 2017 • 1:00 pm

Here’s a case where the fox has been chosen to guard the henhouse. The website for the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women outlines its mission:

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. A functional commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), it was established by Council resolution 11(II) of 21 June 1946.

The CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

One would think, then, that the member states of this organization would be those with a track record of promoting gender equality.

Wrong. According to several sources, including UN Watch (the link keeps disappearing!), the UN has just elected (wait for it) Saudi Arabia as a member of that commission. In fact, the vote, made by the UN’s Economic and Social Council was by secret ballot (why?), and 15 EU countries voted for the Saudi membership (see below):

Saudi Arabia is a country where women can’t drive, must appear fully covered in public, cannot go out unless accompanied by a male guardian, need permission from a guardian to travel, marry, or do business, and weren’t allowed to either vote or run for election until just two years ago. It’s a horrible place to be a woman if you have any aspirations toward equality.

Further, according to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Rating, Saudi Arabia ranks 134 out of 145 countries assessed—right at the bottom. Here are the top nations:

. . . and the bottom (note the predominance of Muslim-majority countries):

Iceland, showing the indices used:


Saudi Arabia, whose low score is due largely to reduced “economic empowerment and opportunity” and “political empowerment”:

We don’t know who voted for Saudi, but, according to this tweet from a UN Watch official, lots of EU countries gave an “aye”:

And a response from a Saudi woman (clearly living elsewhere!):

Others have said this, and I agree: the United Nations has become a joke.

h/t: Lesley

64 thoughts on “What a world!: UN elects Saudi Arabia to its Commission on the Status of Women

  1. This like when Saudi Arabia was made chair of the Human Rights Council at the UN.

    They reckoned they were going to sue all the people (like me) who pointed out that their laws and punishments were almost exactly the same as DAESH for multiple crimes. That started the #SueMeSaudi. They never did of course.

    Saudi Arabia has an annual conference about the rights of women in that country. No woman has ever been allowed to attend.

    Oh, and being an atheist is punishable by death there as well.

  2. It looks crazy at first view, but, as Saudi Arabia certainly will not have a veto right in this commission, it will have to play the majority play and (even if reluctantly) show some goodwill toward the women wishes, including at home. That should not be so bad (and certainly not worse than if the Saudi application were rejected) for the Saudi women. After all, wolves introduced in the sheep pen did evolve to become sheeperd dogs.

    1. Oh, pagan, what a mistake. We are the Wahhabitas, the servers of the holly places. Your idea is inspired by Satan, who wants to turn weak our faith. But with the grace of god we will use the presidency to get more information about infidels. And provide it to OPUS DEI, our dear infidels friends. This time about those who, against our sacred religion, try to put woman in the same level of man, as if that both arrives to this world nude meant anything (god!, what a mistake you did, why man isn’t born with a cetro in his right hand and woman borns with clitoris?? But we will fix it!!)

  3. Wait, what?

    In related news, George Lincoln Rockwell has been named honorary chairman of B’nai B’rith.

  4. A joke? The UN a joke? The joke is on any of us who think this is the least bit unusual.

    We aren’t at all shocked by this of “15 EU countries voted for the Saudi membership.”

    Bottom line everywhere is just like it really really was for those who actually voted in the last US election and has been all along: keep the women down. Got to. Else she will overtake me and mine.

  5. Very much like putting Fox News in charge of women’s issues and equality in the business world. Also in charge of sexual harassment because, who could know more on that topic.

  6. One of the reasons the UN has become a joke is because the US is no better. On February 12, 2017, CIA Director Micheal Pompeo awarded the CIA’s George Tenet Medal to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, for Prince Mohammed’s distinct intelligence-related counter-terrorism work and his contributions to ensure international peace and security. I could find no reference to this award in any major news source in the US.

    Source: https://www.yahoo.com/news/cia-director-gives-medal-top-saudi-royal-081032376.html

    1. Matriarchal? Not any of the places I had visited or cultures I had observed. There is still some degree of sexism in the various cultures but I would agree that in general it’s far less than in the “western” countries (whatever that means).

      1. My impression of Philipino culture, after a little depth of understanding, is that the men know women are the stronger, more reliable and responsible members of households, and the women support — just enough, not too much — the men’s need to feel macho. Men prefer to let women handle the finances, so long as the women let the men feel like big money earners. Women might earn more, but they kindly don’t rub it in.

    1. Queen Elizabeth II helmed the wheel in 1998 and drove Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah around her Scottish estate at Balmoral much to the horror of the de-facto Saudi King.

      Almost twenty years later, women still can’t drive in his Arab kingdom so no, I’m not optimistic things will rub off.


        1. The then Princes Elizabeth served as a driver and mechanic in the ATS at the end of WWII, having joined as soon as she turned 18.

    2. I thought that’s likely the point – engage rather than ostracize. This is like how Canada was often criticized by internal conservatives, hawks, etc. and our friends in the US during the cold war by being slightly more chummy with the USSR than the US was. The idea was that it is better to meet our northern “neighbours” on the ice hockey rink (for example) than Top Gun style or worse.

  7. I wonder what might have motivated those ‘more enlightened’ countries to have voted for Saudi Arabia. It is difficult to believe any one of them would.

        1. Don’t forget that the Swedish self-proclaimed ‘feminist government’ delegation to Iran was happily donning the hijab, something Michelle Obama, Angela Merkel(?) and others did not do.

    1. I’ve no doubt it was quid pro quo for the Saudis voting for their representatives to be on some other committee.

  8. No doubt they will soon condemn Norway for its treatment of women as they condemned Norway for its treatment of refugees when Saudi Arabia was on the human rights council. The plank in the eye shtick was clearly a christian thing that Mo’ wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.

  9. If true, this is every bit as shocking as everyone’s saying. I checked the UN website, which publishes the list of member states on this commission, and Saudi Arabia is not on it. Can anyone confirm a source for the story?

  10. The UN is desperate to show that it is not biased against Islam. So it chooses one of the most fanatical, repressive Islamic regimes to represent Human Rights and separately the Status of Women.
    Like the old League of Nations the United Nations has failed civilisation.

  11. I think it is a bit strange to blame the UN, since the UN is no better or worse than its member states.

    Same thing with the EU in Brussels: it’s the (or certain) member states which hold back legislation against tax evasion for example, you cannot blame “the EU” as a separate body).

    I think that on the whole the UN is a force for good, but the way it is (necessarily?) structured gives the baddies (and the opportunists: arms deals with the Saudis, anyone?) way too much influence.

    It is maddening really. but what is the alternative?

    1. The alternative? Go back to the good old days when everyone throws their toys out of the cot and declares war as soon as they don’t get their own way…


  12. Not sure how Ireland made it to no. 5 on the friendly-to-women list: a country where it’s still almost impossible to get an abortion.

    1. Both there and in Philippines there is a large amount of Catholic influence; but they are also very economically “US like”, which for good or for ill (I’d say a bit of both) improves their score, I think.

    2. You should see how these lists are made, and the things they take into consideration (and which not). There was quite a discussion on Heather’s website a forthnight or so ago.
      And no, I do not think Ireland or the Philippines or even Sweden 🙂 , are more woman-friendly than, say, Holland, New Zealand or Denmark.
      But yes, I do think Saudi Arabia is the pits in that respect.

  13. How else do you get them to buy in? If you exclude them from the club, why would you expect them to ever play by the rules of that club?

  14. My flabber is well and truely ghasted. In a world like this, where is there place for satire?

  15. The fact that is was not a country dominated by the only people on earth who can cause problems on this earth – teh evil white man – is a victory for feminists all over teh world.

  16. In my view two possible explanations:

    a) It’s a tactical intelligent move: listen to the Saudi dude and do the opposite he says. Saves time.
    b) Plain and utter cowardice mingled with Saudi money in selected pockets.

    (Of course a) is wishful, idiotic thinking).

    1. I’m not sure. If the committee members sit around discussing FGM in the third world and how micro-lending empowers societies, maybe the Saudis would find themselves longing to be part of the solution rather than the problem. It kind of makes sense to me. How effective it would be, I don’t know.

  17. Thanks for this post!

    By the way, Muslims credit their so-called prophet with ending the practice of female infanticide. Well, this may be true… but the Saudi male-to-female ratio of 1.3 makes me suspicious.

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