South African Women’s Group, Citing Trump Policies, Cancels NYC Plans

A South African women’s rights group has pulled out of key meetings next week at the United Nations in opposition to policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, especially those it says demean and endanger women.

The decision not to attend the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a show of support for women excluded because of the U.S. travel ban on visitors from six majority-Muslim nations, Masimanyane Women’s Rights International said.

The CSW, which begins Monday, is an annual two-week session when diplomats, advocates and others meet to discuss gender equality and women’s empowerment.

A number of advocates hoping to participate in this year’s meetings have been denied visas, including women from Ghana, Cameroon, Nepal and Bangladesh, according to the International Women’s Health Coalition, a leading U.S.-based rights group.

“Some have been declined, but it is not entirely clear what the reason is,” a spokeswoman said.

U.N. Women said more than 8,000 people had registered for the meetings, and “so far, we have not heard from anyone from these countries about visa issues.”

“We trust that the U.S. as the host country of the U.N. will continue to enable the organization to carry out its critical work,” said a spokeswoman for U.N. Women, the global body’s entity that promotes women’s issues.

U.N. spokesman: No known problems

A U.N. spokesman also said: “So far the groups that are trying to attend the Commission on the Status of Women, as far as we’re aware, none of them have been denied entry.”

The South African women’s group said it had “serious concerns about the far-reaching impact of the recent spate of executive orders which serve to exclude, demonize and criminalize” women.

“We regretfully will no longer be traveling to New York, nor will we be participating in the panel discussion that we had planned for the CSW,” Lesley Ann Foster, executive director of Masimanyane, said in a statement this week.

Trump on Monday signed a revised executive travel order, replacing a more sweeping ban issued in January that caused chaos and protests at airports.

The new order keeps a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. It excludes Iraq, which was listed in the earlier order. The earlier order was halted by a federal judge.

Some of Trump’s other orders have been seen as detrimental to women’s rights — such as a rule that cuts funding to international women’s health groups that mention the topic of abortion.

Last month, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom also said it would not attend the CSW session.

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