African Catholic activists say they are dismayed by the “extreme agenda” at the ongoing session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations.

The CSW, an annual event, is traditionally a platform for advancing women’s rights and addressing global gender disparities. The 68th session was scheduled March 11-22, and is taking place under the theme, “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.”

During the CSW68, governments, civil society organizations, experts and activists from across the world are meeting to agree on actions and investments that can end women’s poverty and advance gender equality.

The African Catholic activists under the umbrella name CitizenGo notes that each, the CSW presents an opportunity to address and advance critical issues impacting women across the globe.

This year, the Catholic group criticized the session for allegedly undermining biological gender distinctions, advocating for universal abortion rights, and promoting transgender ideology.

They have launched a petition calling for the rejection of abortion and transgenderism.

The petition was issued by the Director for Africa and the United Nations of CitizenGo, Ann Kioko.

“The proposed draft for the CSW, influenced by radical feminists and pro-abortion lobbyists, is an outright declaration of war on traditional family values, human life, and biological facts,” says the March 18 petition, which aims to garner 200,000 signatures.

The activists expressed dismay at what they called the relentless “push for universal abortion access” in the draft.

“The document repeatedly advocates corrupting young girls with pro-abortion indoctrination,” they say, adding the CSW68 zero-draft for negotiations “fervently promotes transgender ideology, advocating for the use of puberty blockers and gender-change surgeries for young people.”

The petition said those promoting gender as a function of ideology and not biology are persisting in “advancing the baseless claim that gender is a mere social construct, grossly undermining women’s identity and placing many in harm’s way.”

“We’re here to declare unequivocally that womanhood is defined by biology, not ideology, and to oppose the UN’s destructive agenda,” the petitioners emphasize.

This year’s CSW session is especially significant as it addresses the urgent issue of gender inequality in the context of poverty. According to UN Women, an alarming 10.3 percent of women around the globe are living in extreme poverty, facing worse economic conditions than men. To meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the target year of 2030, efforts to eradicate poverty must accelerate at a rate 26 times faster than the current pace, according to UN Women.

And this year’s CSW theme underscores the necessity of substantial investment in this area. A staggering additional $360 billion per year is required to close the gender gap and empower women, particularly in 48 developing economies. This investment is crucial for achieving broader global goals, such as eradicating poverty and hunger, and for advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The CitizenGo said it was “deeply troubling” to witness the commission’s deviation from these vital concerns, opting instead to champion an agenda that “fundamentally undermines the biological realities of gender, promotes universal abortion access, and aggressively pushes transgender ideology.”

The group called on more people to sign the petition “urging diplomats and government delegates from Africa, and all negotiators at the CSW, to reject any clauses promoting universal abortion access and transgender ideology.”

“I request your intervention to ensure that language promoting transgender ideology, universal abortion access, and any other measures that compromise the integrity of family and the value of life are excluded from the final document,” Kioko urged delegates.

“These topics, represented in key paragraphs pushing for radical changes under the guise of gender and reproductive rights, must be addressed with caution and respect for the diverse cultural and ethical values of all member states,” she said.

“Instead, I encourage you to prioritize discussions and resources towards tangible improvements in women’s lives, such as healthcare, education, economic empowerment, and protection against violence,” Kioko said.