Report from CSW by Regina Smit, The Netherlands

New York 10 – 21 March 2014
United Nations Headquarters in New York
by Regina Smit, member of Zonta and of Vrouwenbelangen The Netherlands

Commission on the Status of Women
Representatives of Member States, UN entities and ECOSOC-accredited non governmental organizations (NGO’s) from all regions of the world attend the session.

Every year Member States and NGO members attend the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York at United Nations Headquarters.
The CSW is for Governments and the NGO-CSW for NGOs. The NGOs are the ears and the eyes for the Governments. This year 2014 the priority theme is: “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”.
Focus: accountability and participation of women and girls in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.

The review theme (from the agreed conclusion of the 55th session in 2011) is “Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work”.
Governments and NGO’s discuss and organize side events. The outcome of two weeks of discussion for the Governments are the agreed conclusions.
On Friday March 21, at 11.40 pm the Commission adopted the agreed conclusions for the 58th session of the CSW. It was a very hard fought discussion at times with much compromise, which at the end of a long two weeks, has made for a good outcome.
The adopted agreed conclusions will soon be found on the UN Women website.

The agreed conclusions are reported for the meeting in the third commission of the United Nations (Human Rights and Women Issues) in the General Assembly in October. After adoption in the General Assembly the implementation in the governments of the states is important.

Consultation Day
Every year the NGO-CSW organizes the Consultation Day to prepare the NGO participants for the next two weeks. This year the Consultation day was held on Sunday March 9 in Coopers Union Center in New York. Many Zontians and members of IAW and Vrouwenbelangen attended the NGO-CSW Consultation Day.

“We need bold action” UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka highllighted the high expectations that the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), Beijing +20 and the looming post 2015 agenda could create a moment in history for a great leap foward that would change for the better, the lives of girls and women.

What are the agreed conclusions?
In two weeks the states in the Commission will negociate about the priority theme and the review theme. The outcome is the document “the agreed conclusions”.
The Commission is deeply concerned that overall progress for women and girls across all the MDG’s, 1 till 8, remains slow and uneven.
This year twenty nine items were discussed.
• Ensure women and girls a life free of all forms of violence and discrimination.
• Ensure gender equality to promote capacity building and resource distribution in: environment, education, good health, sexual and reproductive health care and rights, family planning, safe drinkwater, sanitation and housing, sustainable development, economic empowerment and economic independence
• Access to land, credit, information technologies, social security, decent work, equal pay for work of equal value, and universal care service, to build womens’s social and economic security and autonomy, reduce child mortality is linked to health-care services
• Gender equality in decision-making in all public and private sectors, as well in the household
The Commission especially encourages all stakeholders to analyze current challenges and identify opportunities for accelerating actions to realize gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women of all ages and to undertake appropriate commemorative activities for the twentieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference of Women.

Side events and Parallel events
Side events provide an excellent opportunity for Member States, UN entities, just like UNICEF, UN-Women, UNIDO, UNFPA and NGO’s to discuss themes of the Commission and other critical gender equality issues.
Vrouwenbelangen and International Alliance of Women presented the side event
“Gender Based Violence as a political Weapon” . Anje Wiersinga organized this very succesful side event.
NGOs organized side events about the Arabic world, domestic workers, factory workers in Bangladesh, violence against women and girls.
The European Union presented: The role of Governance and civil society in empowering women: moving forward the MDG’s and Beyond.
The highlight of the North America/Europe Side event was: When women succeed, the world succeeds and men are important allies in breaking gender stereotypes and promoting gender equality.
Please have a look at the websites and social media.

CSW59 in 2015
At the end we were informed about the CSW59/Beijing +20. The session will also address current challenges that affect the implementation of the Platform for Action, as well as opportunities for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women in the post-2015 development agenda.
The national and regional review processes will feed into the global review.
The 2015 CSW59 and the NGO-CSW59 will take place at UN Headquarters in New York from 9 till 20 March 2015.

Regina Smith