17th June 2021

The sixty-fifth session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) annual gathering kicked off on 15 March 2021 with 2 weeks of offsite meetings, side-events and parallel events.  The sessions ended with a pledge to ‘Leave no one Behind' on 26 March 2021.

Attending the Virtual CSW 65 as Women Refugee Connect’s representative, for the first time was a truly informative and insightful experience, to learn about the UN, UN Women and their role globally.

The CSW sessions kicked off the opening session with a brief background information.  The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that was founded on 24 October 1945 in San Francisco, California and Headquarters in New York, United States to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions for nations.

In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women to support UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and partner with governments and civil society to design collaborative laws, policies, programmes, services and agreements linked to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995).

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015, a road map for progress that is sustainable and leaves no one behind.

To achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment is vital to each of the 17 goals. Although the role of women is different everywhere, the core functions are the same.  Therefore, we need to ensure women’s representation equally in leadership positions in all aspects of life.

The CSW65 could not be held in-person in New York due to the COVID-19 situation this year.  With the latest guidance from the United Nations Secretary-General and the World Health Organization (WHO),  CSW65 took place with virtual meetings providing interpretations in official UN  languages including Spanish, French and Arabic.

The CSW65 was attended by Gender Equality activist, global leaders, NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) and the private sector.  The event focused on Women’s full participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence.

Key Learnings:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic impacts on women’s rights-and particularly the rights of the most vulnerable, marginalised and indigenous women. 
  • Women were more likely to lose their jobs as compared to men.
  • More girls are at risk of becoming child brides.
  • Gender-based violence.
  • Many women have been trapped at home with their abusers, while others have been subjected to online abuse and harassment.
  • School closures and overburdened elder and healthcare services.
  • Gender pay gaps.
  • Gender gaps in decision-making.

To 'build back better' post-COVID, the Commission on the Status of Women agreed the following conclusions from the conversations that occurred during conference.

  • Interactive sessions on building safer public spaces for women and marginalised group.
  • Increase the minority number of gender in Sports.
  • Rights and leadership through comprehensive sexuality education.
  • Better lighting to ensure women and girls are not afraid of walking home late at night.
  • Women are paid equally for work of equal value.
  • Men share care work at home.
  • Her world her rules(equal say in decisions  that affect their lives, their bodies, their policies and their environment, from villages to cities.
  • Equality in political leadership, class rooms, corporate boards and factory floors.
  • Step change to poverty and gender equality to climate change, inequality and closing the finance gap.

These new goals are universal and apply to all countries regardless of whether they are rich, middle or poor economically. I think this is the most visionary agenda for women’s rights and empowerment the Commission has produced so far.

This post was written by Judell, a member of our Advocacy Group.