Womankind at the United Nations

Chloe Halpenny | Mar 10, 2018
CSW62 flyer: Rural Women and Corporate Human Rights Abuse

If you haven’t had March 12th-23rd circled in your diaries for ages, we wouldn’t blame you. Nonetheless, we’re very excited to share that our Head of Policy and Communications, Lee Webster, has hopped across the pond to New York for the next few days to represent Womankind at the sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women. What exactly is the Commission, and what are we doing there? Great questions – read on, feminists of the Internet!

A brief history

According to UN Women, 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.” Established in 1946, the Commission’s mandate includes setting global standards for women’s rights, encouraging governments to align their laws with international convention, and encouraging a global awareness of women’s rights.

Things heated up in the 1990s. In 1995, the Fourth World Conference on Women resulted in a global commitment for women’s equality, empowerment and justice. This outcome – the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – was a pretty big deal, being called “the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights.” In 1996, the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) expanded the CSW’s mandate, giving the Commission a leading role in monitoring the Beijing Declaration around the world.

Global stakeholders meet for gender equality

Every year, representatives from across the globe come together at the United Nations headquarters in New York City for the Commission’s annual two-week session. The session’s schedule includes everything from discussing global progress on the Beijing Declaration to emerging issues affecting gender equality. Following each session, the Agreed Conclusions are sent off to ECOSOC and become accepted international language on the protection and promotion of women’s rights.

In addition to this, every year’s session since 2006 has had a specific area of focus. We are particularly excited about this year’s priority theme: “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.” Many of Womankind’s partners are doing incredible work with grassroots, rural women, and we can’t wait to share what we know about the unique challenges these women face.

Womankind’s advocacy at CSW62

Not only government and UN representatives attend CSW – those of us from civil society are welcomed as well. Non-governmental actors like Womankind play a crucial role in holding leaders accountable in their efforts towards gender equality, shining a spotlight on key issues surrounding women’s rights, and sharing what we know from our partners on the ground. Luckily, we know Lee and our partners are up to the challenge, with a dynamic to-do list for their time in New York:

• Hosting an event on Monday to launch our newest research report: Digging Deep: the impact of Uganda’s land rush on human rights” in collaboration with our partners National Association for Professional Environmentalists and National Association for Women’s Action in Development.

• Collaborating with the global women's movement on events to raise awareness of women affected by land grabs.

• Supporting women’s rights advocacy work and networking throughout CSW62 with policymakers, governments and UN bodies.

• Strengthening our connections with and supporting other civil society representatives to contribute to a collaborative global movement towards gender equality.

• Attending events with stakeholders from around the world to learn and bring back information to help inform the work of Womankind and our partners.

Join us!

Coming right off the heels of International Women’s Day, there’s a lot going on – but we don’t want you to miss any of it! Keep an eye on our Twitter feed to catch Lee reporting live from CSW, and be sure to take a closer look at the report we’re launching there if you haven’t had a chance (we think it’s well worth the read!).

Otherwise, keep up with CSW directly via their Twitter page, and follow the hashtag #CSW62 to stay in the loop.

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