The 63th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) has been successfully held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 11 to 22 March 2019.
Some 5000 women & men representing Civil Society Organizations, together with nearly 2000 Member State delegates and 86 ministers have attended the event. The theme of CSW63 was “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”.
The ten-day session included a ministerial segment with round tables and other high-level interactive dialogues, a general discussion, as well as interactive and expert panel discussions. Stakeholders organized many side events to draw attention to critical aspects of the work on gender equality. Details are available at the CSW63 official webpage.
The Agreed Conclusions are available in this page
During the 11 days of CSW63, there was 3 classes of activities:
- Official events (by the UN Commission of Status on Women), 33;
- Side events (by members of states and UN entities), 289;
- Parallel events (by NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council); 422.
Those activities included a ministerial segment with round tables and other high-level interactive dialogues, a general discussion, as well as interactive and expert panel discussions.
2. My Participation in CSW63
As a member of WFEO Executive Council, Committe on Women in Engineering, & WFEO-UN Relations Committee (WURC), on behalf of WFEO, I attended CSW63. I have participated in many official events, side events and parallel events, including a presentation of 15 minutes made in a NGO parallel event on 15 March. I also made my comments during the discussions in some activities.
2.1 Presentation in CSW63 Parallel Event on 15 March
I made a presentation in the forum “A Strategic Plan for Gender Equality in Agribusiness in the Nations”, organized by New Future Foundation (NNF). The title of my presentation was “New Energy Era – Opportunity for Women’s Leadership”.
I pointed out that the future energy trend is green, distributed with diversity, e.g. Solar Photovoltaics (PV) on roof tops of normal household houses. Each family could be both the supplier and consumer of electricity.
The new energy revolution has brought change not only on the technology, but also on business model and social structure. Because women have advantages in network thinking, environment protection, social capability and marketing talent, there are more opportunities for women to win the leadership and play the key functions.
As a successful women role model, I introduced the female president of WFEO, Marlene Kanga. I also shared with my own life experience. The speech has produced a warm response.
2.2 CSW63 Side Event “Challenges Women Face in Leadership Roles”, 15 March, ExPress Bar, GA.
On the invitation of the moderator and new chair of UN Women, Ms Pennelope Althea Beckles, I attended this side event on 15 March. There were 10 speakers including the moderator.
They were all famous women leaders with difference backgrounds, such as government, industry, space science, literature, entrepreneur, sports, education and psychology.
All of them are leaders and advisors for women. Ten speakers made speeches around 5 minutes, with advices and career experiences. I had only one opportunity in Q&R. My question was: “The successful practices of our women leaders are impressive but difficult to be copied. Suppose there is a young woman without any special background, how to find opportunities of empowerment ?”. One leader gave a general answer.
2.3 UNESCO event on Science & Technology, 20 March.
In the afternoon of 20 March, UNESCO organized a Round Table meeting of “What drives the gender gap in Science, Technology and Innovation? And how do we close it?”. The key issues were:
- What is the current situation of women and girls in science and engineering ?
- What are the economic implications of STI policies ?
- How to support gender responsive STI policies ?
- How to bring a gender lens to the scientific leadership of global challenges ?
- What are the barriers faced by women researchers throughout their career ?
The Round Table meeting was moderated by Ms Marie Paule Roudil, Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office in New York, UNESCO representative in UN (the left in Fig. 4).
Totally 5 speakers with two from UNESCO. The most impressive one was the presentation by Roseanne Diab, titled as “Pathways to Success”, which provided the detailed guidance and choices for women’s career development.
The meeting room was full of attendees, with some people standing. The time left for discussion was too short, only a few have got opportunities in Q&R. I have been the organizer of international Committee on Women in Engineering (WIE) activities for many years, and though this successful event, I felt that the audience prefer more encouragement, guidance and information of opportunities, besides the personal experience sharing.
Because every successful woman has her own background and situation, the career path couldn’t be simply copied by others, they need to know “how to go further”.
2.4 Informal NGO morning briefing, 20 March
During CSW63, NGO Committee on the Status of Women (NGO CSW) would gathering to discuss important issues, which shows the support of UN to NGO.
The participants including UN Women leaders, women organization representatives and some member state delegates. In this meeting, the NGOs discussed issues related to the strategy and policies.
The main content of my speech was that “In women development issues, NGOs have more motivations than the governments. It can be proved by the speeches in this CSW63: The national members are always to emphasize their achievement while the speakers from NGO are to point out the existing problems and possible solutions on women empowerment. Which one would be more helpful to our CSW target? The answer is obvious. However, in the website of UN Women, NGO-organized parallel CSW63 event schedule can only find by the link, not the same treatment as official event and side even. It is not fair nor helpful.”
3.1 Features of this event
3.1.1 Diversity of topics and fields
I attended the CSW events for the third time. I was impressed by the extensive topics discussed, that covers almost all the fields, social, science, technology, education, medicine, industry, business, finance, humanity,… The media has played very important function together with the internet, mobile network. Once again, women need not just to be empowered, we need confidence to control our own life. Another feature is the more active participation of regional NGOs like Asia-Pacific, which has organized numbers of meetings in different styles.
3.1.2 More focus on data collection and analysis
With the development of IT and AI technology, the importance of data collection has got more focuses. How advanced the new technology is, information collection and authenticity would be the foundation. This times during CSW63, there are numbers of events for the discussion of this issue. When UN and organizations are making report of the global sustainable development, the data became one of the key issues.
When I completed my presentation on that parallel event of 15 March, lots of participants, both males and females, came to me and asked lots of questions, some asked me how to start Solar Photovoltaic (PV) projects in the very poor villages (far from the water resource) of Africa. Some asked me how to go through so many obstacles in the women’s career path. I tried my best to encourage the female friends, especially the young people. To the elder females, my encouragement message is “Life can always start from now on”.
3.2 The culture and social environment of UN
I remember when I first attended UN conference in Bangkok in 2013, on behalf of WFEO, I asked a young UN officer “why we need UN in this world”, he answered: ”With UN, the country’s conflicts can be solved through negotiation”. Later, I realized that the platform of UN is not just for the national members, but also for NGOs, especially for the ECOSOC-accredited NGOs.
WFEO, as one of a moderator of the Scientific and Technological Major Group, should play a more active function in CSW63, to promote empowerment of women engineers in all the regions of the world. Beside participation, WFEO WIE can start the effort for starting a side/parallel event during CSW64 next year. UNESCO has organized & co-organized many event in this year’s CSW63, and achieved a good influence.
Report by Dr. Ruomei Li, member of WFEO Executive Council, Committee on Women in Engineering and WFEO UN Relations Committee.
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