The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the UN’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s rights. CSW established from 1946. Its mandate was to “prepare recommendations and reports to the Economic and Social Council on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields” and to make recommendations “on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women’s rights”.
The 62th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 12 to 23 March 2018.
The theme was “Challenges & Opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”. There were around 10,000 registered attendees in CSW62. Representatives of 170 member states, UN entities, and over 600 ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world attended the session.
The Bureau of the Commission played a crucial role in facilitating the preparation and in ensuring the successful outcome of the annual sessions of the Commission. The chair of the Bureau was Ms. Geraldine Byrne Nason from Ireland, 4 other vice chairs came from Kenya, Colombia, Estonia and Bangladesh. Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, CSW secretariat, has made both the opening Ceremony and the closing remarks on the last day of CSW62.
Ruomei Li with Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely from New Future Foundation in CSW62, 12 March 2018
During the 12 days of CSW62 (12-23/March/2018), there were 11 official meetings and 281 side events mainly in UN headquarters. While in UN Church Center, 456 NGO parallel events were organized by NGO CSW/NY.
For official events, the representatives were mostly officers (ministers, etc.) from the member states and UN bodies. The program style included general discussions and interactive dialogues. While side events had multiple forms, with the majority of participants from NGOs. In the parallel events organized by NGO CSW/NY, the contents and styles have shown more diversity and opportunities of expression from the participants.
2. The Focus of CSW62
The main focus of CSW62 was on addressing the difficult situation of women and girls in rural areas. It included the important issue of access, ownership and control of land and other productive resources; opportunities and challenges in agriculture, including their food security and nutrition, the impact of climate change, and the need for infrastructure such as for ICT, energy, transport, drinking water and sanitation. The education was also the hot topic, from childhood education to tertiary education, including vocational training and lifelong learning. The importance of laws was raised to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls.
The Commission on the Status of Women adopted agreed conclusions on “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls” on 23 March 2018. It expressed the outcomes of CSW62.
3. CSW62 & SDGs
One of the most impressed bright spot was the side event “Turning promises into action: What will it take to make the 2030 Agenda work for women and girls?”. The event was based on the UN Women’s global monitoring report “Turning Promises into Action: Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda”.
The report shows that gender equality is central to the achievement of all 17 SDGs; assesses gender data gaps and challenges for robust global monitoring; and sets an agenda for strengthening accountability for gender equality commitments at the global, regional and national level. Most of the 17 SDGs can not be fully achieved without women’s empowerment and active functions. Therefore CSW62 has settled a blueprint for women by 2030.
4. The Functions of NGOs in CSW62
Around 4300 representatives of more than 600 NGOs from 130 countries have attended this year’s CSW62. Majority of 281 CSW62 side events in UN headquarter and 456 NGO CSW/NY parallel events in UN Church Center, were organized or co-organized by NGOs.
The topics had wide coverage and the participants had more opportunities to express themselves. It is the feature of UN women activities. In previous and afterwards work, including the document preparation and reviewing, the NGOs have kept the most active functions; it is the trend of the future.
Ruomei Li speaking on a side event of NGO CSW/NY, 15 March 2018
5. My participation and address
I have participated CSW62 at UN headquarter in New York through 11~15/Mar/2018. On 15/Mar, I have made an address at NGO/CSW side event – “African Heritage Women in Education and Empowerment”, organized by New Future Foundation. My points were:
- Women need confidence, and also capacity building. We can control our life path by our own;
- The future world belongs not only to the young people, but also to those upon and after middle age. The elder ones still have capability, intelligence and experience, for making contributions to the society.
- Women are the power of the society. Let us become more motive in the promotion of SDGs, for a better future and better life.
The address has produced obvious response, especially from the elder females.
CSW activities every year is very important to the women, especially for this year. Women’s voices are more clear and strong. Women’s status in rural regions in Africa has got special focuses.
To my opinion, the women are not just the object of charity and mercy, they are also the power to advance society. We are to promote and explore the women’s capabilities. This world calls for diversity. The women need also unity to support and help each other.
Report by Ruomei Li, member of WFEO Executive Council and Committee on Women in Engineering
For more information:
CSW62 agreed conclusions
CSW62 opening remarks
CSW62 closing remarks
Side event “Unity in diversity: An evening of art and hope with Nigerian women” presentation
Committee on Women in Engineering website
New Future Foundation website