Governments agreed on steps to advance gender equality and women's empowerment at the 59th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 59), including on aligning the work of the Commission with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF).
Governments also adopted a Political Declaration during the opening session, which outlines actions to ensure the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.
20 March 2015: Governments agreed on steps to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment at the 59th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 59), including on aligning the work of the Commission with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF). Governments also adopted a Political Declaration during the opening session, which outlines actions to ensure the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.
CSW 59 convened from 9-20 March 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The formal session covered, among other topics: lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); financing for gender equality; and gender-disaggregated data. Over 200 side events and 400 parallel events took place throughout the session.
On new work arrangements for CSW, governments agreed that aligning the work of the Commission with ECOSOC and the HLPF will strengthen its role in coordinating global implementation and policy-making on gender equality and women’s empowerment, and in integrating gender equality with actions on sustainable development.
Governments also agreed to create a ministerial segment to demonstrate high-level political commitment towards gender quality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights, beginning in 2016. They further agreed to increase focus on the Commission’s annual review theme by using case studies to illustrate lessons learned in implementing commitments. In addition, the UN Secretary-General will produce a targeted report on progress on the theme, based on national data and inputs.
On the post-2015 development agenda, governments affirmed the central role of the Commission in shaping the post-2015 agenda. UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka urged governments to support a stand-alone goal on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in the post-2015 development agenda. She also called for ensuring that the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD 3) is “a game-changer for financing gender equality” and for strengthening the leadership and participation of women in climate change. Stressing “there are no shortcuts to realizing gender quality, the empowerment of women and the human rights of women and girls,” Mlambo-Ngcuka called for continuing to work “systematically and relentlessly to bring about transformation in our families, societies, economic and political and public spaces” in her closing speech. She called for addressing both structural and psychological challenges and changing attitudes, beliefs, customary practices and laws, to create a world in which all can thrive and to end gender equality before 2030.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched his progress report on the ‘Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health’ a high-level event, ‘Saving Lives, Protecting Futures.’ The report describes progress and lessons learned under the Global Strategy and recommends continued, accelerated action on the unfinished MDGs. At the event, panelists discussed progress in advancing the health of women and children, the role of partnerships and the importance of renewed commitments to ensure that the health of women and children are prioritized in the post-2015 development agenda.
UN Women and the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) launched the ‘Women in Politics 2015 Map,’ which reveals a mixed picture. Although 48 countries now have 30% or more women members in at least one parliamentary chamber, the growth of women in politics has slowed, which UN Women and IPU suggest may mean that “the impact of quotas [is] wearing off.” The organizations stressed the need to tackle gender equality and women’s participation in public and political life “head-on” to ensure the success of the post-2015 agenda.
At a Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) event, participants stressed the role of the private sector in achieving gender equality. Ban launched the WEPs initiative in 2010 to engage businesses in advancing gender equality and sustainability. To date, over 1,000 companies have made a commitment at the highest level to implement the seven Principles. Delivering a keynote address, Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton called for keeping “ambition alive,” to address remaining challenges. UN Special Envoy for Climate Change Mary Robinson observed that gender equality is recognized within the post-2015 development agenda, but is “not as secure in the climate process,” stressing that gender equality is critical to achieving sustainable development and climate objectives.
Panelists reflected on how little global progress had been made towards the MDGs on gender issues and how to better implement gender targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during a panel, ‘Managing the transition from MDGs to SDGs: Lessons learned for gender equality from the MDGs and galvanizing transformative change.’ Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona, UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), emphasized that implementing the agenda would require local, national and regional institutions to ensure all levels uphold obligations on gender equality. Noting the MDGs had significant gaps in focus between the goals, targets and indicators, Gita Sen, Indian Institute of Management, said the SDGs should include a more inclusive and sharp set of targets that encompass the “multiplicity of gender inequality.”
Noelene Nabulivou, Diverse Voices and Action for Equality, Fiji, said the SDGs must reflect the structural imbalances and contextual realities of the world, and stressed that the right to development is central to women’s human rights. John Hendra, UN Senior Coordinator, “Fit for Purpose” for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, explained the UN system-wide action plan on gender equality aims to address the root causes of inequality and ensure transparency. Irene Esambo, Centre d’Etudes sur la Justice et la Resolution 1325, called for states to develop action plans and peer review mechanisms on the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution on the impact of conflict on women. During a question and answer session, participants discussed: allocation of Parliament seats to women; how to increase women’s participation in the labor force; accountability; and mainstreaming gender in national development plans.
At a side event hosted by UN Women, ‘Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it Up for Gender Equality,’ participants called for “bolder action from governments and louder mobilization from citizens” on women’s rights and gender equality. The event celebrated women’s achievements since Beijing while also calling for immediate action to address remaining challenges. [UN Women Press Release on Closing] [UN Women Executive Director Closing Statement] [UN Press Release on Every Women, Every Child] [UN Press Release on Women in Politics Map] [IPU Press Release] [UN Press Release on WEP Event] [UN Women Press Release on Planet 50-50 Event] [Saving Lives, Protecting Futures] [IISD RS Story on CSW 59 Opening] [IISD RS Sources]