The 62nd Commission on the Status of Women focused on empowering rural women and girls, and considered the participation of women in the media and ICT.
The Commission’s Agreed Conclusions emphasize the mutually reinforcing nature of gender equality and the SDGs, and recommend specific measures to end poverty and enhance women and girls’ access to education, food security and nutrition, health care, decent work, land, and productive assets.
24 March 2018: The 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) agreed on a set of conclusions on the urgency of ensuring the rights, well-being and resilience of women and girls and reducing poverty among women and girls. The conclusions respond to the session’s priority theme, ‘Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.’
CSW 62 convened from 12-23 March 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, with a focus on ‘Empowering Rural Women and Girls.’ CSW 62 considered the review theme, ‘participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women.’ Over 4,400 representatives from 170 Member States and more than 600 civil society organizations participated in CSW 62.
On information and communications technology (ICT), representatives of 12 countries shared national progress on advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment through ICT. Belgium highlighted women’s underrepresentation in media, stressing that women “practically disappear” from media as they age, and shared tools developed to address this challenge, including awareness-raising campaigns. Denmark called for governments and enterprises to be more proactive in promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Saudi Arabia described initiatives to bridge the digital divide between men and women and urban and rural areas. New Zealand expressed concern about “digital harm,” including cyberbullying.
On land tenure, the Commission held a panel on ‘The role of rural women’s land rights and land tenure security in reaching the SDGs.’ Panelists underscored the importance of extending gender equality to land rights and ownership, saying that unless women have equal access to land, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will “become an impossible vision.” Out of 161 countries surveyed, 37 countries have specific laws that grant men and women equal rights to own, use and control land. Panelists urged advancing women’s land rights as a way to catalyze progress on women’s empowerment, including through better implementation of land laws, collecting data on gender-based rights and tenure security, and leveraging the SDG’s land indicators.
The CSW recognized synergies between the work of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), including complementarities in the themes of CSW 62 and the 2018 HLPF with respect to gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Commission considered a note by the Secretariat, titled ‘Input to the work of the Economic and Social Council and the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development (E/CN.6/2018/11),’ that summarizes the Commission’s potential contributions to the HLPF. CSW’s Agreed Conclusions will be transmitted to ECOSOC and the HLPF for inclusion in their work.
The CSW Agreed Conclusions recommend specific measures to end poverty and enhance women and girls’ food security and nutrition, access to education, health care, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, decent work, land and productive assets, and rural infrastructure and technology, such as safe drinking water and sanitation facilities and clean stoves. The Conclusions call for ending all forms of violence and harmful practices that impact women and girls.
Women and girls have clearly stated what they want: the rights to own property, the need for quality infrastructure, and the rights to make decisions about their own bodies and lives.
UN Women’ s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka described the Agreed Conclusions as a “vital step forward” for ensuring equality for women and girls in rural areas. She emphasized that women and girls have clearly stated what they want: “from the rights to own property, to the need for quality infrastructure, to the rights to make decisions about their own bodies and lives.” CSW 62 Chair Geraldine Byrne Nason (Ireland) stressed that the Agreed Conclusions affirm the Commission’s commitment to leave no one behind, and provide real outcomes to address the lives of rural women and girls.
In the Conclusions, CSW emphasizes the mutually reinforcing relationship among the empowerment and women and girls, the realization of their human rights and gender equality and the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To ensure their full implementation, the Commission’s recommendations focus on: strengthening normative and legal frameworks and eliminating laws and policies that discriminate against rural women and girls; implementing economic and social policies for the empowerment of rural women and girls, including by building the resilience of rural women and girls to climate change and environmental degradation such as deforestation, desertification and loss of agricultural biodiversity and systematically measuring and incorporating the value of unpaid work performed by rural women and girls in calculations of gross domestic products (GDP) and formulation of economic and social policies; and strengthening the collective voice, leadership and decision-making of rural women and girls.
The CSW also held sessions on: data collection approaches for measuring progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment; gender-based cyberviolence; cooperation between global and regional mechanisms dealing with violence and discrimination against women; and other topics.
Numerous events took place on the sidelines of CSW 62. Estonia hosted an event on ‘Ending violence against women—opportunities and challenges of ICT.’ Speaking at the event, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed highlighted how ICT innovations can expand economic pathways and improve service delivery and access. However, she observed, the digital gender divide is widening, and more and better data is necessary to understand “the scope of violence against women and girls facilitated by technology.”
The Women’s Empowerment Principles Forum discussed opportunities for business to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. Speakers also shared good practices in implementing the Principles, to which almost 2,000 CEOs globally have committed. Participants highlighted the role of gender equality in achieving all of the SDGs, but underscored that gender inequalities remain pervasive in every dimension of sustainable development. In remarks at this event, Mohammed called for action in four areas: placing gender equality at the center of implementation; closing the financing gap, including by identifying innovative sources of funding; improving monitoring through disaggregated data on gender and strengthened national statistical systems; and strengthening accountability for gender commitments at all levels. [UN Press Release on Closing] [UN Women Press Release] [UN Meeting Coverage on Closing] [CSW Website] [CSW 62 Draft Agreed Conclusions] [UN Press Release on CSW Discussion on ICT] [UN Press Release on Gender and Land Rights] [UN Press Release on ECOSOC Synergies] [UN Press Release on CSW Session on Cyberviolence] [UN Press Release on Estonia Side Event] [UN Press Release on Women’s Empowerment Principles Forum] [E/CN.6/2018/11]