Third Committee Debates Women’s Advancement, SDG 5
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The UNGA discussed the advancement of women, including ways to eliminate discrimination, end violence, and improve the situation of women migrant workers.

Prior to the debate, UN Women and UNOOSA organized a ‘Space for Women’ expert meeting, which considered how to increase the involvement of women and girls in STEM subjects and the aerospace sector.

6 October 2017: The UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Third Committee heard Member States views on achieving the advancement of women, including ways to eliminate discrimination, end violence and improve the situation of women migrant workers. Prior to the debate, UN Women and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) organized a ‘Space for Women’ expert meeting, which considered how to increase the involvement of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and the aerospace sector.

The Third Committee began its two-day discussion of women’s advancement with the presentation of several reports of the UN Secretary-General on matters related to gender equity, including on: status of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (A/72/93); adequacy of the international legal framework on violence against women (A/72/13); improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas (A/72/207); violence against women migrant workers (A/72/215); measures taken and progress achieved in the follow-up to and implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (A/72/203); and improvement of the status of women in the UN system (A/72/220). Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women, urged Member States to strengthen gender perspectives within the UN system, including in matters related to the appointment of women to senior positions.

On 5 October, Member States discussed violence against women. Dalia Leinarte, CEDAW Chair, briefed Member States on follow-up of 11 complaints of gender-based violence against women. She noted that CEDAW, with UN Women, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is developing methodologies for selected Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators related to gender equality.

Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, highlighted civil society support for a new treaty on violence against women. Some stakeholders argued for fully implementing existing treaties and instruments rather than creating a new convention.

Member States shared progress on SDG 5 at the national level. Saudi Arabia reported that the participation of women in her country’s labor force is increasing and highlighted the recent lifting of a ban on women drivers.

On 6 October, Member States discussed women’s economic independence and work opportunities. Several highlighted the opportunity that the SDGs present for action on SDG 5 (gender equality), underscoring the importance of achieving gender equality in overall SDG achievement. Many presented examples of policies and actions taken at the national level. Saudi Arabia reported that the participation of women in her country’s labor force is increasing. She mentioned supporting actions, including the creation of a department of women police officers, and the recent lifting of a ban on women drivers. Thailand, on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted that countries with more women in the labor force have experienced higher economic growth. Thailand recognized, however, the regional gender pay gap in the subregion remains at 42%.

The Dominican Republic outlined national measures in support of gender equality, emphasizing women’s issues are human rights issues. She highlighted her country’s organization of a forum about women’s role in achieving SDG 5. Chile emphasized his country’s commitment to SDG 5, and cited, as examples, the law decriminalizing abortion and the imposition of gender quotas for candidates for political office. Rwanda stressed that gender equality is not only part of the 2030 Agenda, but also “a business case” worth trillions of dollars to the private sector.

On 4 October, UN Women and UNOOSA organized a ‘Space for Women’ expert meeting in New York, which investigated the potential for space technology and science to realize gender equality in fields that until now have been dominated by men. Participants highlighted the contribution that could be made in these fields to achieving SDG 5.

The meeting discussed the creation of a ‘Space for Women’ project, which would promote engagement of women and girls in space science, technology, innovation and exploration. It also discussed ways in which women and girls can be encouraged to take STEM subjects, especially in developing countries. The three-day meeting culminated with a high-level panel discussing ‘Space for Women’, which included UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo, and UN Women’s Deputy Executive Director Laskhmi Puri.

The meeting took place during World Space Week, which has been celebrated from 4-10 October each year since 1999. [Press Release on 5 October Statements] [Summary of 6 October Statements] [UN Press Release] [World Space Week 2017 Webpage] [UNOOSA Website]

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