10 March 2015
CSW 59 Opens, Recognizes No Country Has Achieved Gender Equality
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The 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 59) opened at UN Headquarters in New York, the US.

The meeting, which is taking place from 9-20 March, will review progress in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 20 years after its adoption.

CSW599 March 2015: The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 59) has opened its 59th Session, which will review progress in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 20 years after its adoption. The opening session included the launch of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s global review of progress on gender equality, which finds that no country has achieved gender equality. CSW 59 also unanimously adopted a Political Declaration (E/CN.6/2015/L.1) marking the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women.

The session is taking place from 9-20 March 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York, US.

“As women thrive, so will we all. If girls are held back, the whole world feels the pain,” Ban said in his opening remarks. He observed that women suffer disproportionately from climate change impacts, economic crises and displacement caused by conflicts and recommended translating “outrage [on violence against women and girls] into aid, services, support and justice,” shattering discrimination barriers and expanding women’s opportunities in business and politics.

In the Political Declaration, governments: express concern about slow and uneven progress and remaining gaps and obstacles; recognize that no country has fully achieved equality and empowerment for women and girls; and reaffirm political will and commitment to tackle remaining and emerging challenges and implementation gaps in all 12 critical areas of concern. Governments pledged concrete action to: strengthen implementation of laws; bolster institutions for women’s empowerment; transform discriminatory norms and stereotypes; boost accountability; enhance capacities and data to track progress; and close resource gaps.

The Secretary-General’s report launched at the session, ‘The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action Turns 20′ (E/CN.6/2015/3), finds that progress for women “has been unacceptably slow” over the past 20 years. It reviews the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, including challenges in achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment and opportunities for strengthening these areas in the post-2015 development agenda. It includes a section on the implementation of the Platform’s 12 critical areas of concerns and recommends actions within the post-2015 context.

Other speakers at the opening session recognized progress in gender equality, particularly on girls’ enrollment in primary and secondary education, access to reproductive health care and increased participation in political life. Still, many emphasized remaining challenges, including high levels of maternal mortality, persistent violence against women and girls, unequal distribution of resources, including access to land, and access to political spheres.

Noting that countries pledged to achieve gender equality by 2005, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed that implementation has been lacking, saying “we chose to prioritize the work that has not led to irreversible and deep rooted change.” Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed that the world remains far from achieving gender equality and highlighted benefits of equality, such as economic growth, increased resilience to environmental and humanitarian crises and poverty reduction.

Ban, Mlambo-Ngcuka and UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Sam Kutesa all highlighted the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality. Ban called for changing mindsets among men, saying “truly powerful men are those who believe in and work for the empowerment of women.” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said men and boys are critical in fighting violence against women, saying no to child marriages and ending unequal pay.

On the post-2015 development agenda, many called for concrete measures to integrate gender perspectives in future goals. UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark described 2015 as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that gender is embedded in major global agendas related to development.” Moreover, “gender equality and women’s empowerment will be crucial to achieving the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and its goals and targets.” Kutesa highlighted the UNGA’s High-level Thematic Debate on ‘Advancing Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls for a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda,’ held on 6 March, which he said called for accelerating the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and realizing the gender-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), among other actions.

Senior UN officials also highlighted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on International Women’s Day, which took place on 8 March under the theme, ‘Empower Women, Empower Humanity: Picture It!’ Events celebrating the Day included a march with thousands of people from UN Headquarters to Times Square in New York. On the Day, UN Women launched its ‘Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality’ Initiative.

“Real progress requires 50-50,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said, explaining that the Initiative calls for a world in which half of all CEOs, parliamentarians, students and civil society leaders are women. [CSW 59 Website] [UN Press Release on CSW Opening] [UN Women Press Release on CSW Opening] [UN Secretary-General Statement at CSW Opening] [UNDP Administrator Statement at CSW Opening] [UN Press Release on International Women’s Day] [UN Secretary-General Statement on International Women’s Day] [UN Women Executive Director Statement on International Women’s Day] [UN Press Release on Women’s March] [UN Press Release on International Women’s Day Press Conference] [UNRIC Press Release] [UNDP Blog: Gender Equality: A Human right critical for development progress] [UN Press Release on Secretary-General’s Report] [E/CN.6/2015/3] [E/CN.6/2015/L.1]

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