26 January 2017
CSW 61 Reports Highlight Women’s Economic Empowerment, SDG Implementation
Photo by IISD/ENB
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The 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women will consider ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work'.

It will also review progress on its 58th session theme ‘Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls.’ CSW 61 convenes from 13-24 March 2017, preceded by a Multi-Stakeholder Forum on 30 January 2017.

January 2017: In preparation for the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 61), the UN has issued a number of documents, including on ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work,’ which is the priority theme of the 2017 session of the Commission.

CSW 61 also will review progress in implementing the conclusions of its 58th session, on the theme ‘Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls.’ A Multi-Stakeholder Forum will take place on 30 January 2017 to engage stakeholders in the preparations for CSW 61.

In a video message, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota (Brazil), CSW 61 Chair, notes that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development confirmed the centrality of women’s equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment. He noted that the 20-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action in 2015 concluded that no country has fully achieved gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The Beijing Platform for Action was adopted during the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in September 1995, and sets out a blueprint for advancing women’s rights.

Reporting on the priority theme for CSW 61 (E/CN.6/2017/3), the UN Secretary-General calls for implementation, monitoring and accountability mechanisms of the 2030 Agenda that systematically support women’s economic empowerment and “rights to and at work,” and promote decent work and full and productive employment for women. The UN Secretary-General also urges governments and other stakeholders to take action on: strengthening normative and legal frameworks for full employment and decent work for all women; implementing economic and social policies for women’s economic empowerment; addressing the growing informality of work and mobility of women workers; managing technological and digital change for women’s economic empowerment; strengthening women’s collective voice and leadership; and strengthening the role of the private sector in women’s economic empowerment.

The report includes specific recommendations, such as: achieving universal ratification “without reservations” and full implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); implementing and enforcing laws and regulations on equal pay for work of equal value; adopting national migration policies that are gender responsive, protect labor rights and promote safe and secure working environments for women migrant workers; encouraging productive technological change in support of decent, good quality public and private sector jobs for women in the green economy; supporting collaboration among governments, employers and women workers to prevent and redress gender inequalities at work; and establishing and strengthening compliance mechanisms that hold the private sector accountable for advancing gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

The UN Secretary-General’s report calls for greater efforts to address gender equality in the environmental dimension of sustainable development.

The UN Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the conclusions of CSW 58 (E/CN.6/2017/4) notes that their implementation has been uneven, with a limited focus on effectiveness. According to the report, in order to accelerate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) implementation, a comprehensive approach should be pursued that recognizes the synergies and interdependence between different dimensions of gender equality, and addresses the links between Goal 5 (Gender equality) and all other SDGs. It also calls for greater efforts to  address gender equality in the environmental dimension of sustainable development.

In order to improve SDG implementation and monitoring, the report also suggests: finding more ways to mobilize additional resources for gender equality, including through progressive income, wealth taxes and closing tax loopholes; making gender equality a priority in setting up institutions, structures and whole-of-government approaches; increasing investments in gender statistics; and enabling spaces for the effective participation of women’s civil society organizations in all aspects of decision-making related to the SDGs.

The CSW Secretariat also prepared a note summarizing the CSW’s contributions to the world of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in 2017 (E/CN.6/2017/9). It notes that the 2017 session of the HLPF will consider the theme ‘Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world’ as well as SDGs 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 3 (good health and well-being), 5 (gender equality), 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), and 14 (life below water). On expectations for CSW 61, the Secretariat reports that: it should highlight linkages between SDG 5 (gender equality) and other SDGs, including the importance of women’s economic empowerment for progress towards SDG 1 (no poverty); under the CSW 58 review theme, the Commission can focus on actions taken to transition from the MDGs to the SDGs, discussion on which can directly contribute to the themes of the 2017 sessions of ECOSOC and the HLPF; and the outcomes of CSW 61 can support ECOSOC and the HLPF in integrating gender perspectives into their deliberations and outcomes.

Finally, a report of UN-Women outlines the activities of the UN Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women (A/HRC/35/3–E/CN.6/2017/7). The trust fund was established in 1996 by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and is administered by UN-Women on behalf of the UN system. According to the report, the Fund has provided support to a total of 463 organizations in 139 countries and territories, with grants exceeding US$129 million. The report also notes that since September 2016, the Trust Fund has participated in a coalition of over 30 core partners from the public, private and multilateral sectors as part of ‘No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project,’ with the aim to announce a series of commitments to advance the gender equality targets of the SDGs. These commitments will have an impact on more than 900,000 people in over 60 countries, UN-Women says. On the way ahead, the report states that over the next five years, the Trust Fund’s work will be underpinned by a vision of sustainable development that aims to change the funding model from a “donor dependent” model towards the creation of a sustainable programme of work “embedded in broader State institutional responses.” It anticipates that a key challenge will be to encourage and support governments to meet the standard of due diligence, and ensure that they fulfill their obligations to enforce laws and allocate adequate resources for national action plans and policies to prevent and address violence against women.

CSW is a global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. It is a functional commission of ECOSOC, and consists of 45 members who are elected for a period of four years by ECOSOC on the basis of equitable geographical distribution. UN-Women serves as the CSW’s substantive Secretariat.

CSW 61 will take place from 13-24 March 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. It will include a ministerial segment with roundtables and other high-level interactive dialogues, a general discussion, and expert panel discussions. It will also include side events.

In addition to the priority theme and review theme, CSW 61 also will examine the focus area of ‘the empowerment of indigenous women.’ The session will result in agreed conclusions on the priority theme, and Chair’s summaries. [CSW 61 Website] [CSW 61 Brochure] [Video Message from CSW 61 Chair] [CSW 61 Proposed Organization of Work] [CSW 61 Annotated Provisional Agenda] [CSW Official Documents]

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