28 March 2017
CSW61 Commits to Closing Gender Pay Gap
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

In a 19-page informal 'Agreed Conclusions' paper, CSW61 calls on governments to take action to improve the low-paid, informal status of many jobs carried out by women.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, welcomed the outcome and the rise of "healthy intolerance for inequality".

24 March 2017: Members of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) agreed to implement equal pay policies through social dialogue, collective bargaining, job evaluations and gender pay audits, as steps toward closing the gender pay gap and promoting women’s economic empowerment. In a 19-page informal ‘Agreed Conclusions’ paper resulting from its 61st session, the CSW calls on governments to take action to improve the low-paid, informal status of many jobs carried out by women.

CSW61, held in New York, US, from 13-24 March 2017, was attended by 162 Member States, including 89 Ministerial-level representatives, and more than 3,900 civil society organizations. The meeting began with a general discussion of progress in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action, while in parallel, a ministerial segment took place from 15-17 March. High-level delegates discussed: the gender pay gap; technology that could accelerate women’s economic empowerment; policies to cover women’s informal and non-standard work; and implementing Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG 8) on decent work and economic growth. They also addressed: challenges and achievements in implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls; the global care economy; issues affecting indigenous women; and accelerating the implementation of the ‘Agreed Conclusions’ of CSW60, on gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Several side events took place around the session, including the launch of a campaign to close the gender pay gap, and the release of a map depicting women’s political participation around the globe.

At the opening of CSW61, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on more men to stand up for gender equality, citing the potential gains from women’s empowerment as almost one billion women are set to enter the global economy in the next ten years, with an estimated boost of US$12 trillion to economic growth. He called for more women to take part in peace processes, including UN peacekeeping roles.

Addressing a Youth Forum on opening day, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed urged participants to “be the change agents and torchbearers that we so desperately need,” reminding them of SDG 5 on achieving gender equality all over the world. Mohammed also addressed participants at an event on women’s role in implementing the New Urban Agenda, highlighting the importance of safety in public spaces, and the gains that have been made when women have been involved in community development – including, for example, the installation of public lighting and water kiosks, and the provision of skills training to young mothers in Mtwapa, Kenya.

At 4:10 pm, when 23% of the workday still remained, delegates were informed that women would be working “for free” for the rest of the day.

A symbolic event took place on the first day of the high-level segment, when the meeting was suspended at 4.10 pm, when 23% of the workday still remained. This pause highlighted the extent of wage disparity between women and men, as delegates were informed that women would be working “for free” for the rest of the day.

On 15 March, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) launched a ‘Women in Politics Map’ showing the extent of women’s participation in national parliaments. UN Women reported that women’s representation in the Americas, at 25%, had advanced the most since 2015, compared with other regions.

On 16 March, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN Women co-organized a panel discussion on ‘Ending Violence against Women: Prevention and response in the world of work,’ which called on governments and other actors to take action to prevent harassment and violence in the work place. UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka emphasized the cost of violence, both to individuals and employers, in terms of physical and emotional suffering and as well as lost productivity.

Closing CSW61, Mlambo-Ngcuka welcomed its outcome and the rise of “healthy intolerance for inequality,” calling for this to grow into firm and positive change. [UN Press Release, Opening] [Statement by Amina Mohammed to Youth Forum] [Statement by Amina Mohammed to New Urban Agenda Event] [UN Press Release on Launch of Women in Politics Map] [UN Press Release on Gender Violence in the Work Place Event] [UN Meeting Summary, 15 March] [UN Meeting Summary, 16 March] [UN Meeting Summary] [UN Closing Press Release] [UN Meeting Summary, Closing] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Reports to CSW61] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Campaign Against Gender Pay Gap] [Chair’s Summary of Ministerial Roundtable on Technology] [Chair’s Summary of Ministerial Roundtable on Pay Gaps] [Chair’s Summary of Ministerial Roundtable on Informal Work]

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