The five UN regional commissions discussed priority areas for advancing gender equality and women's empowerment, during the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 59).
12 March 2015: The five UN regional commissions discussed priority areas for advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment during the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 59).
The event, titled ‘Results of regional Beijing+20 events of the United Nations regional commissions,’ took place on 12 March 2015, in New York, US. From November 2014 to February 2015, the commissions undertook regional consultations to assess progress made in implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and to identify remaining gaps and priority areas for action in their regions. Panelists at the CSW 59 event highlighted some of these priority areas of action.
Rima Khalaf, UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) Executive Secretary, noted the challenges posed by foreign occupation and war, which has led to “intense militarization” of the region, including in countries where there is no war. She also highlighted the need to address the gaps between legislation and actual implementation of gender-related policies.
Underlining that strengthened accountability is essential for gender equality and women’s empowerment, Shamshad Akhtar, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Executive Secretary, said ESCAP will: strengthen gender statistics; continue research on advocacy and capacity building; create an online resource facility on gender equality; and build a strong alliance of governments, the private sector, academia, and civil society.
Christian Friis Bach, UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) Executive Secretary, stressed the need to: promote equal rights to equal remuneration; include clear objectives, timelines and sections for non-compliance in gender quotas; and promote participation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields through scholarships.
Alicia Barcena, UN Economic and Social Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Executive Secretary, highlighted the importance of gender mainstreaming in development plans and engaging civil society as partner in achieving gender equality. She called for a focus on broader economic policies, rather than micro-credit. She underlined the need for gender statistics and indicators to developed by national statistics offices (NSOs), adding that “what can’t be counted doesn’t count.”
Carlos Lopes, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Executive Secretary, stressed the need for structural changes in Africa, including those related to cultural aspects that impede gender equality. He stressed the need to: strengthen statistical systems to ensure they provide good data for policy; partner with private and banking sectors to enable women economic empowerment; ensure women’s rights especially in countries in conflict; and ensure social protection of women, especially young women.
Taking the floor, many Member States expressed support for the proposed stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5) to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Many called for also mainstreaming gender as a cross-cutting issue in the post-2015 development agenda. Participants also highlighted the need to, inter alia: address violence against women; ensure gender equality when it comes to employment, pensions, and decision-making; focus on the most vulnerable segments such as rural, minorities or disabled; ensure gender mainstreaming in budgeting; mobilize domestic resources and capitalize on South-South Cooperation to generate resources for women’s empowerment; strengthen partnerships among all stakeholders; strengthen governance and accountability; involve men in advancing gender equality; and address the payment gap and maternity and paternity leaves.
Italy announced the creation of a €40 million guarantee fund to advance women’s entrepreneurship. Ukraine noted that 500,000 women in the country are deprived of the right to health, education and work, and said that investments will help maintain social stability and advance gender equality.
The discussions will result in a Chair’s summary that aims at contributing to the accelerated implementation of the Platform for Action.
CSW 59 is taking place on 9-20 March 2015, in New York, US. [CSW 59 Website] [IISD RS Sources] [IISD RS Story on Opening of CSW 59] [IISD RS Story on LAC Review] [IISD RS Story on Africa Review] [IISD RS Story on Asia-Pacific Review] [IISD RS Story on Europe Review]