The United Nations’ 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) concluded one week ago today. The CSW is falls under the purview of the UN’s Economic and Social Council and deals with a wide range of topics affecting women all over the world. While the UN’s Security Council and the high-level week of the General Debate in September tend to steal all the limelight, I think the CSW is really something special.
At what other global event do leaders from government, the private sector, civil society and NGOs come together to address violence against women, the economic empowerment of women and women’s health? These issues are enormous, and surely affect all of humanity, but they so seldom receive the attention they deserve.
The CSW is dedicated time carved out of a busy agenda of global issues to discuss those that are most crucial to the health and wellbeing of women worldwide.
Despite a lack of attention in general media, the CSW is the largest intergovernmental forum on women’s issues and women’s empowerment. The outcome document of the CSW helps to influence government policy in the 193 countries that are accredited members of the UN.
This year, delegates from 162 Member States attended the Commission. Over 3,900 representatives from 580 civil society organizations came to New York from 138 countries. This level of attendance signifies the growing importance of the CSW in the international policy community – and that it deserves more coverage, and our support.
This year’s CSW focused primarily on women’s economic empowerment, gender parity in the workplace and issues of equal pay. Items such as maternity leave, and Italy’s prospective menstrual leave (go Italy!), actually get air time in this forum.
In order to advance women’s economic empowerment, this year’s CSW adopted measure to increase the flexibility of work arrangements; provide spaces for breastfeeding for working mothers; provide affordable quality care facilities for children, and implement policy that will make it easier for pregnant women and single mothers to complete their education.
CSW 61 also focused on ending all forms of violence against women. For more information on the depth of issues and the accomplishments of this Session of the Commission, you can read UN-WOMEN Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka’s closing statement here.
Alongside the plenary and formal meetings of this two-week event, an impressive number of side events on topics ranging from human trafficking to access to menstrual hygiene products, are hosted by UN country missions and NGOs. It should also be noted that many of these events are open for registration to members of the public! The CSW happens every March; be sure to check the CSW website in early 2018 for side events open to the public in order to register.
Kara DeDonato is a fertility health expert who works with women to troubleshoot their monthly cycles and digestion so that they can feel their best and be their best selves. Read her full bio here.