On Wednesday March 30, 2016, the Alliance for Peacebuilding Women and Peacebuilding Affinity Group, National Capital Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women and UNA-NCA hosted a panel on the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that took place in March 2016 at the United Nations in New York.
A panel of CSW60 attendees shared highlights from the UN session and from the many concurrent NGO programs. Topics like women empowerment and education, gender parity in the work place and the involvement of governments, states and individuals in the implementation of the Global Goals were discussed.
The moderator and first panelist, Kim Weichel, Consultant for UN Women, UNA-NCA Advisory Council member, and Chair of the Women in Peacebuilding Affinity Group, opened the discussion with a brief overview of her experience at CSW. Ms. Weichel shared how the sessions were tied to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. She emphasized that although Gender Equality is specifically represented by Goal 5, all Goals affect women and no progress will be made on them if gender equality is not present. During the CSW sessions, important dates including March 8th (International Women’s Day) were brought up to discuss progress on women’s empowerment and to create a concrete outcome document to better women in terms of health, economic activity, interfaith initiatives, countering violent extremism movements, and participation in civil society space. The sessions also encouraged launching response initiatives to gender–based violence, training workshops and income-based jobs for women.
Mahnaz Afkhami, President of Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP), shared the background behind the transformation from the MDGs to the new Global Goals. She argued that while all Goals are important, the most relevant to Gender Equality fall between Goals 1 and 6. The implementation and planning of these Goals were facilitated by technology and communication. Nevertheless, governments and states need to show a little more concern by creating strategies, partnerships, collaborations and providing finances to work towards all the goals. At CSW, Ms. Afkhami focused on discriminatory laws within the family and the role of women in the household. WLP also discussed family laws for Muslim majority countries and the variations between civic law and Sharia law.
The CSW sessions were also aimed at creating awareness for egalitarian laws and the implementation of human rights around the world. Arts were incorporated into CSW as young poets spoke on human rights along with film and other forms of art & media.
Karen Mulhauser, UNA-USA Chair, UNA-NCA Past President, and founder of Consulting Women spoke on the importance of gender equality, good governance, and peaceful and inclusive societies. “People need to be educated on the importance of the UN because we can’t solve the world’s problems by ourselves,” she argued. Ms. Mulhauser gave a brief overview of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a UN treaty signed by President Carter in 1980 that the Senate has not ratified or implemented. The Cities for CEDAW Initiative aims to implement CEDAW legislation in various US cities at the local level. This would involve a gender audit followed by action to address areas of gender disparity. True gender parity would generate $12 trillion worldwide. Ms. Mulhauser also stressed the importance of involving men in gender parity discussions, as, in her words, we are not going to reach gender equality until the men are on board. All the NGOs present at CSW learned how to better approach their governments and local authorities to support gender equality.
UNA-NCA is grateful to the panelists for sharing their experiences from the CSW sessions, and to the Alliance for Peacebuilding and the US National Committee for UN Women for their partnership in this discussion.
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