The 2021 UN CSW65 events took place from March 15 – 26, 2021, online and open to everyone worldwide.
(Last year’s United Nations Commission on the Status of Women event was cancelled because of the COVID pandemic.) This year’s CSW Priority Theme was “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”
ICJW’s UN representatives are active in the NGO Committee on the Status of Women (NGO CSW/NY), which is a group of New York–based women’s NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council. Every year, the NGO CSW/NY organizes the civil society side of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The Forum runs parallel events to those occurring within the United Nations Headquarters. This provides civil society the opportunity to engage in the processes and events of CSW. During the two weeks of CSW65 (March 16-24), NGO CSW/NY has organized more than 600 virtual events that inform, engage and inspire grassroots efforts and advocacy that empower women and girls. They have set up a Virtual Forum during the week of March 15-26 which you are free to attend.
ICJW’s Partner Events at CSW65
Every year, ICJW co-sponsors one or more side events, together with other women’s NGOs and national delegations. We have developed strong partnerships with many international women’s organizations over the years and hosted some excellent events. The following side events were co-sponsored by ICJW in 2021:
A Virtual Presentation Skills Workshop:
We Have Your Back: Breaking the Cycle:
From Online Harassment to Threats to Violence Against Women & Girl Leaders
This NGO online side event on Wednesday March 24 was co-sponsored by ICJW.
You can watch the presentation at www.haveyourback.org
UN CSW65 – What Was Achieved?
A personal account by Sara Winkowski, ICJW Past President and Representative at the UN in New York
Once again, the United Nations Commission on Status of Women met for two weeks in New York for its 65th session. This time it took place online, and the theme was Women’s Full and Effective Participation and Decision-Making in Public Life, as well as the Elimination of Violence, for Achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of all Women and Girls.
Once again, thousands of women – in fact 25,000 women – participated in the virtual meetings and side events. Once again, we heard experts, and we discussed gender equality, violence against women, women’s empowerment and women in leadership positions, trafficking, the widows, the girls, etc. Once again, we left with a sense of frustration, when we realized that there was almost no progress on all these issues, and governments are still not ready to allow gender equality and let women’s human rights advance.
The fact that all the meetings were virtual allowed more women to participate, but it meant it was much harder to socialize with the official delegates and with other women, which of course is an excellent way to construct networks. It also meant less transparency, as civil society had a lot of difficulties to attend the negotiation meetings.
The draft Agreed Conclusions document started out with 50 pages and 80 paragraphs. Unfortunately, the document ended up with just 24 pages and 64 paragraphs. Entire sections of the statement dedicated to sexual harassment, gender equality or the defense of girls’ rights disappeared.
There is no progress in the document on issues such as reproductive and sexual health, and on what is considered a family or a non-family. While the original text criticized the extent of attacks on women and girls, including sexual harassment, the final version indicates that the latter “in private and public spaces, including schools and workplaces, as well as in schools and digital contexts, leads to a hostile environment.” On many issues, girls are not included – the text refers only to adult women.
Nevertheless, the Commission acknowledges: “…that inequality between the sexes continues to translate into power imbalances between women and men in all spheres of society.”
In spite of my frustration at the lack of progress on women’s rights, I hope that the power imbalance between women and men will soon disappear, and we will be able to enjoy gender equality in all walks of life.