Building bridges for women’s economic empowerment
From March 11 to March 24 New York became the stage for the promotion of women’s economic empowerment and of gender equality at the work place. Almost 4000 representatives from 500 NGOs and 2000 delegates from governmental and non-governmental organizations attended the two-week Session on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) at the United Nations Headquarters. Preceding the official opening of the 61th CSW, 770 young men and women from all parts of the globe gathered at the CSW Youth Forum: Youth Create Gender Equality – Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work. They were two intense and rich weeks, full of extraordinary people, events, and contradictions.
The CSW61 is a women’s rights forum and yet, before listening to the first women at the opening session, four high level men were listed to speak. Although not intentionally, this fact highlighted the need to strengthen mechanisms to address the multiple forms of discrimination that creates barriers for women to access high level positions in the job market, within and outside the United Nations (UN).
In this regard, in the course of CSW61 António Guterres, UN Secretary General, repeatedly stressed his commitment to breaking such structural barriers within the UN system, and to working closely with member states to see these barriers overcome across nations.
At the same time, UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, called for a swift and decisive action to increase representation of women in all decision-making levels and to make of women’s voice a major drive for change. Mlambo-Ngcuka also called on more representatives to join the growing number of leaders that want a solution for gender inequality before 2030. Echoing the voices of youth, young representatives stressed the need for equal leadership opportunities to increase young women’s leadership in decision-making tables. In fact, throughout the CSW61 young women were strongly engaged in the discussions, reminding women of all ages not to be thankful or apologetically when given a seat at the table, but rather to incorporate it as a right that it is, and to execute it with confidence and determination for the advance of women’s empowerment.
Dianova at the CSW61
Dianova was present at the CSW61 through the representation of Ram Kumar, Nuria Adeva, and Saionara König-Reis, who were actively participating in side, parallel and official events, negotiation meetings, and networking gatherings. This year, Dianova co-organized five of the over 600 events that took place during these two weeks and was a member of the Planning Committee of the NGO CSW Forum.
In partnership with local and international NGOs, governments, and NGO Committees, Dianova reached 350 people through events inside and outside the UN premises, addressing challenges and opportunities in the fields of migrant women’s economic empowerment, women’s participation in decision making processes, mental health, well-being, education, economic integration and social inclusion.
In a CSW parallel event addressing economic opportunities for migrant women on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, March 21, Dianova and other members of the Subcommittee on Xenophobia and Inclusion of the NGO Committee on Migration launched an infographic to clarify some myths that have contributed to the spread of xenophobia and discrimination in host countries and communities. In the same occasion, the group launched an itinerant wall of solidarity where CSW participants could write messages of support to a migrant or refugee women.
The global movement for women’s economic empowerment strengthened during the CSW61 is not to drop energy upon the return of governmental delegations, civil society and other stakeholders to their countries. The agreed conclusions of the 61th Session of the CSW has underlined many important actions and commitments for the progressive achievement of gender equality at the work place, enabling mechanisms for access to, and continuity at, decent work, including, among many others, the protection against sexual harassment and the universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. The implementation of the outcome document will bring enormous challenge and we all need to step up for it, together.