It is the start of the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women, the second-largest convening at the United Nations every year following the UN General Assembly. During this two-week event, representatives of Member States gather at the UN to discuss and evaluate the progress made on gender equality. I am privileged enough to be able to attend CSW on behalf of my global advocacy organization, where we fight for gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women.
In my first event, I attended a session hosted by the Government of Jordan, Government of Tunisia, UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, where each speaker shared some insight to what they are doing to advance gender equality in their country or commission.
Working with civil society organizations (CSOs).
Dr. Salma Nims, Secretary General at Jordanian National Commission for Women emphasized the need to establish clear infrastructure to include gender and gender equality in country national plans; Jordan’s successful alliances with CSOs has led to pressure on the government to act and strengthen frameworks for accountabilities and allocating budgets for addressing gender issues.
Removing barriers for women in the workplace and in political office.
Dr. Neziha Labidi, Minister of Women, Family, Children and Seniors of Tunisia emphasized the key role governments play in changing harmful gender norms that set girls and women behind in society. Tunisia has introduced legislation criminalizing violence against women, but in addition to the more commonly known acts of violence, political violence is included, as it is a potential deterrent for women who wish to seek office. Additionally, they have a flexible parental leave policy, where expectant mothers may go on leave one month before they are due (also known as pre-leave!), and their parental leave may be transferred to their partner in the event that they wish to return to work.
Country and regional level coordination to achieve the SDGs.
In her work, Mehrinaz El-Awady, Director of ESCWA Centre for Women works with countries in the Arab region to ensure that they are on the right track to achieving the SDGs. The Arab Sustainable Development Report is a helpful tool that flags when gender is not cross-cutting across all SDGs in a country.
It is great to attend CSW and hear the efforts taken from countries as far as those in the Middle East. It goes to show that there is global consensus that advocating for girls and women is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.
To keep up with what’s happening at CSW, follow the hashtag #CSW63 on Twitter.