Promoting a Holistic View of Women and Girls at CSW58

CSW1The World Youth Alliance is currently attending the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58), which takes place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from 10-21 March 2014. This is an annual two-week session where representatives of UN Member States, civil society and UN entities come together to evaluate the progress and identify challenges in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, the key global document on gender equality.

The CSW is a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), established by ECOSOC resolution in 1946. It monitors and reviews progress and problems on the issue of gender equality in the economic, social and political arenas and then prepares policy recommendations on promoting women’s rights. While these recommendations are persuasive to Member States, they are not legally binding. The CSW consists of 45 members who are appointed by their governments and elected by the ECOSOC for a period of four years, with the following regional ratios: 11 from Asia, 4 from Eastern Europe, 9 from Latin America and the Caribbean states, and 8 from Western Europe and other states. This is to ensure a well-rounded global perspective on gender issues.

The priority theme for CSW58 is “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls” (draft agreed conclusions are available here). This is of great significance, as feedback from countries may be used to formulate more gender-specific targets in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that may be practically implemented. Furthermore, the Commission will also be reviewing the priority theme from the fifty-fifth session, which is “Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work” (agreed conclusions from the fifty-fifth session are available here). This means that the Commission will examine the progress that Member States have made in implementing greater access and participation of women and girls to education and training, including science and technology. This is also important because in this modern age, an understanding of science and technology will empower women to play a greater role in society and in the work force.

In response to the priority theme, WYA submitted a written statement stating that the full achievement of the MDGs requires equal access to education for women and girls, as well as improvement in maternal and reproductive health through the provision of prenatal care, skilled birth attendants, adequately equipped birthing facilities and education. Additionally, during CSW58 WYA will be monitoring the High Level Panel discussions on the progress of implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, and following daily side events addressing such topics as violence against women in the health sector. Finally, WYA will also be meeting with delegates to explain WYA’s vision for the Post-2015 SDGs, including promoting a more holistic understanding of women’s health, one that does not reduce women’s needs to abortion and contraception but that instead recognizes their need for true health care..

Of special note, two of the winners of WYA’s Youth Voices at the UN Program, Maja Pajin (Zagreb, Croatia) and Angel de la Flor (Manila, Philippines), are attending CSW58 with WYA’s Advocacy Team and will attend events and meet with delegates of UN Member States. Congratulations to Maja and Angel for winning the Youth Voices essay writing competition and joining the WYA team!

By Natalie Lam, an Advocacy Fellow at the WYA Headquarters in New York