INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP: ACHIEVING AN EQUAL FUTURE IN A COVID-19 WORLD

March is celebrated as Women’s History Month to highlight women’s contributions to events in history and contemporary society. In their message to commemorate the International Women’s Day, on 8 March, both the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and the Director-General of International Labour Organization, Guy Ryder, acknowledged the critical leadership role of women during the COVID-19 pandemic.  According to Mr. Guterres, countries with women leaders are among those that have suffered fewer deaths and put themselves on track for recovery. He noted that women’s organizations had filled crucial gaps in providing services and information on the pandemic, especially at the local level.  On his part, Mr. Ryder also praised all working women, those working on the frontline, and those he described as “shouldering an unprecedented and disproportionate burden of unpaid care work during the pandemic.”

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 world.” The theme celebrates the efforts of women and girls around the world in shaping an equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It also aligns with the priority theme for the 65th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the Generation Equality campaign, which calls for women’s right to decision-making in all areas of life, equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care, and domestic work, and an end to all forms of violence against women and girls.

Watch:

The UN Secretary-General’s message and the UN Chamber Music Society Concert in Celebration of International Women’s Day: https://bit.ly/39q8UBl

CSW65: “Women’s Participation in Public Life and the Elimination of Violence for Achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls”

The sixty-fifth session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) convened virtually from 15-26 March 2021. The priority theme for the CSW65 is Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life and the elimination of violence for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

The CSW was established in 1946. It is the largest UN annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Commission is the primary UN platform through which national governments work together to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The CSW meets annually for two weeks around March at the UN HQ in New York;  to prepare recommendations that can shape global standards on women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social, and educational fields; to document the reality of women’s lives throughout the world; to monitor and review progress and problems in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and to ensure that the UN system is in compliant with highest standards for gender equality, and that its activities and reports give due attention to women and gender analysis. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the CSW65 convened virtually. The good news is that virtual set-up allows more people from various parts of the world to participate in the proceedings and to host side events. According to the NGO CSW/New York, a record number of over 27,000 people from around the globe participated in some capacity during the CSW65. And over 700 side events were hosted by global women’s rights and gender equality organizations. A lot of the events were very informative. You may click on the links below to view some of the sessions and side events.

The outcome of the Commission’s consideration of the priority theme during the sessions takes the form of agreed conclusions negotiated by all Member States. The UN Women drafts the document and submits it to the Bureau Member States. Each Member State reads and inserts or removes what they don’t want. NGOs also have the opportunity to make input.

Read more: Unedited Agreed Conclusions from CSW65: https://bit.ly/31wISIl

Recording of CSW65 official meetings and side events: https://bit.ly/3ryBVBi

More on side events: https://bit.ly/39JHNld

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: “I AM GENERATION EQUALITY: REALIZING WOMEN’S RIGHTS.”

8 March is observed as International Women’s Day (IWD) around the world. According to4 UN Women, IWD is a day to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Many of us can recall one or more such women in our life. The theme for the 2020 IWD is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.” The 2020 International Women’s Day is crucial as the world takes stock of women’s rights, 25 years since after the Beijing Women’s Conference, and the adoption of the Beijing Platform of Action. This year also marks 20 years since the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, and the 10th anniversary of the establishment of UN Women.

In his message on the International Women’s Day, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, noted that transforming the balance of power is essential, not only as a question of human rights, personal development, health, and well-being, but it is critical to solving some of the most damaging and intractable problems of our age.

Read more:  International Women’s Day: https://bit.ly/2x5Lhh4

UN Secretary-General’s message: https://bit.ly/2IoD1eP

AN EMPOWERED WOMAN, EMPOWER OTHER WOMEN

6By Madame Batata Annie: Coordinator of GSEC, Pelende, Democratic Republic of Congo: We just had our women’s group meeting. The attendance was excellent. We reflected on our lives and our roles as women in the family and the community.   We went home after the meeting with greater awareness of our strengths, and how we must become leaders in our struggle for dignity. It is the woman that must lead in the fight for her dignity and gender equality. This implies that as women, we do not wait for others to liberate us from the outside; we must work to free ourselves from the inside.

Even when a woman has suffered rape, abuse, or humiliation, she must not let these injustices define who she is or her capacity to overcome those adversities. This is the work that Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are doing with women in the three rural parishes of Kwango Province (Kitenda, Pelende, and Intenga). Sisters Isabelle Izika and Marie Josephine Ibanda are training us not to wait to be liberated by other people but to be the actors in our liberation.

The experience of our country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, is proving it. Women7 are in charge of the economy of many families.  Every day the woman gets up early in the morning to go to the fields, to the market, and different workplaces often in very challenging conditions so that she could provide for the education, healthcare, and other needs of her children. It requires heroism to be able to contribute to sustaining an entire family in our country, considering the circumstances. But millions of women are doing it.

The strategies Sisters apply in the training program is simple but time demanding.  It consists of personalized development: this means, discovering the economic potential of each woman, and helping her to acquire competencies in the area where she can excel. An empowered woman, in turn, empowers her family and community. Sisters teach us to become leaders in our communities so that we can also help other women. We collaborate with local political administrators, religious and traditional leaders in our women’s leadership training programs.

 

 

SISTER TERESA ANYABUIKE: MY EXPERIENCE AT THE CSW63

4It was a privilege and joy for me to have participated in the 63rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) in New York from 11 – 22 March 2019. I gathered that over nine thousand people registered for the event, and about seven thousand eventually attended. There were women from almost all the geographical regions of the world. I felt quite encouraged to hear women from different nationalities speak with passion on issues of gender equality and human rights for women and girls.

I had the opportunity to attend many side events at the margins of the CSW63. One of such events made a deep impression on me. I was moved to tears as I listened to the narrative about the horrific experience of how her stepfather sexually abused her, and 5then eventually thrown out of the family house when she spoke up. With being homeless, she became vulnerable to further sexual abuses and violence. One violent abuse led to another until she ended up being sold into prostitution by someone who pretended to offer her a job and a home. But her story did not end in prostitution, for she was rescued from the situation by a group of Catholic Religious Congregation. She is today a survivor/advocate against human trafficking and sexual exploitation of young girls.

Governments must do more in the fight against human trafficking and sexual abuse of women and girls. Bridging the gap in gender inequality that still exists in many countries by providing social protection to all citizens, especially women and girls is one concrete way of ensuring gender equality. This was the core message of CSW63. It is, however, reassuring to know that civil society organizations are not giving up on the fight against violence against women and girls.  Memories of my experience of CSW63 will remain with me for a long time.

Amid all the events happening at the conference, some students from schools around New York City joined in the match for climate change. I felt heartened to hear the young people lend their voices to issues on the protection of our environment.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE: “IS MIGRATION A FEMINIST ISSUE?”

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Refugee women with babies.  UN Photo

The fourth round of negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration took place from 14 – 18 May.  Members of civil society organizations have consistently pushed for mainstreaming gender perspective in all sections of the compact. This is because many believe that migration is necessarily a feminist issue. The United Nations Population Funds (UNPF) also acknowledges migration as a feminist issue and suggests that gender perspective is taken into consideration when formulating policies on              migration. Below are some of the reasons given by   the UNPF for the above assertion:

  • There are about 250 million international migrants. Almost half of these are women and girls. And women are increasingly migrating alone or as heads of their family.
  • Female migrants face major risks, including sexual exploitation, trafficking, and violence
  • Migrant women face double discrimination – as women and as migrants
  • Women do not stop getting pregnant when they are on the move
  • Women and girls’ migrant are more likely to face health problems – both in transit and at their destination.

Read more:

United Nations Population Fund: https://bit.ly/2GL1gkU

Global Compact on Refugees and Migrants: https://bit.ly/2ATrj5o

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE: “IS MIGRATION A FEMINIST ISSUE?”

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Refugee women with babies.  UN Photo

The fourth round of negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration took place from 14 – 18 May.  Members of civil society organizations have consistently pushed for mainstreaming gender perspective in all sections of the compact. This is because many believe that migration is necessarily a feminist issue. The United Nations Population Funds (UNPF) also acknowledges migration as a feminist issue and suggests that gender perspective is taken into consideration when formulating policies on              migration. Below are some of the reasons given by   the UNPF for the above assertion:

  • There are about 250 million international migrants. Almost half of these are women and girls. And women are increasingly migrating alone or as heads of their family.
  • Female migrants face major risks, including sexual exploitation, trafficking, and violence
  • Migrant women face double discrimination – as women and as migrants
  • Women do not stop getting pregnant when they are on the move
  • Women and girls’ migrant are more likely to face health problems – both in transit and at their destination.

Read more:

United Nations Population Fund: https://bit.ly/2GL1gkU

Global Compact on Refugees and Migrants: https://bit.ly/2ATrj5o

62ND COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN: “CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN ACHIEVING GENDER EQUALITY AND THE EMPOWERMENT OF RURAL WOMEN AND GIRLS.”

1There is currently a sweeping global movement for women’s rights, equality, and justice. This global activism for gender equality has also been fueled by the recent #MeToo, #TimesUp, and other local campaigns/movements against the exploitation and marginalization of women in public and private spheres. From the global North to South, women are increasingly reclaiming their agency and speaking out against centuries of injustices, socio-economic and political exclusion, and discrimination. It was within this climate of women’s activism on gender equality, that over four thousand women from all walks of life from across the globe, gathered at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The commission took place from March 12 – 23. The CSW is the UN Commission that draws the largest number of participants from around the world (largely comprised of women).

The CSW is the principal intergovernmental body primarily designated to promote 2gender equality and the empowerment of women. It is a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), established by the General Assembly Council resolution 11(II) of 21 June 1946. The CSW is dedicated to promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and in shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women (UN Women). The main theme for the 2018 Commission (CSW62) was, “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.” Speaking at an event to mark the International Women’s Day on March 8, the UN Secretary General noted that, “achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge of our time.” And one would add that this challenge is even greater for women and girls within rural areas.

A message from H.E. Geraldine Byrne Nason, Chair of CSW62: http://bit.ly/2DrgXLE

CSW62: https://bit.ly/2AEUBoN

WOMEN IN PEACE NEGOTIATIONS: SUSTAINABLE PEACE NEEDS WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP AND REPRESENTATION

02By Juliana Maria Marques Boyd (former intern, SNDATUN): 2017 marks the 17th Anniversary of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 (SCR 1325). SCR 1325 not only recognizes the severe impact of war on women, but also the essential role that women play in preventing conflict and in the peacemaking processes. The resolution represents a breakthrough in women, peace and security. This resolution also serves as a reminder on the importance of enabling a large pool of women to have full participation at all levels in conflict negotiations and peace treaties.

The crucial role of women in sustainable peace and security was the central theme of the side-event, “Women Mediators, Words to Action,” held at the UN Headquarters on September 21, 2017. Several government representatives, members of civil society

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Courtesy;  UN Women

organizations, and Women Mediator’s Networks (from Nordic, African, and Mediterranean countries) attended the event. Speakers highlighted the importance of the inclusion of women in mediation leadership positions. In her remarks at the event, the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, Angelino Alfano, stated that, “though, women are powerful agents of peace and security, they are still well underrepresented as official participants at the UN.” Despite resolution 1325 (2000) calls for women’s participation in peace building processes, it is still a challenge to integrate women in international peace mediation positions.

Women are significantly outnumbered by men, or excluded in some cases, in peace consultations.  According to the UN Women, between 1992 and 2011, less than 10 per cent of negotiators at peace tables were women.

This trend is unfortunate, because the significant role women hold as advocates can pave the way for successful peace building and for sustainable peace. It is therefore crucial that the UN Security Council and Member States strongly enforce resolution 1325, in order for more women to participate fully in peace negotiations. This action will help rectify the perception many have about women simply being victims in conflict.  Far from it, women are not just victims, but are also vital agents of peace and reconciliation, spanning from local communities to the international sphere.

Read more: Facts and Figures: Peace and Security;  http://bit.ly/ZWlt0u

LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND: END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS

1The United Nations General Assembly, in resolution 48/104, adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women on December 20, 1991. In 1998, November 25 was designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Violence against women is a violation of human rights. However, sadly, it is still the most pervasive form of discrimination.  Violence against women is a consequence of persisting inequalities between men and women, through which discrimination thrives. Women around the world continue to face violence and discrimination within classrooms, boardrooms, and on battlefields. Some of the prevalent forms of violence suffered by women and girls are intimate partner violence, sexual violence and harassment, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, and child marriage.

Violence against women and girls is preventable, and the elimination of such violence is 2essential for building a healthy, peaceful society. However, as noted in the UN Secretary General’s 2017 report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms.”

Ending gender-based violence and inequality requires the concerted effort of individuals, families, civil society organizations, community, and religious authorities. After all, “denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back.”  As rightly put by UN Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, “denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back.”

Read more:

UN Women website: http://bit.ly/2hIfTy3

Learn about 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. The theme for the 2017 campaign is “Together We Can End Gender-Based Violence in Education.” Also download the toolkit on gender-based violence in education from this link; http://bit.ly/2zjgyOd

Explore the facts: Violence Against Women; http://bit.ly/2irh0iJ