By Dennis Kabatto – “Equality for women is progress for all,” Under-Secretary General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the head of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), told the 58th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 58) stressing there must be gender equality to achieve poverty eradication and sustainable development in the 21st Century.
The main focal point of CSW 58 is “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the MDGs for women and girls,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said Monday during her opening remarks at the UN Headquarters in New York. She declared the session’s “theme is about taking stock and getting ready to move forward, so that today is better than yesterday and tomorrow is better than today.”
Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka disclosed, the Commission chaired by Ambassador Libran Cabactulan of the Philippines will address many issues ranging from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the post – 2015 development agenda, to women and girls access to education, reproductive rights, training in science and technology, decent employment. The commission will also look into reports by the Secretary General on the situation of Palestinian, on women and children taken hostage, maternal mortality, HIV and AIDS, empowering women in natural disasters and on the UN Trust to End Violence against Women.
Other high-level speakers including Nicole Ameline, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), cited a recent statement adopted by the Commission that call for “a human rights-based approach to eliminate discrimination against women in the post-2015 period. Women must be drivers of socioeconomic progress, peace and stability,” she said calling for a “stand-alone” goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the post-2015 agenda.
Officials also say that during this session they will launch a yearlong mobilization for the 20th anniversary and review of the landmark Beijing Platform for Action.
From May 2014 to May 2015, the Commission would review each of the 12 focus areas of the Beijing Platform for Action, subsequently national and regional reports on progress made, would be presented during the next General Assembly session in September, 2015
Despite important gains made in the struggle to achieve equality for women and girls worldwide, a report card issued by UN Women reveals the result of overall advancement is uneven and mixed.
In a written response, Maria Butler, Executive Director of Peace Women – The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) said, “There remain many gaps in gender equality and women’s participation in peacemaking,” urging that “commitments be made at policy level and implementation at local and national levels.”
“It is vitally important that there not be a ‘pillaring’ of different agendas that essentially undermine inter-related work that is WILPF’s focus at CSW, to discuss an integrated approach to development, equality and peace which addresses structural barriers and root causes.”
“We will call on States to support a post-2015 development agenda that strengthens gender equitable conflict prevention, post-conflict reconstruction, and peace by including progressive language on participation, gender goals, demilitarization and other areas. We will also be building ‘Women Power to Stop War’ movement in advance of 100th years of WILPF in April 2015. Following CSW, we hope that this work will influence the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) processes,” Ms Butler said.
WILPF is organizing and supporting numerous key events during the CSW 58 including Singers in the Band: A Screening and Symposium on Military Sex Trafficking on March 15, 2014 at Fordham Law School in New York City.
As many as 6,000 registered representatives from 860 civil society organizations are attending the session and about 135 side events are organized by the UN and an additional 300 similar events planned by Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), according to UN Women. The 58th Session ends on Friday, March 21, 2014.