By YWCA of Canberra, Australia Executive Director Rebecca Vassarotti
Well, the first day of CSW has been amazing. It is incredible to be part of this incredible machinery. There have been some humbling experiences, some highs and some lows and some experiences which have left us somewhat bemused, watching the movement of some 8000 women around a construction site.
Roslyn, Maree and myself were extremely lucky to get into the overflow room for the opening session – so while we weren’t in the room, we were next door. This meant we were able to sit in the seats usually held by delegates and joined with hundreds of women listening to the opening.
There were a number of speakers in this first session, from the UN themselves, getting the meeting underway and setting the scene for the session. It was interesting to note that at this Commission, which is responsible for the status of women was only able to produce three women in the seven speakers, and both the Chair and the Secretary of the Commission were male – but more about the progress of the UN in this area later.
In relation to key messages at this session, they included:
– The need to move from commitment to action
– The recognition that progress has been uneven everywhere – globally, regionally and nationally
– The call to use opportunities to learn lesson, translate good practice
– Statements that equity for women, and the empowerment of women and girls is a priority for the UN
– The contribution of the NGO women’s sector was highlighted and acknowledged
– All made links to Millennium Development Goals
– Observation that the goals of equity and women’s empowerment not just a goal in its end but will create a global
– Violence against women
– Reproductive health, including maternal health (almost all maternal deaths should be preventable)
– Illiteracy (2/3 of illiterate people are women, and this has not changed in 20 years)
– Location of women in the informal workforce
Report on UN progress around gender equity within the UN:
– 3.7% increase of females holding leadership positions in the UN in the last year.
– 38.8% of professional positions in the UN are held by women – no increase. A
– gender balance strategy and action plan has been development
– deadline for resolutions is Tuesday 9 March at pm
– There has been a call to develop a binding instrument to end trafficking for organs (following a report provided by the Assistant General Secretary General Special Advisor on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women
After this session, the Australia YWCA delegates were privileged to be able to observe a high level meeting of Pacific Nations around the strategy for this region to use CSW to promote issues of joint concern. This was hosted by the Australian Ambassador to the UN and included participation from Government Ministers from New Zealand and Samoa.
Through the day, I attended a number of parallel events. They included:
Intergenerational Conversation on Beijing
This session was run by the Working group on Girls (NGO Committee on UNICEF). This session was aimed at assisting members of the working group to lobby on key issues, and was very instructional, providing advice on how to work with permanent missions to advocate on issues around members of CSW keeping promises made around ending discrimination; protecting girls and empowering girls
This was a small group but very powerful group which committed to meeting on a daily basis, to share information, support one and other and ensure that the ‘lived experience’ was recognised as an important voice in this conference. I am looking forward to learning more for the amazing women participating in this.
The official end to the day included a briefing from the Australian Government delegation and information put under the door from World YWCA. If day 2 is anything like day 1 we are in for an experience.
For more information visit http://www.worldywca.org