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American Women's Club of Hamburg

2016 CSW60 - UN Women March 14 - 25

CSW60I had the pleasure and privilege of attending three days of CSW60, the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from March 14—24, 2016. The Commission was established in 1946 and is "dedicated to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women". The annual sessions provide advocates for human rights for women an opportunity to influence the UN agenda. Around 6000 delegates from the 45 Member States of the Commission, United Nations entities, and accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) attended this year's annual session with the priority theme "women's empowerment and its link to sustainable development". The session comprised the official ministerial meetings, more than 200 side events hosted by the Member States and UN entities, and around 450 parallel events organized by NGOs.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched in September 2015, are the top priority at the UN and are to be achieved by the year 2030. Goal 5 is "achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls". The focus  of the Goal 5 Targets—e.g., violence against women and girls, trafficking, early marriage, health, discrimination—were reoccurring themes in the events. "Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it Up", the theme of 2016 Women's Day, was also in focus.

The opening speech "CSW60 is the First Test of Our Resolve" by UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka gives a perspective on the 2030 Agenda. The concluding commitment of CSW Member States to the implementation of Agenda 2030 is summarized in a press release from the closing day.

FAWCO was active at CSW60. In preparation for CSW60, FAWCO joined with other members of the NGO CSW in Vienna to sign a statement on the priority theme that was submitted to CSW60. The statement was published on the UN's website as a part of the CSW60 provisional agenda. FAWCO UN Liaison Laurie co-moderated an NGO Briefing and made a statement on refugees. On the last day of CSW60, FAWCO  along with the NGO Committee on Migration in NY, the Organization for Early Childhood Education, UNHCR and other organizations cosponsored an important parallel event: Empowering Syrian Refugee Women and Children for a Better Future: Challenges and Innovative Solutions in Early Childhood Development. The flyer for the event lists the impressive line-up of speakers. FAWCO had a delegation of 14 members, several of whom were present throughout the session. Please read the CSW60 blog on the FAWCO website and watch for the next UN Liaison Bulletin and Forum (sign up here).

It was exciting, inspiring, impressive and overwhelming to attend CSW60. It was stunning to view the UN Headquarters from 1st Avenue when all the flags are flying and it was breath-taking to be with hundreds of men and women in traditional dress from all over the world. Entering the UN is literally entering another world—it is extraterritorial and under the jurisdiction of the UN not the US. The organization, the level and quality of the event presentations and panel discussions were impeccable. Organizers and participants were engaged, committed and passionate. Many steps to implement the 2030 Agenda are in place and others are being feverishly sought. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka alluded to the fever in her opening speech: "… in your hands is a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to end poverty and transform gender relations irreversibly for the next generation, making the world a better place for all. Let us seize the day!"

Following are some of the side and parallel events (usually 75–90 minutes) that I was able to attend:

  • Informal NGO Morning Briefings
  • Combatting the Trafficking of Women and Girls: What Role Can the Private Sector Play in Addressing and Preventing Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery? (A ministerial-level event organized by Hungary, Liechtenstein, and the United States of America)
  • "Getting to Equal: The World Bank Group's Gender Equality Strategy 2016-2023" (Carel Grown, Senior Director, Gender Cross-Cutting Solution Area, World Bank Group)
  • Habitat III Agenda and Gender Equality: Safe Public Spaces for Women and for All (UN Women, UN-Habitat)
  • Widows and the Sustainable Development Goals: Leaving No One Behind (The Loomba Foundation)
  • Advancing Women's Empowerment in the OIC Region (Permanent Observer Mission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to the United Nations)
  • Arab Women Refugees: A New Challenge for the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 (Arab Women Organization/ League of Arab States- New York Mission)
  • Gender-based Violence in the Caribbean: A Cause of Concern and Time for Action (Bahamas)
  • Human Trafficking in the Tourism Industry (International Tourism Partnership, United Religions Initiative, Florida Internationa

FAWCO will continue its work as an accredited EOSOC (Economic and Security Council) NGO. From the FAWCO website. The UN NGO Team consists of a UN Liaison leading a team of FAWCO UN Representatives in Geneva, New York, Vienna and Athens. The goals of the team are
  • To represent FAWCO at United Nations meetings and conferences
  • To involve FAWCO members worldwide in supporting the UN's development agenda, the FAWCO Target Program as well as other UN–related projects
  • To provide information to FAWCO members on UN activities and programs related to global issues of concern to FAWCO members 

Our UN Liaison is Laurie Richardson (AWA Vienna) at UNLiaison@fawco.org.

The work of  the Task Forces on global issues and the Target Program support our UN status and the 2030 Agenda. The theme EducationEmpowering Women and Girls through Knowledge and Skills is the overarching theme of the Target Program 2016 - 2019. A monthly Target Program: Education Bulletin will keep you up-to-date and informed. The March Bulletin covers the themes global citizenship and literacy. Proposals for the Target Project will be accepted until September 30, 2016. If you have an educational project or would like to get involved, contact the Target Chair Tricia R. Saur at target@fawco.org.

Many thanks to Laurie for organizing and providing us with valuable information upfront, to Laurie and Erica H. for their warm-hearted mentoring during CSW60, and to the FAWCO delegation for their embrace.

If you haven't already, please sign on to support electing a woman UN Secretary General.
(Carol S.)


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