REPORT ON CSW63 UN COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN, New York, 11-22 March 2019
This abridged NGO report was prepared by Beverley Turner, who attended as International Secretary, Pacific Women’s Watch (NZ)
CSW‘s ‘Woman of Distinction’ in 2019 was Gharsanay Ibnul Ameen, a 22yr old Afghani woman with an extramural law degree from US who has provided leadership training to over 1,000 young Afghani women, with the acquiescence of Afghani Mullahs! ‘The time has come for women to step up into meaningful leadership in Afghanistan, for the goals of equal rights for all to be ensured, maintained and practised’. Unsurprisingly, she received a lengthy standing ovation!
In a succession of incisive global panel discussions, nationally and internationally acclaimed feminists from ILO, FEMNET, Oxfam, DAWN+ spoke passionately –‘We are here for the world we have not yet seen!’ Interspersed were song, poetry, dance, drumming.
San Francisco has become the first ‘City for CEDAW’ inside USA. [USA is one of six UN members which have not ratified CEDAW] Auckland is also a ’CEDAW City’.
Over 5,000 women attended. Eleven 90-minute NGO Parallel Events were scheduled simultaneously every two hours from 8.30am to 6.30pm, at four venues 30 minutes’ walk from the UN. This resulted in numerous event clashes, so the NZ NGOs’ daily ‘Catch-up’ at 7pm with a Ministry for Women rep &/or Hellen Swales our NZ NGO rep embedded in the NZ Government delegation, was invaluable.
NZ NGO events included:
- The Assn of Presbyterian Women, Aotearoa NZ: ‘Gender Equality in the 3rd Age’
- PWW(NZ) President and Patron outlined ‘The Rampant Incarceration of Indigenous Women’, offering practical solutions
- A seminar hosted by the NZ Mission, on multiple aspects of CSW’s ‘infrastructure’ theme, chaired by Dr Gill Greer
Pacific events included
- Lily de Soeur funded by IWDA, Australia, a very active PNG delegate outlined how she led an in-depth survey of PNG women’s issues with its challenges, problems, frustrations. “Patriarchy Rules!”
- While there were fewer Pacific Island women than usual at CSW63 and no Graduate Women Fiji members, there was solid input from a number of Fiji NGOs:- Diva Fiji, Fiji Young Women’s Forum, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, Rainbow Foundation / Fiji and more
# NGO Caucus meetings are invaluable as ‘mini-plenaries’ to hear other countries’ specific challenges to enjoying-gender equality and its outcome. Asia-Pacific is one of UN’s-five designated global regions but contains 60% of the world’s women! Caucus One focused on country &/or NGO frustrations; initiatives; Q&A and common advocacy issues at CSW63; while Caucus Two was Q&A with vigorous networking re Asia-Pacific Region’s preparations for 25th Anniversary of UN Beijing Platform for Action, 2020. Clearly CSW64 will be massive with several preparatory meetings also.
Graduate Women International’s Parallel Events included
- Women’s Empowerment through a Holistic Approach to Education, chaired by CFUW (Canada) with speakers from Australia, India, Mexico, Rwanda, Scotland, US and Zambia. They explored how access to public services, strong social protection systems and solid sustainable infrastructure are all needed to provide transformative education for girls – with girls’ personal development and human rights paramount.
- Global disparities were shared – 2019 is a key year for disaggregated data collection;
- Global Campaign for Education & Global Business Coalition for Education were both referenced. GWI’s 20 representatives and their NGO ‘parallel’ events all focussed on essential areas of their national ‘infrastructure’ a core element in CSW63 theme.
The USA Visa denials are a serious barrier to CSW participation eg. Preventing Iranian attendance and causing the cancellation of their NGO events. But local US residents from Iran stepped in to describe ‘their sisters setting up entrepreneurial workshops eg fine needlework’. Such ‘productive activity amongst women and youth in Iran boosts their self-confidence re their roles in society as effective forces in Iran’s economic, social and cultural spheres’ Numerous African women suffered likewise at earlier CSWs as well as in 2019. Many of us signed a Protest Petition that ‘Queen Mother’ Dr. Delois N. Blakely (Harlem’s eloquent and stunning unofficial mayor for the last 8 years), took to US Congress in Washington accompanied by a busload of over fifty CSW63 supporters and Human Rights activists. See: https://www.ngocsw.org/blog-post/visa-denials-during-un-csw63
Male NGO Event presenters were few but highly regarded with clear objectives such as sharing successful approaches to EVAW; e.g. a pragmatic and inspiring retired US police officer who is now teaching human rights at tertiary level in an unnamed city whose municipal laws are progressive e.g. full protection for undocumented immigrants from deportation or prosecution / despite US Federal Immigration law!
Gender, Peace & Security was addressed extensively in both Parallel and Side Events. Sessions were packed and UN SCR 1325 best practices shared: ‘NGOs must be vigilant watchdogs’, ‘Listen to the women!’, ‘Policy advocacy is slow’, ’Essential to address patriarchy’, ‘A sharp gender lens is essential’. [See: Cordaid work.]
A ‘stand-out’ session for me was the excellent UNA/NZ & UNA/USA/San Diego panel discussion on ‘Non-Binary Identities & Social Security Systems: Challenges & Opportunities’; others were: Women’s Economic Recovery & Peace; Women Human Right Defenders & Social Protection; The Road Ahead – Making Gender Parity a Reality; CEDAW Convention & 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development/SDGs; Towards Gender responsive Climate Action