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11 April 2018
Report on the Highlights of the 62nd CSW
By Sydney Spencer, Program Assistant, UNA-NCA

8,000 nongovernmental organizations from all over the world attended this year's 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the highest attendance in the commission's history.

On April 4th, UNA-NCA in partnership with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the Alliance for Peacebuilding, hosted the event "Highlights from the 2018 Commission on the Status of Women.”

The event was moderated by Lyric Thompson, Director of Policy and Advocacy at ICRW and UNA-NCA Board Member and featured the panelists Jordan Hibbs, Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy; Helena Minchew, Program Officer at the International Women's Health Coalition; and Kimberly Weichel, UNA-NCA Advisory Council Chair.

These women provided attendees with invaluable insight into the 2018 CSW including its positive takeaways, member state commitments, and areas in need of improvement.

Overview of the 62nd CSW

For those who don't know, the CSW is the key intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and female empowerment. Since 1956, the CSW has held an annual two week conference for UN Member States, civil society organizations, and UN entities to discuss pertinent issues facing women.  

This year's topic focused on rural women and the unique and unjust burdens they experience including unequal land rights, early marriage, and violence. These issues were not only discussed in an assembly of Member States, but also in the form of subtopic-specific sessions occurring at multiple times throughout each day of the conference. Concluding the CSW, a set of Agreed Conclusions is established with the purpose of unifying the global direction for gender equality and female empowerment.

The 62nd CSW Agreed Conclusions

Panelist Helena Minchew gave a thorough and candid overview of the Agreed Conclusions set at this year's CSW. She highlighted some of the document's important victories such as protecting women human rights supporters. The document also included clauses calling for the protection of women of all diversities and a recognition that women's lack of agency over their own lives is an infringement on personal well-being. Lastly, Ms. Minchew discussed another monumental clause acknowledging that forced child marriage is a barrier to female education.

Pertinent Topics Omitted from the Agreed Conclusions

While this year's Agreed Conclusions contained many ground breaking topics, it left many issues untouched. The document had no mention of abortion even though unsafe abortion is a large factor in maternal mortality, especially in rural areas. The conclusions also left out any language regarding intimate partner violence, another detrimental phenomenon impacting women all over the world. Of equal concern is that LGBTI issues were left untouched in the Agreed Conclusions and also in the CSW subtopic sessions. All of the panelists made it clear that there is significant progress to be made for future CSW conferences.

 A Lack of Presence from Key Stakeholders

All of the panel members expressed frustration with respect to the lack of rural women physically represented at the 62nd CSW, an issue that was mainly attributed to visa complications. Unfortunately, many of the rural women - especially from the global south - were denied entrance into the U.S.

Antonio Guterres's Priorities for the UN

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, was commended for his acknowledgment of areas for gender equality improvement within the UN. To address these areas, Mr. Guterres set three priorities for the UN's internal body. The first of these goals included reaching gender parity within the UN. Although the top governing roles within the UN have reached parity, there is still a need for improvement amongst the middle and lower UN roles.

The second priority addresses a crucial flaw within the UN - sexual abuse of UN peacekeepers. Mr. Gueterres has called for the elimination of this behavior from UN peacekeepers and has implemented standardized mandatory training for all peacekeepers.

Finally, Mr. Guterres called for an end to sexual harassment within the UN. He has reinforced this priority by establishing training for UN staff and creating multiple victim advocacy groups for staff. While there still remains many crucial issues to be addressed at next year's CSW, Antonio Guterres reaffirmed the world that as an entity, UN is committed to gender equality.

To learn more about the 62nd CSW, you can view the broadcast from our event "Highlights from the 2018 Commission on the Status of Women" here.