CSW: Implementing the MDGs for Women and Girls

As always, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), held each year in March at the United Nations, was breathtaking in the breadth and depth of issues explored as well as the commitment, passion and talent of 6,000 community leaders meeting together from all over the world. CSW is the lead event of the global campaign for women’s equality and empowerment, and it includes both government ministers reporting on progress in women’s advancement in their own countries and NGO leaders sharing challenges and lessons learned in their respective countries. It was an honor to be there with such remarkable women.

The theme of the 58th annual CSW was implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls. Established in 2000 by UN member nations, the MDGs aim to reduce extreme poverty by half, halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, and provide universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015. The MDGs have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest, and the UN is also working with governments, civil society and other partners to build on the momentum generated by the MDGs and carry on with an ambitious post-2015 development agenda.

CSW sessions focused on ensuring that gender equality, the empowerment of women, women’s full enjoyment of human rights, the eradication of poverty, and a reduction in violence against women are included and prioritized in a post-2015 framework. A summary of recommendations is included in a final CSW report that is given to all member nations and UN agencies.

While government leaders shared their country reports in the UN building, thousands of civil society leaders discussed and shared in interactive programs across the street in the Church Center. We discussed topics as diverse as the rise of human trafficking and what can be done to stop this insidious crime; how to make cities safe for women and girls; innovative educational programs; initiatives to reduce poverty and increase employment; inter-faith initiatives to peacebuilding; how to encourage women to run for political office; and much more. We learned, shared and networked.

But the real fun was meeting extraordinary women and hearing their stories. I spoke with Claudine from Rwanda who survived the genocide and now leads efforts there to provide healing; Alice from Pakistan who provides street kids with safe places to live and go to school; Jane from Kenya who has organized hundreds of Kenyan women to heal differences after election violence; and many more. I always feel inspired hearing these stories and witnessing the commitment and dedication of so many women and girls.

I again leave CSW with a renewed commitment to do all that I can to promote women’s rights and gender equality; to shine a light on the need for reform; and to provide leadership training to ensure that more and more women step into leadership positions. The peace and well-being of our world depends on it.

Kimberly Weichel is CEO of Peace X Peace, an international women’s peacebuilding and leadership organization. www.peacexpeace.org.