CSW 68 Blog Post

“360 billion dollars needed per year to achieve gender equality across the SDGs is just as much as the world spends on coffee per year”

Above are the words of Sima Bahous, the Executive Director of UN Women in one of the sessions at the just concluded Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68). CSW is the United Nation’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment. This year’s event (CSW68) had the priority theme, “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.”

Gender equality and the empowerment of women are central concerns for the United Nations. One crucial avenue toward achieving these goals is by preventing gender-based violence against women. As a researcher whose interest revolves around gender-based violence prevention, I found the side event session on “Investing in Prevention of Gender-Based Violence” enlightening and a call to action. Gender-based violence is a pervasive issue that affects individuals globally regardless of age, race, religion, or socioeconomic status. In India, various initiatives have been implemented to address violence against women and girls. An example is a flagship program that takes a comprehensive approach to women’s empowerment and combating gender-based violence. Equally, the establishment of women’s helplines to provide 24/7 support to survivors of violence, the set-up of one-stop centers across the country, offering a range of services including medical aid, legal assistance, temporary shelter, and psychological counseling to survivors of violence provide comprehensive support to prevent further incidents of violence.

One of the important action items of this discussion rests on the fact that there is a strong correlation between the prevalence of gender-based violence and the concentration of power in the hands of men, especially those in leadership roles. However, efforts to engage men in addressing these issues are often underfunded and overlooked. To truly achieve gender equality and combat gender-based violence, it is imperative to involve men and boys as allies. This involves challenging traditional notions of masculinity, creating safe spaces for discussion, and implementing effective policies to hold perpetrators accountable. By investing in men and boys as champions for change, we can pave the way for a future where all individuals can live with dignity and without fear.

In the conversation on “Poverty Data, US laws, and the role of CEDAW,” we examined deeply the pressing need for the United States to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). This step is crucial to bridging the gender data gap and acknowledging the disproportionate impact of poverty on women. The panelists emphasized the importance of forging partnerships between civil society and government to develop effective solutions. They highlighted the deficiencies in current poverty metrics and stated the urgency of addressing root causes such as housing insecurity, food insecurity, unemployment, and social injustice. One speaker shed light on the limitations of existing poverty measures and advocated for alternative data sources to capture the multidimensional nature of poverty. Moreover, we also explored the significance of employing data-driven legal advocacy to combat poverty and segregation. The discussion focused on integrating intersectionality into local ordinances to promote gender equity and eliminate discrimination against women and girls.

The action items include:

  1. Working collectively for change in how poverty is measured and addressed.
  2. Advocating for collection, dissemination, and use of gender-sensitive poverty data.
  3. Continuing efforts to increase CEDAW’s awareness and adoption in the US at the local, state, and national levels.

In one of the sessions, “Advancing Gender Equality and Poverty Alleviation,” the speakers addressed the connections between feminism, economic empowerment, and youth activism. They highlighted the pivotal role that young people play in sparking social change. Through examples like social media campaigns and fundraising initiatives led by youth, the power of their voices in championing gender equality and uplifting marginalized communities is evident. The conversation also emphasized the importance of grassroots efforts in tackling gender disparities. Civil society organizations were lauded for their essential work in supporting marginalized groups, advocating for policy reforms, and amplifying the voices of those most affected by gender inequality. Moreover, there was a collective call to address the systemic issues at the heart of gender disparities. The speakers also stressed the urgency of policy reforms, challenging entrenched social norms, and empowering marginalized communities to advocate for their rights and drive meaningful change.

Additionally, there’s a growing global consensus on the importance of comprehensive social protection systems in poverty eradication, reducing inequalities, stimulating economic growth, and enhancing resilience in crises. Crisis situations, such as climate change, pandemics, and conflicts, exacerbate gender inequalities, leading to job losses, economic instability, increased care responsibilities, and higher rates of violence against women. Despite recognition of its importance, there are significant inequalities in access to social protection globally, with women lagging behind men in coverage. Efforts like the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection aim to support countries in building universal social protection systems to promote gender equality and provide adequate protection against lifecycle risks. In this discussion titled, “Financing social protection and care systems for the fulfillment of human rights, gender Equality and poverty reduction” stakeholders are urged to invest in three critical areas to accelerate the benefits of social protection for women and girls: investing in care systems, adopting gender-responsive budgeting, and advocating for reforms in the global financial architecture. While Iceland highlights its achievements in promoting gender equality through investments in parental leave, childcare, and family benefits, emphasizing the importance of these policies in closing the gender gap; Kenya shares its policy and legislative frameworks aimed at promoting gender equality and reducing poverty, including measures related to employment, public procurement, education, and care policies; and the European Union outlines various measures to promote gender equality, including recommendations on minimum income, pay transparency, access to social protection, and work-life balance.

Finally, the Generation Equality initiative launched in 2021 aims to catalyze progress in gender equality through political will, investment, and implementation. During a session on “Generation Equality: Driving feminist financing and Accountability for Women’s Economic Justice and Eradicating Women’s Poverty”, the key focus areas include feminist financing and accountability for women’s economic justice and poverty eradication. Despite progress, global gender inequalities persist in economic empowerment, with millions of women and girls living in poverty. Structural barriers, including unequal access to decent jobs and resources, perpetuate economic disparities. Thus, there is an urgent need for gender-responsive financing and gender equality quotas to support women’s economic rights organizations and movements. Generation Equality initiative drives resources towards gender equality, with $47 billion in financial commitments and over 2300 programs implemented. Also, multi-stakeholder engagement fosters collaboration, sharing of good practices, and positive impacts on women and girls’ lives. The launch of the UN Women’s Accountability Report highlights progress and challenges in economic justice and rights. Furthermore, there is an emphasis on intersectionality in commitments to ensure the inclusion of marginalized groups and communities; strengthening partnerships and amplifying the voices of women, youth, and civil society is essential for advancing economic justice. Collective efforts are needed to push for feminist financing models, transparency, and accountability as well as increased funding, collaboration, and empowerment of frontline communities to accelerate progress towards gender equality.